I’ve been talking to my four-year-old lately about how newborns usually cry for one of three reasons – hunger, fatigue, or a dirty diaper. Despite this narrow set of cues to watch for, it can be boggling to try to clue in as to why my child is not sleeping.
During the newborn stage, I felt so tired at moments that I forgot what that list of three was. When I was parenting a toddler for the first time, I would occasionally wake up out of a deep sleep swearing and asking WTF this little screaming person wanted. I would be quickly reminded by my husband that, yes, this person has passed all security clearances, is a member of our family, and probably would like a breast in her mouth for a few minutes – thank you very much. This is the precise reason why I have no clue how single parents do it. Who reminds you?
A girlfriend posted this evening on Facebook that “Argh!” her year-old daughter was keeping her from housework because she was teething and wanted to be held. I instantly posted a pious response to the tune of “Well, your baby needs you. Tooth pain hurts.” when I know full well that I have lamented not having the space to go pee without a teething babe in arms. I think those are some of the toughest moments in parenting. We know we should be supportive, but it is incredibly trying. Housework actually seems interesting and necessary at the time, when on any other day it is lower on the list of priorities. And that little baby that can’t sleep is keeping the parents up too.
My son has recently taken to having an hour-long marathon breastfeeding session in the mornings. I bat his little hand away from the groping reflex. I try not to talk too much so he can wake up calmly and quietly. As he truly wakes up, I start to see that the breastfeeding actually helped him wake up slowly – keeping him soothed in the lucid state before full waking up for the day. It often irritates me to have the bf’ing go on and on, but then I think of all the other things he is starting to encounter during his night of sleep. Night terrors. Dreams. Pains that he still doesn’t have a full vocabulary to describe. I’m so blessed to be able to comfort him naturally when all he can muster is a river of crocodile tears.
The time where my son has the words to describe his pains is just a whisper away. He will be one more step towards being a big boy and one step away from being my cuddling-in-arms child that comes to me for all matters that require comforting. So remind me if I rant on too much like my friend with the teething tot that soon I will be blogging about my oh-so-independent child that doesn’t need Mom in the ways we’ve both grown accustomed to.