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 :)

17 comments:

Meredith said...

I am not shaking my head at you. I am smiling at the thought of a peaceful cuddle with a baby.

Anonymous said...

Babies don't keep. That much I know. I don't know a single mother that regrets rocking her babies 50 years later.
~Shannon

Korinne said...

Confession time. I did it too. With both my babies. I let the inner-glaring get to me eventually and put Koby into his own crib, letting him go to sleep independently from my rocking and soothing. I miss it. If I were ever to have a third I would rock him/her to my hearts content and banish my guilty thoughts!!

Kari said...

Way to banish those voices and that guilt! You are an excellent mother and making wonderful decisions for your sons. There is no need to feel guilty for helping your little one nod off when he has a hard time. Some nights, Coranelle just won't go to sleep (and as much as I'd love her to fall asleep in my arms, she never has). But, I do go rock her, sing to her, read her a few more books or whatever it takes to help her settle and I don't feel guilty about that time I spend with her. So, I say- forget the books and enjoy the cuddle and prayer time before he's a grown boy and won't let you into his room anymore.

Miranda said...

I always wondered what mothers did before all the baby books. :) I've learned things from the baby whisperer and they've helped. I know now to take any advice with a grain of salt and not let it get to me. I am so happy that you are not letting those glaring moms get to you.

Leanne said...

With Lucas, I didn't even have the option to rock to sleep for the first months of his life. So when he came home I didn't care who told me not to, I rocked him as much as I wanted. I have such good memories, just like the ones you describe, with the suck of the paci and the heavy eyelashes. It wasn't a challenge to get him to go to sleep on his own eventually either. And I vowed that I would always rock any of my babies, because, what harm would it ever do? And then with Owen, oh dear me. That kid would NOT be rocked to sleep if his life depended on it. Well, you may remember me talking of our sleep issues this past year and this child cannot settle with anybody even in the same room with him. Hollering and crying became a part of our bedtime routine, and OH the guilt about that! But now I know not to bother him while he's falling asleep. Sometimes he calls and needs a quick hug and a song before he's pushing me away and pointing to his bed.
Following your gut. Every child and situation are different. Yes, perfect advice, and the most needed advice. Unfortunately it takes a while to learn what that means.

Great post!

Lovella ♥ said...

well ..here is a shocker for you. . .they don't let you do that when they are 15. Enjoy. . .stop the guilty feelings and relish this time. . because it won't come again for a very long time.
I just rocked a baby to sleep this afternoon. .and if you can believe it. .I held her through the entire nap. .and loved every minute of it.

Claire said...

The guilt killed me for a long time, but once you free yourself of it and listen to your gut, your family dynamics and your child you'll never look back. I love, just LOVE snuggling my kids to sleep and singing and praying and talking about things that are important while they fall asleep and I now know (after a good deal of trial and error) that I will not ever regret having done that. Thanks for sharing this lovely post.

sedachfamily said...

How blessed your boys are to have a momma who worries about if she should rock them or not! Molly is 4 and I will rock her without hesitation if its bedtime and you can tell she just feels a little too small to climb in to that big bed alone without a little snuggling. I agree with Lovella. There will come a time before you know it when they won't let you rock them. Enjoy, for now... :)

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Those imaginary finger waggers are not from the up side of God's kingdom, if you get my drift. When thought bring you burdens and shame, be sure to review their source, and send them packing! Rock on Mama!

kelly ens said...

love your honesty in this post. love your love for your boys. you are a fantastic mama!

Grandma J. said...

Hope you sleep well and guilt free, your boys are so blessed.

Alvin & Denise Engler said...

... now don't go feeling guilty for feeling guilty!
-de

Amy@Sassy Scarlett said...

Wonderful post, I couldnt agree more :)

Becky said...

For what it's worth, I secretly nurse my 16 month old to sleep...if I don't she has the worst night ever. If I do, she goes to bed feeling loved and secure. So don't feel guilty about it. Just enjoy it while it lasts.

Sara said...

Shae is almost 12 and he still asks me to snuggle and i do without a second thought! Soon I am going to be longing for these days back...enjoy whatever makes you happy with your little guys!

laura.railing said...

Listen to your mommy gut! The experts and imaginary moms with their opinions don't know what's best for the boys or you and Josh. Relish those moments! You seem to have a great balance too in having chosen the no-cry approach in not going over the line too much (like letting them sleep in your bed= no you and hubby time) The experts dont have to live with those boys day to day!

I work at a learning center, and so if you want an opinion of what "everyone else" does, I know several parents who rock their children to sleep. That is a very sweet thing! Plus it teaches them how to sit still and snuggle for a little while at least! The bond is sweet too. I can't think of another time where you'd have that, especially when they're little! I know mine won't sit still through a whole movie to snuggle so night time is ideal.

A word on the pacifier: He is at a GREAT age to get him off it. Really. I have 1-2 year olds. Around 16-20 months I'll start to wean them of it. Nothing harsh. If I notice they don't have it in their mouth, I'll hide it. So they don't notice it. Nap time is usually the last to go. But the longer they don't have it during the day, the less they begin to need it. But, you have to be good too about not having there be binkies all over the house. But yeah the longer you wait the harder it gets. Longer you wait as in, the older they are than about 2 it seems the more stubborn they are and the more they make it a power struggle. Whereas 16-20/22 ish months is really a transition stage and they aren't so much into making power struggles and controlling things (like having binkies) as they can be over 2. But that depends on Samuel's temperament too.

And now for the end of THAT long comment lol.