Sunday, April 24, 2011

trusting your gut.

i have a problem.

my problem is that i read too much.  and when i read, i run into conflicting information.  and when i do, i'm in a quandry--who do i believe? how do i decide what to do?

i've already encountered this. in our approximately 36 hours in the hospital post-delivery, we encountered at least three conflicting opinions about breastfeeding.  that was interesting.

(and by interesting, i mean infuriating.)

now we're working on sleep. i think we've got the feeding thing down for now, and she's seeming to settle into a 2 1/2 hour pattern, which is apparently what we're striving for.  actually, i'm just striving for consistency. i'm fine with whatever she wants to do, but the 2 1/2 hour pattern seems to be what's regulating her metabolism.  i like it. i'll take it. 

she's sleeping 4 hour stretches at night, which is wonderful.  she goes back down after her 3:30 or 4:00 feeding really well.  nights are manageable right now (though i just knocked on wood because i don't want that to change at all--but she's almost always been that way, since she was born).  we've got a rhythm and a system and i like how it's all going.

but naps, man.  naps are evil.  she's gotten into this habit where she won't go down easily, she won't stay in her bed, she has to sleep on or near one of us, and she certainly won't go to sleep without us holding or swaying with her to get her to go to sleep.

apparently, this is the Worst Thing Ever to instill in your child--bad sleep habits. BAD parents.

so here's the thing.  we're not supposed to rock her to sleep. we're supposed to put her in her bed while she's still awake.


we're also not supposed to let her cry too much, because now is when her sense of trust is being established.  now is when she's figuring out that the big lady and the big guy are the ones who take care of her, who protect her, who love her.

so i'm like...uhm, i'm seeing a rock and a hard place here.  she's a cuddler. she likes to be with us.  she's nearly 3 weeks old--far too young to sleep train at this point. i'd love to be able to put her in her bed and have her stay there and go to sleep, but most of the time she just wails.  it becomes counterproductive to our goal, really, because we want her to sleep, not get excessively overexcited and impossible to soothe for minutes at a time.

the whole point of this is to get her to sleep MORE, not less. 

so information a: train your baby to sleep by herself.  information b: don't let her cry too much. attend to her needs as soon as possible.

well, when a creates b, what does one do?

here's where my problem comes in, and here's where the advice of many moms, but one in particular, keeps ringing in my mind: trust your instincts.

i want baby girl to be able to sleep by herself. of course i do. she doesn't sleep in our bed, and we'll be moving her to her crib in a few weeks. i want her to be independent, to self-soothe, to do all of those things that every parent wants their child to do.  i don't have any personal need for her to sleep on my chest every night or to fall asleep in my arms for every nap. i really don't. my ego is not involved here, i promise.

but i also know that she's not ready for that. for whatever reason, she's just not ready.  six weeks keeps ringing in my mind--it really seems to be reverberating, and has since she was born--as the beginning o the window of when it might be possible for us to start.  in the meantime, it seems to me, her successful sleep is more important. when they're asleep, that's when they grow.  when they're asleep, that's when their brains make their paths with all the learning that they've been doing. 

but see, it feels like she's been with us forever, and so sometimes i expect and want her to behave like more than the newborn she is.  for a kid who just came to this world and has to figure out a whole host of really confusing things, she's doing really well. 

i wish i was doing as well at trusting what my instincts tell me.  sometimes, i just want to know that it's the right thing to do.  reaching outside of myself, outside of our family, outside of the Lord--it's just not the best way to do it.

i keep doing it though.  i keep looking for that reassurance.  i'm so new at this, just like baby girl.  sometimes i just want someone who knows for sure to nod and say "yep. you got this."

i know where that nod could come from, if i would just ask Him more often.  sometimes i ask, and then i feel it.   i should do it more often and i should trust what i feel more often.  i think i'm learning.

in the meantime, we keep on. 


  1. You are so right! The conflicting advice out there will drive you bonkers!! It sounds like you have a great handle on what she needs right now and what she will be capable of as she gets older. I swear I googled "sleep training' about a gagillion times James' first 4 weeks and nothing I found really made sense. For us, he just kind of let us know when he was ready/able to sleep by himself in his swing or crib. We just kept trying it every once in awhile to see how it went and it just transitioned into him sleeping without being held. I don't know if it will be the same with your darling, but I think I actually lucked out in this department. (Something that actually came easy! I think we deserved a break on something:) I finally decided that all that really mattered was that I got as much sleep as I could, so if that meant napping in a recliner while I was holding him, so be it. Maybe not the best advice, and I might have regretted it later but I was so focused on surviving those first weeks I figured I would handle any resulting issues down the road when I wasn't feeling like I was losing it :)

  2. Oh yeah, and this is exactly why I would get so frustrated when people would pull out the infamous "sleep when the baby sleeps" advice because at first he would only sleep when I was holding that pretty much means I am not asleep..or sleeping well anyways.