Monday, October 28, 2013

The Intellectual Challenge of Motherhood: Part I

My sister has nine children.  Yes, it is true.  Nine.  (It is my favorite conversation-stopper.) 

What's more is that they are happy, healthy, kind, intelligent, and faithful.  My sister makes bearing and rearing children look like a lot of fun-she thinks each is the cutest, most adorable thing on the planet, and enjoys them thoroughly.  I have always thought of her as my lodestar of what I wanted to be like as a mother.

What I love most about the way that she mothers is the *thinking* that is involved to help her children and herself be happy.  She is constantly thinking-and praying-about each child's individual needs.  I'll never forget her elation when, once while visiting her in Wisconsin, she shared how she had puzzled for a while over the challenges and needs of her sixth child. Inspiration had finally dawned in figuring out how to creatively meet his needs.  I was impressed that she had the intellectual space to do this considering all of the other demands placed upon her. 

One thing my sister has figured out is that children--and mothers--are happiest when they sleep.  A lot.  She designs her baby's day from birth to sleep as much as possible.  This starts with healthy calorie in-take during the day - both for the mother and the baby - regular feedings, and different night routines.  She has even written a little booklet on topic that she is continually republishing for friends and family.

With her as my example, I set out to help my little one sleep as much as possible.  Although sleeping through the night came quickly (four weeks) using her methods, day sleep continued to be a challenge.  I again followed my sister's example to think and pray my way through all of the things that disrupted his sleep, including a tongue tie, needing absolute darkness, burps (curse them!), habit, and--only confusing to us--sleep-talking (including sleep crying and sleep laughing). 

Each challenge has required research and a lot of thinking and praying (yes, I pray about everything) to both figure out and address the problem.  I have also hired a part-time sleep-expert nanny to help me work in the afternoons and also to help me research and think through Gideon's daytime sleep issues (she's currently in the bathroom where we sleep G bouncing his hammock up and down to coax him through this tough first afternoon nap). 

The results of all of this thinking is a happy little boy and a much happier mamma, with a schedule that looks like the following:

6:45 a.m. up
8:30-10:00 a.m. morning nap
12:00-3:00 p.m. first afternoon nap (with a lot of help between 1:30 and 3:00 currently).
4:00-5:00 p.m. second afternoon nap
6:45 p.m. down for the night

Thankfully, the night sleep is uber-consistent and has survived growth spurts, jet lag, and, as of this weekend, his first two teeth!

I realize not every baby can/needs to sleep as much as Gideon, but he loves his sleep.  As long as he gets it, I, like my sister, think my baby is the cutest little boy I have ever met.

(video: part of the intellectual challenge of motherhood is to figure out what challenges your baby.  G can do gross motor movements like standing and sitting on queue, or, here, "tucking," but not yet fine motor skills like clapping or waving.  He's also learning how to climb the stairs - no joke.  He is so pleased with himself.  He demands to "tuck" over and over and over.  This includes laying back by himself, scooching to the edge, and then flipping over. Such a boy!)   

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