Monday, February 8, 2010

Wearing Your Baby-Wisely

For those of you not up to date in the parenting world... this title is a play on parenting styles that my husband so niftily thought up.
One of the hardships in motherhood is finding the right parenting style that fits your marriage, emotional, physical, spiritual and time needs. We know many many AMAZING families who follow a book called Baby Wise. This might be even more controversial than Harry Potter in a Christian school! The book is all about babies fitting in to their parent's life style and not the other way around. The author promotes a feed/wake/sleep schedule every 2.5/3hrs and letting children cry it out for naps. His main platforms are getting your child a full feeding and a long nap and sleeping through the night. I really don't understand why this book is so controversial. People claim that some babies fail to thrive on this system and I guess that's when their parents don't use common sense and feed their babies when they are hungry before 2.5hrs. The author repeatedly states that if you think your baby is crying from pain or hunger, get them and tend to their needs first.
The other camp are the people who believe that you should carry your baby in a sling all day long and sleep with them at night and offer them the breast every time they cry. I didn't know any one in this camp until recently and every one I had previously met was super extreme and had their three year olds sleeping in bed with them and their babies never slept through the night etc etc... However, now some of the most beautiful mothers I know and honestly envy fall into this style of mothering.
So where am I? I am a failure to both camps and I think that is really hard for me because, like most women, I want to fit in. I want to be accepted and think that I am part of this special and maybe even elite group. I am also a rule follower and have felt that if I followed all of the rules of one of these camps that my baby would be perfect: expert nurser, nap champion and sleeping through the night and of course she would never, NEVER cry.
I read babywise and I thought it was a pretty good outline for a plan. So after about two weeks I started to try and regulate feeding and napping. However, SJ was already a really great self regulated baby. She went 3-4 hours between feedings on her own. However, I was told this was WAY TO LONG for her to go and so I would spend hours trying to wake her to eat. I was a nervous wreck that I was ruining my baby or starving her or not loving her right. Week three hit us like a ton of bricks because that's when the screaming began. Our doctor thought she had reflux before this but seeing as she was happy and sleeping, we dismissed it. Then the signs got worse and worse and the screaming got louder and longer. We finally put her on medication (read here: something only inadequate moms do to their babies) and threw babywise out the door. I didn't care if SJ slept on my head, in my arms, in a swing or in the car... I just needed her to sleep... she needed to sleep... we all needed sleep! So, I started trying to soothe her any time she cried in whatever way I could in order to help her to sleep. Thankfully for me, she never wanted to nurse other than the 3-4 hour scheduled feeding but she did want to be held, rocked, sushed, rocked, held, patted, rocked etc etc.... so I did. I watched many a movie and listened to many a sermon with that little newborn SJ. So in my mind, I was a babywise failure because my baby wouldn't sleep and I couldn't stand to let her cry it out (though I tried many hours worth of it).
Well, since I was holding my babe all the time and letting her boss me around... I thought maybe I'd float over to the other camp. I already counted myself as a failure in this camp because of my natural child birth gone wrong but I got a sling and was prepping my cloth diapers (bought before she was born) and was enjoying a very successful nursing experience. However, when the colic crazies started the last thing I could think about was cloth diapering and all the special instructions that came with them. I literally started getting an anxiety attack while reading the 17page hand out on how to care for these diapers. So I put them off for a while, to weather the storm and use all the free diapers we had been given. Then came the nursing strike. My over abundant milk supply dwindled to almost nothing as my little SJ decided nursing was rather odious to her for over a week. So obviously, I failed out of this camp as well.
So where does this leave me?
This leaves me first of all, boasting about my weakness. I can honesty say that it is my weakness that keeps me out of these camps. I am not super mom and I don't always know how to handle the bumps of parenting with style and ease. It is only in Christ's strength that I can feed, change and care for my little one every day with out either of us having a melt down.
Second of all, this leaves me with changed expectations. I am really trying to catch my expectations before I fail another misplaced standard. For instance.. I do not want to feed SJ solid food until 6 months b/c that's what all the cool kids say is best. However, SJ is still not eating great since her strike and thus might need to have a supplement sooner than that.. and I need to be okay with that. I want to exclusively nurse my baby for as long as possible but I cannot make my child eat more than she is willing to eat and I need to do what is best for her to continue to grow healthy and strong. I also want to be up to date on all the best foods and vitamins to give my chid so she can have the right start to a healthy and happy life. However, at some point I have to trust the Lord to be the one to grow her into a healthy woman as I do my best with our budget and priorities to provide for her well.
Lastly this has taught me not to judge. Oh how easy it is for us to compare ourselves to others... people we might not even know and judge the way they discipline their children or give formula or even how they dress etc. When we find people that do not meet our standards we then feel better about ourselves and have a little less doubt about our capabilities. In the same sense, we can judge wrongly by thinking every one else has it together and then condemning ourselves as a failure. My husband tells me again and again and again to stop comparing myself. Every person is different and every baby is different and thus no mother/baby combo will ever be cookie cutter. What works for other moms, might not work for me. Other people may not get sad after having a baby, some people might get even more sad than I was. Some moms will be up and cooking meals for other people right away and others might take longer to adjust. Some people have husbands who are home often to help... other moms might be parenting completely solo. SJ has taught me again and again to let go of my preconceived notions and standards and to give grace and more grace... to myself and others.
(she is taking the point all the way home by crying as I type when she needs at least another hour for a nap... oh those expectations again...)
Please don't feel like you need to tell me I am not a failure. I know.
I am learning and growing into the mommy the the Lord wants me to be and trying to stop focusing on the mommy I wanted to be or the mommy he wants other people to be.
I am falling right into the middle of both camps and while it doesn't make me cool or exclusive, maybe it will help me be a comfort to all those other moms who are destined to join me there.
So this once black or white girl is becoming a little gray.


