Sunday, September 30, 2007

River News: Month Six

Mr. Riverton,

Everyone says having kids is the most wonderful thing to happen to you. And that is definitely true. But so rarely do people explain that the extraordinary highs of parenthood are often met by extraordinary lows.

This month, River, your mother has had a few days (and nights) of lows. For one, I'm starting to really feel the social limitations of having a baby. Missed engagements because you were in no mood to leave the house, frantic dinners out where your father and I spent the entire time chasing after toys you've flung, being overlooked entirely by friends for some really fun events--these are things we've experienced just in the last week. It has made me feel like a social pariah at a time when I'm really ready to engage in the world as an adult.

Then we have the eternally ongoing problem of how to get you to sleep longer. Anytime we give you a unique sleeping situation to deal with you take to it beautifully for the first day, then it's all downhill from there. This month we moved you to your crib and the first two nights were a great success. You slept for huge chunks of time and went down very easily the couple times you woke. Then it became less easy. You started waking more often, and you stopped going back to sleep without effort.

At my most desperate I found myself in your room in the non-hours two nights ago--over and over I would nurse you to a relaxed state, then gently place you in your crib where you immediately fussed to be picked up again. There I was, reaching on tip toes over your crib, the rail pressing the breath out of my ribs as I patted and soothed you; cold, desperate, exhausted. When your father finally relieved me after an hour, I went upstairs and sobbed into my pillow. The frustration of trying and trying and trying to help you sleep--to no avail--was overwhelming. Why does it have to be so hard?

I think the secret to getting through all of this is simply surrendering to you. When I have agendas and expectations I am almost always disappointed by your (understandable) inability to live up to them. On the other hand, when I try to view the world through your eyes, frustration just melts away and I can enjoy my time with you. Even if that time is spent picking up toys you've thrown or rocking you at 2am.

One nice development this month has been the time we've been spending with other babies and mommies. We've always spent some amount of time doing yoga, library lap-sits, and play groups, but this month I've made it a priority to get out to one of these things at least every other day. And because you are so independently mobile now, these events are becoming less stressful and much more fun. Spending time with adults--even if the only thing I talk about is you--has been vital to my mental and physical health. Plus, watching you interact with other little ones is just priceless. You are so sweet and curious, reaching out to touch the other babies, smiling at their new or familiar faces.

I'm still searching for a mom I get along well enough with to spend some one-on-one time with. There are no other mothers in my social sphere, so finding a mommy friend is pretty important to me. Of course, I'm picky. Where are all the other hippy mommies? We are in Cambridge, for Pete's sake. Maybe I should find a drum circle to take us to.

Now, no monthly newsletter would be complete without an update of all the new developments you've had, but this month is a doozy!

Physically, you're just working and working. You've mastered the "commando crawl" and are getting faster every day. I'm amazed how often I put you down in one spot just to check in moments later and find you two feet away. The "lazy" days of pre-mobile baby are coming to a close.

At the same time that you've been working on crawling, you've learned how to pull yourself up to standing, to cruise from mommy to coffee table to couch, to step sideways, and to get into a sitting position from your belly. I've checked a couple parenting books and read that some of these skills don't usually come until 9 months or later. You're nuts! And very determined.

You recently got a third tooth in, and I'm sure the fourth isn't far behind (I imagine that's some of the trouble you're having sleeping). You seem to be enthralled with how they feel in your mouth as you're constantly tonguing your lips and gums. Raspberries are now your major form of communication--except for what I think of as your dolphin call. Yes, my son, you squeak. I often don't know whether you're happy, sad, or just trying to say hello to Flipper, but the octaves you reach are amazing.

I know lots of babies go through a screaming phase where they test out their voices (and parents' patience), so I'm content to listen to squeals and squeaks for now.

In general, River, you are happy, curious, and adventurous. You give me no end of smiles and giggles. You love kisses and tickles and songs.

Making the shift to motherhood has been a trying thing for me at times, but you should never doubt that the good far outweighs the difficult. We're working on all of this together--learning from each other and making our way through life the best we can.

I know you love me, and I hope you know how very much I love you.

kisses to my pookie smookie butt,


Andy said...

Summer - the honesty of this post is rather reaffirming and you're right - no one tells you about the extraordinary lows that can come with being the parents of a newborn.

But fear not! These lows, like the pains of childbirth, soon recede into the background of memory and all you will remember is that your house was full of love.

And when you DO remember a crying, toy-throwing pookerton you will laugh because you'll be sharing that story with his girlfriend.

Ms. Marie said...

I remeber feeling the same way when I had Anthony. None of my friends would invite me to go with them anywhere and even worse I didn't have friends anymore. I definately found out that in my real life that I thought was full of people to hang out with and talk to when I had Anthony it turned into only two people who would go places with me and come over. It's hard and you learn to get used to it. Enjoy being home with River a great deal now, because soon you will lose that and will want it back...I know I do. :)


the author said...

Don't worry about that stuff, Summer. Your real friends will understand.

Summer Ryan Doyle said...

I appreciate that, J-man. I know you have been very patient. I also know it won't last forever. I will have a life again someday... ;)