Monday, January 18th, 2010 • 1 Comment on The Magic Six-Week Mark
We’ve passed it, actually. Patrick turned six weeks old on Friday. I have heard that six weeks is the magic milestone where babies (and life with babies) get easier. Of course, some people say it’s eight weeks, others say it’s three months. At least one person told me six months, but that balances with the one person who told me two weeks. Still, six weeks seems to be the most frequently quoted age. I’m here to report… they’re right. Sort of.
After Patrick’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day last Tuesday, the week took a turn for the better. In fact, every day since Tuesday (knock on wood and whatever superstitions necessary) has been a pretty good day. By pretty good, I mean there have been no extended periods of fussiness or crying, no times when he couldn’t be consoled by holding, rocking bouncing, changing or feeding him. After last Tuesday’s all-day meltdown, this is a minor miracle not to be taken for granted.
The icing on the happy (or at least content) baby cake is that Friday night was the first night that I was able to put him to bed without a prolonged bout of fussing and crying. Previous to that, every night was a 2 to 4 hour chore of trying to get him down for the night. He’s been sleeping in his crib since day 1, but he naps downstairs in his rocker during the day. The transition was a bit of an ordeal, not matter what time I attempted to put him to bed. I thought maybe it was something about his room (too quiet, too warm) or his crib (too big, too flat), but he wasn’t having any problems sleeping once he was actually in there. I still don’t really know what the issue is, but I’ve found the fix—or at least a fix that has worked for the past three nights (and I’m knocking on wood again). Last night was his best night ever in terms of going to bed easily and not needing to be soothed once he was there. Of course, today he’s waking up every hour or two and eating more than usual, so I assume it’s his six-week growth spurt. He’s fussier than usual, but nothing like last Tuesday. This is manageable and I don’t feel like I’m losing my mind.
So yes, the six-week mark was a turning point of sorts. But I don’t know if it’s because Patrick has gotten easier or because I’ve recovered from having him and gotten a little better at this parenting thing. He is certainly interacting more with me—smiling occasionally, making prolonged eye contact, snuggling against me—which helps. But he’s also crying and fussing less. Is that because he’s six weeks old or because I’ve figured out what to do to keep him content? I don’t know, but I’ll take it.
This is not to say that it has gotten easy. Hardly. I’m exhausted and averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night. Part of the problem is how long it takes me to fall asleep—if he sleeps for 3 hours, I might sleep for 2. Last night, he never slept more than 2 and a half hours, so I never slept more than an hour before I was getting up with him again. Tired. So very tired.
I had a much needed break planned for Saturday, with a massage and a movie scheduled, but my plans were derailed by illness (my generous babysitter, not me). I didn’t realize how much I was looking forward to a break until it was taken away. Talk about inconsolable (me, not Patrick). Jay is nudging me to hire someone for part-time childcare. I keep thinking if only I had a few hours to myself I’d be able to forge ahead for another month, but I can’t even get that little break right now. So I’m contemplating the options. I’m pretty sure I can’t keep going like this until May or June when Jay gets home. The reality is that there are very few people I trust to watch my child and, for one reason or another, the few friends I do trust aren’t available. I’m not sure how I can hire a stranger to take care of him, but that may be what I need to do. I’ve been resistant—partially because Patrick is so young and partially because it’s so expensive—but I’m starting to think it might be the best thing for my mental health. Falling apart when a friend lets me down (even when it’s unavoidable) is not good mental health.
So here we are, at just past six weeks since Patrick was a born and a month since Jay returned to Dubai. It’s gotten a little easier and more manageable, to be sure. He’s an amazing little creature, which makes up for a lot, including the sleepless nights and the assorted aches and pains associated with carrying a chunky baby for hours every day. I’m even managing to think about writing, editing and book promotion, so that’s something. Maybe—for right now—it’s enough.