Thursday, October 25, 2012

6 is the Magic Number

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.


  1. Wow...I break all those six week rules, except for the sleep training which I do like...never...but somehow my kids learn how to sleep through the night anyway.

    And, I'll tell you that what you are doing is good and normal..and don't try to fix it.

    And, I had to laugh at your "adopt a one-year old" line. The human race would not survive is babies were born at 1-year old...they have to start out cute and helpless and cuddly before they turn into 1-year olds that do things like drop your cell phone in the toilet.

    1. LOL about 1 year olds...true...I don't think there is any age that doesn't have its draw backs, really!

      I drove the other day and felt like a TOTAL REBEL. But it's funny just how many milestones they identify starting at 6-8 weeks...I'm beginning to think "they" just say that without any real proof!

  2. Step away from the general statistics. :) Motherhood really is the hardest job because there is no job training before hand. Many times it is learn as you go. Unfortunately the same goes for the child. The other day I posted on facebook that by child #6 you'd think that I would know how do handle certain phases of a baby. But then my husband reminded me. The baby spends 9 months inside us with all his/her needs met then we give birth and have to meet his/her needs with the outside of our body (arms, chest, breast). In the mean time baby is learning how to communicate AND grow at the same time. That's a lot for a little one.

    I agree with the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child". Not that I think it physically takes a bunch of people to raise one, but rather that a mom and child benefit greatly from surrounding themselves with those who are knowledgeable (those been there done that kinds of moms/dads). I have a great group of moms (all online) who are such an amazing resource when I need advice or simply prayers.

    I've found that fighting certain things is not worth the battle. I believe in the benefits of breastfeeding, baby wearing and co-sleeping. So, for the longest time my 2 year old was perfectly happy to sleep in his toddler bed (which is sandwiched between our bed and the wall). With the "new" baby (who is now 5 months) my 2 year old's sleep has changed. The bed is no longer okay because he see's that I spend a lot of time caring for the baby. So to meet his need he has made his way back into our bed. I don't fight it because there is a need that he has and if sleeping by me meets it, then that is what we will do. There will be a time when he is okay and will go back to his own bed.

    How do we have more children joyfully? Because we take one step at a time. The baby is in a phase where he is okay for about 10-15 min on his own then he will complain until someone picks him up. I have to roll with it.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Nicole! I have a big Catholic community here, but it seems like a lot of this stuff isn't talked about...maybe moms are too worried about offending each other with their different styles or what-not? I have to ask pointed questions to get candid answers, so thank you for offering your own wisdom!

      I co-slept with my parents for FOREVER and I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about it for our family. It has so many benefits, but right now I'm really struggling with lack of alone time with Mr. O - getting into bed at night and snuggling just the two of us feels so vital right now! I know this newborn time is such a short one, so I'm not stressing it, but trying to do what's right sometimes feel overwhelming!


Comments make me feel like I'm not just talking to myself or the government (because I know the government secretly reads my blog). Help me feel less crazy - comment away!