Day to day I sometimes forget that we are likely in the most difficult stretch of parenting that we will experience. But then we get little clues to how life might be when, for instance, we get to sleep through the night and past 4 am, or when both boys don't require near constant attention. Even today I glimpsed this hopefully-not-too-distant-future when Cedric was happily sitting and exploring board books while I watched him from the kitchen and made lunch while Dashiell played nearly independently and Chris attended to laundry. Everyone was engaged in an activity of their choosing, no one was crying. It was quite lovely.
Two weeks ago we started giving Cedric his first tastes of solid food when we eat dinner. He's also starting to stay content for longer than two hours without nursing and can now have solid food to extend the time longer. I'm not trying to hurry Cedric to end nursing but I have been feeling eager to find bits of time to myself occasionally. Getting just a little bit - like right now I'm writing this post during a blissful few hours on Saturday, in the company of a cold brew coconut coffee and almond scone, while Chris is watching the boys - gives me space to recharge and tend to creative work that anchors me.
We've also been working on sleep with both boys. Cedric has never slept through the night and was beginning to wake every two hours throughout the night. Sometimes he would be waking up for the first time just as I was about to go to bed. I was exhausted and starting to worry that, like with Dashiell, we would find ourselves sleep deprived and with a nine month old who didn't sleep and showed no signs of changing. So we've started to do some cry it out with Cedric (here's how we did sleep training with Dashiell). If he wakes before midnight I don't go get him and he has been settling himself down really well. Now he typically wakes once and settles himself down and then wakes again around 2 am or so and I go nurse him and he sleeps until ~5:30 am. We are both waking up happy and better rested.
Not going to Cedric when he is crying is really hard, I have to be honest about that. But he's settling more quickly than Dashiell did when we did sleep training with him and it feels like the right decision to give him these sleep skills early. And it feels like the right decision to prioritize sleep for the whole family.
We've also been working on Dashiell's sleep, which has fallen into a very unfortunate pattern of ending in the 4 am hour. To try to extend Dash's sleep Chris has been putting him back to bed when he wakes before 5 am. (Before 5 am! This has become normal in our house!) There have been some mornings that Dash has slept until 5 am and we feel hopeful, other mornings where he has to be put back to bed a few times and never goes back to sleep. On those mornings he is emotional and prone to tantrums, and it makes for difficult mornings for all of us. So we aren't seeing quite as much progress with Dash's sleep but even small changes, like having a plan to not get him up before 5 am, makes us hopeful and feel slightly less out of control.
What I appreciate about the boys requiring so much of us right now is that we are already enjoying life so much, even as it can be so very hard. As we gain the simplest of pleasures back life will be even sweeter and richer: Sleeping through the night! Not being on call to nurse every two hours! Chris and I having an entire conversation without being interrupted by a tantrum! Dashiell gaining enough self control not to (lovingly) kick, hug and otherwise smoosh Cedric! Are these things so unreasonable?
Getting these little clues of what life might be like in even a few months makes me realize that for the past six months, since Cedric was born really, we have been in the trenches. Chris and I each have a lot on our plates even as we focus so much time and energy on parenting and our household. For one of my 2015 goals I said I didn't want to expect too much beyond parenting two young boys. I fail at this goal. I can't ignore writing and creative projects. I can't ignore bookmarking new recipes to try, reading novels or looking for ways to build community with our neighbors and friends. These things make me me, and I can't be a great parent if I'm not attending to my needs, at least minimally. I'm feeling hopeful that soon there will be more space to fit those activities in and to find a new balance.
As I tell many people, our life is crazy but mostly awesome. Slowly, slowly it feels less crazy and more awesome and I am excited.
P.S. A first glimmer of balance when Dashiell was six weeks old.