Monday, April 29, 2013

The Evolution of Our Evenings

We forgot to offer Michael his pre-bedtime milk this evening, and easygoing guy that he is (when he's not madly teething, overtired or confined for too long), he let it slide. I felt simultaneously guilty and relieved when I realized my omission, shortly after Tom had already put him down. After all, I'd been planning to phase out that last sippy soon anyway, now that he's drinking with meals, eating solids well, and taking his milk cold. I suppose that I should take the ease with which he went without as a sign that there's no need to further delay.

It's just one more reminder of how big he's gotten, though, and I don't know how much my heart can take. As it is, I die a little each time I see him with fresh eyes in the morning, so big and strapping. Up until the day that Mia was born, he was my "little guy," with Abby as the only everyday comparison. Seeing Mia was a stark reminder of just how tiny he started off, and I can't "unsee" the tremendous size difference now that it's been made apparent to me.

Of course, he's not the only one continuing to grow, and sometimes I feel that my head is spinning trying to follow surreptitious changes that suddenly catch my notice and surround me on all sides now. Thankfully, a lot of the change has made life easier: Michael is going down for naps and bedtime with less reliance on rocking and soothing beforehand, Abby's new routine is getting tightened and tweaked, and causing less and less problems for us in both the evenings and the following mornings (she's finally waking at closer to her regular pre-toddler bed time).

Mia, on the other had, is in a more frequent and constant state of flux. It seems miraculous and amazing to me how easily my evenings were with her for the first week-and-a-half, especially compared to how they've regularly played out lately. She takes a good six attempts to put down, unless I have the patience to let her get a head start of an hour or more on my person before relocating her. This is now the third night we've tried the mini-crib at the start of the night, and though we had pretty good results the first night, it's been a challenge ever since. I finally gave up after several failed attempts this evening, first allowing her to snooze on my lap for awhile, and then placing her in her Rock n' Play sleeper, instead.

Of course, none of this should come as a surprise to me, and I suppose that it really doesn't. There are many reasons why the first three months or so are a bit of a blur; sleep deprivation being the primary one, the ever-present behavioral shifts and resultant need for adaptation being another major factor. It's a constant game of wait, see, and respond. Maybe she's not ready for the mini-crib yet. Maybe she's just having a bad night. I'll just have to figure out what works in the moment, and that's okay for now (or so I try to keep reminding myself).

In the meantime, I'm carrying myself through it by focusing with some admiration on the way that sometimes things just work out for the best. That one miraculous week-and-a-half that Mia gave us in the beginning aligned perfectly with the insanity that grew out of our toddler bed transition. I can't imagine trying to get through all of the difficulty with Abby while struggling with Mia at the same time. And so, while I wish I could have encapsulated that perfect bit of sleeping that Mia initially offered us and apply it to now, I will rest (to the extent that I can) content with the fact that at least Abby is mostly back on schedule, and Michael is getting closer and closer to being able to sleep through without incident, even while Mia now throws me for a new loop each night. As for that latter problem, I think I'll make no further plans beyond doing whatever needs doing to get through the next couple of months with my sanity (mostly) intact. Routines are a bear to establish, and thankfully they can wait, where Mia is concerned.

All part of the particular joy of having a newborn, I suppose. Being so acutely aware of how very precious this brief little phase is, I'm incredibly grateful to have a thorough appreciation of how much the struggle truly is worth it, this time around.