Beth Anne said...

Lindsey, this may be a long comment but will be helpful to understanding the Babywise controversial.

The controversy as we understand it is not necessarily centered around the approach but two other issues.

1. Gary Ezzo has been criticized for being overly dogmatic, which I am sure you found. The book reads mostly like, "if you do this, then you will absolutely get this result." I think that has been one issue.

2. Secondly and most importantly is Gary Ezzo himself as the author. Gary Ezzo and his wife present themselves as experts but in reality they lack the credentials to support what the claim to be. Go and look at old editions of their book where their claims as a baby nurse have been proven false for example. Additionally they Ezzo's have a history of being disruptive in the church, namely John MacArthur's church where he was removed from membership.

Personally Lee and I went through this book before researching the controversy so that we could read it with an open mind.

At the end of the day, I couldn't figure out why there was such a controversy until we started reading about Mr. Ezzo's character and integrity.

As far as the approach is concerned, eat, play, sleep, this is a common approach espoused by more than a few baby books. We also read the Baby Whisperer which basically says the same thing, but the author is more up front who she is and her credentials.

It took us a while to find out a schedule that works well too. And honestly, much like SJ, Abbey was sleeping through the night, before we got the naps and regular eating figured out.

Lastly I will say that your comment, "his once black or white girl is becoming a little gray" I think is a mark of grace. In my own life and my dear friends life, when I hear sentiments like this I just know that it is God grace working.

Oh and she is beautiful. I just love all that hair.

Sarah Cosper said...

Beautiful words. You said it well.

Bobby, Lauren, and Andrew said...

Love what you just said and agree with you!

cal+claire said...

...I just think you are cool. Babies are hard. There's no way to predict how they'll be or who they'll be or what you'll do or how you'll feel. I don't have one, but so far every other change in life has been like that. Marriage? Oh yes I am so ready to handle that, I'm so prepared to never be emotional over that... I think I cried 3 times this week. (Not unconsolably or anything, just things happen you know?) Goodness gracious. I need to be continually taught the lesson that I don't have to have it all together and figured out because boy do I ever try. God uses my imperfections so often to bring my closer to Him and away from myself. Maybe I have to cry a lot to do, but how much worth it should bring to my life down the road. I may not see the sky for the trees now, but I know that God is doing it for a purpose. (Hope that made are awesome and I love you- you are a very wise woman)

Maggie Ainsworth said...

Man, reading this post made me miss me some Lindsey Lewis! Seriously, I felt like we were hanging out at your house, drinking tea and you were telling me all these things and I was totally agreeing with you and crying and commiserating...

I agree with Sarah. Well said, Lindsey. I miss you dearly and wish we could talk about these things in person. Love you, sweet friend.

Bethan said...

Ya, well said, friend. God writes our story, not us. I would have written my story differently, but I would have robbed myself of the grace God gives us in our weakness. Brandon said the other day that he thinks motherhood (and fatherhood) shows us our desperate need for God...our desperate need to be saved. I think that is very true.

Thanks for synthesizing early motherhood, it could not have been said (or written) better. I am glad we can make this trek together, Lindsey.