what i'm currently thinking about motherhood...
So I know I am long over due for a post on one of Jeff's projects...this blog is called Look What JEFF Did after all. But Jeff took our camera to work with all the recent pictures on it, and what's a DIY post without pictures? So you'll have to wait a little longer, but I promise they are coming. So on to this post on why we didn't let Wesley "cry it out" because, after all, this is MY blog. :)
I have been thinking about this post for a while and wondering whether or not I should share this parenting choice of mine with the world wide web. I'm worried that there are two many out their that disagree with me and will think I am crazy. But, I have decided to write about it not because I believe our way is the best way or the only way, but because I want to encourage others who may need support in their decision to NOT let their baby cry it out.
A few other things before I
1. I do not think I am a sleep expert or any kind of baby expert. Just writing about my own experience here.
1a. I am not an expert on the cry it out method. I have only read lots of stuff online, so if I misrepresent that method, I apologize.
2. The only thing I strongly believe about parenting (other than not hurting kids...I do work for CPS) is that good parents are the experts on their own children and
3. I am not writing this to seek help for Wesley's sleeping, nor do I intend to change anything. I am content with my choices, and even though I wish he slept better, I do not want to sacrifice my parenting choice to achieve that.
4. I do not really care if you let your baby cry it out and I am not suggesting that you are a bad parent if you do/did. I know many amazing parents who used the cry it out method because it worked for their kids/family.
Ok, enough with the disclaimers I think, let's get on with my story...
So, its no secret if you are a regular blog reader or real-life friend of mine, that Wesley is a HORRIBLE sleeper. He turned one on Sunday and still has to be rocked to sleep. The bedtime routine might take 5 minutes or 50 minutes, he just sometimes flat out refuses to go to sleep. He might even squirm and scream at me while i am
1. My Personality/My Upbringing
Like I said, it just doesn't sit right to me to let babies cry. I am a nurturer by nature. I love babies and am drawn to them. I hate to see them cry and will do anything to help them stop crying. My mother is the same way. If you know her, you know what I mean. She just retired from being a preschool director for 27 years and was working with preschoolers several years prior to that. And she only retired so that she could drive 200 miles every week to help take care of Wesley. And she loves every minute of it. She is nurturing to the extreme. If a baby needs to be held all day so he/she does not cry, she will do it. And sing to him and rock him, and anything else they need with a smile on her face. Being around children feeds her soul, and I take after her in that way. (FYI, my mother has a master's degree in child development, teaches child development classes at her local community college, and does not believe that crying it out is good for babies) I have always loved being around kids and have wanted to be a mother my whole life. My mom even tells stories of me carrying around my baby brother when I was only two because I wanted to help. Now that I am a mother, I love it, love Wesley and hate to see him cry. I know that it is part of being a baby, but if I can help him stop crying, then I want to do that.
2. My Background in Attachment Parenting
As I briefly mentioned, I work as a social work for Child Protective Services. I work in our adoption program, finding adoptive homes for foster children and helping facilitate their adoption. Parenting a foster child is very difficult, for several reasons, and research has found that attachment based parenting is very effective with foster children. Throughout my years as an adoption social worker, I have had the opportunity to attend several trainings and seminars on attachment parenting, and I really like it. I have seen its positive effects in our foster children and think that there are some great techniques to consider when raising your own children as well. Let me explain. When I say "attachment parenting" I am not talking about breastfeeding or co-sleeping until your child is 5 or 10 for that matter. I'm talking about the basic principle which looks like this: Your baby has a need-> they express their need (cry)-> you meet their need (feed, soothe, etc.)-> they stop crying because their need is met. This cycle repeats and repeats and that is how you and your child attach. So even if you don't think you have an "attachment parenting" style, chances are that you developed a healthy attachment with your child by following this cycle for most things, or until your child was a certain age. I guess where things change is when children get older, people might think that they can cry longer and longer before that need is met. And by letting your child cry it out, they end up meeting that need on their own and no longer needing a parent to meet that need. So here is where attachment parenting effects my parenting choices. One, I believe that even though Wesley is older, I am still meeting his needs fairly quickly in order to use every opportunity to attach to him. So when he cries in the middle of the night expressing that he is uncomfortable, hungry, or needs his mom, I respond immediately to him, thus creating an opportunity to attach. Part of the reason I do that is because I believe its the best way to parent, but the other part of it is because I worry unrealistically that if I don't meet his need, he will have attachment issues. Did you catch that? I know logically, that if I let him cry it out, that he will be fine because I am a good parent and we have plenty other opportunities to attach, but because I work daily with children who have attachment issues, I tend to think its a normal thing. In my line of work we call that counter-transference. And its not a good thing.
