Julian is not a cuddly baby. As a newborn he would NOT be swaddled. He hated being in the sling. To fall asleep I had to hold him completely still with his belly facing the ceiling and if I so much as breathed too hard he would scream for another 15 minutes until he finally assumed the position to fall asleep again. In his early months he was happier reclining in the bouncy seat than being carried in my Dydimos baby wrap while I unloaded the dishwasher, sorted laundry, kneaded bread or set the table.
He just wouldn't have it. He wanted space and when he wanted me it was on HIS TERMS.
And so I have spent the last 10 months adjusting my mothering skills to suit my baby. I am a cuddly mother. And what's more--I'm baby-crazy. I love babies. I CRAVE babies. When I see a newborn I am hit with a pang of jealousy because I just LOVE having a newborn in my arms.
I hang my hang my head in shame and I admit that I have been a little disappointed by my experience with Julian. Oh, I love him SO MUCH but it has been very hard for me to find a way to meet his needs AND mine.
Yes, having a baby in my arms MEETS MY NEEDS. For me, being able to comfort, console, protect, surround and nourish my baby is where my energy comes from. It renews me--body, mind and spirit--to successfully give my love to my baby. It fills me with patience and understanding. It empowers me to offer more kindness and patience to my older children. I feel complete and fulfilled when I am caring for my baby.
And so I have to dig deep and find new ways to feel my power and strength as a mother. The moments I now cherish with Julian and draw my energy from are the many smiles and laughs we share. He makes eye contact when he is nursing and then he grins from ear to ear--spilling milk out of his little mouth all over me, of course--and he makes me melt. When he is eating blueberries or potatoes in his booster seat he makes little growling noises of enjoyment and approval that fill me with wonder and joy. When he goes swimming with us on Saturdays and he splashes with his entire body, I soak up his enthusiasm and energy.
But when he wails after he bumps his head (which happens with alarming frequency now that he is crawling) and I pick him up and he wails louder and fights to get back down, I have to remind myself that he receives my patience and kindness differently from my previous babies. And sometimes I have to show patience and kindness to myself instead of jumping to the conclusion that I must be doing something wrong if he won't accept my comfort.