Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Making the Call

During my first pregnancy, I read a lot about natural childbirth and Attachment Parenting. I was convinced I would follow every tenet of Attachment Parenting to the letter. Since my child would sleep with me in my bed, I did not even register for a crib. Since I would be the one to hold and comfort my child when he needed me, I instructed others not to buy me swings, bouncers or exersaucers (do they still make those?)

I also was convinced my baby would never be given a pacifier. I was a breastfeeding mom and nothing would ever soothe him but me, right? Riiiiiggghht...

Then came the day when after hours of half naked, exhausted, hungry, non-stop nursing on the couch, someone said, "Missy, why don't you take a break and give him a pacifier? He probably just needs to soothe himself to sleep." Before I had a chance to protest, she'd popped one in his mouth and he was...happy.

Then came the day when after hours of nursing, swaddling, shushing, swaying, walking, bouncing, rocking and going crazy, my colicky baby was STILL screaming at me. A family member insisted on getting me a baby swing. Insisted. In fact, she got in the car that moment, drove to Toys R Us, purchased a baby swing, came home and put it together for me. She took my baby out of my arms, placed him in the swing and moments later he was...happy.

There even came a day when we put that baby in a crib (thank God my mother insisted on buying it, even though I insisted I'd never use it for anything but storage) and let him cry (a little). When we all started sleeping through the night we were...happy.

So as a parent I have learned the incredibly smart tool of making the call. Call it Plan B, Change of Plans, Aborting the Mission or whatever you want, but there comes a time for all of us as parents to go against better judgement, or maybe just against popular judgement, and make our OWN judgement. We are the ones who know ourselves, our children and the needs of our families better than anyone else does and at the end of the day, the buck stops with us.

No one else has to live with my decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate, circumcise or not circumcise, use an epidural during labor or go all natural, co-sleep or cry-it-out or home-school my kids but me. Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't research, ask professionals or seek advice from friends who have more experience than you. I'm certainly not saying there isn't value in exclusive breastfeeding or Attachment Parenting practices. What I am saying is you get to make the final decision, even if it's the wrong one. And few things in life are better tools for learning than mistakes.

Here's my advice: trust your instincts and do what works. One of my rules is never wake a sleeping baby. I have many friends who were excellent at getting their babies on schedules and even woke them up from naps to ensure they stayed on track. That never worked for me or my sanity. If my kids slept, I let them sleep. I didn't care if they slept in or slept through two nap times or dinner. Sleeping babies are far too sweet and amazing for my health for me to interrupt them. Heck my littlest used a pacifier long past the socially acceptable time frame because he ate everything from boogers to cell phones to other kids. Keeping the pacifier in his mouth prevented much worse problems. I endured many the disapproving look and even defended myself a few times, then I gave up and just smiled in response.

Why? Because he's my kid and short of abuse, neglect or other forms of mistreatment no one gets to tell me how to raise my kid. And though I have my struggles and make my mistakes and want desperately to do it right and am acutely aware of when I do it "wrong," I think there are more than a few things I'm doing right.

I think we're all going to figure it out. And you will too.

"I can always guess how many jelly beans are in a jar...even when I'm wrong." - Brick Tamland

1 comment:

Lana Leigh said...

aww seeing your little man is so sweet - that's what he looked like back when you lived here! crazy huh? Mine are almost 7, 4, 21 months and 6 weeks old. Wow. Anyway, how true all that is - I was on a soap box about some similar things and quickly came down with tears in my eyes and luckily, a shoulder to cry on. That same shoulder belonged to a woman who told me, "you should stop feeding on demand and give him a pacifier to help spread out the feedings." Thank you to that woman, whatever her name was!


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