To put it lightly, I was a nervous new mom. Phew, feels good to get that off my (now larger) chest.
I suspect there are many parents of newborns who are nervous and take extra special care with their babies. Still, I am pretty sure I went particularly overboard -- which I am more than happy to blame on a combination of hormones, inexperience, and lack of sleep, thank you very much. For example, I made my mom sit beside my first baby (AC) while he slept in his bassinet. Her charge? To watch him while he napped. And I mean watch him. No TV in case it woke him. No light to read by in case it woke him. Just sit on guard and make sure he continued to breathe, for however long he napped. And so she did. My mom simultaneously won Grandma of the Year for actually doing it and Mom of the Year for not mocking me for asking her to do it.
For the first 6 weeks of his life (OK, 10 weeks) I would carry AC down the stairs, by only taking one stair at a time in case I fell. Our video baby monitor broke in the first three months, probably from me staring intently at it at every sigh, mutter or movement AC made. I read so much on the biology of sleep and sleep patterns that I suspect I know more about a child’s sleep cycle than a sleep expert. Getting the picture? (Insert "cuckoo" noise here.)
In addition to not asking Grandma to stare at KC’s rising and falling chest for four hours, in his first six months as Baby Brother, I have stressed significantly less over KC in other ways too.
Big Brother‘s first bath was 22 minutes. My husband and I did it in the kitchen so we had lots of room and gathered family around to help and watch. The hospital’s expectant parents course told us to use cotton balls on the baby’s eyes and face -- one for each swipe so as not to spread anything from eye to eye, mouth to eye, etc. It seemed reasonable to me that this logic should be applied to his entire body. Therefore bath supplies included a large bag of cotton balls, of which 1/2 were used.
Little Brother‘s first bath was 6 minutes. It took place in the bathroom with only my husband and I present. 2 cotton balls were used, one for each eye.
Big Brother: He keeps waking up every few hours. The nurse suggests offering him a soother to see if he goes back to sleep. What if it affects his latch? What if he becomes dependent on it? Are they dirty? Which brand? Should I start saving for braces now? It fell on the floor, DISINFECT IT!!
Little Brother: Does he want a soother? Let’s try. Seems to like it. Great!
Big Brother: When should I try solids? What do I try first? What time of day? How do I adjust his schedule? Remember to take long list of questions to new mom’s class.
Little Brother: This is about the time I tried solids with AC, let’s see what happens. He likes it!
Big Brother: Is he sleeping? Is he breathing? Is he OK? I heard a noise, is he OK? I heard a snuffle, is he OK? He moved his head, does that mean he is hungry? I think it means he is hungry. He sighed, is he OK?
Little Brother: Check on him when each parent goes to bed. Feed and cuddle him when he cries.
Big Brother could barely breathe without me tracking it: When he went to sleep, woke up, how long it took to fall asleep, bowel movements, diaper changes, moods etc. were all entered into my iPhone. (Yes, there is an app for that.)
Little Brother: I paid attention, but charted nothing. I fed him when he was hungry, changed him when he was wet, and snuggled with him as much as possible in between.
Rocking to Sleep
Big Brother: I love cuddling him. He smells so beautiful and he is snuggled in so close. Am I causing a sleep dependency? Am I becoming a sleep prop? What if he never learns to fall asleep on his own? What if he is too hot? Is he too hot? He moved, is he OK?
Little Brother: I love cuddling him. He smells so beautiful and he is snuggled in so close. Savor this moment.
While I am trying to relax, I continue to stress over anything "new" for AC. I so desperately want everything to be perfect for him. By the time KC’s turn comes around, I have already seen how it plays out and simply adapt accordingly.
If AC ever wonders about it, I’ll be sure to reassure him that I love both him and his brother to infinity and beyond…and that doing things first is what being a big brother is all about.
Photo Credit: jasonpratt.
More from parenting