Sunday, September 19, 2010
rock a bye baby
i have a deep, dark confession to make: i rock my baby to sleep.
(i am now wincing as i imagine a mass of glaring moms shaking their fingers at me saying, "you don't want to get into that habit!! you don't know what you are in for!!)
i have come to the conclusion just this evening that the bigger issue is not that i rock my baby to sleep. the bigger issue is that, when i do, i allow the mass of glaring moms that live in my head to torment me and make me feel guilty about it.
before having kids, i really didn't have a clue....but really, did any of us moms have a clue before having kids? i figured that when the baby was hungry, you'd feed him and when the baby was tired you'd put him to sleep. the rest of the time would be filled with smiles and giggles and writing down each and every precious milestone in a perfectly decorated, handmade scrapbook. i knew nothing of routines or schedules, nor did i have any idea what the words "cry it out" or "attachment parenting" meant. in the first few weeks of tristan's life, i had hurriedly read through "secrets of the babywhisperer", "babywise", "healthy sleep habits, happy child", and watched and re-watched the "happiest baby on the block" dvd in an attempt to keep the dear baby from crying all the live-long day. i put out pleas for advice on this very blog and was inundated with such varied responses that i didn't even know where to start. people often just said, "follow your gut" or "do what works for you", but in the confusion of so many different points of view, i didn't even know what my gut was telling me anymore.
in the end, i used a variety of methods gleaned from the babywhisperer point of view which advocates teaching your baby to sleep independently, but to help them along and not to allow them to cry them self to sleep. these methods worked wonderfully for tristan once i implemented them and was consistent about it, but we still had plenty of sleep troubles along the way. i remember a phase where he would only fall asleep if i lay my hand on his back; the moment i would take it away, he would stand up in his crib and howl. then there was the very long phase when i was first pregnant with samuel where tristan refused to sleep in his crib and would only go to sleep if i made a bed on the floor and lay next to him until he was asleep. eventually we moved him to his big boy bed where i again would lay next to him and i remember so clearly laying there with tears in my eyes wondering how in the world i was going to manage doing that with a newborn in the house.
samuel has been a better sleeper than his big brother for the most part, but he still isn't truly easy. at 15 months old he rarely sleeps through the night and i am certain that his pacifier addiction has everything to do with that. still, he usually falls asleep on his own quite easily, but every now and then he goes through a phase, just like tristan did, where he needs a little extra reassurance before he can drift off. and so, on those nights when he just will not fall asleep on his own, i rock him to sleep. and yes, i feel very guilty about it.
i think the problem is that i've read too many books. they all talk about these awful habits that your babies can get into and how they can end up using you and hold you captive in their room when they really should be learning how to fall asleep on their own. but tonight i was wondering.....what did moms do before there were all of these books to read? what did moms do when they were unaware of the large separation between the parents who allow their babies to cry it out and those who co-sleep with their children? you know, i think what moms did back then was: they followed their gut. and it was likely much easier to follow their gut when they didn't have a ton of advice and admonishment clouding their thinking, don't you think?
my own personal mommy gut tells me that when my baby is crying, i need to go to him. that's just how i am ....i have a very low tolerance for loud noises (just ask my husband, it drives him crazy), plus i tried the cry-it-out thing with tristan and feel forever scarred by the experience. my own personal mommy gut also tells me not to bring the baby into my own bed when he cries because i know that i would never be able to get a good night's sleep like that. my own personal mommy gut does tell me, however, that cuddling with my normally active little toddler and rocking him to sleep is something that i love to do. i love watching his long-lashed eyelids getting droopier and droopier, his persistent sucks on the paci growing more and more lazy until soon he is snoring little baby snores and drooling out of the corner of his mouth. i love holding him close and praying over him, thanking God for blessing me so abundantly. i love the peace i feel when i lay him in his crib, knowing that he is fast asleep and that i can go ahead and enjoy the rest of the evening with my husband without hearing his little cries through the monitor.
i have made my confession and i am banishing those glaring moms from my mind. and, i have to tell you, writing it all out right now just felt really good and so freeing. so, thanks for listening :)