This week has been challenging. Zach has entered a new wonder week, and ‘week’ isn’t quite the right description: this one is meant to last a whole five weeks! If you haven’t heard of wonder weeks, they’re periods in a baby’s life where they are growing and learning new things and having major developmental milestones. During this wonder week, Zach is meant to be able to detect events; that is, a series of patterns, such a ball bouncing or using gestures along to music, like the Itsy BItsy Spider song. He will also be getting better at grasping objects on the first try, pulling cloths or towels away from his face, and following where mum and dad are as we move around a room. Today, at just shy of four months old, he starting rolling from his back to his tummy! Previously he could only roll from his tummy to his back, which began at one day shy of 12 weeks.
So, wonder weeks are a pretty big deal for little babes, as everything is changing and they are working on significant new skills. This means that they can also be very fussy, clingy, demanding, and difficult to settle. Z hasn’t been too bad, but like I said, it has been a challenging week. He’s been fighting mealtimes, which means that every three hours we have an epic battle about breastfeeding, though he’ll take his EBM and formula bottle top-up without too much fuss.
In a bout of bad timing, we’ve also been working on nap time together for the last week or two. Our son is a fantastic night sleeper – don’t hate me, but he has been sleeping 8 to 10 hours per night since he was about 8 weeks old. This is something we definitely don’t take for granted, but daytime naps have proven to be a real struggle. He’ll usually only sleep for 20 or 30 minutes, and by the time I sneak out of the room after finally getting him to settle, I really only have enough time to eat some toast and put on makeup before he’s up again. I’m trying to remind myself that my job right now is just to be his mum, and things like housework and dinner prep can wait, but as someone who is definitely a ‘doer’, this has been hard.
Anyway, we are working hard on helping him learn to self-settle so that he can sleep through more than one sleep cycle and get the rest he needs. It’s been difficult, I won’t lie; sometimes it can take 30 minutes to get him to sleep in the first place, and much of that is screaming. It’s very hard to have a baby screaming in your ear for that long, even when you’re rocking and shushing and doing your best to soothe him. Thankfully, the 30 minute bursts are the exception rather than the rule, and I can normally get him snoozing in 15 minutes or less. Sometimes it’s even three minutes! You never know with that little munchkin.
What’s become apparent to me through all of this, though, is that my personal journey toward increased patience is making great strides. Patience is one personality trait that I’ve never really possessed. I’d say it’s probably my worst virtue…ever since I was a child, I have had very little grace for people or things that take a long time to get places, complete tasks, grasp concepts, or get my jokes. I knew from an early age that I would make a terrible teacher, and though I’ve always thought it would be an amazing job to have, I know that my patience problem precludes me from being able to work with children or youth in that capacity.
In the workplace, my lack of patience has been a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s served me well in that it allows me to push to keep meetings short, sharp and shiny (I hate wasting time), and I tend to work efficiently and quickly because I prefer getting tasks out of the way as soon as possible so that I can move on to other things. On the other hand, I have no time for people who waffle on without saying anything, and I even had to switch offices last year because my then-officemate’s incessant grumbling, complaining, and coughing was too much for my impatient self. I moved across the hall and have been much happier since!
Of course, as a mum, I don’t get much choice when it comes to practicing patience. I love my son more than anything, and that means that I really can’t let my frustration take over, or lose my temper when he can’t get settled. I’m seeing the world in a new light: he is tiny, helpless, and depends on me for everything, so even if I’m on my last straw after a long day of tears and squawking, I somehow find a way to take a deep breath and keep on keeping on.
I realise that all this sounds very dramatic, and I don’t really mean to make a mountain out of a molehill, but it really does amaze me how one little being can completely change one long-embedded aspect of my personality. I remember asking my mom once how she could possibly be as patient and she is, and she responded, ‘One day, you just don’t have a choice: you are patient because of a love that you can’t control’. I think I’m finally starting to understand that.
Now let’s hope that the next few weeks of this wonder week period fly by, because although my patience is improving, I’m still a work in progress and the days do feel long! Good thing I have that sweet little face to gaze upon…he’s even cute when he’s crying!