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Friday, June 1, 2012

To the Mom Like Me

I think it's safe to say, before I had Rilynn, I hadn't a clue what I was in for.  I wasn't sure what I was doing.  Sometimes I still feel that way.  The one thing that I try to remind myself and that I try to encourage new moms to do, is to trust the God-given instinct He gave mothers.  It's there.  I promise.  (I thought people were nuts when they kept telling me to trust my motherly instincts)

Also, along with these instincts, there are certain things that just work for my family that might not work for others.  And THAT'S OK.

There's just always been this one thing we did with Ri that I wish, looking back, I didn't.  I don't carry any burden of regret. It's more like "oh, bummer..."

I wish I never made her cry it out.

Before I proceed, let's expand on what I mean by "cry it out"; because I think this means different things to different people. For me, I feel it means to purposely allow your baby (and I mean baby, not approaching a year old) to cry...even hard at the hopes they'll learn how to self-soothe.  This is done at times when there is nothing else keeping mom (or someone else) from holding the baby.

I thought that if I wanted a well-adjusted, independent child, I HAD to let her cry it out.

A few things I've learned:

1.  Babies are needy.  They're born that way, and by design.

2.  Babies can't talk.  They can only communicate through crying.

3.  There are plenty of opportunities for a baby to "cry it out" when mom can't hold baby, especially if this is a subsequent child.  For example, mom REALLY needs a shower or mom may need to eat something before she passes out.  There are many other examples, but you get my point, right?

All this to say, it doesn't bother some moms as much to let their babies cry.  And THAT'S OK.  I'm a big believer in doing what's right for you and your family.

So anyway, with Kaylee, I tried doing things a little differently.  When she was two months old and I'd put her down in bed for a nap or at night and she'd cry, I'd pick her up and try again later.

**Let me say and be very clear, if there was a point where I felt overwhelmed, I did put her down.  And she did cry until I could gain my composure.  Let's remember it's safe for both mom and baby to take a break if needed.**

I soon discovered she didn't require as much sleep as I thought.  Usually, I'd try again later and she'd gladly take a nap.  In fact, I noticed that she never seemed to cry when I put her down at night - only at nap time.  This was probably due to the fact that she wasn't always tired and ready for a nap.  But by the end of the day, she was ready to sleep.  And then, I started nursing her to sleep for nap times. And guess what?  She didn't always need to nurse to sleep like I thought.

Pretty soon, I stopped looking at the clock before I fed her.  I started offering her to nurse whenever she was upset.  If she was just tired, she'd actually push me away.  Or she may nurse and fall asleep and then I'd put her in her bed.  Sometimes she just wanted to be held, so I held her.  Because I wanted to.

So, back to my title: Dear Mom Like Me,

IF you don't want to, you don't HAVE to make your baby cry when you could otherwise comfort them.  It won't ruin them forever.  In fact - and if you're like me, this is for you - it made me less stressed out when I didn't try to adhere to what my friends or books were saying but simply did what I wanted to do at that particular time...what I thought was best for both myself and my baby.

Sure, I understand all babies are different.  And perhaps when the baby is older, there may be a habit or two you may need to break.  But every parent probably has a habit they will eventually need to break their kids of (sucking thumb, using a paci, having to have "white noise" to sleep", gotta be dark to go to sleep, gotta have a night light to go to sleep, etc, etc).

There does come a point where they won't need those things anymore.  But in the beginning - IF you want - hold that baby!  Nurse them to sleep.  Let them take a cat nap on your chest.  Enjoy them! - do whatever you (and your husband) feel is best.  Who knows, maybe you are like me and you'll find yourself less stressed and enjoying those first few months more than ever before!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get my daughter's "lovie" off the clothesline so she'll take a nap.  :)

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