This blog post is brought to you by the number six!
Because the favorite number for all health professionals and advice experts is SIX.
"By six weeks, you can start sleep training"
"At your six week post-partum check-up, you usually get the go-ahead for sex"
"You really shouldn't take baby out into the world until they're at least six weeks old"
"You can't drive until six weeks post-partum"
"Babies really don't have any sort of a schedule until they're six weeks old"
Apparently, someone turns a switch at six weeks and everything changes for the new family! They're ready to sleep train, make more babies, and drive off a cliff, maybe all at once!
I have been trying to find info about babies before six weeks. Say, babies that are two weeks old. (cue dramatic nostalgic music: two weeks? my baby is two weeks old!?! how did this happen???) But pretty much everything I find is some variation of grin-and-bear-it; a tacit acknowledgment that in the beginning, new parents get no sleep and everyone is fairly unhappy.
Is this true?
If so, then how do women have more babies - joyfully? If pregnancy bites, and labor is horrible, and then the first six weeks are an exhausting gauntlet, who the hell in their right mind wouldn't just adopt one year olds? Or just avoid child-bearing and rearing at all?
Zuzu hates to sleep in her bassinet at night. She apparently goes through growth spurts every 2 days, when she decides she wants to eat every hour or just nurse for two hours straight. I'm not miserable, but it's not the best experience of my life. What I keep trying to find is something - an article, book, website - that is positive about this time, that tells me that what I am doing is good, that this is an important time, and doesn't try to necessarily fix it.
Even if Zuzu believes I can fix anything...
I've heard putting her to sleep in her carseat, a co-sleeper, our bed, a bouncy swing, and her crib; in her bassinet with upright supports in case she has reflux or colic. I've heard to let her cry it out. I've heard to wait 5 minutes, or 20 or 0. I've heard to put a blanket in with her that smells like me (currently trying that one - my pillow case). I've heard swaddling and white noise and stomach sleeping, back sleeping, side sleeping.
But I have a feeling that this is the way this is supposed to be. Just like the first trimester of pregnancy is mommy bootcamp, the first several weeks are mommy intensive training. Here all those lessons that were begun so long ago we can begin to put into practice: suffering for our little one, putting our needs second, dying to self. Here we prove that we love our children not because they can be of any use to us, but because they are meant to be loved. It is at this stage that God demands, from the very beginning, we love as he loves - knowing that if infants were easier, we would perhaps not be able to be knocked from our selfish moorings, our small comforts, our precious schedules.
Zuzu loves the after-bath snuggles.
Maybe it's this stage that tells us why a mother is the model for all Christians - because Mary didn't only bring God into the world, but she cared for him as well, cared for him while he was still an infant and incapable (in human form) of loving back.
And even if all that does change at six weeks (which someone, I highly doubt), it is still the training that we need to put up with every stage that comes afterwards. It is this time that makes us realize that we have accepted a calling that demands we are second, that our needs are second, but that our unconditional love is always the first offering to our children, and our best.