On January 31st, Cylas turned one. My little, tiny, baby is not a little tiny baby anymore. This has happened gradually and then all at once. On his birthday, he decided (using the help of a ride-a-long giraffe toy) to start walking around my parents' backyard. First words have been spoken, first steps are emanate. It's been an amazing year. Probably the best year of my life. But, let's be honest here, it's also been really fucking hard.
That being said, I am lucky (I think.) I got an "easy baby." Cylas is mellow, and sweet. He's healthy and robust. As a newborn, he slept pretty well, rarely cried and nursed like a champ. I didn't even mind getting up with him in the middle of the night and at a couple of months old he was sleeping through the night. In fact, I would set an alarm to wake myself up in the middle of the night to pump because Cylas would sleep right through his possible nursing sessions.
Then around 4 months old, Cylas changed his mind. He no longer wanted to sleep peacefully beside our bed in his cradle. He started waking up every hour needing to be nursed back to sleep. I moved him into our bed where he slept while latched on and nursing ALL NIGHT LONG. And for awhile, this worked. We both got some sleep, the operative word being SOME. You try sleeping while a tiny human lies attached to your boob all night. It was during this time that Cylas' naps became more problematic as well. Then at 6 months, when we started solid foods, Cylas stopped pooping. Not entirely, of course, but his poops became very infrequent, about once a week, and they were, how should I say...substantial when they did happen.
Before Cylas was born, I would have considered myself a baby expert. Not only did I have experience with other people's babies, but I also did a lot of reading while I was pregnant. A lot. I love to read, a pleasure I had to forgo while nursing Cylas to sleep several times a night, until I downloaded the Kindle app for my phone (game changer, people.) I read books about sleeping, I read books about eating, I read every mommy blog and mommy board on FB. I should have been an expert, right?
It turned out, I wasn't.
Becoming a mum has been a humbling experience to say the very least. I'm a capable and confident person. I am educated and sensitive to the needs of others. I have all the necessary qualities a successful mother needs, and yet I was plagued with such DOUBT. When he wouldn't sleep, I would lie there, desperate and sad, with an unquiet mind; my own terrible mantra circling through my brain..."failure, failure, failure." I was failing him. I couldn't get him to sleep for longer than 45 minutes without needing me to settle him back down. Oh and did I mention that he was only pooping once a week? I obsessed about that too, but mostly I thought about his sleeping. And I thought about my sleeping (which was naturally effected by his sleeping and visa-versa.) I thought, and I researched and I asked others and I cried (and I laughed sometimes, too) and I practiced that wicked mantra. This went on for months.
And that is not to say that our days have not been filled with music, and sunshine and giggles and one life changing, amazing, awesome, mind blowing experience after another. I have been happier in this past year than I have ever been. Eric is happy. He is alive with his son in a way I've never seen him before. Our life feels more complete. Every moment of this past year has been so precious, I thought about investing in Google Glass so that I record it all. Especially, I wished I could have recorded Cylas as he fell asleep. I did my best to memorize every detail. It was only in those dark moments, when I was back in our room for the fourth time in a couple of hours, to nurse that boy back to sleep, and Eric was downstairs waiting for me, and I was hungry for my dinner and my back ached from holding a position that made it easier for him to nurse, that the doubt crept in.
And I'd love to say that it's all better now. It is much better. Cylas eventually seemed so uncomfortable sleeping next to me that we made the decision to move him into his own crib. He protested some, but within a day or two he was falling asleep by himself in his crib and sleeping for much longer stretches. I still go in and nurse him a couple times a night. Some nights, it's more than a couple, but we're both a lot happier, and sleeping much better. And a couple of weeks ago, I stopped taking my prenatal vitamin and Cylas started pooping again. My vitamin had too much iron in it for him. Some expert I am.
All and all, life is excellent. I have a loving and supportive partner, and the cutest, sweetest baby I could have hoped for. I only mentioned the DOUBT because I'm sure that I am not the only new mother to go through this. I'm not talking about postpartum depression, I'm just talking about doubt. I beat myself up about any and every problem that Cylas was having and then I beat myself up for beating myself up. Lately, I'm trying to be nicer to myself. I'm getting better at it every day. The sleeping helps. Supportive friends and family help, and Cylas' smile helps.
If I could change one thing about this last year with Cylas it would be the doubt. I would quiet my horrible mantra and just breath in the sweet fleeting moments of having a baby. He's one now. He survived, and so did we. He'll be walking soon, and he's getting a few new teeth. He weighs 20 lbs and when he nurses his legs spill out of my lap. I can't even remember what he felt like when he was 7 lbs and I could hold him with one arm. I wish I hadn't spent a single moment of that time feeling afraid or lost. But alas, I did. Because I'm human. And try as I might, I'm sure I'll feel lost and doubtful again and again as he grows. Oh well, I'm feeling pretty great at the moment. I should make a new mantra.