I’ve been thinking lately that babies are a lot like Maths. Unless you are very good at Maths, and then the metaphor doesn’t really work at all. If you are good at Maths then you are probably quite clever, so you can find your own metaphor. Now where was I?
Oh yes, babies being a lot like Maths. Or more specifically, they are a lot like those very long and complicated equations, packed with variables and always changing.
Imagine trying to solve an equation and you’re just getting to the end and you can see the answer in your head and you’re about to scribble it down and then suddenly the examiner changes the WHOLE question. And you have to start all over again and find a completely new answer. That’s what having a baby is like.
We’re currently going through an equation of our own with Ben. We thought we had it all figured out. He was eating well and only waking up once a night for a bottle and then going straight back to sleep. And then something switched. And now he wakes up about four times a night, won’t sleep during the day and is generally unsettled. I’ve taken him to the doctor and even though he has a cough and runny nose, apparently he’s otherwise healthy. So what is the problem? To get an answer, I did what you can only do in these circumstances – phone a friend (who has a baby herself).
We discussed make of formula, size of bottle teats, quantity of milk, what solids he was eating, what time his naps were, how many he was having, if he was teething and how long he’d had his cough.
We talked about changing his routine slightly, making the second sleep of the day an hour later, giving him smaller amounts of milk (but more often) and then what to do at night when he wakes up. We spoke about Gina Ford and other sleep training theories and dummies and sleep comforters and pain relief and teething gels and bath time routines.
We didn’t solve the problem, we just bounced ideas off each other and I put down the phone feeling much better. Not because we’d figured it all out, but because at least I knew I wasn’t the only one with baby problems and at least I now had a few ideas to try.
Here is the trouble maker (looking very pleased with himself):
The number of things you can be doing wrong when looking after a baby is endless. And just a little tweak here and there can make the difference of you getting a full night’s sleep or not. Which is kind of a big deal. An example of this is last Winter when Ben kept waking up at night and I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out why.
I went through every possible explanation and eventually debated it with a friend until we figured out that the poor guy was FREEZING cold. I had him in a long sleeve vest and one really thick blanket but apparently that wasn’t enough. As soon as I put more layers on him and bulked up the blankets, he slept like the proverbial baby. I felt like the world’s worst mother. But sometimes you get so tangled up in the problem and all the associated variables, that the most obvious solution completely escapes you.
I suppose the ultimate difference is that at least someone tries to teach you Maths. You get schooled in equations, whether you eventually master them or not. But no one offers to teach you parenting. There is also no right answer to any problem – because every baby is different.
So, in summary: Maths was hard. Parenting is hard. And I am not a natural at either. But I’m doing my best to solve this particular equation – and that’s about all I CAN do, isn’t it?
If you haven’t already, it would be great if you voted for me as SA’s Best Mommy Blogger – voting closes on 15 December (which is this Sunday). I’ve made it on to the shortlist and now they’re looking for the Top 3.