Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Renewing My Spirit

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.

I can reason that every baby is different.  But it has been a big adjustment for me to learn to mother a baby whose needs must be met so differently from my other babies.  How remarkable that Julian really is his own person.  And how remarkable that I have the priviledge of learning about myself through him.


  1. How wonderful of you to recognize and respond to your son's unique needs, even when they are so different from yours.

    I wonder, actually, if your son's reluctance to be held close is related to his reflux. Our son, now 3, had very bad reflux as a baby, and he too would have nothing to do with our sling; never wanted to cuddle; and was really happiest sitting in his baby seat. (We wondered if the problem was partly that any kind of pressure on his stomach or front exacerbated his reflux, and if this was why he instinctively sought out positions in which he knew there would be no pressure on his front). In any case, around age 2, his reflux improved and we managed gradually to wean him off his maintenance dose of Ranitidine. And at the same time, we noticed that he began to seek out physical closeness with us. He was suddenly demanding long hugs. He is now our cuddliest child, and seems always to want to be on our lap or nestled against us. So it may be that your son's preferences, too, will change once he grows out of his reflux.

  2. That is so great that you can recognize his needs and your own needs. I had a very snuggly ds1 then ds2 came along and was much more independent. I had a difficult time adjusting to him without feeling rejected. Now that he's older, he is very affectionate but will only receive on his own terms (which is good) ds3 is another snuggly baby. He is even more so than ds1. It is nice to appreciate the differences and see what unique beings they are from the beginning