when i read directions about the beautiful way to feed my baby, which involves maintaining eye contact, cooing at each other while we delight in the nourishment she is getting, and occasionally bursting out in song, followed by playing with her for 20-30 minutes to ensure she is awake and maintaining a specific cycle of eat, play and sleep, after which i lay her down awake, at which point she will gently and lovingly fade into a magical sleep sequence involving no crying and much rejoicing had by all, i wonder if this book was in fact written before the fall of man.
because let’s get real. the poster about how feeding your sweet newborn is going to go down is a lie from the pit of hell and i was angry- literally angry- at my sweet firstborn because she must not have been able to focus on the poster long enough to see how this mess was supposed to go down. we weren’t afforded time to learn each other and how to be together and learn everything there is to know about raising a human together, we were just supposed to be great at it and delight in every moment, always framed in soft focus.
next is the idea of playing with them. “what if they fall asleep?” i ask, and they say “go ahead and wake them up so that they get on the right cycle”.
“wake them up?”
“yes, undress them, or get a wet wash cloth to torture your sleeping baby.”
hold up, wait a minute: this baby that takes approximately as much time to coax to fall asleep as it does for her to actually sleep- that one is the one you want me to wake up with a wet washcloth?! ok, will do. one more question for you, baby expert: what time are you and your co-writer coming over to take the screaming hellion that results from this action? moving right along, we have “gently falling into slumber.” make sure you lay them down awake so that she can learn how to soothe herself to sleep. i am assuming by “soothe herself to sleep” you mean “scream at the top of her lungs and kick like she is trying to set a record on a moonbounce”?
what i’m getting at is that maybe babies before the apple chomp did all this beautifully and swimmingly well, but times they have a-changed. so to all you mothers out there that have read the books and organized your nursery and who have a picture of how it’s going to go down: Amen and more power to you. i hope it all amazes you by how smoothly it goes, but may i suggest one thing. make a friend with someone who is a few steps ahead of you, maybe with a young baby that hasn’t learned how to soothe themselves, because you will be tempted to think you are doing something wrong and you are not. you are learning and growing to understand both what this new bundle of joy needs as well as what you need. it is okay to ask for help and get a shower. it is okay to rejoice in the sweet moments and laugh at the funny ones and cry when you just don’t know how it will all work out. it does work out and it is so much gentler to walk with someone on the journey. so hey there you sweet new mom, find a friend… safety in numbers.