3. Wesley's Temperament
Still with me? The third reason we haven't done the while cry it out thing with Wesley is because of his temperament. This kid is a screamer. Ever since he was itty bitty, he would scream bloody murder at the slightest thing. He has two levels: Screaming and off. Even now that he is older he is either laughing or crying, go go going or asleep. He is intense in everything that he does, so when he is upset, you know it. That is part of what made it so hard to let him cry those few times that we tried it. And instead of tiring himself out, he just escalated and worked himself up.
4. I like my middle of the night bonding time.
Our sleep solution has Wesley in our bed most of the night and to be honest, it works for me, I like it. As a working mom, I am away from my son 11 hours a day (4 days a week). I leave right after he wakes up (sometimes when he is still asleep) and get home just a few hours before he goes to sleep. The middle of the night is when we do our best bonding and I love it. Just the other day, my mom watched Wesley overnight for Jeff and I, and it was so nice to sleep through the night and wake up with out a hand in the face or a foot in the rib. But just as I was saying how nice it was to wake up kid-free, Jeff said, "yeah, but I miss him." So Jeff likes it too.
So that's why we didn't do the crying it out thing with Wesley. What do our nights look like? Here is snap shot of a typical night:
8pm- give wesley a bath
8:15pm- Pjs, books, bottle
8:30pm- Rock, sing, bounce him to sleep.
(this can last anywhere from 5 to 50 minutes. sometimes, the other parent has to come in for back up)
Then put a sleeping Wesley in his crib, in his room.
Between 8:35-11:00pm- If he wakes up, pat or rock back to sleep in crib.
Between 11:00-2:00am- If he wakes up bring to bed with us
Between 2:00-6:30 am- Wes usually sleeps pretty well once he is in bed with us, but occasionally he is very restless and will have to be rocked to sleep again, even though he is in bed with us. We have mastered the rocking while laying down move. Its awesome.
So that's our life. Sorry if you are not a parent and I just scared you from ever having kids. I still think you should. Everything else totally makes up for the sleep thing. Wesley is the most amazing kid ever and I am so in love with him.
I hope some of you gained some encouragement from this post for whatever parenting decision you make, even if its not the most popular. It took me a while to believe that I was doing the best thing for my kid and for my family because of all the "noise" (parenting books, websites, experts, etc.) out there. Trust your instincts.
Again, I am sorry if I offended anyone, that is not my intention. Please re-read #2 and #4 in the very beginning of this post. I think you are the only expert on your kid.
If you are reading this...thanks for sticking with me in my longest post ever. you rock.
Ok people, I have a situation here. My precious little boy has turned into a stage five clinger. The picture above depicts what I see ALL DAY LONG!!! If I leave his sight for one second my usually happy happy boy turns into a whiny screaming clinger. What the heck happened? Seriously, all the sudden he completely changed! I guess they call this the separation anxiety stage. How long will it last? Don't get me wrong...I actually have a love-hate relationship with his clinginess. I love that he wants me and wants me to hold him or cuddle with him. But how do you get anything done all day carrying a 28 pound baby boy everywhere? And poor poor Jeff, he is no substitute for mommy. So experienced moms out there, anyone else have an all-the-sudden-stage-five-clinger? How did you respond to his clinginess? How long did it last? Any tips?
I think it hit me when I was praying with a couple friends and Wesley was talking through the whole thing. While its completely appropriate for him to do that right now, it just made me realize that I haven't even tried to teach him to pray! I think somewhere in my subconscious, I think, "It's okay, he will learn those things when he is older and at a more appropriate developmental stage." But in my conscious brain, I know that's not true. It's important to teach him those things now. I work with adoptive families and one of the things we teach them is to tell their children that they are adopted right now. Meaning that even if they just adopted an infant, to tell that infant that they are adopted and its a wonderful thing that they were. That way, its not news to them that they are adopted, no secret, just part of who they are. They can then grow up being proud of the fact that they are adopted and go around telling everyone, "I'm adopted!" I want it to be the same for Wesley, second nature that he is a child of God, that God loves him, that Jesus died for him. And I want him to be proud of that and tell everyone around him, "God loves me!"
