As a new mom, life can feel downright overwhelming. I remember reading everything in sight trying to absorb all the information so I could be sure not to do anything wrong. Then the information started to conflict. I mean, seriously conflict, and it was pure madness trying to figure out what to do right. How many rules do we need? Science is telling us one thing, judgment is telling us another... Our mothers put us to sleep on our stomachs, now we have to put them to sleep on their backs. Pacifiers are good, pacifiers are bad. Don't let your child suck their thumb, thumb-sucking is a natural thing they develop to comfort themselves. Breast feed, bottle feed. Never wake a sleeping baby, never let a baby sleep more than a feed cycle during the day. I feel like I could go on and on and on... Yeesh, this is exhausting!
My mom thought this whole deal was insane. I remember her telling me to just listen to my instincts. We know what to do, right? I found one book that I truly liked because her approach to taking care of a baby made sense to me. The Baby Whisperer. The title itself was more comforting than "Baby Wise," although I wouldn't be surprised if they taught very similar principles. I just couldn't handle taking severe approaches to bringing up my baby. I certainly wasn't going to sleep with him, and the whole Ferber method is just plain cruel. Hey, to each his own, but these approaches are not for me.
I remember following rules to the letter regardless of how contrary they might have seemed. Little r had such a sensitive tummy and horrible acid reflux. We would put him to sleep on his back and he would scream and scream and scream. We had his bed elevated on one side to help, and would often put him to sleep on his side, but never EVER on his tummy. And I was adamant about making sure he slept in his bed instead of on my chest, and that he never nursed too close together. Just thinking about all this is wearing me out. Being a mom is hard enough without all these insane rules. And all the advice! Holy bananas, do we really need all this advice from everyone?
I'm guilty of offering it far more than I should have. How I ever felt I was anywhere near qualified to offer advice to someone about raising a baby the "right" way is beyond me. Every baby is so painfully different that we can't possibly think we have the answers for every baby issue presented to us. One of my friends posted an article on Facebook the other day from one of my favorite bloggers about how the best advice to give a mother is not to give any advice at all. Most mothers just need to talk it out to prove to themselves that they have the answers after all. Or for me, I think I often just need to hear other mothers tell me that they experienced something similar so I don't feel so alone in my struggles. We've all been there, and company is comforting...
So, with a new baby coming into our lives, I decided I was going to follow my instincts and use rules as guidelines instead of making myself crazy trying to follow them to the letter. I might end up regretting some of it, I have no doubt, but I feel like I was so focused on trying to do things the "right" way that I completely missed all the other amazing things about having an infant. All those little things that you'll never have again. Like having a baby fall asleep on your chest.
Baby C has some tummy issues, too. No where near as horrible as poor little r did, but enough that I have to be careful what I eat and his poor tummy can be so uncomfortable sometimes that he has trouble sleeping. Sometimes I've noticed that he'll fall asleep better on his tummy, so I'll put him there first until he falls asleep and then roll him over. And the whole, "never poke a sleeping bear" theory has kept me from waking him up when he has good naps during the day (even though I am rarely joining him). I also let him sleep on my chest as often as I can because they grow up too fast, darnit!!!
But I have to confess that the books can be useful. I'm running on an empty fuse right now because Baby C is eating every couple of hours at night, and little r is an early riser. That's a tough combination and the lack of sleep eventually catches up with you. So, I found myself turning back to that trusty book to see what the Baby Whisperer might suggest I do to help. She has some great advice, and it turns out that many of the approaches she suggests are coming naturally to me by following my instincts and listening to what Baby C needs. I still need help though. A lot of help. Natural or not, there has to be an approach to guide me to train my baby how to sleep longer periods through the night so we both get more sleep.
I'm going to give the Baby Whisperer's suggestions a try and see if it gives me a break to help turn Baby C's sleep schedule around. I'm sure I'll vent my cunundrum to as many friends as possible first and read far too many blog posts about the issue as well, just to make myself feel like I'm in common company. I'll also go on and on about it to my mom because, bless her heart, she'll listen to it all and then tell me that she doesn't know what I can do (when all along she knows my instincts are going to give me the right answers).
I'm going to end with a quote from Mommastery on her blog about advice that I mentioned above. My friend shared this quote the other day as well. I think we are both saying the mantras in our heads as we work through our current baby struggles and trying to find our sanity.
"I just want us to remember that when we became mamas we didn't change species. We're still humans. I mean, we're badass humans, for sure, but humans nonetheless. We make mistakes, all day, and that's good. We want our children to see that. We want them to learn how to handle mistakes, because that's really the only important thing to learn: We expect to make mistakes, we say we're sorry, we forgive ourselves, we shrug and smile, and we try again.
It's a good system. It creates graceful, interesting, peaceful, forgiving, jacked-up humans.
And don't forget ... in this forgiveness system, we get forever tries. We never run out of tries.
Parenthood is Forever Tries."
From "A Little Advice" by Glennon Melton.