Monday, September 16, 2013

Real Life.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: our sweet Levi is one magical baby. Rarely fussy and he has been smiling since birth. Sleeps through the night and nurses like a champion. No diaper rash, no reaction to laundry detergent or soap. Takes a bottle if he has to and can entertain himself like nobody's business. He's magic.

I read "Baby Wise" when I was pregnant and it made a lot of sense to me. The basic principles are that if a baby eats every 3 hours, has adequate wake time, and takes good naps, all in that order, you will have a generally happy baby. The baby will receive all of the calories he/she needs throughout the day to start sleeping through the night between 8-12 weeks old. Problem solving is much easier because you know when his/her tummy's full because they eat a full feeding each time they eat. A mom can plan her day with ease because she knows when the baby will (most likely) be hungry (with the exception of sick days and growth spurts in which case baby needs to eat more often.) The overall theory of Baby Wise is that if you can implement this routine into your baby's life, you will have room for flexibility and it will be easier to find a way to invest into your marriage as well, because you're not as stressed and the overall mood of the home is stable and as predictable as it can be with a child in the house! That was so important to me: to nurture my child in a way that would meet his needs and let him know he was so loved, but also to continue to grow in my relationship with my husband, all the while honoring the Lord.

That's all I wanted. So I began that routine in my baby's life as soon as he was born.
And you know what? IT WORKED! Levi went from getting up twice each night to once each night to sleeping through the night in a matter of 8.5 weeks. Rarely has he cried when I've had no idea why. Never have I ever sat and nursed all day long. I dropped the dream feed at 11 weeks old and ever since then he's been sleeping 12 hours a night, just like the book said he would. He is a super happy, easy going hunk of love. The kid is text book. 

Eh, not so much. His issue is napping, or lack there of. It has never been a struggle putting him down for nap. He let's out one or two whimpers, closes his eyes, and sucks on that paci until he's sound asleep. It's a beautiful process. However, since about 6 weeks old, he has never (well, with very few exceptions) napped for more than 45 minutes. Now, Baby Wise says a baby should nap anywhere between 1.5-2 hours (depending on age and time of day). The book contains all sorts of simple solutions to the problem. I found myself in the midst of a battle, trying to stuff my crazy baby into the author's formula: eat and play for 1.5 hours, sleep for 1.5 hours, then repeat. Except it wasn't working.

So then I tried everything. I asked my husband what I should do. He had no answers. I asked my mom, my friends, I read several blogs and re-read Baby Wise, sure to find answers! Apparently this phenomenon is known as "the 45 minute intruder," aka "I'm not the only one who's ever had to deal with this." Comforting, believe it or not. Anyway, my problem was that he wouldn't stay sleeping during his sleep transition that occurs in people after about 45 minutes of sleep. When he woke, he was clearly still so tired and desperately needed at least another 30 minutes of sleep, but couldn't fall back asleep. So I did what the experts said to do.

We tried cry it out with intermissions of reassurance. We cried it out without reassurance. We tried PUPD (pick up, put down), rocking, hand on belly, reassuring words, less wake time, more wake time, less stimulation, more stimulation, nursing one more time before nap, darkening the room, white noise, etc. I even considered Baby Wise's advice on "infant fatigue" in which a baby has been so tired for so long that it's recommended you let the baby sleep in your arms for a few days to catch up on much needed sleep, then place back in crib. But guess what? After days and days of trying each and every one of these, we ended up exactly where we started: a 45 minute nap.

After many afternoons of frustration, many days doubting my ability to even be a good parent, many times wondering if my kid would be able to thrive without good naps...I've come to a conclusion: it is what it is. Truth be told, Levi is not textbook. He
is not someone you shove into a mold. He is our Levi Jack. He is a unique individual created by my Almighty Creator. Don't get me wrong, all the books and all the unsolicited advice are great guidelines and I believe each have general principles worth applying. However, my kid is not going to squeeze into a parental one size fits all formula. I need to see him for who he is and do my best to meet him where he's at.

Here's a fun thought: our Creator sees us for who we are and meets us exactly where we're at. Funny how this whole "having a baby" thing really makes you better understand God's love for us.

So here's my conclusion: my little man is still most certainly magical, but it has nothing to do with what he does or doesn't do. I call my baby magical simply because he's mine.

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