When my daughter was born, like most new mums will relate to, it was a complete baptism by fire. Chaos ensued! I had read Baby Bliss by Dr Harvey Karp before she arrived and loved it.
The whole 4th trimester made a lot of sense to me. So for the first 4 weeks (after the whole worst week had finished and Eva started feeding- maybe another blog) Eva slept on my chest every night. As she was 4 weeks early it made so much sense to me that she deserved to be as close to where she ‘should be’ still developing in the womb. I carried her everywhere even in the house, mostly because she refused to let me put her down and I refused to let her cry. It was also so refreshing to have someone talk about the elusive ‘colic’ which has no medical definition and just seems to be an umbrella term for anything that can’t be explained.
After another few weeks of this I became confused. I was under the understanding that babies slept in a moses basket and then you put them in a cot where they peacefully drift off to sleep and sleep in their own room at about 3 months. Not so with my daughter, or anyone’s if I listened to what my new friends with new babies were also experiencing. Some say I made my life harder by refusing to let my daughter have a dummy, let her ‘cry it out’ and by exclusively breastfeeding only on demand. I rejected the dream feed idea and most other options offered. They all took my child’s choice out of the equation. They cry for a reason, sticking a dummy in her mouth, to me, was silencing a cry for help. Letting her cry it out was going to teach her that if she needed something nobody was going to listen to her. I wasn’t prepared to allow my daughter to feel these emotions at such a raw young age- if ever.
At about 8 weeks I was recommended to buy The Wonder Weeks. I loved it.
My baby cried, she cried herself to sleep and sometimes all the time. No matter if I tried to feed her, change her nappy, swaddled her or shusshed her (we eventually used the hairdryer which worked like a dream and is meant to be 1/3 quieter then the sounds in the womb!) we realised she sometimes just needed to cry and feel supported in that. Reading The Wonder Weeks helped us to understand what she might be experiencing that may make her cry. Put yourself in their shoes, imagine seeing dark and lighter to seeing really bright and blurry to then starting to see colour and images sharpening, I can imagine all that is quite an onslaught for someone also trying to grow and develop. How many things in life do we take for granted, how many things have we learnt to filter out, the noise on the MTR the surprising noises around us from other flats, people, birds. Most we don’t notice. A baby experiences everything, they have no filter. Pair that with not having the comfort of feeling your mothers heartbeat or smelling her closeness and having no one coming to you when you get scared. I don’t think that is what makes a child independent.
What’s my point here, my daughter still gets cuddled to sleep, she has never had a bottle or a dummy to be a substitute soother for her parents, she is cuddled when she asks for it and she is allowed to come into bed with us whenever she gets out of her bed and comes into ours. She has slept through the night in her own bed, on many occasions, and a couple of times she has asked to go to sleep in her bed, with our hand on her back. Sure it has meant that our lives have been centred around our child and we haven’t had much time to ourselves as babysitting becomes very difficult. But the alternatives were not good enough for us.
The point is she makes these decisions on her own and when she is ready. We went to her Kindergarden for an observation yesterday morning. She is not yet 2.5, the other 2 children there were at least 3 if not more. Who’s child was the one who went straight to the table with the education assistants without so much as a look behind her as to where we were. She knew we were there and would be there if she needed us. She made no fuss and got stuck into it. I have no idea how the other 2 were raised and what choices their parents made and every child will deal with every situation differently so I choose never to comment on what someone else chooses as it is their right to choose. But I was mighty proud of my daughters independence, courage and spirit. All the sleepless nights, worry and anxiety over the last few years disappeared and as the next baby is probably going to be here in the next couple of weeks I look forward to being able to honour his choices, whatever they may be.
I leave you with something I read on monday and the links to the books that I mentioned above. Good luck with your choices and please try to honour the ones your baby is trying to make.
“A message from your new baby: If I could speak I would say “I love you”. If I have any wish in the world it is only one thing, and that is to be with you. If I have any desire or motivation in life, it is you. I am but a newborn baby, so helpless in the world. You are the light of my life. Hold me close to you, never leave me, never forsake me and never let me out of your sweet nurturing arms” from Remiel Nagel Healing our Children.
Healing our Children: Sacred Wisdom for Preconception, Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting.
Baby Bliss-Your One-stop Guide for the First Three Months and Beyond. Dr Harvey Karp
Wonder Weeks- How to Stimulate Your Baby’s Mental Development and Help Him Turn His 10 Predictable, Great, Fussy Phases into Magical Leaps Forward. by Hetty van de Rijt, Frans Plooij, Jan Jutte and Gayle Kidder
Also available as an app and Kindle version
Here as a parting image my daughter excited to go see her new school: