“It sounds like you had control over your schedule before you brought your baby home, is that correct?”
“But now, you have a new baby with no schedule. Babies don’t run on your schedule and that makes you feel like you are losing control?”
These words were spoken to me at a specialist appointment after having my first baby. I have always been a bit of a control freak, but I learned quickly that when it comes to babies, there are so many things that are out of our control.
SCHEDULE is the new four-letter word
I had cried at multiple doctors appointments because I felt completely lost in the thick of new motherhood. The sleep-deprivation was so new and so daunting. The lack of any kind of schedule to me was overwhelming.
But here’s the thing: with every baby I have been asked the same questions which all contain that one daunting word that sends new mommas into a tailspin:
“What is your babies nap schedule?”
“What is your babies feeding schedule?”
“He is [insert how many] months old now and you still don’t have him sleeping on a schedule?”
I was so lost
I spent the beginning of his life so worried about getting him on a schedule and checking off all of these schedule boxes I nearly drove myself insane. Not to mention his scheduled appointments when I was barely walking after my emergency C-section and had to lug his monstrosity of a car seat into the doctors office all while feeling like my abdominals were going to fall out. The doctors office where I would start the appointment smiling and end the appointment crying all while reassuring them that I was okay.
But I wasn’t. I felt alone and I felt lost. One day turned into the next and the nights were never-ending. As soon as I would get him to sleep he would cry. I soon as I fed him he would want to eat again. As soon as I though he was settling into some kind of sleeping or feeding schedule it would change.
I didn’t know how to answer well-meaning people and even strangers when they asked about his sleep schedule or feeding schedule or my schedule so we could plan a playdate: he didn’t have a schedule like the baby schedules I read about online. He nursed every hour for the first six months. I rarely slept and was falling to pieces.
Babies don’t run on your schedule
And I had re-scheduled my appointment, with the specialist I mentioned earlier, two times. Then cancelled. Then called back to see if they could still squeeze me into her schedule. Then ended up sitting across from her and hearing six words that would solve my problems and free me from the shackles of my desire for a schedule with subsequent babies:
“Babies don’t run on your schedule…”
After three babies I am here to say that the beautiful thing about babies is: they don’t run on a schedule. They don’t know clocks and calendars and alarms and timetables and day planners galore. They teach us to loosen our grip on those things and embrace the beauty of not knowing exactly what happens next.
They teach us to let go, to breathe and to learn that many things in life can wait until later. They teach us that the house will not self-destruct if the dishes are left in the sink and the clean laundry is left unfolded in a wrinkly pile. They teach us to clear our calendars and say no to things so we don’t burn ourselves out.
If your baby doesn’t have a schedule, it doesn’t mean you are failing as a mother
If your baby has a schedule that is wonderful, that is something I always dreamed of when I brought each of mine home. If your baby does not have a schedule I am here to tell you to take a deep breath because:
You aren’t doing anything wrong.
You aren’t failing.
All babies are different.
So sit back and watch them grow. Truth be told, there is not much sitting involved once they start waddling around, but your time with them as babies slips away so quickly.
Whether or not it is scheduled.