I’m sitting in the rocking chair where I’ve been imprisoned for over 2 hours with a sleeping baby in my arms. He’s moved around from boob to semi-sitting asleep next to me to sprawled across my lap. He is such a squirmy sleeper.
Three-ish feet away sits a beautiful crib laughing at me. With its cute elephant sheets, its stuffed lamb that sings “Jesus Loves Me,” and its monogrammed quilt. Haha, mama, you just thought this crib was meant for sleeping. You thought you’d check on baby in his nursery after you had a few moments to work or do the dishes or pee. But no.
Baby J is 9 months old now. And the more months go by that he continues to want to eat every 2 hours or less, will not sleep on his own, and screams like a banshee because I walked away, the more I feel like a total failure. The mom guilt is strong with this one.
Yesterday, Baby J went to part-day daycare- he’ll be in 2 days/week just for the month of June before starting back up in the Fall. I dropped him off with no issue- he went without fuss to the sweet, grey-haired, grandmotherly woman in the classroom. Most of my day was productive, even though I did think about him at least once per hour.
When I picked him after 5.5 hours away, I heard him before I even got to the room. A mother knows the sound of her baby’s shrieks. Of anger and of joy. They were angry. Diaper change- yep, he hates that lately. I asked how he did and the grandmotherly woman seemed exhausted. Four babies, two teachers, 5.5 hours. But my child was a burden, I could see it.
She asked what we did at home to get him to sleep. Rock, sing, bounce, nurse. She said that he was not happy all morning but finally fell asleep and slept for 2 hours. Whoa buddy. In someone’s arms! Oh dear. He refused to take a bottle all morning but at least did take 1 after his nap and a jar of baby food.
I explained that he was not a morning person and he had to be woken to even come to school so he was probably tired. He had only been in 1 other daycare day but mostly had 1:1 attention in the last 9 months. Some days, he slept in the crib. Some days, he did not. And he definitely had not since I fired the nanny a month ago (I left that part out). I wanted to duck my head in shame.
She asked if we held him a lot at home. Yes, ma’am. I hold my baby. Because he screams if I don’t. He has since day 2 of life. Day 1, he was all I’m cool, I sleep in this bassinet thing. Then day 2, he was like, oh hell naw, someone can hold me or they can listen to my cries of torturous pain. We let him play on his own as much as he will, which is increasingly more than before. Sometimes he has to cry because mommy needs a minute or life has to be done. I hold him to sleep because if I try to put him down, he wakes up and cries.
The teacher said they didn’t even attempt the crib as he had been so miserable in the morning that they didn’t want him to wake up and have to start all over. She gave me a sheet to fill out with his likes and dislikes. Is there an option for “torturing my mother?” Because he’s great at that. Or maybe “loudest screams ever?”
No. Okay. Yes, this baby sleeps in my arms during the day. Or the car because mom needs a break. Yes, we bedshare at night because if I didn’t, I’m pretty sure I’d never sleep. No, he is not on a schedule- when does he nap at home, you say? I’m sorry. That mom guilt.
The icing on the cake was my husband telling me over dinner that daycare is good for Baby J because the separation from me is important and he will have to adjust. I’m pretty sure he thinks I just hold the baby all day long and never try to put him down and never walk away or let him cry. I’m pretty sure he has no clue what it’s like to work with a baby sleeping in your arms while a beautiful crib laughs at you. Or to have a baby chomping on your boob all night because he’s never going to sleep through the night.