September 24, 2014

Quiet breaths escape his lips as he rests in my arms. I rock him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. the motion soothes us both as our bodies move in tandem to the sway of the rocker. There is familiar comfort in our bodies moving together, just as they did when he was still tucked away inside me, snug and warm in the hidden safety of my womb.


Last week was long and hard, with restless nights and tiring days. After the first couple of days his daddy and I were sure it was a growth spurt. The biggest clue was that he woke up one morning and all of the clothes in his drawer were too small. The proverbial “grew overnight” was our reality last week.


Growth spurts are hard on a baby and hard on a mama. The fussiness and achiness and constant need for comfort and familiarity exist just as strongly for the mama as they do for the little growing one.


A little perspective and a lot of grace are my biggest allies during a growth spurt, but they require intentionality and perseverance.



GRACE FOR CLINGINESS

My sweet son wanted nothing but to be held and rocked last week. Over and over again he nuzzled his face into my neck, my arm, or my breast as if to say “Don’t ever put me down, Mommy.” His tiny hands grasped my fingers while he slept, clung to my clothes while we rocked, and stroked my skin while he nursed.


He needed my closeness. He was comforted by my touch, soothed by my smell, and found safety in the rhythm of my heartbeat.


Mama, when you're in the trenches of a growth spurt, you will be tempted to exasperation at how much your baby needs you. Don't give in!


Your body is powerful! For nine months your babe lived inside you, hearing every sigh, every song, every laugh, and every heartbeat. And then through sheer willpower, you birthed a brand new life into the world through your body.


It’s no wonder our little loves draw so much comfort, find so much peace in our bodies. They want us near, they want to touch our skin and smell our breath and hear our sighs. Let them.


Let them find all the comfort and peace they can in being close to their mama. If your little one will nap only in your arms, cherish those long days of rocking and loving, and take heart! Your wee one will not always nap in your arms, the day will come when he won’t need mama quite so fiercely, and your heart will hurt as that precious soul takes one tiny step towards independence.


GRACE FOR FUSSINESS

As a breastfeeding mama fussiness during a growth spurt is a two-fold trial.


First, my sweet boy was achy and tired from growing so much so quickly. His bones and muscles were stretching and lengthening at an astounding rate, and he seemed to be keenly aware of the soreness that quick growth leaves in its wake.


But he was also fussy from being hungry, and he cannot yet understand why my body must catch up to his needs. When the growth spurt first started he wanted more milk than my body was accustomed to making, and he has yet to learn patience and perseverance. So he whined and threw his head back in utter frustration.


Mama, when you're in the trenches of a growth spurt, you will question your intuition, second guess your instincts, and wonder if you can make it. You can. And you are. 

It hurts our hearts to see our sweet babies uncomfortable and cranky. It is perplexing to wonder if your milk supply will indeed catch up to your baby’s needs. Remember, mama, that breastfeeding is a delicate dance, and our babies always take the lead. And sometimes we are slow to follow.


I encouraged Ezra to nurse as frequently and as long as he wanted to. I spoke softly to him, reminding him that his body and my body work together just as God designed them, to give him just what he needs. When he threw his head back because he wanted more and it wasn’t there, I encouraged him to keep trying. “You have to tell mama’s body to make more milk, you can do it, darling,” I whispered softly in his ear.


Remember, mama, your baby’s fussiness doesn’t have to lead to your own fussiness. Stay calm and reassure your little one of your unconditional love and care.


GRACE FOR THE NEEDINESS
I spent most of last week calming a fussy baby, wrapping him up in my love, and offering all the comfort I could. Little else was accomplished around my house, although I did manage to get supper on the table every night.


Mama, when you're in the trenches of a growth spurt, your heart and mind will be fixed on the needs of your little one, and you may feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Don't. Your needs matter immensely.


You need to take care of yourself. I encourage you to take time every day to refocus, refresh, and relax.


Refocus your heart and mind on the One Who is Higher than You.


Refresh your mind by dwelling on something other than your baby’s needs. Mediation, worship music, a favorite book, or mindfulness can help keep your mind settled.


Relax your body through deep, intentional breaths,  a refreshing drink, or a peaceful walk.


Somedays refocusing, refreshing, and relaxing will look like a few moments outside in the sunshine to soak up its warmth and healing benefits. But sometimes it will look like a quiet walk alone or taking a much-needed nap. Whatever those moments look like for you, embrace them.


Mama, when you're in the trenches of a growth spurt, you will feel the full weight of the responsibilities of motherhood, and you will want to do it all. Ask for help.

  • Ask your husband for a few extra moments in bed on Saturday morning. 

  • Ask your mama to clean your bathroom, and then rock the baby while you take a shower. 

  • Ask a dear friend to pray for you, right now, while you’re on the phone.

  • Ask your neighbor to bring you a meal, in disposable pans so you don’t have to wash and return them.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. As Christians, we are admonished to serve one another, so when we allow someone to serve us we are being obedient to Christ while allowing them to be obedient to Christ as well.


Oh mama, if your little one is in a growth spurt, take heart! You will make it. With a lot of grace and a lot of perseverance, you and your sweet babe are going to be just fine.

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