I sit on the couch and hold my sweet newborn. She’s just finished nursing and is now nuzzled against my neck. I know that I should put her down in her bassinet, but I can’t bring myself to put her down. Instead I rest my cheek against her warm head and close my eyes. I know all too well that these moments are truly fleeting.
When C was born I was determined to do everything right. My goal was to make sure she was perfectly prepared for daycare. I wanted her to be able to sleep anywhere and drink formula or breast milk at any temperature from any bottle. I wanted her to be able to be soothed by anyone. I succeeded beautifully. When she was 3 months old she could fall, and stay, asleep in a bed, a swing, a bouncy seat, her car seat, or someone’s arms. She could drink warm or cold formula or breast milk from at least two brands of bottles. She would let anyone hold her and was easily comforted by her pacifier and doggy. The day I dropped her off she barely noticed I was gone. Don’t get me wrong, she knew I was her mommy, but she wasn’t phased by the transition. All thanks to my draconian preparations.
This time around I just can’t bring myself to train Little L the same way. She’ll be starting daycare in two and a half months and yet I hold her as she sleeps, let her fall asleep on my breast, and let her wrap me around her little finger. I know I’m doing her a disservice, but I can’t bring myself to stop. This could well be the last baby I nurse, the last one I rock to sleep, and I fully intend to savor each and every minute of it.
While she does drink formula from a bottle as willingly as she’ll nurse, she hasn’t napped in her bassinet in at least two weeks. She rarely gets put down since it’s just easier to hold her or carry her in the sling, and anyway I enjoy having her close to me. It’s so hard to choose between her future well being and my current pleasure, especially when it’s also her current pleasure.
When C was little I thought that we had all the time in the world to sit on the couch and cuddle. I was frozen in typical new parent mode; my baby will always be little, this is going to last forever. I was wrong. From the moment I dropped her off at daycare on her first day everything changed; we started running instead of sitting. I would rush through my morning routine, trading baby holding for pumping, drop a still sleeping infant off at daycare and head to work. At the end of the day there were errands to run, more pumping to do, dinner to prep, and bottles and pump parts to clean. The only time for cuddling came on the weekend and even then it was hit or miss. By the time we slowed our mad pace down C was much bigger and much less willing to cuddle and she could no longer sleep anywhere except alone, in her crib. The window was closed and there was no going back.
I don’t want to miss out with Little L. I don’t want to regret not holding her enough. I don’t want to look back and only see what I didn’t do. I have two and a half more months to be with her one on one before I hand her over to someone else during the day, and while I intend to make the best of every minute, I hope I’ll have the strength to also help her get ready for the transition. I’m just not sure there’s a way to find an adequate balance.