As my due date approaches, and my sleep worsens, I find myself spending more and more time making lists, getting ready, figuring out what I can do to help ease the transition to becoming a family of four-- for all of us. Yesterday, I Christmas shopped for Julia. Tomorrow, I will make a double batch of chili-- some for Halloween (it's tradition), some to freeze for after the baby's arrival. We are in the process of getting our house put back together now that our construction is fully finished, and the newborn fleece onesies are washed and folded. As I lie awake at night, I think about when we should put up our Christmas tree, how many batches of Christmas cookies I should make and freeze, and my mental list of everything I need to write down for Scott's mom when she comes to stay with Julia when the baby is born.
During this unsettled time, my response is to organize and to control, which is why it strikes me as ironic that lately, Julia's been in the midst of some big developmental changes that have required me to do the exact opposite. About 6 weeks ago, she decided she was going to stay up all night from now on. I believe her exact words were, "I don't like to close my eyes any more." Most nights for about a month, we would put her to bed, and she would spend the next 30-90 minutes lying on her floor, kicking her door, calling to us to come in. Eventually, she would fall asleep on her hardwood floor in front of her door. After trying different things, a combination of moving her to her new room downstairs and waiting it out seems to have solved the problem. Julia is back to her old "lights out, right to sleep" self (though now she wakes up many nights around 1am and wants us to tuck Elmo back in... I guess there's always something)-- we just had to let her figure it out on her own.
Without going into too much detail, we are also making what feels like real progress with potty training. We have been trying to potty train for months. You name it, we tried it: m&ms for success, m&ms for trying. Special books and toys just for potty time. Going every 30 minutes. Going every 2 hours. And nothing worked. Eventually, we called the sleep consultant who helped us so much two years ago, and her advice was to give all the power back to Julia-- no more rewards, no more schedules. Just tell her that we trusted her to go when she was ready and let her know we would help her. In other words-- relinquish all control. And you know what? It's working. It's been far from smooth, and far from fast, but Julia is happy, and she is making progress, and it's all on her terms.
It would be easy to say that my recent parenting experiences have taught me to let go during this crazy time; that certainly would make for a neat conclusion. But it's not realistic. While I feel crazy a lot of the time, I know that the end of pregnancy is bringing out some deep seated maternal instincts that serve a purpose: to provide for and take care of my family, whether it's through big batches of chili or Christmas presents wrapped before Halloween. And a new baby is a big change, and it does require preparation. Perhaps the best I can hope for is to look to Julia and to my growing belly from time to time, as reminders that regardless of what I do or do not do, life progresses. The baby will be born; Christmas will come and go. Julia will sleep, or not sleep, and she will become potty trained when she is ready. And I will walk the fine line between control and surrender, watching to see what happens.