Wednesday, June 2, 2010


When you don't have a child, people accuse you of having no idea. When you have a 8 week old child people tell you to wait a few more weeks or months. In fact I believe that especially those first 8-12 weeks are very hard, nerve wrecking and therefore important.

First of all you're whole life is turning upside down.
You have seen babies cry but you have never held a screaming little red head in your arms not knowing what else to do. You deal with all sorts of feeding problems, not matter if it's noon or the middle of the night. You wonder if what you feed is enough and if the little one is developing well. And most of all you learn to not do too much.
Despite all that the child has to get used to his own new life that has turned upside down even more. And on top of all that he has to get to know his parents, those big heads that appear above his tiny head and every now and then and speak a language he just doesn't understand.

Our son is 8 1/2 weeks old it feels like we had him for years though. There have bee tough days, hard nights but also very relaxed and happy times. Never has it been easy. If he doesn't sleep you worry why and what to do. If he sleeps most of the day and the nights with only one feed you worry if he is alright. Is he eating a lot you worry if he could be overeating (if at all this is possible-but what isn't in parenting world?), if he is not so hungry you are worried if he is developing well. The list is endless.

But for now I believe we have done quite well.

I have to admit we have read a few books, sometimes I wanted to throw them out of the window and I was worried if we read too much and forgot to listen to ourselves. But in the end I am glad we read them because the helped me a lot. Being a mom for the first time you don't necessarily have all those instincts, you don't always just KNOW what to do. And you might end up going different directions.

One of the biggest problems was the crying of course. It doesn't take long to learn the difference between hungry crying or just unhappy crying. So far he is not too bothered by wet diapers, so this is usually out of the question although we do check them of course. It is easy to say you should let your baby cry every now and then and then hold this tiny unhappy person in your arms. But we figured that the holding and letting him cry does help a lot. Quite often he sleeps very long and well after a crying period, during the day he continues to play and smile and "talk" all by himself.

Another challenge were the first growing spurts. He just wanted to feed constantly and was nagging in the short periods in between. At some point I just wanted to run and get him a pacifier to save myself from feeling like a cow. I didn't and I realised that he never really needed one because those were just days or hours. If I would have given him a pacifier he would have kept him for months, maybe years. Instead he found his thumb last night and started to calm himself with that if necessary. This is a big step to his independence.

After three weeks we moved our son out of the bedroom. It sounds harder than it is. We had visited my husbands parents and there it was handy that our son slept in the room next door, there was just more space for him. This was when we realised that we slept much better with him being away a little as he makes weird noises throughout the night. His REM phases are very loud, he might even scream in his dream and I would wake up all the time. So when we got back he moved in his own room and has been sleeping there ever since. The doors are open and we do hear him when he starts to cry, even a bit nagging we hear. Once I jumped out of bed when I heard him and by the time I was in the hall he was gone back to sleep. Now I usually wait and see if he is really awake and hungry or just awake on his way back to dreamland. The reward is that since he is 8 weeks old he only really wakes up once during the night to feed.
I would not judge parents that share a bed with their children but I could not sleep and I assume I would feed my son more often because every time he would wake up I would just feed him instead of checking if there is anything else or anything at all.

A very modern way of "keeping your baby happy" are those several carrying devices. I admit that we own one of those wraps or slings (whatever they are called). I did not use them until he was able to hold his head on his own for a little bit. Of course they are quite handy especially when you have a short trip to do. We live on the third floor with no lift and with the little man developing very well (despite all my worries) it is a real workout to carry his pram up and down more than one time a day.
But those short trips I take with him in the sling are enough. For me and for him. He is just not such a cuddly person everyone is talking about. They all say that those little babies need so much body contact, love and attachment. Well he seems to be very happy just on his own lying on his back discovering he hands and fingers and the first vowels coming out of his mouth. And who says I'm giving him not enough love when I breastfeed him, take my time to change him and hold him when he needs to cry his frustration and anger all out ? I am also there when he offers smiles and happy faces and I share them with him.
I believe that there are babies that need more of all this and some don't. But I also believe that parents tend not to take their time to check what sort of person their child is. I have met several women that told me that their child does not want to lie on the back, does not want to lie in the pram. They also admitted that they have been carrying their child around from the first day. I feel free to see a connection here...

Every mother has to find her own way but she should not put her needs before her child's needs. Sometimes I do want to pick up my son and hold him and cuddle him and tell him how much I love him. But watching him play so peacefully and happy gives me the same thrill. And a smiley happy child that does hardly cry during the day should be proof enough that we are doing ok.

The books we read are:
"Your Self-confident baby" by Magda Gerber
"Tears and Tantrums - What to do when babies and children cry" by Aletha Solter
"Friedliche Babies, zufriedene Mütter" by Emmi Pikler

1 comment:

  1. im not sure how this comment box works! i just want to say that i agree with most of what you have said, + i do a lot of things in the same way. the only thing i really dis-agree with is when you say you want to cuddle your son, but you dont think you should. i say they cant have too many cuddles! clearly if baby is busy you can wait a minute, or ask if he'd like a hug. the time when their so little passes so quickly. grab every moment you can, and dont stint yourself on cuddles!!