Motherhood is stressful – there’s so much to know and learn, and no matter how many books or articles you read, how many videos you watch, how many paediatricians you speak to, or all the other mums’ experiences and opinions being rubbed in your face (often unwillingly), the most important thing to focus on is your baby’s specific needs. Because, here’s the thing… babies are not all the same.
My son has seldom been “by the book” – from the very beginning, the way that he fed was already different to most babies. I’d say he liked snacking – he’d drink for 2-3 minutes every hour or so, and there was no forcing him otherwise. “Average” breastfed newborn babies tend to drink for about 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours, and mums are encouraged to switch sides mid feed. Thankfully, I decided to trust that Ben knew what he needed and just made sure he was growing as he should – which he was.
Then came the car problems. From when he was just days old, he hated being in the car. He would scream his lungs out (still does most of the time) – no matter if he was fed, burped, changed, rested… There was just no way to keep him happy in the car. And nearly every person that I’ve spoken to about this has responded with “how strange, babies usually LOVE car rides!” – or even the occasional “the only way I can get my baby to sleep is by going for a drive”.
Alas. Not my Benjamin.
Fast forward a few months. Weaning. Lord almightly. I was both excited and nervous to begin our weaning journey, but little did I know what it was going to be like. He outright refuses purees, insists on feeding himself (so we opted for BLW), but still struggles to swallow any food. He’s now over 8 months old and is only just starting to figure it out. He loves tasting and squishing and experimenting with new flavours and textures, but he just can’t get it down. Meanwhile most other babies his age are having 3 meals a day with milk in between.
Let’s talk about sleeping. Ha.
Most babies start sleeping a good 6-8 hours at one go at night by the time they’re about 6 months old. Some ever sooner. But some (you guessed it, like Ben) are still very far off. He still wakes every 2-3 hours – sometimes more frequently – and despite my efforts, will mostly only go back to sleep if I feed him.
And nap time? Good God. His wake windows are 4-5 hours (average for his age is 2-3hrs) and he’s already pretty much dropped his 2nd nap, meaning he’s down to just one, on most days. Even as a newborn, where the average wake window is 60-90 minutes, he would be up for 3 hours in the evenings without fail. And while other babies would nap for 1-2 hours, he would nap for 30-45 minutes. Fun times.
As a mother, it’s hard to constantly hear that your child “should” be doing the opposite of what he’s doing.
“He shouldn’t need to feed so often at night.”
“He shouldn’t be waking so frequently.”
“He should be eating more food by now.”
“He shouldn’t be so clingy and needy with you.”
“He should have settled in the car by now.”
“He should be napping twice a day at his age.”
“He should have wake windows of about 3 hours.”
Should. Should. Should.
Well, darling. Shoulda coulda woulda.
He is growing well. He is developing well. He’s got killer strong legs. Heck, he’d be walking already if it were up to him. I’m sure he will soon. And nope, he still hasn’t got any teeth, despite having shown signs of teething from 2 months of age. He’s super attentive and intelligent, and reaching all his milestones on time. He’s the sweetest and funniest little boy, and so so happy.
I adore him. And he adores me.
Genetically speaking, I’m aware that there’s a good chance of him being neurodivergent… Now I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch or jumping to any conclusions, but what I’m trying to focus on here is that motherhood – or indeed life – is not a one-size-fits-all situation.
If I had to focus on all the things that Ben does differently, I’d constantly feel like I’m doing something wrong. But I’m not, because I follow him, and trust that he guides me according to what he needs. So far, that seems to be working out just fine. And if it means that some things will take more time, and that I need a bit more patience and understanding, then so be it. That’s what it’s all about.
So to any other mums out there going through an “atypical” experience – I hear you. I’m with you. You’re doing a great job. And no, nothing is wrong with you or your child. As long as everyone is happy, healthy, fed, dressed, and loved, that’s all that matters.
Keep doing what you’re doing. I know I will. 🙂
Until next time,