I love books. I am always reading something. When I want to undertake a new project, the first thing I do is check out a few books from the library and read up on the subject. It was a book that originally inspired me to start gardening. I love all kinds of books, but especially non-fiction. I just want to know about stuff! So of course when we were expecting Nathan, I read lots of books and added a couple of my favorites to our personal library. (Just in case you were wondering, my all time favorite baby book just so happens to be called "The Baby Book" by William and Martha Sears.) Just like most new moms, I thumbed through the book to figure out when fevers were high enough to merit a trip to the doctor, what the right dosage of Tylenol was and whether to use it when Nathan was fussy for no apparent reason, and how to start him on solid foods. Most of all, I wanted to know, was this (bowel movement, skin rash, spit up, weight loss, weight gain) NORMAL. With Nathan, it pretty much always was. Of my two boys, Nathan would most closely fit the book parameters of normal. In fact, as a baby, Nathan was abnormal only because he was such a super-good baby. He hit all his milestones at the appropriate times. He ate a full feeding of rice cereal the first time we fed any to him. We could take him anywhere and he would be happy. As long as he wasn't hungry or tired, he never cried. However, he didn't sleep through the night until he was twenty months old. Newly pregnant with Daniel, I simply couldn't continue getting up with him every night, and after a couple of nights, he started sleeping through. About three months into my pregnancy, we just gently and easily weaned him from nursing with no trauma to mama or baby. He was not by the book; he was better than I could have ever expected.
Then we had my other, absolutely not-by-the-book baby, Daniel. Daniel did not sleep, cried a lot, and wanted to nurse all the time. He developed severe eczema (extremely itchy, red rash over his entire body) at about eight weeks. I had to put socks over his hands to keep him from scratching until he was bloody. He also teethed constantly from six months on. (He already has about twenty teeth.) When it was time to start solids, I discovered that he wanted nothing to do with any solid food. No fruit, no veggies, no cereal. He dropped into the bottom 10th percentile for his weight. The books had no answers for what I really wanted to know. How do I make this child eat? How do I relieve the endless itching? How do I get a full night of sleep when I can't let my baby cry it out? I didn't know, and they didn't either. It made me feel a teeny, tiny bit better that even the so-called baby experts wouldn't have any idea what to do with my baby.
Daniel's a little older now and we've figured a few things out. We've found a lotion that helps his skin heal faster when he does scratch it up. I've discovered that he loves a few foods as much as he despises others: sweet potatoes, meat, and beans, which I can pretend is a relatively balanced diet. And one would hope that we could have a break from teething since the only ones not already through are the two year molars. And Daniel has had several nights recently where he has only woken up one time. I, on the other hand, have struggled with insomnia, no doubt precipitated by spending a year of my life getting up several times a night.
Nathan is a bright three-year old who continues to be pretty easy-going, except when he tackles his little brother eighteen or twenty times a day. We're starting to learn his letters (which is a whole new kettle of fish; teaching my child how to read is much, much scarier than potty-training). He has continued to flourish, despite the massive drains on his mommy's time from his little brother. I am so thankful for the resilience God gave to children. He loves to sit with Mommy and Daddy and read our favorite Little Critter books.
Since I have tagged Daniel as being a difficult child, I want to add this caveat. Lest you think Daniel has been a burden without a return, let me tell you that, like a lot of children with physical problems or special needs, he is so full of love. This morning as I washed the floor in the kitchen (on my hands and knees, because I hate mops), he walked over to me and put his little arms around my neck. He also still sits in my lap and snuggles, something Nathan only did at this age if he was nursing. There are rewards!