At 14 months, would you?

Colleen writes:

I am grappling with a near 8 month old who is deeply entrenched in the need to nurse to sleep, has super spidey where is mommy sense, and well, gets me up too many times in the night. He naps brilliantly twice daily but we get a three hour stretch maybe onceevery 2 nights, and otherwise it’s up every 1.5 hours.

It sucks, as you know, but I am staying home with him now and can somewhat afford to be groggy. When he is 13-14 months, however, I am starting grad school in a program that is very very demanding–neourscience, dissecting cadavers, and lots of physics probs in the first semester. The director of the program tried to intimidate me out of coming because a student with a three month old dropped out last year after a month (not fair, not cool, but she is the boss).

Obviously, you don’t know me or my kid, but can you give me an idea of how rested and ready to cope with life you felt at 13-14 months? It would be a big help to me in psyching up to go or maybe making a big decision to take another year and consider a program that is not going to try to scare me off.

Colleen, RESPECT going out to you for deciding to study neuroscience. This post is really tricky for me to answer, because at the end of the day, the real answer is IT DEPENDS. And I think it depends primarily on 3 things.

1. Your child.

I have to say that my 14 months old is a hell of a lot easier than my 8 month old was. Remarkably easier. But that doesn’t mean he’s a sleeping dream, or isn’t difficult at times, but it does mean that most of the time I’m not a walking zombie anymore. Your child is probably the aspect of this that you can least control, but I’d say working towards some kind of sleeping plan, slowly, slowly, so that you might envisage some kind of sensible blocks of sleep towards 14 months might be useful. That said, there are times when no sleep plans work and a kid just needs their mommy, so go with your gut instinct on what your kid can handle.

2. You

There are still going to be some sleepless nights, some tantruming episodes, some throwing food on the walls, some near-concussion falls (hopefully not too many) and to some extent I think it comes down to the personal question of how you balance the committments in your life. If you have to front up to dissect a cadaver after being up all night with a fever-y toddler, will you cope okay? I like to think sometimes that we do what we have to do and we get through, but I still tend to think we should try to maintain a modicum of sanity in the process.

3. Outside help

I think this is the most crucial aspect. How much support/babysitting/childcare/emotional support etc you will have at your disposal. If the people around you are incredbily supportive and you have good childcare arrangements, this could really make all the difference.

I’m sorry I can’t look into my crystal ball and tell you whether your child will be an easy or difficult 14 month old (and whether you’ll be getting much sleep). In my experience, yes, I’m getting more sleep, and yes, it’s a lot easier generally. But do I feel like embarking on a neuroscience degree? No. But then I never did without kids either!

Go for it Colleen.

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