Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Holding On and Letting Go

I have been thinking today about life and how right from the first few weeks of life it is one big struggle for independence, either for the baby or the parent. I guess I was thinking about it because I am a big believer in teaching my babies how to self-sooth and to fall asleep without me nursing them or rocking them every time. I'm not talking about letting them cry it out when they are only a few weeks old, but just taking small measures to teach them to fall asleep on their own. I make it a habit to put them down when they are still awake so that they fall asleep without depending on me, or a swing, or even a bouncy chair, though I do make exceptions now and again! It works, or it has worked for my babies anyway. My first two both slept through the night consistently by 8 weeks old, and I am hoping that Micah will do the same.

The irony of my situation is that in my zeal to train my baby to sleep well, I might miss out on some precious baby moments. The thing is, during the day I do want some space and I don't want to always have to hold him, but sometimes in the evenings or even during the day I really want him to sleep on me. He does fall asleep in our arms, and I really like it, but there's always this nagging in the back of my mind that I should be careful not to do that all the time or he won't learn to sleep well. It made me realize that there is a bit of a catch 22 situation here. On the one hand, he will only be a newborn once, and I really want to hold him and cuddle him and enjoy this time while it lasts. On the other hand, the sleep habits that I teach him now will determine how he sleeps for literally the rest of his life. So, I guess it is about balance. My challenge is to soak up as much of this newborn baby stage as I can without sabotaging his or our sleep in the process.

Don't worry, I am making it sound so dramatic, but it really is not. I cuddle Micah lots, but there is a part of me that would love to just sit and hold him for hours on end, but I know I can't do that all the time. It just made me think about how there is a weaning process that almost begins at birth, even in really small ways. I guess that's because we are not made to be dependent on our parents forever. As soon as we become parents we want to hold on to our children, but almost from the very beginning we are being slowly trained to let them go. And now, having typed all that, I am acutely aware of the emptiness of my arms at the moment. Micah is in his bouncy chair after a very fussy evening, but he is stirring now and will be waking up very soon to eat. Funny how I just want to hold him now that I have said all of that. He really is sweet and adorable, and I love him so much already, just as I knew I would. I think it's time to hold him now. I feel so bitter-sweet right now. Life just seems to fly by too quickly, and even though Micah is barely two weeks old I know that he will grow up in a flash before my very eyes and I will long for these days once again. So, even when things are difficult I will try to remember how precious this time is and I will try to hold all of my boys before they are all too busy for hugs and cuddles.


Allison said...

Hey Cat,

I found your post on this topic really interesting. It is a process isn't it... I haven't had the opportunity yet to experience what that will be like but I do believe it is true - from the start we will need to learn to let go but still hold on. Our pastor gave my hubby some advice a while ago to hold our children lightly once we finally get them. Looks like that could be a long while since the collapse of the agency we were using but some day I hope to experience the "holding on and letting go". Love your blog my friend. Lots of thoughts and prayers for you this past while as you adjust to your new baby and life with three boys!

Allison D

CAT said...

Hey Allison. I'm sorry to hear that things did not work out with that agency! I have been wondering.

Thanks for your prayers! You are right about it being a process, and for me it is a slow one! But I am adjusting and feeling very blessed, even amid frustration and frequent tears! Your pastor's advice is good, and difficult to follow too!

I'm off to bed. It's after midnight and Micah is fed, but not sleeping, so we'll see how it goes.