Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Knots In My Stomach

I lean toward "natural," alternative baby-rearing techniques in a lot of areas.  I cloth diaper (mostly),
make my own baby food (mostly), baby wear (mostly), and do cry-it-out - HOLD IT!!!  How does cry-it-out fit in there, and WHY would I do that since it is such a horrible, traumatic experience for a baby?

Well, first of all, I'm pretty sure that cry-it-out (CIO) is not really mainstream anymore. Most of my friends who have spoken about getting their babies to sleep, and most bloggers that I have read, do not do CIO.  It seems that the attachment parenting way to get babies to sleep has taken hold in the mainstream now, at least in my circle of friends.  So that's why I think it fits into my above list (though the same could be said for baby-wearing...).

As to why I do it, well, the attachment thing wasn't working. At all. And as soon as I tried CIO (which wasn't until Svanja was about 5 1/2 months - I wasn't doing this on a newborn!), it worked and she began sleeping for 12 hours. She sleeps for about 13 hours now, and she fusses at first when I lay her in her crib, but rarely (as in once every other month) does she cry longer than 5 minutes.  She's usually asleep within 2 minutes, and she wakes up blissfully happy.  (which makes for a blissfully happy mama!)

However, because I have chosen to do this particular technique, I often feel condemned.  Not by my friends - none of them have ever berated me about it - but by the parenting/blogging world in general.  I see articles and blog posts and status updates about how horrible CIO is for the baby, and how you're a selfish mom only thinking of yourself if you do it, and how your baby is going to grow up and be completely ruined because you did CIO.  I love reading blogs of moms who are into DIY and thrifting and cloth diapers and babywearing, but my stomach turns into knots as soon as they hit on the topic of sleep.  And even worse than the articles and posts are people's comments on them.  Oh, the hatred spewed by moms (from both sides of the aisle) toward each other! I also have a love-hate relationship with Dr. Sears.  I have tried to put into practice a lot of his attachment parenting techniques, but I don't buy into all of them (or all his claims).

I finally realized something, though, and while knots sometimes still form in my stomach while reading such posts, this has helped a lot:  One parenting choice you make for your baby is not going to ruin your child for the rest of his/her life.  You choose to bottle-feed instead of breastfeed? Great; I'm sure you have good reasons for it. I was bottle-fed because of breastfeeding complications and I turned out fine.  You choose to breastfeed for 3 years instead of weaning at a year?  That's your choice; it's certainly not going to hurt the child and I hope you both really enjoy that special time together. You choose CIO and a crib instead of co-sleeping or something else?  Your baby is not going to have major issues just from that or develop an unhealthy attitude about sleep.  And vice versa - choosing to co-sleep and rock to sleep and nurse to sleep is not going to cause your baby to have dependency issues for the rest of his life.  And in terms of a CIO baby growing up - my siblings and I were all CIO. And we're all really close to each other and to our parents, and none of us have fears of the night (in fact, as long as I can remember, even as a small child I loved going to sleep because I always had awesome dreams!).

Each family is different; each child is different. I may not do CIO with my other kids, but time will tell. I was that pregnant girl who thought I knew exactly what I was going to do - attachment parenting all the way. No way could I ever even think about doing CIO. And the tables turned on me!  I look at that attitude now as one of prideful, wrong thinking.  CIO is not a sin, nor is using disposable diapers, nor is using a swing.

So here's to the moms who have felt judged and condemned by other moms - you are trying to do what's best for your family, and you know what? No one else can tell you what that is because they have not been in your shoes! Your child will not be ruined by the parenting technique you chose!

P.S. The picture is of Svanja and I when she was a newborn...we kept her in our bed occasionally, and I happened to snap this picture (yes, I was faking sleep, haha) for Instagram.

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