When I think about Livi, one word that comes to mind is unpredictable. This characteristic was hard to accept and difficult to handle when she was a baby and now that she is a toddler, it can mean a lot of frustration for all of us.
When she was a baby, pretty much everything about Livi was unpredictable. When she would sleep and for how long. When she would eat and how much. What calmed her down today, wouldn’t work tomorrow or next week. Going to the grocery store was a wondrous adventure one time and the most scary experience the next. It was hard to make any plans and if we did, they usually fell through.
When I imagined being a mom, I wasn’t quite certain what to expect. Sure, I had some images floating through my mind of chasing after little ones on a summer day, cuddling sleepy children in front of the fireplace, and holding my peaceful baby while watching her sleep.
Granted, I knew these Hollywood versions of parenthood wouldn’t be the norm. From watching friends, I knew there would be tears and dirty diapers and less sleep than I was used to. But there was one thing I was sure of: I would always be able to soothe my baby and meet all her needs. After all, that’s what mothers do, right?
We had a good enough start. Livi came out crying but as soon as they put her in my arms, she calmed down. The nurses even commented how beautiful it was to witness. And I’m not going to lie, it felt amazing to be able to calm this tiny new person just by being there. Had I known what lay ahead, I would have savored that moment even more.
Sleep or lack thereof is a big topic in our house. It would be impossible to cover it all in one post. So I am just going to start at the beginning…
It has always been difficult for Livi to fall asleep and to stay asleep. Judging from how active she was in my belly when I was pregnant, I think she even had trouble sleeping back then.
I mentioned before that she was a hyperactive baby. Now she is a very busy toddler and even more active than ever before. That very same characteristic is what makes it so hard for her to calm down at bedtime.
I do not really like to use the word ‘demanding’ when I talk about Livi. Somehow it brings to mind images of a little diva or princess telling us her demands and yelling until they are perfectly met, while we, her servants, quietly hurry to meet her needs.
While nothing could be further from the truth, there were times when we felt just like that. It is hard not to when your baby just keeps crying and seems unsatisfied no matter what you do.
When I was pregnant, I was told to breastfeed on demand, whenever the baby would let me know that she was hungry. That made sense to me and I did not think that it would be a big deal. Back then, I imagined a peacefully sleeping baby, who wanted to nurse every few hours and then sleep again. Boy, was I ever wrong.
For the first few weeks after Livi was born, I felt like I was feeding her around the clock; she just wanted to nurse All. The. Time.
Never before in my life have I been this exhausted and tired. When Livi was born, she took all the energy I had and then cried for more. She never seemed satisfied or content. Some days, I truly thought I could not go on any longer – yet somehow I did.
In the beginning, it was a constant mix of nursing and holding her, walking and rocking, singing and shushing, and finally tiptoeing through the house, only to start all over again a few minutes later.
Which is how many new parents would describe their new lives. The difference for us was that Livi would cry and fuss, unless we held her. And that this was going to last longer than six weeks or three months or even six months…
Livi is always on the move. In almost all of her pictures, there is at least one arm or a leg that is blurry. Often we don’t even manage to take the picture we aimed for because she has already moved on. Hyperactive* is a pretty fitting description for her.
Since she was born, Livi has been busy. Arms and legs flailing as a newborn, twisting, turning, and arching while breastfeeding, her hands and head always moving around. Now that she is older, she rarely sits in one spot for too long and even if she does, she can never sit quietly. She still wants to be held a lot but many times you can barely hold on to her.
Her mind is just as busy. She gets bored fast. Keeping her entertained can be a daunting task. While I have seen friends’ kids listening wide eyed to a story, looking at the pictures in the book with amazement, Livi is all over the place. It usually takes two of us to read a story to her: one to read and one to keep an eye on her.