Pair. Grown.

Oh dear friends what a difference a few days can make.

Last night, Abigail slept in her crib. The whole night. Meaning not once after one of her feedings (after her 7 p.m. bottle, until 7  a.m., she has two) did we end up in the glider. To boot, there was no swaddling, no vacuum noises, no intense time spent back and forth with her as she fussed and cried over her lot in life.

Full disclosure: I was of little help. I’ll take credit for managing what is the Business of Abigail, and that’s mainly because well, I manage the house. I’m bossy and controlling and Scott chooses his battles wisely. He fully gives input and no decisions get made without him, of course, but in terms of making the trains run on time in the Smith house, that’s my job. It’s what I’m really good at. Do you know what I’m not really good at? Not being calm enough to get Abigail into her crib to fall asleep. It puts me on edge. I have to get over this, I know, but getting her to sleep, and then the mere chance of her waking up and having to do it all over again, is more than I can manage. I don’t know why. Probably because I am chicken shit and in some ways the newborn has won that round.

But the rest?


Last week, when my dad was here, I was lamenting that the only thing I really fear, really and truly, is a bratty child. I’m not saying AG needs to be an automaton, but oh dear Jesus, I will not shame my father by raising a child who when she smells blood in the water I end up at the bottom of the ocean. I firmly believe parenting is the scariest thing I have ever done, and I think it always will be, what with me becoming such a big, oozing, gaping wound of a human being now, but she does not need to know that. She’ll sense I’m human, at least I hope, but the last thing I want is for her to mistake my humanity as sign that she’s welcome to act like a little heathen with no consequence.

So I suppose this week, sucking it up and doing the hard work of getting Abigail to get into the crib, was about growing a pair and watching her be unhappy and pissed that instead of sleeping on us, she was going to be sleeping in her crib, end of story.

It dawned on us that in the past 12 days or so, her colicky behavior had begun to drop off. She was being soothed when the clock hit  6 p.m., and in some instances, before then. Even more telling was that she was starting to be happy only when we were doing things such as bouncing on the exercise ball. An important tool in the colic arsenal, but my husband should not have to spend 1.5 hours bouncing on a ball because now instead of it being a tool to soothe her to sleep it’s now the only way she’ll sleep whatsoever.

We’re not doing that. Tuesday morning Mama lost her patience for it, and with the evidence in front of us made the call that Miss Abigail was going to have to get over herself.

And guess what? It worked. We didn’t abandon her, we didn’t abuse her. We just worked with her day in, day out, to change her sleep habits and associations and to shift them to the crib. She and I spent our play time in the crib, getting her to see it as a good place to be, rather than the gulag she’d been making it out to be. Make no mistake: I know how scary the world is for her right now, and a crib by herself is the last place she’s felt comfortable. But I look at it this way: if I’m seeing that my kid is becoming more comfortable with herself, and her surroundings, and that she’s ready for this next step, what kind of parent am I if I don’t challenge her to grow, even now?

There are many facets about kid-led parenting that make sense to me, but there are components that don’t. That’s not a judgment on that philosophy, just an assessment as to whether it makes sense for us and much of it doesn’t.  I also don’t think there is anything wrong with adjusting her world, even at two months, even if she just doesn’t like it. And that’s where we ended up recently: she’s ready, she just doesn’t like it.

It’s been ridiculously hard to listen to her cry, but she’s no worse for the wear. She’s gotten better sleep, based on her overall cheerier mood, and is beginning to soothe herself, which has been a huge bonus. I get to spend time with Scott, and I’m back in my bed, getting real sleep, even if it’s still only for 3.5-4-hour stretches. So, I have more energy and I’m in a better mood for her. And we feel confident that when she’s older, and she’s ready for sleep training, we’ll be in a much better position than we would have been.

I don’t think we’re out of the doghouse, I don’t think it’ll always be a cakewalk, and for God’s sake, I understand that she will still try to MacGyver herself into our bed when she’s 2, 3 or 8 or whatever. What I do think, however, is that her parents will have the cojones to manage it and she’ll know we mean business.

Now it’s Saturday morning, and we’re waking up on our first Abigail-free morning as she’s with my parents for the weekend. The reports were excellent so far – after only 30 minutes of fussing, on and off, Abigail went to sleep at 7 p.m. in her pack and play. This was probably the best news I could have received. It was suggested to me that perhaps my parents were lying as to not worry us but you’d have to know my parents to know that there are many things they’d do, but white lying to spare our feelings would not be one of them. Plus, they’re just as emotionally invested in Abigail learning to sleep on her own and that progress.

But it’s weird. When I got home, and we were treating ourselves to some cheese and Chateauneuf du Pape, it was hard to escape the feeling, which was something not unlike how one feels 10 minutes after she’s quit smoking: anxious, itchy, desperate for a hit. I walked upstairs and the smell, her smell, hit me like a battering ram and I physically ached to hold her. This morning we copped to how the house felt much like it did when we were first moved in – not a home. This, of course, is what you want.

My father wants me to remove all mention of AG having colic from my “bloggy, social media-y stuff,” and say that she’s only been overtired. I’ll agree with him that I definitely think she’s sleeping better now, and that she wasn’t getting the sort of sleep necessary to be a pleasant human being, but I won’t go so far as to say she wasn’t colicky, especially since it’s at the six-week-mark they peak and, in many cases, it eventually goes away after that. Sorry, JP. No dice.

Besides, as my friend Meghan pointed out, kids always behave better at their grandparents than they do at their parents. Even at two months.

In other awesome news, we’ve hired a full-time nanny. She is wonderful.

Yesterday morning she came over to spend some time with Abigail and I and it couldn’t have gone better. She’s going to start in a week, which means we’ll all get a couple of weeks together before I head back to work. It’s a luxury, I know, but I also couldn’t be more grateful to have some help as there are any number of things I need to do, and haven’t, before I’m in an office again. Like unpack my pre-pregnancy clothes. I will likely do some selfish things, too, like head to the gym more regularly. Or maybe go shopping. I will probably organize the basement and the detritus that has collected down there.

The mind, it reels with possibilities.

In a lot of ways, I think the PPD came on as a result of me allowing myself to become so isolated and overwhelmed. I do not do well with chaos and I was swimming in a sea of it, not understanding that there was a few life rafts out there for me to grab on to. Once I did, I got back to the shore. I figured out how to handle the problems in front of me and be at peace with the fact that there will continue to be new ones. I was able to secure some solutions and make peace with this.

I was thinking about how I said weeks ago that I still wasn’t at a point where I was as obviously not as confident with my job of being a mom as I am in my professional life. I’m doing better with that. I know that we’ll have bad nights, but we’ll have good ones, too. And the world will keep turning and everyone will be just fine.

I’m so glad this happened while I have three weeks left of my maternity leave.