I had a pretty serious come to Jesus moment last week.
It was 10:30pm, and R had been crying, no scratch that, shrieking her little face off since 4:00 that afternoon. Want to know why? She was tired. Yes, I know that for a fact.
There was literally nothing wrong with her that a good nap wouldn't fix. Sister just wanted to cry instead of go to sleep, because obviously. She would scream, scream, scream, and then slowly her eyes would shut, and for a blessed 10 seconds she would go limp and start breathing deeply. Then she would jerk awake and start screaming again as if to say, "Hey wait! I forgot I was supposed to be mad!"
I have a Book.
You know, The Book. It doesn't matter what the title is; they're all the same. It's the one with the picture of a happy baby on the cover and all the magical baby answers printed on its hundreds of helpful pages. I also have Google. I also have mommy blogs and mom friends and tons of people with fantastic advice about what to do when she fusses and ideas for all the thousands of reasons why she might be crying.
The weight of responsibility of having another human rely on you for literal survival is heavy, and it's easy to live in fear of doing something wrong, especially when you take advice from The Book.
Do not, under any circumstances, put your baby on her stomach and let her fall asleep or it will be terrible and she'll suffocate.
Oh, and do not, under any circumstances, let your baby fall asleep in bed with you or it will be terrible and you'll roll over and suffocate her.
Also, do not, under any circumstances, give your baby a pacifier before she's a month old or it will be terrible and she will have nipple confusion and never eat again and she will die of starvation.
And DO NOT, under any circumstances, let a newborn go longer than four hours without eating because her pea-sized stomach cannot sustain her for that long and it will be terrible and she will die of starvation. Also, your milk supply will run out. And yes, it will be terrible.
But also do not feed her sooner than two hours or she will snack all day long and not get a full feeding and therefore eventually die of starvation. And have I mentioned it will be terrible?
The Book sucks, you guys.
Sure, it's good as a guideline of helpful tips, but that's all it's good for: a guideline. It has taken approximately three weeks for me to learn the thing that everyone tells you about having a baby but you have to experience to learn for yourself: namely, that you need to decide what you think is best for your baby and do that. Don't do what someone else tells you to do. Don't do what The Book tells you to do. Just do what you think is best and, most importantly, be confident in your decision.
This whole newborn thing is trial and error, which means that by nature you will try things, and some will work and some won't, but no book can tell you what is best for your baby. I know that, of course. But it's one thing to know it and another thing to put it into practice. It took a horrible afternoon and evening with many tears shed by all to realize this.
So last week, I put The Book away, and we started doing what we think is best. Jordan and R and I are figuring it out together.
Everything, I'm discovering, is actually not too terrible after all.