Friday, October 28, 2016

How to Avoid Wrinkles

When I look at my bedside table now and compare it to a year ago I realize just how much has changed.  I used to have a beat up copy of Pride and Prejudice laying there along with various other books I was rotating through.  Now I have a stack of board books, notably One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and Mommy Hugs, and a copy of What to Expect: The First Year.  My inbox used to read about sales, politics, the occasional email from a friend, and updates from my favorite blogs.  These days my email asks me if I know how to interpret my baby’s poop, should I teach her French or Spanish, ASL, or all three, and how to determine if she is autistic earlier than ever before.  Signs I am missing critical early learning opportunities, stunting her independent drive, ruining her life before she can walk…. you know the nightmare inducing panicky stuff that seems to hit you as soon as you lay eyes on that tiny little bundle of perfection. 

Suddenly I’m doing everything wrong in my life and subsequently hers and at the same time everything right, depending on who I talk to or read.  It is honestly like watching a tennis match in my brain somedays.  I’ve read Dr. Sears, my father constantly tells me I’m spoiling Baby Girl because I go to her when she cries, my mother says I fret too much about her physical state (her weight, her temperature, her whatever), I question if I put her down for too many naps, or not enough…. Am I overfeeding her, is it possible to overfeed a baby? Is she comfortable? Is the sign language I am trying to teach her catching on? Is that really the sign for milk or is she just opening and closing her little hand? Do I try to keep the house quieter while she sleeps or be as noisy as possible?  At what point do you stop co-sleeping or should you never co-sleep? Swaddling is great, they taught me how in the hospital…. No wait it can kill the baby! Want to sleep ever again? Well…. SIDS, ha ha ha ha ha never again will you shut both eyes.

Honestly navigating the last six months has been so stress inducing I’ve seen my first wrinkle.  It’s right where I knew it would always be, but still I feel too young for that.  I started drinking coffee because I get so little sleep now, and it is not because she does not sleep well.  Baby girl is a champion sleeper most nights; it is me getting up to check on her. Although she has been a little fussier as I have started her on solid foods.  (Did I do that too soon? Or not soon enough? Am I waiting long enough on one food before moving to the next, to be sure of allergies or too long? Is making her food really that much better if I can get her organic jarred food? Am I really horrible for laughing when she gags on zucchini? How bad is it that the dog cleaned her face that one time? How soon should I give her peanuts or ever? Can you give her proteins during the introduction stages?)  I figure she is waking again as we adjust to caloric intake during the day and figuring out what is a serving for her and what is too much or too little.  Turns out if it is mangoes she will eat gobs of it anything else she will be a little more discretionary.  Put mangoes on anything and she will eat it.  Seriously I put mangoes with the chicken and she ate it like she may never see it again but wanted nothing to do with the plain chicken.  Really I cannot blame her it was nasty looking, but do babies eat with their eyes?  Not that I would, but you could put mangoes on a cat poo and she would probably eat it.  I’ve never met anyone quite so serious about mangoes.  Poor kid, tropical as all get out, as fair skinned as her mother… the beach will not be kind to you my child.  Not at all. Sigh.

I digress.  What I can say I have learned over the last six months is none of this really matters. At all.  Does anyone really know or want to know how to interpret poop beyond the obvious is she constipated or not? You can read every book available from cover to cover, listen to all the advice thrown at you, even that crazy looking lady at the Target who told you to give her a tablespoon of castor oil every day (why do people think that because you have a baby you want to hear their advice?), and you can drive yourself absolutely insane trying to live up to it all. All that crazy leads to wrinkles and gray or stark white hairs.  

The best thing I can decipher, and the irony of me dispensing a measure of advice here is not lost on me, is to follow your gut.  Your instincts will guide you.  Listen to you.  Want to let your kid cry it out? Go for it.  Do you want to pick up your munchkin at every snivel? DO IT! Whatever you do commit to it, be consistent but flexible…. I have Crohn’s disease, there are moments of my life that I cannot stop what is happening and rush to Baby Girl’s cries; believe me I have tried and it is impossible. I’ve had to learn that sometimes she just cries, like me.   You do not have to defend yourself to anyone, walk away if you have to, do not open the emails or the books if they are going to make you feel guilty.  Parenting magazines and books, in my opinion, can make you feel like you are missing things and layer on the guilt if you let them.  Basically you are in charge now, it’s your circus and your monkey, enjoy it and do what is right for you.  I’m blogging while she sits in the bouncy seat next to me staring at whatever it is she stares at.  In a little while I will plop her down in front of a screen with some brightly colored Disney film showing so that for at least ten minutes I might get to vacuum something without her wanting my attention.  I know, I know…. Screen time is evil.  I’m doing the best I can and that’s all you can ask of yourself.  Follow your gut, your rhythm, walk away from haters, and commit to doing the best you can and you will be just fine.

I think. 

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