When Baby #4 and I went to visit the doctor one week after her birth, he asked me how it was going.
“Well, it’s so much easier with my fourth,” I said. “At least I kind of know what I’m doing.”
Back with the first child, I read all the books about how to get a baby to sleep. I learned all about getting a baby on a good schedule as early as possible. I knew how to be tough and let a baby cry, if necessary, to teach her how to soothe herself to sleep.
I was making some progress with the newborn. Then, we hit five weeks. She had been more of a spitter than my others since birth. But as I anxiously awaited the end of the crabby stage that always hits at 6 weeks, she was getting fussier than ever.
We had made progress reaching four- and five-hour stretches of sleep, but seemed to be going backward. The spitting was turning into puking after every feeding.
At 3 months, I expected a growth spurt. I wasn’t ready for a week-long, round-the-clock, every-two-hour demand for nursing.
And now that we’ve hit four months, I’ve basically thrown away all of the books. Because they didn’t write a chapter about this.
Instead of doubling her birth weight at the 4-month visit, Babycake weighed in at 11 pounds, 7 ounces this month. The doctor actually gave me a little worried look because she had dropped down to the 15th percentile for weight. And his very conservative “breastmilk until 6 months approach” changed to, “let’s try to get her to eat cereal three times a day.” Starting now.
We’re not sure why she’s spitting up so much of what she’s consuming. It could be an allergy to something in my diet. Or she might grow out of it after we get her going on the cereal.
Until then, I’ve stopped worrying about the books and everything I learned with the other kids. She doesn’t have a sleep schedule. She is up basically every two hours all night long. She doesn’t nap well. And I think she’s spitting up so much of what she consumes that’s she simply hungry.
She’s a super sweet, smiley baby when she’s fed and her tummy doesn’t hurt. She’s started laughing out loud. She makes spitting noises at us to get our attention. She rolls up on her sides and scoots on her back to try to get what she wants. She’s reaching all of her milestones.
But when she cries, I hold her. When she chews her hand, I feed her. Even if it hasn’t been three hours. Even when the books say not to.
And that’s OK. Because I did learn one thing from being a mom of three other kids. I will blink, and she will be 9 years old. This time will be over before I know it.
I feel like I have no book knowledge on how to help her or what to do next. I’m going purely on that mommy gut instinct at this point, and thankfully, that’s one thing I have now that I couldn’t get from a book.