Thursday, August 11, 2016

My Happiest Baby is the One I Have Had the Least to Do With

When Erez was born back in February, I was a little worried. After the relatively relaxed and blissful week long stay in the hospital, we transitioned home, and he almost immediately started exhibiting colicky behaviors. He would cry for hours on end and there was little I could do to console him. I would walk/bounce him around the house, make soft shush-shush noises in his ears, give him gripe water, gas drops, and whatever else I could find that would possibly offer my boy a little solace.
As it turns out, it was a formula issue. I felt guilty enough for not breast-feeding my baby boy, having breastfed my other two kids. Knowing that formula was giving him serious issues and discomfort KILLED me. Figuring out which formula worked for Erez quickly became my number one priority.
And I DID find a formula that worked for him. Once we made the switch, it was only a matter of two or three days before my unhappy newborn transformed into a happy baby. Since then, Erez has become our HAPPIEST baby. His resting face is “smiley face”. He is always giggling and cooing, and on the rare occasion when he DOES cry, it is always for a very valid reason.
I should be thrilled, right? I mean, my baby boy is AMAZING. He is the kind of baby parents dream of having. He is the Gerber baby, only happier. He seriously has a personality that inspires me, and he is only six months old.
So what’s my issue?
My happiest baby is the one I have had the LEAST to do with.
I went back to work exactly 8 weeks after Erez was born. I felt like I had to. I liked my job, and I didn’t want to lose it. I didn’t want to have to go through a whole new job search to find a job I liked LESS.
So, as a full-time working mom, I see Erez briefly in the mornings and in the evenings, and get to spend a good amount of time with him on the weekends. I cuddle with him in my bed at night. But that is it.
With my first born, my eldest, I worked only part time and pretty much attached her to my hip for the first year of her life. I wore her in slings, held her incessantly, breastfed her on demand. With my second son, I took a year off from work so I could be with him ALWAYS.
It’s not that they were UNhappy babies. But they were not THIS happy. They were never as happy as Erez is, every single day of his life.
I know that babies are born with their own personalities and all, but this happiness situation has caused me to seriously question how much of an effect my attachment parenting had on my other two kids. Maybe it negatively impacted them? I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding, but did breastfeeding make my other kids LESS happy?
I know Erez loves me. He looks for me in a room, he reaches for my hair or my face, he smiles (of course!) from ear to ear when I pick him up at daycare in the afternoon. But I am not the center of Erez’s universe, the way I was for my other two. His life does not depend on me the way theirs did. I am not his food source, his transportation, and his constant playmate the way I was with the others.
Here’s the thing. Right now, I am at a place where I don’t WANT to be totally depended on. I kind of feel overwhelmed with momhood. I occasionally feel the urge to run away from all the responsibilities that come with being a mom. I have seriously been craving “me” time, and have been wanting to rediscover the part of me that is not a mommy, that has been pushed to the backburner over the last six years. So why, when I am craving more independence, do I still wish I was so much more important to my baby and so much more a factor of his happiness?
Like many people, I like to feel needed. I like to feel valued. I like to feel deeply loved. It makes me feel big and great and purposeful.
I truly hope I can experience those feelings with Erez. I hope I can learn to embrace his happiness, not as a sign of what I may have done wrong with my other kids, but what I have done right with all of them. I hope I can see it not as a result of me having less time to love him, but as a result of him feeling loved despite our limited time together. I hope I can take pride in his happiness, rather than using it to question my own value.

I hope I can feel all those things. I’m just not there yet.