Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crash Course in Parenting Philosophy

Gracie's 6 1/2 weeks old! How time flies! Surprisingly, other than loving on my baby, the one thing I've had a ton of time for lately is reading. Grace nurses *a lot* and I'm not a "just sit there" kind of girl. So, as a new mom, what do I read? Every parenting philosophy book I can get my hands on.

Here's a summary of my reading list over the past 6 weeks:

  1. Happiest Baby on the Block

  2. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer

  3. Babywise

  4. Dr. Sear's Baby Book

  5. What to Expect the First Year

  6. Your Baby's First Year, Week by Week

  7. Plus a healthy handful of magazines and articles

Information overload much?

I'm a reader. It's who I always have been and probably always will be. I want to know everything I can to make sure I'm doing it "right." The problem with parenting? There is no "right." Oh boy, am I struggling with this.

We started out doing pretty straight-forward Attachment Parenting, as endorsed by Sears et. al. Wear your baby, feed on demand, shared sleeping, etc. I love the idea -- who doesn't love cuddling a bundle of joy 24hrs a day? But in practice? I don't know about your household, but some parts of this just don't fly here. I like my pillows and blankets way too much to safely share sleeping arangements with Grace. And, since I'm a first time mommy with very little baby experience, I'm really struggling with her cues: to me, everything sounds like "hungry." The poor girl spent the whole weekend crying while nursing. Turns out she was completely exhausted and I kept trying to keep her awake to feed. I was exhausted, too -- she was eating every 45min to hour. Sigh. Live and learn.

So while my poor sweetheart cried the weekend away, Stressed-Out-Mommy spent nursing time reading Baby Whisperer and Babywise, trying to find "a better way." Both those philosophies recommend a Flexible Routine concept. Baby wakes up, baby eats, baby plays, baby sleeps. This is in contrast to the AP idea of nursing Baby to sleep. They also recommend putting Baby down awake and using Cry it Out. I love the idea of getting Grace less dependant on me to fall asleep, but honestly? I think it might kill me to let her cry at this point.

So here I am, knowing too much information and struggling to successfully apply any of it. We're doing the eat/play/sleep routine from Babywise... wearing Gracie in our Moby wrap a la Attachment Parenting... putting her down awake according to Baby Whisperer... and to confuse everything, using a pacifier...

And of course, praying all along that hopefully someday she'll turn out all right.

What do you do? Do you follow a philosophy? Or do you fling it all together in a happy hodge-podge of ideas? And most importantly, does it SOMEDAY start to make sense?!?!


Rachel B. said...

I don't follow a specific philosophy. I mostly use instinct/intuition that God has given me. I think the most important book you could be reading is the Bible. THAT should be your handbook :) Not that it's bad to read or listen to other people's advice, but it can definitely be an overload! Throw them out the window and do what's best for you and don't be afraid of changing something if it's just not working for you! :)

For example, if you want to babywear and not co-sleep, do that! Take what you like and works for you; Leave what doesn't work! Spend time in prayer and reading scripture and enjoying your little girl while you're nursing!

How is the nursing going, anyway?

Don't fret, your girl will turn out just fine :)

Sarah Jane said...

We don't use a certain philosophy. We just go with the flow, adjust, adapt, change, etc. . .I must admit I read very few parenting books when I had babies. :/ I read some physical development books so I could keep track of my baby's growth and progress but that's about it. Like Rachel, I depended most on instinct. After 3, each baby has been extremely different from the others and my parenting of each one is different. David was a very independent baby. He fell asleep best on his own, and liked to play on his own. He still is that way. Judah had to be nursed/fed to sleep (he started a bottle at 7 mos) since he would cry for literally HOURS if he was mad and I just couldn't deal with him howling for hours on end. So no big deal, he had a bottle or the breast and was fine. Malachi was the most clingy, always wanting to be held, or carried in the sling or carrier and he co slept for about 6 months with us, then moved on to his own bed in a room with his brothers. He had to cry it out for a few nights but soon settled into a good routine. His crying was just a test to see if we'd give in to him. :) He was old enough by then to know EXACTLY what he was doing!

