Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Mommy Training

Bear with me kids, this is going to be a bit of a long one. I’ve been brewing this rant for a while now.

I have a bone to pick with the parenting book industry. Drew and I have always taken the same approach when we’re facing an unknown scenario – we read as much as we can get our hands on. And it will, on occasion, become a baffling mess in our heads. This is what happened with the parenting books. A few of them are great, but many of them are over-the-top fear mongering, and others are just roll-with-it to the point of not actually offering any advice or suggestions for problem solving.

The first was the whole breastfeeding shambles. Every book we picked up trumpeted the benefits of breastfeeding. We get it. Breastfeeding has only become normalized again in the last 20 years or so after a brutal takedown by the formula industry began in the early 50’s, and women still face unacceptable harassment challenges trying to feed their children, especially in public. *SIDENOTE: Any new moms out there who have not checked out the nursing lounge at Toronto Eaton Centre should do so – it is lovely with really big comfy chairs.*

That being said, if I am reading a book on breastfeeding, safe to say I’m probably sold on the idea. I don’t need to be convinced, I need to know what to do when I face challenges. Instead we get “YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO FEED YOUR BABY BREASTFEEDING IS NATURAL AND EASY. IT'S PROBABLY JUST YOUR LATCH.”

Ok. But when you end up having three days of failure to progress labour before a failed induction, fetal distress and an emergency c-section, your milk may not come in right away. So your newborn ends up dropping 16% of their birth weight in 4 days before you know there’s an issue because they’re still giving the recommended output. Then you see three different lactation consultants (including one that sets you back $100.00 for an hour long session, 2/3 of which is her taking a history irrelevant to the problem at hand and cumulates with the incredible wisdom nugget “just keep doing what you’re doing.”) as well as your midwives but no one catches the tongue-tie until 11 weeks. In the meantime, you’ve had to formula supplement because weight gain is still under the 15th percentile despite the fact that your baby never stops eating, and some of the more militant breastfeeding advocates make you feel like you may as well be giving your child poison even though the alternative is that she NOT GET ENOUGH TO EAT.

So by week 2 we’ve pretty much failed lefty WASP parenting 101.

Whatever. I’m so over it. I gave my daughter formula supplements rather than let her continue to go hungry. While she now has established feeding and gets very little by way of formula each day, we will probably never have her on breast milk exclusively – my supply never caught up because it took so long to catch the tongue-tie. And I’m pissed, because I can’t help but feel if I had begun the process with fewer lectures and more practical advice that would not be the case.

The second advice jamboree is sleep and sleeping arrangements. Good Lord. Like you’re not scared enough about sleep as a new parent, the very thought of SIDS enough to make you want to stay up for weeks on end ready to poke at your newborn at the first sigh or cough. Then come the recommendations on minimizing risk and fostering “healthy sleep habits”:



We ended up getting a little travel crib to put in our room and it has been fine. But now that Ellie is four months, our pediatrician has recommended that we start sleep training. Which opens up a whole other can of worms. Once again, we are swimming against the current. We are going against the grain. We are, god forbid, listening to our pediatrician.

We, ladies and gentlemen, are crying it out.

To be fair, it’s not without really compelling evidence that this is the best method for us, and only now that she’s old enough to handle it. I get that babies can’t “manipulate” their parents as some old-school proponents of crying it out claim, but babies do start making associations by 4 months and so the sooner they get that bedtime is for sleeping, the better. Ellie does not get this. Bedtime, to Ellie, is for talking. And being picked up. And talking. And having Drew shake her duck rattle in front of her face for 10 minutes non-stop. And talking. And eating her feet. And talking.

Ellie is, to put it mildly, an extrovert. We can play for hours (and we do) and I’ll be exhausted long before she is. Getting her down for a nap during the day is a 10-step process that at her most difficult includes her noise machine, swaddling, her swing, AND a pacifier after a massive feeding. She’s known to wake up at 4 am and just babble. She gets mad at us when we leave the room for a minute because that means she has no one to talk to – she sits in her swing and grumbles. The advice of her doctor is that without sleep training, she will never learn to settle, and trying to train her as a toddler would be even more of a nightmare, so here we are.

It has not been my favourite thing ever. Listening to her cry and not going to her immediately is counter intuitive, but it has been almost a week and she is starting to get that bedtime is bedtime, and she’s really none the worse for wear.

I have however, been hesitant to say that this is the case. It seems that cry-it-out has a really bad rap, and I really don’t want to feel like the worst mom ever. We are doing it with love though and making sure that she gets lots of reassurance during the day, and it seems to be really effective. I guess this is one of the issues with being a parent in the age of instant information – it’s also the era of instant judgment and instant doubt. Really, you just do the best you can to let them know they are loved and try and not screw them up. People would tell me that but I never really got how true it is.

At any rate, thanks for listening. 

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