Do you remember those multiple choice tests from school or varsity, where you would look at the questions and think “Oh Hell” then look at the choice of answers and think “I guess I am making a pattern in this paper”. I will never forget making a pattern out of a question paper once for a Xhosa exam (question 1 I chose answer A, 2=B, 3=C, 4 =D, 5=A etc etc etc) and actually passing.
I have come to the conclusion that parenting is really a multiple choice guessing game.
Why will my baby not eat?
- She isn’t hungry
- She has a dirty nappy
- She is too tired
- She has wind
- She is teething
- None of the above
- All of the above
Why is my baby waking up at night?
- He didn’t finish his bedtime bottle and is actually hungry
- He is having a growth spurt and is actually hungry
- He is teething
- He has wind
- He wants to play
- He rolled over in his sleep
- He has a dirty nappy
- He wants his dummy
- He wants company
- He isn’t tired
- All of the above
- None of the above
And so it goes. They talk about parenting instincts and trusting your instincts, but I have to say that some days it is just too confusing, I am left guessing and then second guessing and then asking everyone I know, who all have a different input or idea. I try taking my cues from the babies, but they are sending mixed messages or I don’t speak their language and something is getting lost in translation. Thank heavens Chris seems to have pretty good instincts and often calls it right.
And then there is the part where you get something working brilliantly, but then they change it up. About four weeks ago we went through such a bad patch with bedtime routine, they just wouldn’t go to sleep, it was taking us up to 2 hours to get them to sleep from the start of their evening bottle. And then they were often waking up again and needing to be re-burped or resettled back to sleep. Add to that around this time Sausage started rolling over in his sleep and waking himself up and then crying for someone to roll him over and give him his dummy. All in all night-time was feeling like a rough period. And so we introduced strict night routine and it worked. 5.30pm we would head out in the pram for a half hour walk, 6.00pm in the bath and 6.30pm bottle. We were getting it so slick that by 7.15pm they were normally both in bed fast asleep, no dramas, no fuss, just peaceful sleepy babies. In fact a complete highlight was reached last Wednesday night when we went from put down (remember the night I handled all by myself) to 6.00am with not one reason for me to get out of bed to deal with a baby. Perfect, I thought, we are there.
Then five days ago, yes Thursday the very next night, they decided it was time to put Mom and Dad on the back foot again and mix it all up. Suddenly Pudding started refusing her bedtime bottle? WHAT? Pudding refuse food – no way. But yet last Thursday she went down with NO bedtime bottle and I mean not even a sip. She screamed blue murder every time we tried to put that bottle in her mouth and was clearly exhausted so eventually we just put her to sleep on an empty tummy knowing we would be woken in the middle of the night for her feed, which she did at around 3am and then wouldn’t go back to sleep. That same night I had no sooner got her back to sleep then Sausage started his rolling over tricks and dummy needs again.
Since then every night has been a battle to get Pudding to take her bottle, then Sausage decided he would just pretend to drink (he does this cute thing where he allows the bottle in his mouth and even makes all the jaw movements of sucking, but there is no suction going on at all). We have finally realised that Pudding will drink her evening bottle only if she is sat straight up with her head tilted back at a crazy angle and then given the bottle? WHAT? My sister reckons it is because she is so tired that she needs to sit up to eat or she will fall asleep, a reasonable thought, but how does a not quite five month old figure that out? Sausage will eventually really drink, if we wait him out long enough. Shame poor boy is also once again struggling with wind, very much like colic is back AGAIN. Now Pudding has started waking up in the middle of the night. This from my baby that has slept through consistently EVERY night since she was 10 weeks old. The first night she woke because she was hungry having gone to sleep on an empty tummy. Then we thought maybe she was teething and a dose of Calpol seems to have worked that night. Last night she woke with hiccups, but didn’t cry and eventually went back to sleep. We have tried starting bed time routine earlier in case they are just too tired, it made no difference. We stopped their evening solids in case they weren’t hungry enough for the evening bottle, it made no difference. I gave Pudding teething powder last night in case her teeth are coming through and disturbing her sleep, still she woke up. Sausage has reduced how much he drinks at bedtime and I keep expecting him to wake for a feed in the night again (it has been about 4 weeks since he had a night time feed), but last night he left 120mls of his bottle and slept through the whole night with no call out for him at all? They really are keeping us guessing.
And so every day is another guessing game of the multiple choice and an adventure and I only hope that by guessing this multiple choice I can get it somewhere close to right. Never a dull minute in twin town.