Saturday, April 16, 2011

Baby Hands

In light of all my mully grubbiness lately, I want to share something that is very cute. 

It's no mystery that mommies and babies share a special bond and that mommies have a special way of cheering their babies up. I'll admit that Lily gets in trouble sometimes. It's not big trouble, but sometimes she knows when she has done something that has hurt or upset her mommy. For example, this morning Lily decided that she was going to bite my shoulder. That hurts! So I told her, "Lily! Don't bite! That hurts Mommy." She could tell I was upset with her. She pulled away from my shoulder, looked at me, and pouted her adorable little heart melting pout. She bowed her head in an "I'm embarrassed" sort of way and continued to pout. Then she just laid her head on my shoulder looking sad. So I told her, "Lily, Mommy still loves you! You don't know that hurts. It's okay. I love you." She still pouted. So I tickled her a bit, and that still did not seem to cheer her. Well, me being her mommy and all, I knew exactly what would work. It works like a charm every time. I took her little finger and started eating it! Nibble nibble nibble! Kiss kiss kiss! Nom nom nom! She LOVES it. I had her smiling in no time. That's her favorite game. It's SO cute and one of those things that makes me love being a mom.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who am I kidding? I'm no Attachment Parent.

Before Lily was born, I knew that I wanted to practice Attachment Parenting with her. I felt such a connection with her as she was growing in my belly that I wanted to continue that special bond with her after she was born. I loved everything Dr. Sears had to say on the topic and I loved reading the Attachment Parenting International (API) website. 

"The long-range vision of Attachment Parenting is to raise children who will become adults with a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection. It eliminates violence as a means for raising children, and ultimately helps to prevent violence in society as a whole.

The essence of Attachment Parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children. Attachment Parenting challenges us as parents to treat our children with kindness, respect and dignity, and to model in our interactions with them the way we'd like them to interact with others."

I loved this thought. After all, who does not want to form and nurture a strong connection with their child? I imagined myself being one of those cute cloth diapering, babywearing, breastfeeding moms that always had a smile on her face and showered her baby with hugs and kisses. I would wear my baby so much that she would be like my cutest accessory to every outfit. I bought several carriers that would go with everything I owned. I could not wait to give birth to her! Of course I was going to have a natural birth! There would be no question about that. 

API has set forth Eight Principles of Parenting

1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
2. Feed with Love and Respect
3. Respond with Sensitivity
4. Use Nurturing Touch
5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care
7. Practice Positive Discipline
8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

That's good and wonderful sounding, right? I can DO this! I can do this. 

1. I definitely prepared for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting. I read tons of material and had a wonderful birth experience. I often thank my daughter for "being so nice to her momma and giving her a wonderful birth experience." My father in law accused me of being the most prepared new mother he's ever seen. I was definitely on a roll!

2. Of course I was going to breastfeed NO MATTER WHAT! I've had my fair share of challenges, but my daughter has never had a drop of formula in her life. Of course, the whole Baby Led Weaning effort was an epic fail. No matter what we tried, she was going to gag and choke. I had to use the purees to sooth my worried heart. 

3. I used to respond to every peep that came forth from my baby's mouth. I wanted her to trust me, of course. As time wore on, it became impossible, at least for someone as lowly as me, to respond to her every peep immediately. At some point, the dishes just HAVE to be done and the clothes HAVE to be washed or CPS have something to say and they won't CARE how attached you are. They're going to see the filthy and unlivable conditions in which you and your baby live and have problems with that. 

4. I held my baby all the time. I mean, ALL. THE. TIME. This is where babywearing would help. Or SHOULD have helped. The first time I put my baby in the Moby wrap (a black one so it would go with everything) she screamed like I was torturing her. As well as the second time. And third time. And fourth time. Get the picture? She hated, loathed, abhorred it. She's finally gotten to the point where she likes the Moby and the ring sling, but only for the little while when we're out in public. She does not like to wear it around the house. I suppose this was my first huge failure, but I still considered myself an okay AP parent. She started becoming mobile and 3.5 months and full out crawling at 4.5 months. There was no need to constantly hold her because she wanted demanded to explore. She also enjoys her jumperoo and pack n play while I do housework. No really. She likes it. However, only for a little while. She has no problems letting me know when my time for housework is done. 

5. I've been dreading this one for the past four paragraphs. Can we just not talk about this one? I've recently written about our sleep journey up to this point. I am sad to say, that I have failed Attachment Parenting. I allowed my daughter to cry it out last night. In our exhausted stupor of indecision, we had run out of ideas. I read everything I could get my hands one, talked to dear and respected friends, and joined forum and forum to try to soak in any and every idea I could think of. But I failed. I failed myself and the kind of parent I hoped to be and more importantly I failed my daughter of the kind of mother she deserves. 

