Well, it's officially been three months since Willow was born. Baby has completely consumed my world in the best possible way. I told myself I would blog only if I felt like it for the first three months of her life and that's what I did. Now, I'm planning to get back in the habit! Let's just hope Willow learns to sleep a little more/better so that that can be accomplished! haha
Naturally, I have nothing but Willow to talk about today. She completely consumes my thoughts today and every day. If you've followed this blog throughout the past year, you know it's been hard for me. I don't miss a SINGLE thing about pregnancy. I've never felt so out of body, so not myself as I did those nine months. And I kept saying, as soon as she's HERE, I'll be okay. Everything will be good when Willow is here. And I was so, so right.
Plenty of people warned me that the newborn stage was not fun, that you just have to get through it and move on to the fun parts. Apparently there's this fun little saying for infants that parents use, calling them "potato babies" because you just kind of feed them and let them sleep and they don't really do much so it's hard to connect with them. I've even heard moms refer to their infants as "little blobs." It's totally bizarre to me because Willow is so far from any of that. She has been full of life ever since we brought her home. I get weekly emails saying something like "your baby might start making eye contact with you now!" and I think, um when did Willow ever NOT make eye contact with me?? She literally smiled for the camera at two weeks old! She's incredibly aware and curious about everything. Zero percent potato over here!
I love that Willow is so engaged. It means that I've been able to play with her and interact with her from the start. She's been cooing and babbling at me for months now. But all that hyper-awareness definitely takes its toll on her. I do NOT have the baby who can sleep anywhere whenever she's tired. She can hardly sleep when she's at home, in her dark room, with white noise! That awesome awareness skill is actually really annoying for her when she's tired and wants to go to sleep but can't stop staring at everything or hearing every little sound. She might be nursing and something thumps in the other room and she will pop right off of me and look around for whatever made that noise. She does a lot of hopping on and off when she's eating, just to look around and see if everything is still the same. I have to feed her in her dark, white noise room just so she won't be TOO distracted and can get some food in her! haha it's totally nuts!
All that hyper awareness has definitely been the hardest thing to deal with. I don't feel like I can go anywhere with her for very long because she won't just fall asleep. She needs lots of help doing that. And she really needs her sleep. She uses a lot of energy when she's awake, not just looking around but literally flailing around, desperately trying to crawl. She wants to so badly!
She's definitely a spitfire. Erik and I were talking just last night about how extreme her personality is so far... she's either bubbling over with happiness with the dopiest biggest grin on her face or she's screaming her heart out. My sister-in-law described her yesterday as a baby who just knows exactly what she wants all the time and you just may have to figure out that she wants to be held upright instead of horizontal or vice versa.
Everyone always asks how baby is sleeping. For Willow, once she's down, she's great. We actually started off co-sleeping, which is when baby sleeps in your bed with you. We never planned to do that but when I was on bed rest for two weeks and Erik was exhausted after a day of taking care of the two of us, it was just easier for everyone for Willow to be right there. I mean, we've never had an up all night crying fest with her and I'm certain that it's because she was happy being right there with us. If she was hungry in the middle of the night, her soft little hungry grunts would wake me up enough to roll over and feed her before she even cried. It was definitely convenient.
Sidenote: Everyone tells me "oh my god I'd be afraid I'd squish her!" and I tell them, there is not one instinct in your body that would ever let you squish your baby! I'm a deep sleeper. I have been known to thrash around in my sleep and even punch people (true story, many times haha). But all that stopped with Willow in the bed. Not that I recommend that for everyone, but it's a lot more normal than we think as Americans to sleep with your baby.
We wanted to move her out of our bed and into her crib before she became addicted to that way of life though, so at about 7 weeks, I started transitioning her to the crib with naps first. Then she'd go to bed at night in her crib until she woke up for the first time and then I'd take her back to bed with me and nurse her there. And now, she goes right back into her crib. It was actually an easier transition than I expected. But Willow's problems with sleep have never really been about sleeping through the night. She can sleep, she just has a hard time quieting her little mind enough to FALL asleep. I may be projecting a little bit there since that's always been MY problem haha, but it genuinely seems to be her issue.
Naps are another thing entirely. She has the same, can't fall asleep, problem. But she also can't seem to stay asleep longer than 45 minutes. My Googling tells me that that's pretty common for babies. At 45 minutes, babies are supposed to drift into deep sleep and the transition from light to deep sleep actually startles some babies awake. And that's clearly what happens with our super sensitive girl because this happens all day long and she winds up exhausted by the end of the day because she really needed a good chunk of sleep and just can't seem to get there on her own. It's a vicious cycle! That's for sure.
So I spend my days trying to help Willow fall asleep, worrying that I'm creating bad habits that she may become dependent on, and then chucking that out the window because baby just desperately needs a nap so who cares. That's parenthood right? It's so easy to doubt yourself and wonder if you're doing it right or if you're setting yourself up for worse difficulties later.
But it's all okay. When I tell my friends that my life is on a two hour loop of "play with baby, feed baby, bounce baby to sleep, cram a chore and maybe a meal into the 45 minute nap window, then repeat," they usually say, "don't worry, it sucks now but it will be better in a few months!" It doesn't suck though. I mean, I definitely get exhausted when I have to bounce baby to sleep around her room for an hour just to get a 30-45 minute nap out of her. And ever since we got her into her own room at night, I actually get LESS sleep from having to wake up and go feed her throughout the night. But it's all worth it in that annoying, unexplainable way that parents always tell non-parents... you just can't understand until it happens. Your heart WILL just explode with loving this person. More than it ever has before.
The whole time I was growing up, my parents would tell me that having kids was the best thing they ever did. I asked my mom once what the best time of her life so far had been, and she said "right now." Not high school or college or those first few years of marriage before kids when you're "free," but NOW. And when summer ended and the other parents were celebrating, my parents were always sad to see us go back to school and have less time with us. It was just a really nice thing to hear as a kid, that YOU made your parents happy and made their lives feel fun and complete. I was always told that and I can't wait to tell Willow that one day.
I'm so excited for her future and seeing her reach all her little milestones along the way. Erik and I will catch ourselves saying how fun it will be when she can talk back (you know, in English) and play games and watch Disney movies with us. But then we stop each other saying HEY, don't wish away time, because right now is pretty awesome.
PS, got this post in in one 45 minute nap. GO ME!