the longest six months
Today my Stetson is six months old - if you'd asked me six days in I'd never have thought we would make it this far.
Having a child is the single most challenging thing I have ever done in my life.
I've done more research since having Stetson than I did in all of my academic career and you know what? Parenting can't be written in a book - parenting comes from inside. It can't be taught or learned by anyone except you and your baby. It's different for everyone.
This is what parenting has looked like for me:
• My son doesn't sleep - okay, well he didn't. Two days in it became clear that it is completely untrue that all babies can be fed, swaddled and put down where they will lay peacefully and sleep until they need to eat again. Stetson could NOT be put down. And swaddled? Dream on. We gave up so fast on those two things it wasn't even funny. Our Stetson would only sleep on my or my husband's chest and if you even so much as thought of swaddling him you had another thing coming. Even baby experts (my mom, mother in law and sisters) weren't able to conquer the swaddle battle. And so - the baby who "would never sleep in our bed" slept in our bed. Did I mention you'll be wrong about every preconceived parenting notion you ever had? It all changes when you haven't slept for five days.
Napping didn't come easy either. I'd strap on that BabyHawk and walk circles around the kitchen until Stetson fell asleep, and it didn't stop there - to keep him napping you had to keep moving - so I'd walk, for upwards of two hours per nap, to help my son sleep.
• My love grew - this is the hardest one to admit but I'm certain I'm not alone and so other moms should know this, in the event they feel this way. I have always cared for Stetson, I always made sure his needs were met, fed him, changed him, held him, etc. but I wasn't head over heels, wrapped up in undying love for him. In fact, when he was a few days old, I may have considered giving him to a really nice person if they'd have offered - but no one offers to take a screaming little baby, lucky for me. Six months in I am one hundred percent in love with him and everything he does. He's partly me and mostly his dad - whom I love more than anyone in the whole entire world. The love comes, it sneaks up on you and all of the sudden those night wakings don't bother you as much because when he wakes up in the morning and smiles at you as you come in to his room you feel like your heart will just explode with all of the ridiculous love you feel for this chunky little human.
And so I will not hand out any advice to new parents. It probably won't do you any good, you'll probably have a baby that loves to sleep and loves to be swaddled and you'll wonder what the heck was wrong with my baby.
But here's the thing, now my Stetson naps in his crib, on his own, he doesn't like to be in the BabyHawk anymore, he wants to crawl all over the ground, on his own. He has his daddy's independence. He sleeps in his crib at night, in his own room. Snuggling against me no longer helps him sleep, he won't sleep on my chest anymore - even though everything I read said I was creating bad habits by allowing him to do so and he would always expect to sleep there - WRONG.
And you know what? I miss all of those ridiculous things that I thought were so terrible at the time. I miss cuddling him through his naps, wearing him in the BabyHawk and snuggling all night long. My baby boy is growing up too fast. I adore him because he's strong willed, determined, hilarious and devastatingly cute - all the reasons that I love his daddy. I thank God everyday for blessing me with such a high needs baby - nothing worth while is ever easy. I love you Stetson.