6-8. It pretty much does not matter what I have to say about the rest of these. I feel like I am changed somehow after last night. I've become humbled. The fall off my high horse hurts terribly and it might take me a long time to recover. I'll never be the same though. I'd like to think I'll never look down my nose at anyone else ever again, but I am only human. It won't be long before I think, "I my let my daughter CIO but I had no other options. At least I don't give my kid formula." Sounds eerily similar to what I hear inmates say on Lock up:Raw, "Rapists and child molesters are the worst. THAT is unforgivable." And I think, "Really? DUDE! You're in prison! You KILLED someone!"

Of course, I know myself and I'll still try. I'll still try to be a gentle and attached parent. I'm still going to do my best to be sweet to my baby. But I am really wounded right now. I feel like I'll never forgive myself, but I hope I can. It will be kind of hard with some of these unspoken AP rules that I've read about. Although Kaitlin seemed to be writing about these rules with a good sense of humor, she's not kidding. It's tough being an AP mom, not only because of what you do for your child(ren) and family, but because, if you want friends and community, you are subjected from TONS of judgement and guilt from other better AP moms. It's tough. 

These unspoken rules are tough for me to follow. She calls the the Eight Rules to Live By (or else):

1. Prepare for birth by planning to give birth naturally. At least I was able to do THAT, a hospital. So I'm on the bottom of the totem pole with that one. 

2. Circumcision is not attachment parenting. Well that one was easy. I have a girl. However, I've already made this decision a LONG time ago. 

3. Breastfeed your child. Okay. Maybe I'm not doing so bad?

4. There is no need to ever become frustrated, irritable or impatient with your child. Well, dang. I've felt all three. Even when I may have been happy and calm on the outside, I've FELT frustration on the inside.

5. Hold and wear your child as much as physically possible. I do that when she wants it. So there's my loophole. As much as physically possible means as much as she'll let me.

6. Cloth diapers are the only way to go. Oh yay! Doing something right.

7. Sleeping with your baby is safe and natural. Oh boo. We did for awhile. She's slept in our room with us from day one, and we coslept for awhile. Now our family is ready for a change. 

8. Eat organic food whenever possible (meaning all the time). Oh well. We are of modest means and eat what we can afford, which is NOT organic. 

So, it appears I do not have what it takes to hang with the cool kids. Too bad. At least I tried.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is it a lack of faith? Or is it pride?

I do not usually share thoughts about my struggles with faith because they are usually so very close to my heart. After I read about Cherylyn's struggles and her willingness to allow herself to be vulnerable, I decided I would share my thoughts. After all, someone might relate.

For as long as I can remember, I have gone through a cycle I have termed my "freak out cycle" when it comes to my relationship with my Heavenly Father. It's not something that I am particularly proud of. In fact, I wish it wasn't so. The way it works is I start with a perceived need. I pray for help to accomplish the need. And I wait. And I wait. I start to get nervous that I won't receive the help I need. I continue to wait and get nervous. During the waiting I pray that, "Just this once, Heavenly Father, please help me not to freak out about this." And I wait. And I wait a little longer than the last time. Try as I might, I get to that breaking point because I have not yet received the help in the time that I feel I need it. So I freak out. Without fail, I freak out. And almost immediately, I receive the help I so desperately (thought) I needed. Once I receive the help, the guilt comes. I feel terrible that, once again, I have failed to endure this trial gracefully. I have failed, once again, to have faith that my Heavenly Father is mindful of my needs. I have failed, once again, to NOT freak out.

I do not want to go into great detail about what I consider "freaking out on Heavenly Father" because it makes me feel very ashamed. Just know it involves tears. Lots of tears. And pacing. And frantic, worried prayer. And an admission that I do not have enough faith.

As I have grown, my perceived needs have changed. Since moving away from home, getting married and trying to become independent in this world, I have felt a need to do things "on my own." I have a great desire to meet my needs without needing the help of other people, but this has been impossible. I feel gratitude for the people in my life who greatly bless my life and help our family. I am thankful for the people who are in tune with the Spirit and know what to say and when to say it to help me. I really am. But I am not thankful enough. And this is where pride might come in. Now the cycle has an added component. I have a perceived need, and I want to accomplish it on my own. I feel ashamed, embarrassed, and like a mooch, when other people help me and/or my family. I feel helpless. I feel frustrated because I feel like I am always on the receiving end of charity. I never have the opportunity to help others. It is so difficult to receive charity with grace. I know Heavenly Father is aware of me and my needs. I really know this. I know we will be okay and He will provide for whatever we need. But what I do not know is if He will provide our needs without using other people. Most of the time, it is other people who answer our prayers. I suppose that's how it works. He uses all of us to bless each others' lives. I just wish that I could help others more that I receive help. I wish I could accept help with absolute gratitude and not worry so much about what people might think of me. I still have that feeling that people "expect something in return" for the help that they give and I have nothing I can give back! That's why I need their help in the first place. I feel indebted to them. I owe them. It's difficult.

So is it a lack of faith? I am not sure. I KNOW that my needs will be met, but I do not know HOW they will be met.

Or is it pride? I just really hope I can do it on my own. I don't want to need other people!

