It seems that after having three babies and being a parent for five years, there are so many things about having a baby I just can’t quite figure out how to do well! So often people say, “Well, you have three so you should be a pro,” or “Well, with three that should be easy.” They aren’t totally wrong. There are so many things that feel easier about caring for a little one the third time around. For starters, breastfeeding is like second nature. Today, I pulled my boob out mid conversation with the doctor during my oldest’s most recent check-up because the baby was fussing and I didn’t even think twice about it. Yesterday, I stood in the aisle at Lowe’s standing and nursing while picking out tiles. When we were about to move to another aisle my husband gently asked if I wanted to finish nursing first. Without him there I would have just kept on going without a thought—which may be a good or a bad thing—but nonetheless nursing feels like second nature this time around.
There are lots of other things that I still feel clueless about all these years in. So much of parenting gets more complex over time. Having additional children has made me less sure of the “right” ways to mother my babies. In so many ways I still feel like a beginner each and every day with these kids of mine.
Baby sleep. I have no idea how to get babies to sleep! I think I may actually make my children sleep worse. Our youngest slept thru the night a few times and then stopped. Every night when, where, how and how long she will sleep is a big question mark. She may start in her swing, try her crib at midnight, my husband may take her to the couch and most of the time by morning she is in our bed. I mean, I’m sure there is a method somewhere that could help me be better at this, but honestly I don’t have it in me. I can only stand so much crying and I give in. Plus in the middle of the night it seems like all common sense, any plan and all the rules go out the window. I know one day I will sleep again, but for now I accept that I don’t know how to get babies to sleep.
Baby food. Feeding babies requires books, blogs and doctor consultations these days. Not to mention every source you consult comes with different advice. Baby led weaning, baby food, bottles, rice, peanuts at 3 months or wait till one for everything. I am just so confused. On top of everything, all the rules have changed in the past 5 years. When Isaac was testing new foods there was a strict list of foods not to eat till after one. Now there is all this information coming out saying you should give babies all the scary things right away to keep allergies away.
Worry. Babies make me worry about all the things. I worry for all my kids, but there is something about having a baby brings out the crazy in me. You’d think by number three I’d chill out, but just ask my husband, he will attest to the fact that my fears for our baby have only grown. As I’ve gotten more into the land of parenthood my knowledge of all the things that can go wrong has grown. With the first one ignorance was bliss. There also are more little hands and feet in our house to worry will harm the newest one too. At the slightest sign of a sniffle my blood pressure goes up 100 points. There is something about their sweet tiny bodies, so perfect but helpless that makes me so concerned about them getting sick. I hate when the older ones are sick, but I see them run and play and know they are tough and can handle the germs. A baby’s body is untested, making this Momma worry, worry, worry about the “what if’s.”
Milestones. All my kids hit their milestones so differently. The oldest was so very slow. He walked at 17 months. The middle one was pretty average, walking a little after one. Our baby girl is speeding ahead at lightning fast, doing all the things! That may have something to do with birth order, which is what everyone says, but I know plenty of people whose third kid is the “slower one” in hitting milestones so I tend to think it’s just part of how we are each made. As far as normally developing children there is a lot of variation in how each person grows from a infant to a running wild toddler. The how’s and why’s of one kid taking their time and another growing fast is a mystery still to me!
All that to say some things about this parenting thing will always remain a mystery. There is so much grey area when dealing with caring for and helping to shape another human. When I first became a mom I was on a mission to find the “right” way to do things. Do I use attachment parenting or let my baby cry it out? Do I keep nursing or wean? Do I co-sleep or never let our child know we have our own bed? As long as we work to show our children God’s love through our consistent engagement and clear guidance there is a lot of wiggle room on how we do the other things. There is in fact no “right” or “perfect” way to parent and I am sure many things about my children will remain a mystery through all the seasons to come.