Growing up

Lewis has pulled another classic baby move and changed things up on us just when we got comfortable. This time (like…most times?) it was sleep related.

I have rocked him to sleep his entire life, with very few exceptions. Other than when he was a newborn who fell asleep at the drop of a hat, I have rocked him to sleep at every nap, and every bedtime that I’ve been with him for.

I knew he was capable of putting himself to sleep because his daycare teachers claimed he was one of their “best nappers”, who would just lay down and go to sleep without help. And babysitters/husband also experienced some success when I wasn’t around. But with me? no way. If I was involved in a sleep routine in any capacity, I had to rock him to sleep or endure the consequences.

It was both a special time, and a total time-suck. I had a love-hate relationship with this dynamic, with the “love” part accounting for probably 75% of the feelings.

Well… you can probably guess where this is going. A few days ago, the kid lost his mind when I tried to rock him to sleep. I don’t know how to communicate to you what it was like. Maybe telling you that I considered calling 911 because I thought he was in pain and dying (appendix exploding? internal bleeding? heart attack? brain hemorrhage?) will paint a strong enough picture for you.

He didn’t die. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t even injured. Not that first time, and not the 6 times after that.

He didn’t want me to rock him, but he also didn’t want to be in his bed. When I held him, he screamed, “BEEEEEDDDDDDDD”. When I put him in his bed, he just screamed. There was no solution other than to walk away (and cry. So much crying).

You see, I always rocked him to sleep because the alternative seemed to involve letting him cry. And I am too “soft” to let him scream. Actually, calling myself soft is an insult. I’d prefer to frame it this way: When my baby screams, my instincts to help him are so overpowering that I cannot resist them. Even if he is in someone else’s capable hands, I must step in (poor Kyle). It is a compulsion, and such a deep, primal draw to my baby that there’s no use fighting it.

But starting a few days ago, Lewis gave me no choice, and we’ve survived the screaming a couple nights now. Lewis putting himself to sleep is starting to become a routine, and I can feel it happening. Better yet, Lewis is starting to understand that we understand that this is what he wants, so he doesn’t always scream anymore. We’ve had a couple naptimes, for example, where he has played in his crib happily until falling asleep, without one single tear.

I knew this would come. Sometimes I longed for it. And now that it is here, like with most things in parenthood, I’m torn between two polar extremes – I am thrilled/proud that my baby has matured to the point where he wants this independence, and I am devastated that I’ve lost this magical time together with my baby.

Things ebb and flow, and I’m sure bedtime routines will continue to present new challenges as time goes on. And perhaps we’ll even revert back to some of the old challenges at some point, because kids are crazy like that. But after a few days of madness, I feel like we’re starting to get into a new groove.

What a wild life, full of turmoil and confusion. But wow! do I see the beauty in the chaos. Look at my baby, growing and changing and developing. Just what you want a child to do, even if it is hard for mama and dada.