parenthood, Sam

Lait, Baby Lait

Ben and I drove Sam (Sam didn’t have money for cab fare) to his four-month appointment on Tuesday. He behaved great, smiled and cooed for the doctor, and then, he behaved as well as any baby behaves while being twice jabbed in the thigh by needles. Immunizations suck for everyone in the room.

We rejoiced in the fact that Sam has been growing and developing like a weed. Maybe not a weed. A healthy, vibrant plant who has been cared for and watered by someone who doesn’t stop watering her plants in mid-June because she’s too pregnant to pick up a hose.

Anyway, I digress.

Sam now weighs 15 pounds, 14 ounces and is 26.5 inches tall. He may not be able to dunk yet, but he did grow three whole inches before our very eyes. It’s like he added a whole lima bean pod of flesh and bone to his body and Ben and I barely noticed.

When the doctor asked us questions about his development, we answered honestly and were met by head nods and assurances that we were doing the very best for Sam. When she asked us if we had any questions, I asked a question whose answer I already knew.

The correct way to put a baby down for a nap or for bedtime is drowsy but awake so that baby can learn to put himself to sleep. Also, babies of a certain age should not be nursed to sleep. Had Moses crept down the mountain with two more commandments etched into his tablets, I’m pretty sure these would be the two. Sinner that I am, I’ve broken both rules just about every day.

In response to my question, the doctor tilted her head and gave me an uneasy smile. “Well,” she began a pitch higher than her normal speaking voice, “Try to break that habit.” I knew she would say this; I ‘d already addressed the same concern with friends who told me the same.

OK. So no one’s perfect and I like a good challenge. But I also love to nurse Sam to sleep, and I love the feeling of Sam falling asleep in my arms more than anything. More than cheese, more than cake. More than those eight dollar V-necks from Target I wear all the time.

People told me that there was an indescribable bond between a breastfeeding mother and child. No one could describe it to me exactly, but I was told that it was magical and wonderful. It is magical and wonderful. At times it’s also been painful, problematic, and frustrating.

When Sam was a newborn, it was amusing watching him try to latch on. He would turn his head in the exact opposite direction of boob central and snort like a pig trying to find the trough. We’d gently say, “Wrong way, Sweetie. Over here. You can do it!”

Eventually, he could.

As days turned into weeks, Sam’s sense of direction became more acute and he got really good at smoothly latching on. He also got really good at drinking himself into a state of slumber.

I love to watch him eat. He clearly derives pleasure from the act of eating, and while it seems to bring a sense of calm and comfort to him, I can’t help but think that it’s also hard work. His jaw works really hard to get him milk. Up and down. Up and down. Like chewing a piece of gum ten minutes at a time, six times a day. Talk about mandible power!

I love that my body is capable not just of keeping a human being alive, but that it can help make him thrive. I love that the two and a half pounds he’s gained over the past two months have come from his hard work and my tepid two percent. Most of all, I love that it’s a time to be still with Sam. I don’t think about the dishes, ungraded papers, or carpets that need to be vacuumed when I’m feeding him.

Now it’s time for tough love. For me and for him. We’ve got to break one habit and start another one. Which of us this will be harder on remains to be seen.


4 thoughts on “Lait, Baby Lait

  1. what a beautiful post! One thing that is often difficult to learn is that doctors can give good advice on medical issues, but they are not experts on parenting. In fact, YOU are the expert on parenting Sam, and what works for your family is the best approach. I nursed my daughter to sleep well past one year old, and she is now a healthy, happy, and incredibly independent preschooler. When Sam has difficult days and you’re ready to just abandon ship (it happens) nursing to sleep will be that time when you remember how wonderful he is and how happy you are to be his mom. I wouldn’t have traded that time for anything. We broke ALL of the sleeping rules because they felt right to us. And guess what? our daughter is plenty independent and sleeps just fine. Its not like she was going to be sleeping in our bed and nursing to sleep in high school. They are little for such a short period of time – don’t let someone else rob you of those special moments.

  2. I’m with Olivia! I think you have to make your own personal decision. Soon he’ll be running away and the snuggles will be rare! You have your own unique experience…own your path friend! You are doing WONDERFUL. (ps Sage is exactly 17 lbs at 9 months….I bet Sam will be passing her soon!). Love!

  3. Lauren feels pretty much the same way and at almost-11-months still sometimes nurses Thea to sleep. Take that, doctors! It’s not the only time we’ve thumbed our nose at the medical establishment, either.

    Actually, we just flat-out lie to our pediatrician. As far as he knows, Thea has her own bed in her own room, instead of the reality, which is that she sleeps in our bed with us and always has. This wasn’t an accident, it was something we believed in, and we weren’t going to change just to get a gold star from our doctor. If we knew of a ped who agreed with us (they’re certainly out there), we’d switch, but we don’t, and he’s a nice enough guy, so we just work at becoming more comfortable with lying. So it goes.

    Basically, I’m just echoing what Olivia said. We know our own children and ultimately we’re the ones who have to live with our parenting decisions. Whether because of what we did or because of her native endowments, Thea has more or less been sleeping through the night since about 2 months old, so we feel pretty comfortable with our decisions, even if she does sometimes have difficult nights.

  4. Thanks, all! I’m learning to relax a little at a time. Funny story: Sam was about ready for bed and eating for the last time after his bath. Usually he conks out during the bedtime feeding. Not tonight. After about eight minutes he talked and talked and talked. I rocked him for about five minutes and then decided to lay him down in his crib. I thought he’d get fussy after a while and want either more food or a bit more rocking. Instead, after about 15 minutes minutes, all Ben and I heard was silence. For the first time ever Sam put himself to sleep. And I had no part in it. So goes life.

    In all seriousness, thanks for your comments. I am always comforted by people who have been there done that.

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