A collaboration with Lo & Sons
As humans, we thrive on predictability. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we rest in the hope if its presence in our lives. Even those of us who enjoy spontaneity rely on predictability. We can deny this fact a much as we like, but at the end of the day, our world runs on the expectation of the sun rising and setting, the tides rising and receding, and hour taking 60 minutes and a minutes 60 seconds. These consistencies are quickly burned into our psyches. So much so we are unaware of our dependence on them on a day to day basis.
There’s a soothing quality to being able to anticipate. That’s why we crave strong connections. Our closest relationships are with those we feel we understand- those whose reactions don’t come as a surprise to us and who add comfort to our hearts when at home with them after feeling tired from full days surrounded by those whom aren’t quite as familiar to us. We can’t help but crave this. The surprise and excitement of getting to know someone while dating is not sustainable for the long term. While exhilarating, those feelings are too variable for us. We need something more consistent. We need predictability.
This need seems to carry through into our relationships with our children. It happens naturally. When we imagine our lives with our future children, we don’t imagine the chaos. We imagine quiet moments walking through the park, consistent naps that create ample time for large cups of coffee and TV re-runs, and days that are run by routine and order. These dreams are quickly shattered as soon as our newborns arrive. In a matter of hours we understand that these tiny people have great need for regularity but are remarkably unaware of it. We do our best to communicate with them the timing of naps and feedings. Not because we hope that they experience the comfort of routine but because it’s all at once vital to their survival. It is up to use to convey this important truth to them and therein lies the first battle of parenthood.
I had definite ideas of what my baby would be like before his arrival. I was convinced that he would enjoy consistent sleep and find rest with ease. I assumed that babies were one size fits all and that his cries would be soothed by a pacifier or long car ride. I expected his belly to be fully developed at birth and for feeding to be easy. All of these things I assumed about my experience as a parent all the way back to his birth.
For months I had prepared a birth plan and posted it on the refrigerator. I made sure David was aware of all the details and would quiz him on what I had written just in case I was unable to communicate them during the labor process. I had packed a bag with everything I anticipated needing for my hospital stay and by the door it sat for weeks on end. I made it to my due date and as calendar pages began to flip by in the days following it, I realized the birth of my son was likely not going to play out as I expected.
I wrote a bit about my birth experience previously, and if you’d like to read it you can, however the quick synopsis is that I was encouraged to schedule a C-section at 9 days past due. I followed through with the recommendation and about twelve hours later, David and I headed to the hospital. I had left my beloved, comforting bag of goods by the door and had instead stuffed a few things in an old duffel bag. Pajamas, some clothes for the baby, a toothbrush- the contents were as minimal as my expectations of the day.
That unpredictability has continued and, truthfully, grown with my baby. Almost every one of his days are different. Try as a may, he has no grasp on routine and struggles to find rest. And before you ask, yes I’ve probably tried it. We’ve finally come to realize that the best thing we can do is work with our baby and his needs rather than fight them. It took us a few months of fighting to realize this. Months that were full of frustration and anxiety. Truth be told, every baby is truly different and some are a lot more adaptable than others. We choose to embrace our baby’s unpredictability every day and love him through it rather than in spite of it. We use it as an opportunity to get to know his heart even more and to stretch our understanding of ourselves as individuals and as parents.
Another fantasy we had was traveling here there and everywhere with our small babe. We had visions of packing up the car and driving up north for the fall foliage and weekends away just the three of us. Those expectations were quickly forgotten as we experienced the regularity of a screaming baby in the back of the car and long nights full of painful cries stemmed in an immature digestive system. It took us four months to get the courage up to plan a night away with our little guy. Four months to gather the courage to shrug our shoulders and pray for victory.
So we made plans, made lists and I spent almost a full day packing. While our days are spent in a constant state of uncertainty, there are always favored options for soothing and play that our guy loves. We didn’t want to take any chances so we packed them all. In went his favorite blankets and toys, the softest jammies, a sound machine, and all the books that elicit laughter. We piled in our very favorites for him and added some of our own for when we finally arrived. While we didn’t know what to expect from the days to come, we knew we had all that we would possibly need tucked away in a pocket or pouch ready and waiting.
With that, we packed up the car and drove away with hearts full of uncertainty and hope. Those are the two emotions that we feel most often in our home these days. We never know what our days are going to deliver, but we choose to never stop hoping for longs stretches of sleep and days full of smiles and laughter. The best days are when those hopes are rewarded tenfold over those seasons of crying and no sleep. So while we still innately cling to predictability, we welcome a lack thereof with wide open hearts. We know that someday our boy with be more consistent. We know this because we’ve already seen it happen. The progress may seem like a slow crawl at times, but looking back to the chaos of caring for a newborn, we count ourselves blessed for these days of hearing certain cries and knowing the cause.
Until next time!