What did I come in here for?

I think there’s probably only one or two things you can be really “about” as a parent, at any one time. For me, with my sleepless baby (and former sleepless baby), I have to be all about not leaving them to cry,  and structure my mothering around that a lot of the time. So I co-sleep with Secondborn, because otherwise I’d die of being tired. I have no plans to nightwean him just yet, because he goes to sleep when I breastfeed him and I don’t have the resources to do any soothing that involves standing up. Preferably no sitting up, either.

So I do get a bit fed up with being told that “if I had a baby like [insert description here], I’d leave them to cry.” No, I didn’t with Firstborn when she took hours to go to sleep. I don’t with Secondborn when he wakes every hour some nights.  I believe that babies do not cry unless they are distressed. I believe, and my experience with Firstborn bears it out, that when a non-CIO’d child sleeps, they sleep securely, and I’m prepared to go through some hell to get there. I limit the circle of hell I’m willing to descend to these days, though, and so I’m a co-sleeping, feed-on-cue freak.

Is it true that you need to look after yourself in order to look after your children? I don’t think that holds true for a value of “look after” that’s meaningful to someone who’s not a mother, not when the children are small. Craving little bits of time; craving a solo trip to the toilet or a cup of tea drained to the bottom before it’s cold; craving half an hour where nobody needs to use your body for anything: that’s not how other people live.

Gosh, I really don’t know where I’m going with this. Non-tired me would have. She had connected thoughts all the time.


One Response to What did I come in here for?

  1. Ruth Moss says:

    I was in hospital once with my baby; he was just coming up for a year. We thought it was serious (he’d fallen down the stairs a few days earlier, and had suddenly started vomiting, which we thought was related and a sign of brain injury – turns out he just had horrible horrible tummy bug) so were really scared.

    The nurses did the usual thing of “how often does he feed, does he have a dummy, what’s his routine etc.” (in case he had to stay in a long while and I or my husband couldn’t be there) and when I told them he usually woke two or three times in the night to nurse, they didn’t say anything. I said if I wasn’t there he could have water or I’d try to express some milk if I could. I planned that I’d be there whatever.

    But later that night when they thought I was asleep I heard them talking, and one of them said – and clearly about my baby, “don’t you think it’s weird he still wakes two or three times?” and the other nurse said “well if that was my baby he’d get short bloody shrift” and they all laughed. There was me lying awake terrified that my baby had a brain injury and all they could do was take the piss out of his sleeping habits. I did actually complain, but unofficially as I knew the manager personally.

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