Sunday, January 18, 2009

Just when you think it's going well...

In the beginning, there was Mason. In retrospect, he was a really, really good baby. If you would have asked me at the time, I would have lamented about how hard it was to have a baby. I have come to understand this is a typical feeling of a first timer, no matter how “easy” of a baby she has. At eight weeks of age, Mason was sleeping 12 hour stretches at night. I remember the first morning I woke up after he slept through all night—I immediately rushed to the basinet in a panic to ensure the boy was breathing. Then I pep talked myself that this sleeping all night business might be a fluke and not to get spoiled by it—it wasn’t. Mason was, and is, the Champion of Sleep. In the four years that have passed since that first night that he slept through, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been up in the middle of the night with him. I love that boy!

I decided I was really good at this motherhood thing. Look at what a wonderful baby I have! He sleeps! He eats! He’s on such a wonderful schedule! I could have literally hurt myself from patting myself on the back. Why waste such wonderful talent? We should have another baby.

Along came Cole. And did that boy ever put me in my place. From the day he was born until he was six months old, he was up every two hours. I tried everything—more frequent day time feedings, swaddling, moving him to his own room (perhaps he was a light sleeper and our movements were the waking culprit?)… I was beginning to think he’d go to college with “frequent nightwakings” as the pediatrician labeled it. And then it came to me: What if I tried a bedtime routine? So we instituted a routine, and lo and behold, his sleeping improved, the waking lessened and soon ceased. Now this could have been merely coincidence that he started sleeping through the night at the same time I came up with this ingenious “routine” plan, but I liked to take all the credit. After all, when you’ve worked so hard at something, you can’t possibly be convinced that in the end, it just happened all on its own.

Which brings us to Lila. I hoped and prayed that I had paid my dues with Cole and now I would be rewarded! Lila wasn’t as bad as Cole—she’d sleep four hour stretches at night and sometimes even grant me the gift of five. I promised myself I wouldn’t get upset that she wasn’t sleeping through until she was six months old—the age Cole was when he finally granted me mercy. She turned five months and POOF! She started sleeping from 8pm until 7am. I labeled it a miracle (I no longer take credit [or blame] for the sleeping patterns of these children. I’ve finally given in to the fact that I have absolutely nothing to do with it). Here’s the kicker—I've come to realize that if you mess with her schedule even a little bit, she will pay you back in the middle of the night, and her wakings are brutal. Yesterday we went to the Duck Race and she wasn’t home and in her crib for her afternoon nap. She seemed fine enough, not too upset by the variation of routine. But as we were going to sleep, I predicted she would be up at some point. And she was! Problem is I’m so inexperienced with children who wake up in the middle of the night for not apparent reason! I have no clue what to do with her, so I feed her, change her, rock her, etc. until one of my tricks works or I bore her to sleep, not sure which is the case, but the end result is that I get to go back to bed.

The nature versus nurture debate could rage on for eternity, but we have three children who we’re raising very much the same and are all so very, very different. Logic would assume that the more years I log as a mother and the more children I have, the more skill I would have gained along the way and the “better” I would be. The truth is, I often feel as new at this as the day Mason was born. The only thing I know for sure is the more kids I have, the less I know!