So then I started thinking about what I can do to foster Wesley's spiritual development. I think the first thing I can do is to PRAY for him, like really pray hard that Wesley grows up to be a strong follower of Christ, that he knows that God loves him and created him for a purpose. I feel this is the most important step, but since I am horrible and keeping a routine "quiet time" with God or carving out time in my day to really pray hard, I came up with a creative solution. I started pray-singing for Wesley while I rock him to sleep. I've been determined to sing Wesley to sleep (after I wrote this post), but for some reason I can never think of any songs to sing and end up singing the same songs over and over. One night while I was thinking about this spiritual development stuff, I was struggling to think of a new song, so I decided that I would just make up a song and the lyrics would be my prayer for Wesley. Its the perfect solution.
The next thing in Wesley spiritual journey is to make sure I tell him every day, God loves you!", "God made you!", "Jesus died for you!" and every other thing I want him to know about our God. I might be thinking it, but if I don't say it, he won't hear it! Then there is the other stuff like making sure we take him to church, listening to worship music, reading Bible stories and other Christian books, praying in front of him, and teaching him to pray. The other night, I got out a few of the Baby Bibles that Wesley has. One of them has a soft cover (its called the Hug Me Bible) and Wesley loves it. Its his new favorite book and he even opens it every once in a while ;) I wish I had brought it out sooner.
So in short, I am going to be more intentional about Wesley's spiritual development and make it more of a priority. Help me out folks, what else can I do to encourage Wesley's spiritual development? What does your family do?
As I am in the midst of celebrating my first mother's day, I just keep thinking, "I can't believe I'm a mom!" I've wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. My mom tells stories of two-year-old me carrying my baby brother around pretending to be the mommy. When I became an aunt, I did everything I could to get in nephew time and jeff joked that i wished i was they're mom (there may be a little bit of truth to that). Now that I am here, I can look back over the last year and think, "yeah, motherhood is all that I dreamed it would be, and more." I absolutely love being a mom. Sure there are moments when I want to pull my hair out in frustration or exhaustion, but overall being a mom is awesome. There is nothing else like it. To have the love of this tiny person and to love him in return with all your being is so unique. It's given me a better understanding of how God loves us, his children. I wouldn't trade this for anything, and feel incredibly blessed. Happy Mother's Day to you fellow mothers out there and especially to my mom and grandmothers.
We are so blessed to have a healthy and strong baby boy. I wish I could say he never gets sick, but I swear the kid's had a cold since he was 3 months old. But if you didn't see the snot rolling down his face, you would never believe he was sick. He just kept going, was happy, played, eat well, slept well...just kidding about that last one, he has never slept well. But the other ones are true. He was a good sick baby. Even when we had a little scare because he was wheezing and had to give him treatments from a nebulizer, he was so tough. But today was different. Today, when he woke up, he didn't want to play with his toys (what?). He didn't want to eat, wasn't that excited about his bottle and just wanted me to hold him. He sat on my lap for 30 minutes as we watched cartoons this morning (and if you know him, you know that is very rare). Too be honest, I was loving it. He never wants to cuddle with mommy longer than 30 seconds, so 30 minutes was heavenly. At that point, I just thought he didn't get enough sleep and so I put him down for an early morning nap, he woke up 30 minutes latter screaming. I think that was when I realized he probably wasn't feeling well. So we cuddled a little more, I carried him around everywhere, took his temperature (normal), gave him some tylonel anyway, and put him down for another long nap. When he woke up, he perked up a little. We went next door for a small Cinco de Mayo party and he did fine. Then we took him to Jeff's soccer game. He did fine there too, but then he fell asleep in my arms even with all the ruckus of the game and crowd. Another clue that he really wasn't feeling well. But this is my tough boy, so surly he can handle another event. A second Cinco de Mayo party was next and I was starting to feel like the worst mom ever for dragging around my sick kid. Now he was really clingy and I noticed that he felt hot, so I took his temperature again and... 102! What?!? 102? My poor baby! I AM the worst mother ever! I gave him some more medicine and held him until it kicked in. We didn't leave the party because he fooled me again by perking up and having a good time. We didn't stay too late, but the car ride home was rough. And our normally good, happy, easy going baby was wreck. It was/is so heart breaking. And even though I love the cuddle moments, having a sick baby is so hard. It just tares at your heart. I am so happy that we have been blessed with a healthy baby for the most part and my heart goes out to the parents dealing with chronically sick children. It must be so hard! Anyway, lesson learned today. We are staying home when he is sick. My poor baby. :(
I want to start by saying that I have a wonderful mom. Did you know she drives over 200 miles every week to watch Wesley for us? But I'm not even talking about that. She was the kind of mom that just loved her kids like crazy. And when I say crazy, I mean she was a little coo coo over us. She thought we were the greatest kids in the world (and probably still does) and believed that we could do anything. My brothers and I all played sports growing up and she sincerely believed we were the best players on the team. She believed we could play in college (3 of us did) and even go pro (none of us did, although she still has hope for one of us *cough Jordan*). Sometimes, we (I) felt a little embarrassed by her over confidence in us and even a little annoyed by her persistence. But now as a mother, I totally get it. I look at my Wesley and just think how perfect he is. I mean, he really is the cutest kid in the universe, right. And he can do anything and he will be the best at it. Haha, I am totally my mother. The funny thing is that I already catch myself comparing him to his other little friends. And if they are more advanced developmentally, I'm like, well Wes is more social. Or if they are cuter or a better sleeper, I think, well Wesley is more athletic. It's crazy! But I suppose its only natural. What kind of mother would I be if I didn't think my kid was the cutest, greatest, and overall best kid in the world? So to all you other mothers out there, just know that I am constantly comparing our kids and will always find a reason why my kid is better than yours. He just is, because he's mine. You understand, right?
