Thursday, March 29, 2018

This too shall pass

Towards the end of my pregnancy with Henry I had a hard time catching my breath. He was breech, and it felt like his head was crowding my lungs. I couldn't walk from one room to another without feeling like I needed to sit down. When I sat down he crowded my lungs even more, and I felt like I needed to lay down. I laid down, but that wasn't really comfortable either. Then he was born, and all of that was gone.

When we brought him home from the hospital I was a mess. I cried about everything. I was really sore due to my cesarean, and it was hard for me to stop and rest. When you try to jump out of bed every time your newborn baby makes a sound you realize that you apparently had more stomach muscles than you thought, and it hurts. A lot. Then the incision healed, and the pain was gone.

I will never forget when Henry started having severe gas problems and how he cried. My normally happy baby cried for three days straight. I rubbed his tummy and tried to burp him and bicycled his legs, but he still cried. I wanted so badly to fix it but felt like I was failing him, and I cried. He would cry so hard and scratch my chest with his little baby claws fingernails when I held him, and I would cry out of frustration and feelings of helplessness. Then we switched his formula, and the gas was gone.

We had several days where he would fight sleep until I thought I was going to lose my mind. Looking back now it doesn't seem quite as bad, but in the moment I knew he needed sleep. To this first time mama it was devastating. I felt like I had done something wrong. I would Google sleep questions and end up more frustrated than before. My baby didn't fit the mold, and I had apparently already ruined him. I felt like I spent the biggest part of my day trying to get him to sleep and the rest of it making sure I didn't wake him. I have cried more tears over this than maybe anything else in my life. Then FINALLY we were able to put him in his crib to fall asleep on his own, and that phase was gone.

Everyone has heard the old saying, "this too shall pass". It can be encouraging to remind us that every difficult thing in life is just a season, and seasons change. When I was losing my mind and feeling closed-off from the world fighting sleep battles day in and day out, this saying may have helped me through the rough moments. When he was a total meanie for what seemed like forever before getting his first teeth I told myself, this too shall pass. When he ended up in our bed every night and people warned me that he would be there until he was six years old I told myself, this too shall pass. He is now in his crib. Teeth have popped through. He eventually gets tired enough to fall asleep on his own. Those things have passed, and now I am wishing I wouldn't have been so focused on waiting for the hard things to end. I think I may have have forgotten to cherish some really sweet things during that time.

Seasons come and go without our permission, and this is never more obvious than when you become a parent. Just this week I realized that he doesn't rub his blanket on his nose nearly as much as he used to. He no longer needs me there to fall asleep, and we are done with bottles, swaddling, infant carriers, his baby swing, and a mile-long list of other things. Yesterday when he woke from his nap and buried his face in my neck I took full advantage, and we walked several laps around the kitchen like we did when he was a tiny baby. I will admit I may have stood there crying as I remembered how I would walk back and forth with him in the night trying to avoid the squeaky spots in the floor, and I needed that moment. I needed to stand there holding my baby and breathing him in and crying about how blessed I am to have him. Every parent is warned of how quickly the time passes and how fast things change, but you just can't fully understand until that time has already slipped through your fingers. You are left wondering where that chubby baby went, and you are sitting on the couch crying like the baby he isn't over a blog post while you watch him fall asleep on the monitor.

I don't consider myself wise enough to be giving advice to other parents, but I do know what my experiences have taught me thus far. The biggest lesson I think I have learned is to try and savor every moment, even when you want to pull your hair out. It won't come easily, and you will probably have to learn this lesson, like so many others, on your own...but it is a lesson worth learning. So when the baby is crying, your toddler is throwing a fit, or when you are picking up blocks for the 7,482 time...this too shall pass. But more importantly, when he runs to you for comfort, gives you the sloppiest kisses, or sweetly rubs the best corner of his blanket on your nose...this too shall pass.

Don't forget to soak in every second of it all.

Now excuse me while I go wash the tears and mascara off my face...


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