Things have vastly improved this week versus last week. I can speculate about a thousand different reasons why, but just knowing that things can and will get better and this rough patch is only temporary is enough to get me through the hardest of days.
Jake and I were so cocky going into this second baby business. There’s nothing like a screaming newborn waking you up every 2 hours to remind you that you don’t know a thing. I mean, really. I was certain that if I could just get the breastfeeding gig down, everything else would be so much easier, since Gwen was so difficult in that regard. She was also difficult in the sense that she was a newborn and newborns are so much work, but I forgot about that part. Norah has reminded both of us of this. And she has also reminded us how we don’t really know what we’re doing.
Take the evenings for instance. Norah wakes up from an afternoon nap around 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Jake gets home from work around 6:00 pm and we eat dinner. Or at least we try to eat dinner. Norah kept interrupting it, wanting to be fed and becoming extremely fussy and wouldn’t sleep or eat. We couldn’t figure it out. Why was she so fussy right at dinnertime? We came up with all sorts of reasons, tried nursing her differently, tried swaddling or not swaddling her, rocking her, etc. Yet night after night the same story played out. Cranky baby and cranky parents ready to pull their hair out.
Then it dawned on me. The poor thing was exhausted and overtired by the time dinner rolled around. She doesn’t stay awake for over an hour or two but in the evening I was getting so swept up in the nightly dinner routine that I just kept her awake, until she was so tired and upset she couldn’t sleep.
I let go of the expectation of cooking dinner (that I put on myself) and made sure I watched Norah’s cues when she was ready to eat and go to sleep and ignored our usual family routine and what would you know? The evenings have gotten better.
We won't even discuss how I just came upon the concept that when Norah's crying there are three things to check:
By the time those three things have been checked, she's as happy as a clam. Yet, I wasn't doing things in that order or at all a week or two ago. I'd freak out and make up all kinds of irrational crazy ideas as reasoning for why she was crying and nine times out of ten I wouldn't solve the problem. It was nuts and made me feel quite inadequate.
Things like this are the silly things that you’d think we, as second time parents, would have figured out. But as Jake put it, we forgot how dumb babies make you. We can be prepared all we want, but when there’s a newborn sitting in your house that brain of yours exits right out the door only to return once she’s sleeping through the night.
So, as the week unfolds and I feel more sane and confident in this new gig I remind myself that it’s only temporary, that our brains eventually come back to us, it’s okay to have a good cry and to humbly remember that I don’t know Jack.