|Photo by Bronson Pate|
Is there such a thing as mommy brain? or pregnancy brain for that matter? I'm naturally a little dizzy and forgetful, so when I was pregnant and did something dumb, my friends would just say "pregnancy brain!" And my behavior was excused. After Wesley was born, my blonde moments turned into to "mommy brain"...double booking myself, pronouncing Cherokee, cher-ee-o-key (like Karaoke, yeah I did that), forgetting my phone, etc...it was all chalked up to Mommy brain. Those moments tended to happen much more often than they did before I had Wesley, which left me wondering what was going on, did/do I really have this "mommy brain" disease? I think I have actually figured it out. It's not any kind of organic chemical change in your brain making you dumber, its just that you have to think about a million other things and there just isn't room in your brain for those less important details, you know like remembering to put on makeup. Now we have to remember if we packed diapers, wipes, pacifier, bottle, snacks, change of clothes, extra pacifier, what time he ate, how long he slept, when will he need a nap, do we have blankets, do we have a pacifier? oh the life saving pacifier. And don't even get me started on the amount of things you have to remember for a weekend out of town. I almost always forget something. One time, we went to Disneyland and forgot to bring diapers! diapers!
See the picture above? That was Easter Sunday and luckily someone at church snapped this picture of us as we were leaving. Luckily, because that is the only family picture of us on Wesley's first Easter. Unluckily, I totally forgot to put makeup on that morning! I made sure we all had Easter outfits on and looked just right for church, but I couldn't remember makeup! I mean, I wore heels, and I never wear heels, and it really doesn't look right to wear heels and not wear makeup. So this picture in its professional glory, is not my favorite. I just keep looking at my face and wishing I had makeup on. But I am so glad I have this picture to remember Wesley's first Easter, and I'll also remember that He fell asleep in my arms immediately after we took this picture as we walked to the car.
So I may have mommy brain, I may do dumb things, and I'll forget A LOT of things, but its all worth it. Because my brain is full of all things Wesley and Wesley is my life and he makes life amazing. Are you infected with mommy brain? What's the funniest thing you did because you were busy thinking about what your kid needed?
I didn't sing to my baby tonight, I let the ipod do it. And I'm feeling a little guilty. I mean I was thinking, gosh, I should be singing to him right now...I love singing...why am I not singing?!? What's the big deal? Nothing really, but I always thought I'd be a mom who sang to her child all the time, and certainly at bed time. But I was just too tired, and usually am. Jeff and I joke that we have been living zombies for the last 10 months. Wesley is a horrible sleeper (and that's a topic for another time), so Jeff and I rarely get a good night sleep, leaving us tired all the time!! Its almost comical the expectations I had for motherhood...what I thought it would be like, or I would be like. It would be comical, if I weren't so tired. So much of motherhood is different than what I expected...I mean at 10 months I expected to have a child who slept through the night! I remember telling Jeff about one week into this adventure, "Wow, our world has been rocked!" In that moment, I also apologized to the universe for how judgmental I had been towards other moms I knew. But I also don't think I expected motherhood to be as amazing as it is, i mean, I expected it to be great, i just don't think you can imagine how great until you are there. I think I say a million times a day how cute my Wesley is. And he already has me laughing out loud, whether its his new little chuckle, or him trying to feed me or stick his pacifier in my mouth. I mean, you just can't dream this stuff up. Motherhood is hard and awesome, but you can never know how it will be till your there. And there is a certain beauty to that. I can't wait for the next 20 years to see how all my expectations will be blown to pieces.