How can six months seem to have gone by so quickly, when they held some of the longest days and nights we have ever known? Those first couple days, even weeks, made us look at each other and say, "What were we thinking?" Sleepless nights, cluster feedings, and projectile pooping across brand-new carpeting made me sob. Milk coming out nostrils made me panic and call the lactation specialist to ask if that was normal. (It is.) And record-breaking July temperatures made us hole up in the bedroom, our only room with air conditioning, leaving only for food and the bathroom. Somewhere in those first few weeks, we started to gain our footing and feel like we could handle this parenting thing. Because it was definitely too late to give him back. Not that we really wanted to.
We found that he loved his swing and it bought us time to make dinner, or take a shower, or take a nap. His feedings started stretching out a little and he started to like to lay on his play mat and I didn't feel like he needed me every single second of the day. I ventured out to the library for story time when he was just two weeks old and breathed a little easier just knowing I could leave the house with him. And it helped to see moms with toddlers and realize he wouldn't be a teeny tiny baby forever.
And then around the six week mark, swaddling worked. And we all started sleeping. The whole night. Mary was onto something when she wrapped Jesus in those swaddling clothes. That woman wanted her sleep, even if he was the Christ child. Oh, and we started to see smiles. Real smiles, not just hey-you're-going-to-love-this-diaper smiles.
Keith weathered one evening a week on his own so I could get out of the house to go to yoga. So I could lay on my mat and pretend to meditate and really just think about my baby, who screamed from the second I closed the door until the moment I walked back through nearly two hours later. I learned to grocery shop with a baby strapped to my chest. I started to settle into my new role as a stay-at-home mom and we made the transition to being a one-income household. We started to find a routine for walks and naps and mealtimes and we started to feel more like a family instead of a couple of caretakers scurrying around a miniature tyrant. Our house started to feel like a home instead of just baby central.
Now he's on solid foods and loving them. And we're scraping poop into the toilet and rinsing diapers like pros. He's trying really, really hard to crawl. He has two teeth! He loves songs and toys that make noise and when he laughs, our hearts warm up.
We've learned to let him cry it out for naps and going to bed. Boy, that was tough but now he usually only whimpers for a couple minutes and then rolls over and falls asleep. Unless he's teething. Then he might get up at 2 a.m. and cry until 4 a.m. no matter what we do. He goes to bed sometime between 7 and 8 every night, and it makes a world of difference to have our evenings back. To sit quietly on the couch together. To not flip a coin to see who has to miss "The Middle" this week to rock him to sleep. Yeah, teaching him to go to sleep on his own was worth it.
Those first couple weeks, I had this idea in my head that it would be the better part of a year until he changed significantly. That he would still be as needy as he was in the beginning, that the nights wouldn't get better, that he would always be so fussy. I am continually surprised by how much he changes day to day, week to week. Sometimes I fail to notice it, until somebody visits and picks him up and I think, "He looks really big!" To see him bat at a toy for the first time, learn to roll over, recognize and reach for his toys, get excited to see Keith come through the door each day after work, all of it delights and amazes me. They aren't all good days. I guess I could say it another way: some days, every diaper is a poop-y diaper. But we are really excited to watch him discover and learn, and to discover and learn right along with him.
You should know we never felt like we were doing this alone. Everybody loves a baby, and we are incredibly fortunate to have so many family, friends, and neighbors who love our baby. From baby gear and bibs and blankets, to casseroles, coffee and encouragement, we've been surrounded and supported by a pretty amazing group of people. We're so thankful to have all of you in our lives, and touched that you want to be a part of our baby's life. We're excited about what the next days, months, and years will bring, and look forward to sharing all of those moments with you.