I am writing this post whilst trying to get my darling 5.5 month old to take a nap without my boob in her mouth. Just this last week she has refused to sleep during the day unless she is on the boob. She can be fast asleep, snoring softly but as soon as I put her down she wakes up.
I can now hear her talking which quickly turns into high pitched grizzling so I'm there quick as a flash, she's in my arms smiling and kissing my cheeks.
A few weeks ago, Hippy Brad & I were sleep deprived beyond any possible measure. It was awful, neither of us were getting barely more than 2-3 hours sleep at a time and it had been going on for several months. I can't remember who HB was talking too but he was explaining the situation to someone and before they could respond with the usual flood of well meaning parenting advice he said something that made my heart melt and my ears sting with tears ...
'It's ok, because this is how we choose to raise her ...'
I could not have explained it better myself. I can count the times Maggie has put herself to sleep on one hand. Yes, I feed her to sleep and not because I'm lazy but because there is nothing more beautiful then watching my baby fall asleep in my arms. I will never grow tired of watching those bright beautiful blue eyes slowly start to close until all I see is her pretty dark eyelashes firmly shut together. Most nights now she doesn't want me to go to sleep, she wants to lay in her Daddy's strong arms and nuzzle into his elbow, they talk softly together while he slowly rocks her to sleep. What could be possibly wrong with this?
I smile when people start talking about routines and sleep because I too did this with my older children. They had set sleep and eating times which were pretty much set in stone with very little compromise. Both HB and I have discussed how we enjoy parenting so much more this time around. It doesn't mean we love our other 5 children any less either.
Maggie can eat when she wants too and sleep when she wants too, it's pretty simple really.
Before we got pregnant we watched a parenting documentary on the ABC. From birth, 4 couples were assigned a parenting style and had to stick too it. The one we both loved was the 'attachment parenting' couple. Basically they had to 'babywear' their baby the entire time unless it was sleeping. Breastfeeding, co-sleeping & baby led weaning were all the go. This couple worked the hardest compared to the couple who were bottle-feeding 3 hourly and making their baby sleep 6pm-6am through the night with no feeds and was left to cry it out. The AP couple got the least amount of sleep and rest but a follow up show a few years later showed their baby was the most well adjusted, happiest kid on the block. He was 2 years old and could handle a kitchen knife perfectly & was shown cutting up carrots with ease because this is what he saw his parents do whilst in the baby carrier in the kitchen from birth.
I've said this before but when you lay your weary head down on your pillow at night and you have a big smile on your face as you remember the days events you know you have been the best parent you can be because you have 'parented with your heart'. If however you go to bed with a heavy heart, a touch of mother's guilt and a feeling that you could have done things a little different (and we have all felt like this) then it's time to reassess and try a different tactic because your instincts are telling you something isn't quite right and needs to change.
I know this is true because at some point with my other babies I did do the 'cry it out thing' and the fact that I can still remember their hot tears, sobs and cries almost 13 years ago makes me think it's just not the right thing to do. It still makes my heart ache when I think of this but all the parenting books at the time 'Toddler Taming' etc told me this was the right thing to do.
I am only human and there are times when I just want to hit my head on the wall, jump into a hot bath with a bottle of vodka and one very long straw but lately when I feel this way, HB's voice pops into my head 'this is how we choose to raise her' and it gives me the strength to keep going.