If co sleeping doesn't feel right for you, don't force yourself to do it. Malachi would bawl when he was little if he was not by me when he was sleeping. If he feel asleep in our bed and I tried to move him to the bassinett we kept by the side of the bed, he'd wake up and scream. So we did what worked for him. David and Judah both slept in their own beds from day #1.

There's so much garbage (IMO) out there on "right" and "wrong" ways to raise a child. Honestly, each child is totally different and each set of parents are different. Do what works for YOU! You are not going to spoil Grace by holding her when she cries and you are not going to abuse her if you leave her in a play pen or crib and she cries while you need to get some things done around the house. Lots of love and flexibility to do what works for YOU and your baby is what makes sense to me.

When they are this little, I don't believe in trying to get on a set "schedule" since our bodies just don't work like that all the time. As long as she is eating, sleeping, being stimulated with tummy time, etc. when she is awake, being loved, and growing, I think everything will work out fantastically. :)

Serena said...

Good advice above. For me, it seemed like once I 'figured' something out, that something changed. They're so constantly growing, developing, and changing that it seemed like constant adjusting, for me. And, like Sarah said, each baby is so different. My first was so hard, but my second slept through the night from about one week in. She doesn't always sleep through the night NOW, but that's another story. ;)

This is a personal preference, but I don't recommend Babywise to anyone. I think it undermines breastfeeding, for all it says it promotes it. My babies, the bad sleeper AND the good sleeper, both worked much better on a different schedule than the one recommended in the book--that is, they slept better on a full tummy, as a general rule. I figured, hey, they grow while they sleep, so there's nothing wrong with them having that breastmilk in their belly to help with that, right? I'm not saying that the Babywise schedule can't work for a baby, since every baby is different, but that saying you can apply it to every baby, or even most babies, is just plain wrong. I can't stand the book (in case you couldn't tell), but I do know of mamas who have liked it. I figured I should mention that, just to be fair. :)

I think that anyone's first baby is hard to adjust to, no matter how much you've been looking forward to this baby. Even if you've had experience caring for babies before, it's a whole other level. For one, your body is recovering from childbirth, you're both learning to breastfeed, there's the whole sleep-deprivation thing, and it's your child, which brings in a whole emotional and spiritual element.

Keep praying and reading your Bible and know that others are praying for you, too. :)

Anonymous said...

This is Jenny, Blogger won't let me sign in.

Thanks for your thoughts, ladies. I’m really feeling unconfident in this whole parenting thing. I’m in over my head, and research is my go-to solution – maybe that’s why I loved college so much! For something so natural, being a mom sure seems like rocket science.

Rachel, the “take what I like” is what I’m trying to do. It’s just hard, because I don’t know a lot and I don’t trust my intuition. Sigh, I guess I’m going to have to learn to do that at some point too. I wish there was a letter in the NT, right between Galatians and Ephesians, “Exactly what to do with your baby so they grow up a perfect Christian.” LOL! Wouldn’t that be nice! As for nursing, we’re getting better daily. I had a bout with mastitis because of the open skin, but we’re past that and things are healing nicely. And, she’s learned to suck! Most feedings takes about 15-20 minutes now instead of 45-60.

Sarah Jane, how do you get this “instinct”? Seriously… I feel like I’m making everything up as I go, and going to confuse or damage her. And I agree, a “schedule” is way too much for right now, but I would like a routine. It’ll help ME, which will in turn help her. So much of what I’ve come across is complete garbage, I totally agree. It’s ridiculous what people will buy – thank goodness for the library ;-)

Serena, I appreciate your opinion. I’ve heard a lot bad about Babywise, too, and after reading it myself we’re DEFINITELY not applying all of it. I can’t imagine sitting in the other room listening to her cry it out. But after trying it this week, the feed/play/sleep routine seems to work a lot better for Gracie, and it’s helping me to learn her different cues.