This week Eli turned three months old – I can hardly believe it! He has learned a lot in his three months of life… he can blow spit bubbles, hold his neck up and look around, roll from his tummy to his back, suck his thumb and give big toothless smiles to everyone!
I have sure learned a lot in his short life too! Here’s a little update about what I have learned so far in my early days of being his mama…
The biggest lesson I have learned is that there is not one right way to do this motherhood thing. In the last few weeks I have been stressing out about Eli’s sleep because I am still having to nurse or bounce him to sleep. I was reading all these books and online articles which gave me this super unrealistic expectation for what Eli’s sleep was “supposed” to look like. The so-called experts really try to horrify you and tell you that your baby will NEVER sleep if he can’t fall asleep on his own by three months… he will be seven years old and attached to your boob all night, you will never sleep another night in your life, he will be a wild hyena, etc.
So, I tried to implement their advice with Eli and it went terribly. I stressed out more, tried some more, and then went back to our trusty methods of bouncing and nursing to sleep. I’ve learned to accept that this is what is working for both of us right now, in this current season of his life. It might not be what is recommended, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right?! I am sure hoping that one day Eli will learn to sleep on his own, and I really do think that it will come in time, when he is ready to do so. Right now I am nurturing him in the way that he needs, making him feel safe and loved and that is what’s important.
Another epiphany I had… why is nursing to sleep like the worst thing you can do as a mom according to these genius sleep experts? I bought into this, and tried to break the “sleep association” as it is called. Well, why the heck would God have given us boobs that are close to our heart, where our babes can snuggle in our arms, feel our warmth, drink warm milk that actually contains SLEEP-INDUCING HORMONES (true story, look it up), and then not want our babies to fall asleep this way?! It’s the most natural thing and I think one of the most beautiful parts of motherhood. I literally cry sometimes when Eli snuggles up next to me and dozes off in my arms. How can this be wrong? Well, they say it’s wrong because your baby will wake up and want to nurse in the middle of the night even if he is not actually hungry. The wonderful experts would recommend that I begin to night wean because he can get all the calories he needs during the day. But hey experts, I am more than a milk machine and breastfeeding is about more than just calories. It is comfort, warmth, love and connection for a little human that grew inside of me for nine months. If he wants a full meal, snack or just a little cuddle with mama in the middle of the night, I am a-okay with that (for now… obviously we may have to reassess later on if it becomes an issue). End boob rant.
Overall the most important lesson that Eli has taught me so far is to just slow down. Every day he is growing and changing and I am given an amazing opportunity to be present in his early life. I have been putting my phone down, putting aside my long to-do lists, and just cherishing the moments that I get to spent with my little one who won’t be so little for long.
Sooo, moral of the story, I’m just going to keep going with what’s working for me and the squish, cherishing every moment of this short season, and taking all this expert advice with a grain of salt (or a whole lot of salt). I’m going to keep following Eli’s lead, giving him opportunities to develop independence, and nurturing him in the way that he currently needs. I think there is such beauty in finding our own path in motherhood and to being open to find out what works, and of course, willing to change with our babes and their growing independence. Following Eli’s lead has taught me a lot about him and about my own instincts as a mama. And ultimately, I want to be an expert at being his mom, not a book-reading and rule-implementing expert.
Lots of love to all you mamas out there who are figuring out what works for you and listening to those mama instincts!