My little man is four months old today. I still can’t wrap my head around making it past the first week as a parent and here we are at four months. The past month has been an amazing journey in and of itself. I resigned from my job and became (for the time being) a stay at home mom. I struggled with that decision, but staying with Nate was the option that made me feel most comfortable and least anxious. The fact that we saved up and are financially sound enough for me to do this at the moment is something I decided I cannot take for granted and should take advantage of.
I finally emerged from my funk and a few things have helped tremendously. First of all, I have been working on defining (for myself) my own parenting style. Reading about many different approaches, and listening to my heart and my gut as to whether or not I agree with any part of those various approaches has helped me define for myself the kind of parent I want to be. In general, the label I’d put on it (not that I want to put any label on it) would be attachment parenting. It is a bit mind boggling to me that this style of parenting requires a label. I feel like anything that would go against my primal mammalian instincts should be what requires a label … but I digress. I have also made great progress in accepting and adjusting to a life that is no longer primarily about me. I think the source of a lot of my anxiety and frustration was that I was expecting Nate to behave in a certain way. The books say “put your child down for naps and sleep drowsy but awake” and Nate wants nothing to do with that approach. I was thinking of things all backwards. My sweet little boy has needs at this age. They are all needs, not wants. He does not cry out for a breast, a pair of warm arms, the smell of my skin, sound of my heart beating or the sound of my voice because he is feeling bratty or difficult. He is not trying to manipulate me or creating bad habits, as many books have suggested. He’s a little mammal with needs and instincts and I am his mother with those same characteristics. This realization on all aspects of our relationship has helped tremendously in making me understand that Nate is a little boy who I have to get to know.
I read a quote somewhere that goes something like “If a baby is crying, figure out what is wrong with the mother.” Effing brilliant. It was when I started thinking this way that I felt free from the anxiety and frustration plaguing me. Every day is an adventure in trying to learn my son. What does every little cry, whimper and body squirm mean? If I could start all over and approach parenthood in this manner from day 1, I would. But the best I can do at this point is make sure I stay on track now.
Reading Mayim Bialik’s “Beyond the Sling” empowered me to be confident in my choices and realize that I should not feel ashamed of my views on parenting. I am not alone in feeling the way I do. Her scientific method approach also appealed to the biology nerd in me and helped cement in my mind the ideas I’ve had about how our bodies are built to be babies and parents in harmony with each other. While I did not agree 100% with everything she had to say, one thing that I finally built up the courage to try was Elimination Communication, or EC. I have been reading “Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene” by Ingrid Bauer and it is absolutely fascinating (and available on BN as a Nook book, which I can also access on my Droid. Bonus!). It was something I had wanted to try but I think I had built it up to be far more difficult than it actually is. I’m still reading the book and Nate’s potty should be arriving in the mail today, but we have been practicing it all week. I am utterly amazed. Since Monday, I’ve caught (as in, he pooped in his designated spot and not in his diaper) his first morning pee every. single. day. I caught his morning poop every day except today. It has also blown my mind how dry his diaper actually stays just by timing things right. I “pee” him every time he wakes up from a nap or after I’ve been holding him for a while. More often than not, he has a long pee lined up and then his diaper stays dry until the next round! I managed to use the same diaper (bone dry, of course) from 2:30 am until noon, and it was only because I sat him down and was not looking at him when he went. The amazing part is I just knew instinctively that I would find a poopy diaper when I checked it, and lo and behold, there it was.
I don’t want to make this post entirely about EC. Really, the point is I am just astounded every single day by my son. The more changes and fine tuning I make to my parenting approach, the more I feel like I am really getting to know my son on an entirely new and unbelievably personal level. I’m sure it’s no coincidence, but even our breastfeeding relationship has been stellar. I rarely need to pump or use bottles anymore. Four months have gone by in the blink of an eye, but I am certainly well aware of how eternal the difficult times have seemed when they were happening. I am beyond excited about how much we will learn about each other in the months to come.