For the past week, she's seemed a tad fussy. Okay, REALLY fussy. Fussing when I left the room. Fussing when I laid her down. Fussy through the night. It was, essentially, her typical behavior, only amplified. I took her to our pediatrician on Monday and hoped he could provide some answers.
While I held her in my lap, he checked her ears, checked her lungs, checked her gums ("Ear infection?? Croup?? Teething??"). He patted her head, rolled back in his chair, and declared she was in perfect health. I sat there, a bit dumbfounded, and said, "I think I must be going crazy. I could have sworn there was something going on." I should stop here and say that we absolutely love our pediatrician. He somehow manages to be refreshingly light-hearted and straightforward at the same time. He has not only seen our children grow, but he's seen us grow as parents. Me, especially. So, when he saw me sitting there, desperate, he smiled and told me he had a diagnosis. My eyes lit up and he said it:
Wait, what? I looked at the baby girl bouncing and smiling in my lap and my mind went over what a typical day looks like for us at our home: She's happy when she wakes up, happy when we're playing ... happy when she's eating .... fussy when she's left alone, fussy when we lay her down, fussy when she ... isn't ... constantly ... entertained. Then she goes from fussy to screamy. Screamy for a long time. My head fell back as I moaned that YES, he was RIGHT. I knew she was a spitfire. I just always thought she was a bit of a sickly spitfire (with the dairy issues of old), so I always rushed to her aid whenever she let out a fuss. And, honestly, it helped to keep the mayhem down if constantly keeping her within my view meant she wouldn't fuss (which makes it tough to accomplish anything). It hadn't dawned on me that I wasn't working to teach her the value of playing and being alone. And now, at practically seven months old, she knows how to get her way. Time flies, I mean, it FLIES with the second baby. And truly, I had lost track of time. It has been three months since she's been weaned. And yet I've still treated her like she is sick, needing constant attention.
Well, folks, no worries there. My little lady is healthy as a horse.
So, I asked our pediatrician what I should do. He grinned. Not a happy grin, but an evil grin. Like he knew that I wasn't going to like his answer. My eyes grew wide and I asked, "What??" He smiled and answered, "Baby Wise."
My jaw dropped to the floor.
"What?? I thought you didn't recommend Baby Wise!" He then clarified that he hadn't recommended it for Cub, because Cub didn't need the kind of discipline that a schedule provides (he just put himself on a routine). However. Naomi does. After smacking my forehead dramatically and groaning on how much I really don't like Baby Wise, I finally conceded that I could see its value in this situation. Naomi put herself on a routine a few months ago, but my giving in to her fussiness never allowed that routine to progress and develop, as all baby routines do. It was really hard for me to admit it, but my pediatrician was right. I knew she needed to cry it out. I knew she needed to learn to play alone.
I knew she needed boundaries.
I knew she needed the thing I tell all of my new mom friends their babies need. They need a routine! Boundaries! Discipline starts in the crib! And yet somehow, some way, I had forgotten my own advice. My stress and the way I allowed myself to simply cope with the chaos of our days had gotten in the way of my ability to see things for what they were: Unacceptable. I was managing, but I wasn't thriving. I think a big part of me still sees her as this tiny infant, but really, she's growing rather quickly, and I know that if I don't put an end to jumping at her every beck and call, I'm going to REALLY regret it a few months down the road. It's a lot easier to teach a baby the value of doing things on her own than it is to teach a toddler.
Especially a sassy one, like my little lady is sure to be.
After we left the doctor's office, I called a friend and asked for the book. I've read it before and I reviewed it again that night. It wasn't nearly as intimidating when I realized I was going to be applying some of its principles to a seven month old, not a seven day old. And in my head I envisioned myself eating a very large piece of humbled pie.
When I gave Naomi her bottle at bedtime, I snuggled her close to me while we rocked in the glider. I took a deep breath and explained that things were going to change a little. She smiled and played with my hair.
Today was the first day of trying to create a routine. Naomi did awesome. Her biggest challenge continues to be when I leave the room. So, I let her fuss about it and work it out for a bit before swooping her up with a kiss. And by the end of the day, her stretches of being able to be alone were getting a little longer.
So, is this a post recommending Baby Wise? No. It's just a post recommending that you do what is best for your kids. I could say that Naomi might not respond well to a routine at all. But I know she will. I know she needs boundaries. I just needed a trusted person--her doctor ... and someone we would consider a friend--to tell me she's ready.
We're both ready.
A gutsy, tough little lady ... and her very humbled Mama.