When people tell you every child is different, they’re not lying. Here we are, with baby #4, and I am still learning what to do with this little troop. We are almost to the 6 month mark with our wee man, and much to my chagrin, he’s still sleeping in our room. And, thanks to some palate issues that have him cluster feeding through the night (we’re going the therapy route, but it takes time), he’ll be rooming in with us for the foreseeable future. I know. How un-granola of me to want this boy to head to the nursery. In all my crunchy parenting, I have to admit- the one sacred place in my house is the master bedroom. I will wear these babies all day, follow baby-led weaning (where it works), and homeschool to my heart’s content, but personally, I choose to draw the line at my bedroom. No family bed for us.
Postpartum is a tricky stage for me. I struggled with PP depression with my girls, and have had what was more Baby Blues than PPD with my boys. I hate that feeling of not being able to wear my clothes, being too tired or overwhelmed to get a shower or put on makeup, and having a house in disarray as we attempt to put together routines that satisfy our new normal. It’s just the worst. I love my babies and would have a whole litter of kids if I could, but friends, those first 3-6 months for me are no joke.
As a practicing Type A, OCD mama, I like my home to be my sanctuary. I like it to be relaxing, peaceful, and tidy. Ohhhh how I love when things are tidy. I’m that person who can’t fall asleep if I know the throw pillows on the sofa are out of line. (Yes, I’m aware of how annoying this is. No, I’m not apologizing for it 🙂 ) But something happens to me in the throes of postpartum life. I let it go. Except not really. I’m not very good at letting that kind of stuff go, so truthfully, I’m just too tired to deal with it and I live in a mild to moderate state of annoyance until things get back to normal and I can maintain my house without being a living example of the walking dead.
Having said all that, my typical postpartum experience is this: after delivery, baby sleeps in co-sleeper beside my bed, nursing whenever he/she so desires. Feedings stretch out, baby moves to bassinet elsewhere in the bedroom. Once we’re on a 4 hour schedule consistently, baby moves to nursery and I hit up the dream feed once during the night. Doesn’t that sound beautiful? Except it is not happening for me right now. James was awesome about sleeping on his own at about 5-6 months. Cora rocked it out. And Celia was in the nursery pretty early on herself, even with her challenges. But Kent? Not so much. And it’s not his fault. I have ginungous babies (seriously, for a 100 lb. woman all my babies have been well over 8 lbs at birth), and I typically start introducing soft solid foods around 4 months. But wee man has some issues to work out, and can’t do the solid food thing right now. So it’s every 1-2 hours up to feed. Not fun, friends. Even with all his cuteness.
We’ve been using a pack-and-play set up in the corner of our bedroom for him in the last few months, since he’s entirely too big for his bassinet. (Seriously, this kid is a hoss.) And since I wasn’t planning on him staying with us all this time, I’ve basically allowed our bedroom to become a drop site for all-things-baby. My dresser was overtaken with cloth diapers, burp cloths, onesies (most of which were too small), and baby remedies like essential oil dilutions and gripe water. You know when you’re staying in a hotel and you unpack because you don’t want to live out of your suitcase, but it’s not your room so everything’s just kinda haphazardly strewn about? Yeahhh. That was my bedroom. And I was not feeling very relaxed in that environment. Funny thing about babies? They can tell. And so my poor little fella was sensing the same thing. When you’re awake all night with a baby, you start having imaginary conversations with them, and in mine, I heard the wee man say “uh, Ma? I don’t like living in a transitional space any more than you do.” And that’s when it hit me. Like any good control freak, I could totally take control of this situation and make it better suited to us. So I did.
The hubs and I have come to the understanding that we probably need to stick with containment as long as possible for our bigger fella, so we decided not to boot him to the toddler bed until later. This meant we’d need to be getting a second crib soon, and I used this to my advantage. Rather than buying a full-size crib, we bought a mini-crib for our bedroom. It’s the same size as a pack-and-play, but uses a denser mattress and is considerably sturdier and more comfortable. Today I finally got around to assembling it, and sent the pack and play back to the attic where it belongs. Then I rearranged a little. Wee man doesn’t have to be right in my face all night long. I’m getting out of bed to get to him anyway, and the hubs likes to help with him at night too, so I moved him to a better location away from our windows and the air vent and closer to the middle of the room. Then I moved our bookshelf, a 100+ year old pie safe which I absolutely love, closer to my side of the bed, so I have access to my books during those late night feeds.
Next up I tackled the dresser- I got rid of the baby clothes that didn’t fit anymore (and now I keep a basket under the mini-crib for tossing too-small onesies for packing up later) and used inexpensive buckets (from the Target dollar spot) to house the stuff we routinely use. Now diaper cream, cloth diapers and disposable diapers, burp pads, and baby remedies are all accessible and stylishly-housed without overcrowding my space. My room looks like a room again. And is certainly more encouraging for um, romantic pursuits. Yes.
My point in all this babble is this…if life is making you crazy, but certain things can alleviate that, get after them. Don’t let waiting for the right time or for life to slow down become a reason for living in less than what you want. You can be frugal and conscientious and still have the surroundings you’re looking for (of course, that may take some serious creativity, depending on your tastes). I can’t change that my wee man is going to eat all night long, at least not now. In a three-bedroom house, I can’t force him into another bedroom so my sweet hubs can get better rest before heading in to work crazy long hours. But I can change our surroundings to be more peacefully suited to our own preferences. I was even able to do it using (almost entirely) things we already had. And realistically, it probably took me an hour to do, which was easily accomplished while the boys napped and Cora read a book.
How do you make your house a home? I’m hoping yours is everything you want it to be 🙂