Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A word about C

MG woke C up tonight. I'd put C to bed, and MG decided to scream, "I do not like the bath!" at high volumes and pitches while we were trying to rinse the spaghetti off of her. Since the bathroom shares a wall with the girls' room, it was no surprise when I went in to check on C and found her wide awake.

So, I gave her to BJ, got MG to bed, and then got C and took her up for another nurse down.

I thought she was asleep, so I got out of the rocker and laid her in the crib. She then woke up, again, but didn't seem agitated. By this time I really needed to visit the restroom (mommies ought to wear diapers, too, for the times when no one wants to go to sleep easily!), so I thought, "When ya gotta go, ya gotta go!" and left her in the crib while I took care of things.

When I came out, she was still quiet. So, I sat at the top of the stairs for a while, and waited for her to start screaming. Remember, I had put her down sleepy, but awake.

She didn't start screaming. So, after a few minutes I came downstairs. Then BJ called and told me to come outside (he was on the cell phone) because he could see the shuttle and the International Space Station overhead. So, I ran out to watch them go over, and got to see about 1/3 of the path across the sky (this is what we nerds do for fun, when we're not polishing our slide rules and making custom pocket protectors). It was very cool. (He had looked up the time and date of the flyover on NASA's website beforehand, it wasn't just like he was out in the front yard looking up and saw them and knew what they were).

That took a couple of minutes, and I was out of earshot of the monitor, so I figured that they'd both be screaming (one having awakened the other) by the time we got inside. We came back in, and all was eerily quiet.

So, I read a couple of your nice comments (I love your comments, they make me feel like I'm not just talking to myself in a large empty room!), and heard a squeak over the monitor. "Here it comes," I thought, "I knew it was too good to be true..." and I sent BJ up to check on C.

She was asleep. She was just stirring because the light from the monitor's transmitter was in her eyes. She put herself to sleep. This is something that MG has never done without a lot of hysterics and screaming. I didn't actually believe that kids were capable of putting themselves to sleep without screaming, much less when they're only three months old.

Holy crap.

I can't just enjoy it, of course. I have to look this gift horse in the mouth. I feel like I'm neglecting her if I don't cuddle her to sleep every night, the way I have MG. I feel like I'm playing favorites, somehow (even though she earns major points in this house for being a good sleeper). I feel like I'm being unfair to her. This happens during the day, too. She is just so mellow - she doesn't care if I leave her in the swing for a bit while I play with MG, or unload the dishwasher or something. MG screamed like I was dipping her in acid if I didn't hold her at all times. Or, at least, that's the way I remember it. Everything from that time of life is a little fuzzy, now. I do remember being able to make Thanksgiving dinner for the family the year she was born, and she was only about 3 months old, then, so she couldn't have been that bad. I also made a ton of cookies for Christmas that year... So, ok, she wasn't miserable every minute, and I managed to get some things accomplished, but we also spent a lot of time just sitting and nursing for hours and hours.

Looking back, I know that I did it wrong. I used nursing as a pacifier with MG (because it worked) . I didn't have any other tricks. Now, I know other tricks, so I don't need to do that with C. I know how to bounce and swaddle and shush and sway, and I can calm her without nursing (and without a pacifier, incidentally). I fully expect that I will still be nursing MG when C weans, simply because MG is a total nursing junkie. BJ knows new tricks, too, so he is more effective at calming C than he was with MG (the video below, notwithstanding). Basically, when MG was little, all I knew how to do was nurse her (plus, we had major supply issues, so I *had* to nurse her a lot to keep a supply up, and blah blah blah, it was a mess).

So, am I doing C a favor by not turning her into a nursing addict? Probably. Am I doing myself a favor? Definitely. Would I go back and do things differently with MG? Not a chance, because if I did, she might not turn out to be who she is. Do I worry that I'm somehow changing who C is by not doing the things I did with MG? Yep.

Basically, I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't. If I do what I did with MG when it comes to C, I'll create another nursing junkie. If I don't, I'll feel guilty that C isn't getting what MG got at the same age.

I have to keep reminding myself what I learned in college, when I was studying to be a special ed teacher - "fair" isn't giving everyone exactly the same thing. To truly be fair, you have to give everyone what they need. C, apparently, needs less than MG did. Since MG still needs a lot, I'm lucky. C is healthy and happy. I can't beat myself up. I can't keep score. (I'm also pretty sure that C has a mild case of reflux, and noodling me all day may just plain hurt her. She is a business nurser - get in, get done, get on with life. So different!).

Who knows, maybe C will teach MG to fall asleep by herself.

(I probably need to stop comparing them to each other, but that's another Momguilt for another night).


Melania said...

I think we just do what works, and each kid, obviously, is unique. You can't beat yourself up looking back and wondering what might have worked better . . .

J was a nursing fiend, and I had supply issues - but he was only nursing once at night by 9 months. I had to train A to nurse to sleep, and it wasn't easy. I spent his first six months swaddling him and walking the floor for hours. I was exhausted, and I taught him to nurse for sleep instead. At 18 months he was still nursing several times a night. Now, at 25 months, he's totally weaned. If I'd been a different person, the kids might have weaned earlier, or nursed less, or been sleeping in their own beds earlier, but I wasn't and they weren't, and now at 4 my eldest sleeps through every night (in the top bunk!), and at 2 my youngest sleeps in his own bed (although he still wakes up).

We just do what works, and sooner than we think they're in primary school!

Jen said...

Each baby is different. C is obviously happy to get what she needs and find something else to do. Don't beat yourself up. Forcing her to do what she doesn't naturally seek would be just like not giving her what she wants (or what MG did want). J was the same way. V took so much of my time and left me exhausted. Still today, it's harder to deal w/ him than her, and he's almost 5.
Also, let her fall asleep on her own... that is HUGE for the future. I put both of mine to bed wide awake. They may play quietly for up to 1 hour or more in their rooms, but they eventually climb into their beds and go to sleep. It's invaluable for them to be able to fall asleep on their own.

Mommy said...

I wonder how much of it is a first child/second child thing. Melania's J and Jen's V are both the oldest kids, and both the tiring ones. Maybe it's something we do as first-time moms, and not something inherent in our kids? I was the oldest, too, and I was most definitely the problem child.

Thanks for the support! I know you're both right.

Melania said...

Sorry to derail the theory, but it's actually A who was the exhausting one! J was tough in the first few months, but mostly - as you point out - that was me. Supply issues, getting the hang of baby stuff, etc. But with co-sleeping, J and I were both getting a good night's sleep by 3 months, and as I say, he was only nursing once in the night by 9 months.

A, OTOH, nearly did us both in. We spent months taking turns pacing the floor with him all night long. I still had to swaddle him and do this weird dancing/bouncing walk when he was six or seven months old - and even then he'd more than likely jerk awake and start screaming if I tried to lay him down.

Mommy said...

Ah... I read "nursing fiend" and since that's my biggest current problem with MG, I latched on to that (pun gleefully intended).

So much for theories. :)