mysteries of motherhood

“Does it mean she’s full if it’s coming out of her nose?” I asked concernedly, as milk started slowly pouring out of Lydia’s nose.

Abe carefully assessed the situation. Yes, it appeared there was milk gushing out of Lydia’s nose, but she still seemed…hungry. She was rooting. He shrugged. “I think she’s still hungry,” he said, and suggested I keep feeding her. So I did. Even though there was milk pouring out of my baby’s nose, I kept feeding her because it seemed like the right thing to do. Am I going crazy??

There are so many parts to motherhood that mystify me. Am I feeding my baby too much? Too little? Am I talking to her enough? Too much? Is she sufficiently visually stimulated? Is she happy?? (How can you tell if she hasn’t figured out how to smile?) Is she bored?

These questions drive me to do ridiculous things. Yesterday after a feeding session, I found myself tucking a striped blanket over my bra so Lydia could enjoy the visual stimulation of stripes from the supposedly ideal 8-15 inch distance. I’ve bounced her to all three movements of a symphony in the hopes that our activity staved off baby boredom. And I’ve nursed her (several times) while there was milk oozing from her nose. Still, I battle the constant fear that I’m not measuring up in the mom department, and that my baby is the victim of all of my maternal mistakes.

For example, yesterday I was reading up on baby constipation and baby acne. I thought Lydia might be suffering from the former–and she is definitely struggling with the latter. In my reading (which took me off of my intended topics), I discovered that babies a generation ago used to develop faster than babies today. Why? Because they slept on their tummies! Tummy time = muscle-development time. Today’s babies sleep on their backs to avoid SIDS, but that slows down their time line of muscle development. The article went on to say that “sleep time is back time, and play time is tummy time.”

I panicked.

I have totally neglected to put Lydia on her stomach during “play time.” Most play time I just bounce her on my lap, stick her in a bouncy seat, or swaddle her and hope she falls asleep. I totally forgot about tummy time. So right after reading the article, I put Lydia on her stomach and tried to visualize her little muscles developing.

She freaked out. Soon she was sobbing on her stomach, deaf to my pleas that she just try it out a little longer. To heck with my muscles! she seemed to scream. I hate this! Put me back on my back where the world makes sense!! What could I do? I picked her up and helped restore order to her universe, while the order in mine seemed to unravel. I was sure my neglect of tummy time would translate into permanent developmental delays for my baby.

But babies learn fast. We tried tummy time again today, and right now Lydia is peacefully enjoying a (closely supervised) nap on her stomach. Sleeping right next to me, Lydia appears to be enjoying the pose a lot more than yesterday. She has even let go a series of satisfying sounding toots, and I suspect the slanted, stomach down position lends itself well to gastro-intestinal happiness.

So I guess making mistakes is part of motherhood, but thankfully, it appears that Lydia is surviving mine. Time to turn her over to ensure it stays that way!