Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sleep is for the weak!

Okay, I think I'm finally, FINALLY back, dear readers. It's been a wild and woolly (and weepy) six weeks. Who knew baby raising was this hard? That said, I think I have a minute or three before Boobs McGee decides it's time for lunch. (We can send a man to the moon and accurately recreate John Holmes' schlong but we can't invent a pacifier that tastes like boob?) I've got the kid strapped to my chest, his head covered in toast crumbs, the dishes are only partially done (we won't discuss the state of my flossing routine). Seems like the perfect time to blog.

It's been a busy week. Britney's on the loose again (wait, WHAT?), Heath didn't kill himself, Kirsten Dunst's in rehab. (Seriously, is no child star immune?) It's been a busy week here too, and by "busy" I mean aaarrrrgghhh. I think the hardest part about being a new mother is how easy it is to feel like shit about it. I've learned a valuable lesson this week: I need to stay far, far away from parenting books. See, here's the thing - I tend to be a little neurotic. (The world nods it's head in agreement.) Because I am deeply insecure about my mommying abilities I decided to read a little book called Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. It was written by a British woman who became famous for teaching celebrities how to "talk" to their babies. Well you know me, if something's good enough for a Hollywood B-lister it's good enough for me. So I read it. Nay, studied it. The book is all about A) getting your baby to fall asleep independently (no rocking, no singing, no falling asleep in your arms - nothing that will cause a "bad habit"), B) getting your infant on a schedule (it's so easy! Newborns will sleep anywhere!) and C) changing your breastfeeding routine (no switching sides during feeding, lest your baby not get the high fat "hind" milk).

After a week of trying the Baby Whisperer's techniques I can say with certainty that this book is a big bag of bullshit.

Oh I followed her advice. I stopped letting him do his usual two-boob feed. I stopped rocking and cuddling and nursing him to sleep. I simply sat still and patted (5 minutes only, or the child will get used to it and need it to fall asleep!) and put Will in his bassinet (drowsy but awake, so the child learns to self-soothe!) and walked away, pleased that I was instilling independence in my little guy.

Bullshit. BULL. SHIT.

For days my child did not sleep, and I am in no way exaggerating this fact. Instead he cried for hours. Hours and hours and, oh wait, hours. Finally after day two, I looked into my poor baby's exhausted face and let him fall asleep on me. And as I kissed his little soft spot I realized something: I was trying to teach cause and effect to a newborn whose skull hadn't even closed.

Between the breastfeeding and now this, I have spent so many weeks feeling inadequate. I've spent a month feeling like I'm doing irreparable damage to my child by letting him nurse as often as he wants and nap on my chest and (Heaven forbid!) pulling him into bed with us for his 4 am feeding. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of children having routines. It gives them a sense of security and calm in a scary world; I'm hoping to be able to implement these skills as soon as possible. I'd love to have a baby who eats for 45 minutes, plays for 20 and then sleeps for an hour three times a day, but I don't, at least not yet. And all these books and websites that make moms feel like crap because their child doesn't "cooperate" can bite me.

Anybody else have trouble getting their kid to sleep? (If your newborn took three good naps and slept through the night by 6 weeks, please don't tell me. Seriously, my nervous system won't be able to handle it.)


Laura said...

Oh my lordy, the books are evil! Seriously, don't even crack one open, unless it's to find out what to do with an open wound or something like that. My son nursed on demand, slept on me or DH for naps and (still) sleeps in our bed. He is now 2 1/2 and nurses once per day (really a snuggle) to fall asleep for naps. I always used to let him nurse to sleep, and guess what? He is totally able to go to sleep at night without it. Don't let the "experts" bully you into doing things that don't feel right. For me, what felt good and right in my heart was cuddling, napping, holding, nursing, rocking. Do what feels right in your heart and soul. If you decide to put Will on a schedule, then you will know when the right time is. Don't feel like a bad parent, because when you listen to your own instincts, you are doing just what you should. Remember, we are built to do this. Listen to your gut. YOU are your own baby's "whisperer." As for sleep, don't expect anything remotely like a routine for a long time. And just when you think he has settled into one, he will change it. So just go with the flow. Like I said, my son is totally capable to sleep on his own, and I never forced it. You can't give a newborn "bad habits." They rely on us to help them ease into sleep. I don't think that it would feel so good to have your baby snoozing peacefully on your chest if it was a bad thing! Enjoy that baby! You are doing a great job! :)

Suzannah said...

I am in absolute awe. I think you are amazing, and doing a fantastic job. And you have just about the cutest baby ever!! We love you!

Missy said...

Yup. At this tender young age it is all about what the baby wants when baby wants it. A routine will develop. We didn't really start getting regular routines until around 3 months and even then it took time, and routine was more like hmm.. tonight I would like to get the baby in bed for the "night" before midnight and we moved up from there. Right now is all about bonding and forming secure attachments. That means all the loving, cuddling, and holding baby needs which is TONS, and responding to what baby needs,he will tell you, it it just so damn hard to figure it out sometimes. Books are good, but in the end ya gotta just use the bits and pieces that really work for you. This will get better. Honest and true!!

Valerie said...

Sleep is for the weak... yes, yes it is. Prepare to get pretty strong. :)

Kids are just hard. Hard, hard, hard, hard and hard. And wonderful and life-outlook-changing, etc., etc., blah blah blah. The books try to offer this respite from the hard like a mirage and damn if I haven't been parched enough many times to crawl towards it.

It's conditioning for the second kid (er, or second birth, er... you know what I mean.). You know the one you'll be able to raise 'right'. ha!

filthEdesign said...

it is bullshit...
i had never really even held a baby much less planned on keeping my baby when i gave birth at 22(!) i know it's no teen mother situation, but i felt REALLY young then!

i felt insecure for a long the first few months the dr. pretty much told me in almost so many words that i was crazy and was way over pretty much everything...we saw a LOT of each other those first few months!

but then i found a groove...and the best advice IS trust your gut...most of parenting is common what feels right...keep asking the questions - if you're asking the questions then you're probably doing the best thing for your child in that moment with the information you have available...

the other thing is to just accept that you will make mistakes...we all do...i decided when john was little that part of my job as a parent is to provide job security for the psychiatric industry :) and to retain a sense of humor :)

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Hee hee! Sleep? I wish! I haven't yet written about my crazy explosion this weekend...but I will.

As everyone has said: follow your instincts.

To that I will add: keep in mind who the author is. Do they have children? An agenda? Professional help whilst raising their children? If not the former, skip the book. Only another parent has enough actual on-the-ground experience. When we had/have problems, I turn to other parents that I know and whose children I like and ask them how they did it. It might be a particular behavior in Girl A vs Boy B that I like, but B is better about something else.

Cherry picking parenthood. Totally.


P.S. Any book that tells you to ignore your baby's needs should be circular-filed.

X said...

Hell, you invent a pacifier that tastes like boob, and I'LL buy it.