In the last week, we have been working on getting The Engineer’s Baby to take naps on her bed. And in the last two days, we have had success. She is right now on her third bed nap in two days. This is a major victory after nearly nine months of her sleeping in a carrier while we walk and bounce.
But as we celebrate, I am realising that to some this situation would be a catastrophic failure. You see, the bed naps still require me to cuddle and pat and walk her to sleep. To get a decent length nap, I need to stay in there to resettle her from time to time. It’s not exactly the stress free napping we all dream of.
This nap success comes after some night sleep success over the last couple of months. With a lot of help from The Engineer, I no longer feed her to sleep. She sleeps on her bed all night, and wakes once for a feed, sometimes twice. She goes to bed at 6:30 and wakes up around 5:30. Once again, not exactly some people’s idea of perfect.
To me, both of these situations are absolutely amazing. I can see her growing and learning to calm down (instead of getting manically over tired). I am getting a little bit more space from her. I am hopeful that things will improve more in the future.
But it’s also a great reminder that our journeys are our own, and no one else’s. And it’s not worth comparing them. If I compare this sleep situation to the best sleepers I know, I’d probably break down and cry. If I compare it to the worst sleepers I know, I’d feel pretty darn good, maybe even a little cocky. But both comparisons are just pointless. Because The Engineer’s Baby is not either of those other babies, nor will she ever be. And nor would I want her to be. Because she’s awesome as she is.
I tend to be a little on the competitive side, so it’s not always easy to just focus on my own path. I get distracted by everything else out there. But I am making a concerted effort to put some blinkers on and forget about the others. It’s not a race. It’s an adventure, and a wonderful one at that!
And for us, in our adventure, these bed naps are absolutely something to celebrate!
There have been naps in her bed, and cautious celebration of that fact.
There has been a lot of standing, and one nearly-attempted step.
The basket of blankets has been repeatedly tipped over and emptied, resulting in blanket forts and peekaboo galore.
There has been drawer opening, and finger slamming, and installation of a drawer latch.
There has been a lot more video, because I want to remember it all.
The trips to the pool have been few and far between because of “the haze”, and I’ve been a little stir crazy.
There has been climbing and clambering and more and more “games”.
There has been more and more eating, especially when it’s watermelon.
The tooth hasn’t popped through yet, but it has got to be close.
The Engineer’s Baby has been growing and changing at a rate of knots. It’s crazy, it’s exciting, it’s a little bit sad. And it’s these little things that I want to remember. First steps, first words, they’re all well and good. But they’re just the milestones. The rest is life, and it’s amazing.
Yesterday, my plans for my afternoon off were thwarted by a busted battery in our car. So instead of heading to a movie, I walked into town to buy hot cross bun-making supplies. I was surprised to find nothing at the German Shop (which has lots of imported European food), but also surprised to find everything I needed at the Department Store (which is more locally focussed). I also found some Coke and chips, and on my way home I stopped by the river to have a snack.
I used to come to the river often. But it’s pretty warm, so since The Engineer’s Baby came along, our visits have become less frequent.
Sitting there reminded my why I used to come so often. It’s close to our house. And I love the view.
But perhaps my favourite part is behind me: the food stalls. The food is cheap. The stall owners are friendly. The view is great. It’s pretty much perfect.
So last night, instead of getting some takeaways, The Engineer and baby met me at the river for dinner.
We drank Ice Lemon Tea, and ate squid and rice and popia. The Engineer’s Baby sat in her pushchair and watched the fans and chewed on squid and veges.
It was a little warm. But it was lovely. And it was a great way to get outside a little bit. I definitely needed to get outside a little bit!
It took a long time for The Engineer’s Baby to make her way into our family. We reached the four year anniversary of starting our journey to parenthood before she was born (I wrote about the details here). And those four years were HARD. I was often not my best self. I was jealous, and scared, and angry, and worried. I was (on and off) depressed.
If there was one thing that was guaranteed to get me, it was a pregnancy announcement. And they came thick and fast (I was, after all, in my late twenties!). As much as I was so very happy for my friends and family, I was deeply sad for myself. Sometimes it was just a quick twinge of pain. Sometimes an announcement would have me in bed and crying for a day. I didn’t want to feel that way, but I did.
And then I got pregnant. And then we got past the first trimester. And suddenly pregnancy announcements were just exciting to me (which was an amazing change). It was great. And once she was born, babies and announcements were even more wonderful.
But recently a friend with a baby not much older than The Engineer’s Baby announced her second pregnancy. Then April Fool’s Day brought several fake pregnancies. Another friend announced her baby’s birth. And the little (very little) niggles of jealousy made me realise that the experience of infertility will probably never leave me. Sure, to the outside world, I am now on the “other side”, and sure, my day to day experience is as a parent, not as someone going through infertility. But my past experience has made its mark on me.
I think part of the reason is that I am now out of the newborn fog, and reaching the point that number two doesn’t seem like quite such a crazy prospect. But the reality is that it’s not likely to be our choice if or when that happens. Everyone seems to have a story of someone who went through hell for a first baby, and the second came as a surprise (in fact, I have more than one friend for whom that has been the case). And there’s still plenty of time for that to happen to us. But there are no guarantees*, and the idea of trying again is a little bit scary.
This recent experience has reminded me just how “loaded” pregnancy is for me (and many others). The feelings are less important day to day, but they’re still there. The experience is (in some ways) past, but it’s still there. And I think it always will be.
I am really not dwelling too much on this (even though a dedicated blog post may suggest otherwise). I am happy where we are. So happy. I am just pondering and realising and processing.
And when I do get a little caught up in thinking, I take a lot of comfort in the fact that if there is another go around, I will not have time to be taken over by the experience. After all, there is this little person demanding my attention most of the time, and reminding me just how lucky I am. (Because, seriously. Look at her. So lucky.)
* and yes, I know there are no guarantees for anyone, but we have very good reason to think it might not come easy.