Four months ago I wrote a post called ‘Fussy Gussy Wussy Woo‘ about my boy being needy and always needing to be held. I just went back and read the post now, and honestly? I wish I could sit down my Self from 4 months ago and have a little chat. A pep talk, if you will. I know it is all about living and learning and trial and error. Figuring things out as we go. Being a first time parent comes with its challenges that is for certain.
In hindsight, I remember the conversations with people (often random strangers) who would ask, “Good baby?” First of all, that’s a loaded question, and in my humble opinion, kind of a silly one. Let’s reframe that and get down to specifics, though if you are a random stranger, not sure why you’d want to, however I get that you maybe are just making small talk and love babies. Sort of like asking someone ‘how are you?’ as a salutation rather than a genuine concern. So yes, instead of asking if someone has a good baby, ask if the baby is a good sleeper, or ask how the parents are getting the hang of their new role. I remember people asking if Cade was a good baby. The opposite of good is bad, and when people ask if a baby is good, I think what they are basically asking is, is your baby needy, does your baby cry lots, and does your baby party all night? By those definitions, no, Cade was not really a good baby. Was he needy? Of course he was, he was a baby, he still is a baby. He has specific needs, and it is up to Kyle and I to meet them. So if they’re not getting met, then yes, he is going to scream and cry until they are met. And sometimes, even long after that, as he often did his first 3-4 months of life.
Looking back, the equation seems so simple and so easy now. Why on earth was it so frustrating at the time, having a baby who wanted to be close to his parents all the time? Why was this so hard to believe and understand? Of course he wanted to be close to us. Of course he wanted to be kept warm, safe, nurtured, cuddled. Can you imagine, within hours, going from living in your nice cozy warm heated home, perhaps snuggling with your pet or your partner on the couch or in bed, to living on the cold street in the middle of winter, having to rummage for food, seek out some sort of warmth, all while you are feeling alone and no longer have your snugglebug so close to you? It would be traumatizing and dreadful. It is no wonder the 4th trimester is so brutally hard on babies and parents. Everyone is adjusting to this new life that has suddenly grabbed the reigns and taken control. For the wee one, that means not having immediate and consistent access to food and nourishment (yes, a breast is always close by, but not as close as being DIRECTLY connected to your food source), and not being surrounded and kept warm by a cozy aquatic bubble.
If I could go back and have that pep talk with my Self from January 2011, well, even earlier than that, I would hammer home these very critical points:
- Your baby needs YOU and that is it. YOU provide everything else it needs, but first and foremost, it needs you.
- Sleep, rest, take care of yourself and don’t worry about the state of the house. It’ll get clean. I realize this sounds cliche and you don’t want to hear it because you have a teeny little bit of an issue around control, but just let it go.
- Sleep and cuddle your baby. It’s winter and winter is a great time to hibernate and rest, so do that. Lie in bed and take a vacation, a true, restful vacation with your babe. Set up a diaper station near your bed so in those early days, you really don’t have to get up and you can heal yourself and be healthy and happy enough to care for your child.
- If your baby is needing to be held constantly, that’s okay. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it. Don’t google too much because there are some weirdos out there who say that you are spoiling your baby. You’re not spoiling your baby, you are LOVING your baby and giving your son what he needs, which is YOU.
- Do whatever you gotta do. It’s really as simple as that. Sometimes desperation sinks in and you do what you have to do to survive at that particular moment. You might even do things you swore you’d never do. THIS IS OKAY. Do not feel guilty.
- Your son will grow to be secure and attached because you have helped him to feel this way because you have not ignored his cries, you have not ignored his cues, and you have not ignored his needs.
- Cannot say it enough, but the most important thing you have to do for your son is not only take care of him and meet his basic needs, but take care of yourself, take care of yourself, TAKE.CARE.OF.YOURSELF. If you don’t, your son won’t have a healthy strong parent to take care of him. This is not cool!
- Reach out to people. Tell them how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. If people reach out to you, ACCEPT IT. If they want to cook for you, by all means, let them. If they want to bring you a coffee or lunch, don’t say you’re good, you need nourishment too, and in those super early days, when your child needs nothing but to be close to his mama, it’s much easier having someone else do the cooking or at least the meal picking up and dropping off.
There’s so much more I could say, but basically, I wanted to hammer home that a baby needs love and protection, safety and nurturing, first and foremost. Was I tired and exhausted and run down? Yes I was. But my son needed me, he needed us, and we gave him what he needed. I really do believe that all the cuddles, all the lovin’, all the holding, all the carrying, and yes, the co-sleeping, helped to begin solidifying his identity and his healthy levels of attachment and security that he is starting to display. This boy is a HAPPY, happy boy. He barely even likes being held and cuddled now, unless he is super sleepy or super over-tired. I never thought we would see this day, but it’s here and it’s here full-force. My boy, who could not be put down, is itching to GO. The only thing really holding him back is his abilities, which are very quickly developing. And once he goes, he’s gonna be gone.