Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Just For the Comfort of Sleep





New parenthood is hard. Anyone who tells you it's not is lying to you or themselves. Something being hard doesn't mean it's not also awesome, worthwhile, and rewarding. It's just also hard.

I'm a work at home mom, which means I'm raising while daughter while also working, usually in the same space. It's challenging. I feel guilty when I put on a show to occupy her while I check emails or do some writing. Most of what I get done happens during her naps. I love having her with me but I do sometimes wish I had help, even if it was just a few hours one day a week. I rarely get a shower to myself. Childcare just isn't affordable for us right now, though, and I'm glad I can be there for her. I know I'm lucky.

One thing I've learned is that while I'm teaching her a lot, I'm learning a ton myself. Especially to trust myself and my instincts.

This past weekend we decided to try the "cry it out" method on the advice of our pediatrician to get our baby to sleep through the night. I was honestly reluctant, she's never been a great sleeper and just has a hard time to working herself down. It's just how she is and while the "cry it out" method isn't as harsh as people think, I just wasn't convinced this was going to work for her.

It didn't.

In fact, it didn't work so spectacularly that she vomited from crying. Twice. And it's not like we let her cry for hours or anything. I know the idea is that they'll "work themselves out" and just go to sleep. Our daughter has really never done that, not without HOURS of frustration before then. She just isn't the kind of kid who shuts off like that. She has to be really tired, but she can still keep herself awake for a while before she finally shuts down. That's not helpful to anyone, least of all her, and it makes that particular method just completely useless. Because she isn't going to get the message, she's just going to be miserable, so we'll be miserable, and no one is sleeping.

I've read up on the vomiting thing and it's "normal" for babies to get so upset with crying they throw up. For me, that's just not acceptable. And the thing I had to remind myself is that I have the right to make decisions for myself and my daughter that I feel are right. That work for us. I know a lot of people whose kids didn't sleep through the night until their 1st birthday and beyond, regardless of methods attempted. It's just how it is. I don't think there's any one "right" way to do any of this, beyond the obvious like making sure they're fed and growing and loved.

There are 4 times my daughter has slept for 8-9hrs at a stretch, and nothing about any of those times has been any different. She wasn't out more during the day, she didn't play more, or eat more (or less). She just slept for that long. I've wracked my brain trying to see if there's any difference but there isn't. I never had to soothe her those nights to get her back to sleep, she simply...slept. If going out was the trigger, then the day we went to the beach should have resulted in a longer night. Nope. If more day feedings was the key, then the day she ate 32 ounces should have done it. Also nope.

Look, I trust my pediatrician. I'm pro vaccine, I don't think I know more than doctors, and I'm all about researched science. I've read all the stuff I could on childcare techniques for feeding, sleeping, all of it.

But I've also listened to parents, including nurses who work in pediatricians offices, and some kids just...do things at their own pace. That's it. You can make yourself nuts or you can accept it. And you can learn to trust yourself that you know your child and that it's okay to do things differently than what you're advised when it just doesn't fit. Obviously make sure what you're doing is safe, and don't ignore medical advice in favor of "homeopathic" nonsense. But if you know your kid just isn't going to sleep without a bottle or a cuddle, well, that's how it is. Trust that you can do this.

And trust that though you WILL mess up, it won't ever be because you didn't love them and didn't try to do the "right" thing. It's just that what's "right" for your child may not fit any "technique". That's what makes them little people that you're learning about as much as they are learning from.

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