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.