Either way, I have work to do!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Apparently, I was wrong

I've been on an infant sleep kick lately because I've finally gotten to the point where I am...just...tired. All I can do is beg to some unseen something, "Please don't make me let my baby cry. Please don't. I can't stand it. But I need some sleep. I just don't know what else to do." The following is the abridged version of our sleep journey so far. 

I feel like a complete failure. I feel like I have tried everything except the one thing I do NOT want to try-the thing I have done everything in my power to avoid.

I can't get my baby to sleep. 

I've tried to be patient with myself as a new parent and my daughter who is just a baby. I've tried to joke about it. I've tried to be positive. But the truth is, I'm just not. This is really hard for me. I feel like I have been slow to learn, and I feel like I've done everything wrong with how I have bee trying to help my baby sleep.

When Lily was younger, we decided she would sleep in her little bassinet by our bed because I thought it was the 'right' thing to do. The AAP suggests that babies should sleep close to Mom but not in the bed.

Apparently, I was wrong.

We tried to move her to her crib, which was in our bedroom. She was a big girl after all, and it was time to sleep in her big girl bed. Surely this would be the 'right' thing to do. We would give her a bath and read her a story, followed by nursing and rocking to sleep. Routine is supposed to work. 

Apparently, I was wrong.

The bath would get her excited. Nursing and rocking seemed to work well. We added our fan as some white noise, and she seemed to understand that as soon as the fan came on, it was time to sleep. After ninnie. With ninnie.

She would fall asleep in our arms, and we would put her down in her crib. Or at least try. Epic fail. Eyes would pop open no matter who long she had been in dream land before.

"Don't put her to bed asleep. Put her to bed drowsy and let her cry it out a little," our pediatrician told me. I nodded in compliance, but thought, "No way. I am not going to make my four month old cry it out. She's just a baby. I am not that kind of parent."

Apparently, I was wrong.

"Try a swing," kindly church members suggested. That seemed to work for awhile. She even slept seven hours straight a couple of times. Mostly it was a routine of one five hour block, nurse, followed by a three hour block of sleep. 

During all of this, I was exhausted. I would pull Lily in the bed with me sometimes while she nursed so I could rest. This was against Robbie's wishes. He would boil inside when he would catch us co-sleeping. Besides being upset  due to his concerns about safety, he was afraid we were starting a bad habit. I just couldn't take it. I was beyond exhausted. I felt utterly alone in those wee hours of the morning when everyone else got to sleep. 

We coslept for awhile. Robbie hated it. Lily and I loved it. I felt decently rested. Cosleeping was great! 

Apparently, I was wrong.

Robbie really did not want Lily in the bed anymore. I didn't mind it, but I became willing to change it. I don't remember why I decided to start going along with this, but I did.

During the cosleeping months, the batteries went dead in the swing. We replaced the batteries and started putting her in the swing for naps. She was taking long and consistent naps! Wonderful! 

But shouldn't she be sleeping in her crib? Like a baby? Even in the swing she wakes up every 1-2 hours. Maybe I get a 3 hour stretch. Maybe. In some way, I am still wrong. When I am exhausted and rocking my baby to sleep, I think,"Everything is working against me. I am being FORCED to use cry it out methods." I hate myself for thinking it, I hate that those methods even exist, and I hate that I might be one of those parents who eventually resort to it b/c I am not strong, patient or GOOD ENOUGH to not use it. 

So as our last resort before the dreaded last resort, I read The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. 

Before reading it, she was consistently taking one nap a day from about 11:30 am-1 pm or 1:30 pm. Sometimes she would take a second nap, but it wasn't consistent. She would also be ready for bed 8:30-9:30 pm. Most nights it was easy to put her to sleep. It has NEVER been easy to keep her asleep once placing her in her crib. Some nights, I just did not feel like fighting it, and I would put her in her swing after she fell asleep. She loves it.

Apparently, I am still wrong.

At ten months old, my daughter still does not sleep through the night and does not sleep in her crib. All I hear are voices saying, "You are wrong wrong wrong! You've failed!" No matter what I choose to do to help her sleep, it will result in years of therapy in her adult years where she'll blame me and accuse me of being a terrible mother. Of course no one directly tells me these things, but I start thinking these thoughts with all of my reading. 

Back to The No-Cry Sleep Solution

Apparently, I was wrong. Again. 

Babies are wired to have a 6 pm or 7 pm bedtime. Oops. So besides being unrealistic on the days that I do not get home until after 9 pm, this is a tall order! I also have been allowing my baby to nurse to sleep. According to some, I am wrong for this. According to Pantley I am not, but I should work to shorten the time she uses ninnie to fall asleep. 

I am working hard. She still wakes up 1-3 hours. I am exhausted. I see improvements, but sometimes it feels like we backtrack. Pantley says that's part of the progress. I hope so, because we are all out of whack right now! And hopefully if this works, I won't beat myself up over all the damage I have been doing to my daughter the past ten months for all the WRONG things I have been doing.