Of course, I knew and was prepared for the Mommy Wars. I was locked, loaded, and prepared.
And then I become a participant in the war. Not a fighter, not the one defending her reason for formula, babywearing, disposable diapers, store bought instead of home made. No, I was the one judging others. Telling them what they should be doing. (Although in my defense I always thought I was being helpful, until I realized I wasn’t. I was being judgy)
A very innocent group text led me to this post. My best friend is having a difficult time right now, her baby is very fussy, and is up all night. She needed some advice. Maybe she’s teething? Maybe it’s a growth spurt? It could be a multitude of things. Other friends chimed in with similar comments. It was a very encouraging, helpful, conversation. Except for one, teeny, tiny, minuscule, microscopic point.
I said “my other mom friends would say give her the boob.” Because they would! Heck, at this point so would I! Whatever it takes to survive, amiright?
And one of my friends said, “I disagree, she’s old enough to sleep through the night you should start sleep training her”.
It was meant well. It really was. In fact it was preceded by I agree with all of Melissa’s advice except that. It was almost a passing comment not to take note of. And I noticed it because I have DEFINITELY said it to my friends with babies the same age. Back when my baby was the best sleeper on the planet, back when I said things like “If I can have a good baby, anyone can have a good baby” (insert hair toss, and eye roll). Let’s face it, if you aren’t doing it EXACTLY like I am, your baby is going to grow up with issues.
Then Friday happened. Anna woke up at 2:30 screaming. And DID.NOT.STOP. until 7:30 am. Unless she had a boob in her mouth. Babywise sleep training (which we are HUGE fans of), would have said just listen to her cry, let her cry it out. But, sometimes, your baby does not need to cry it out. Sometimes, your kid is in pain (teeth), sick (fever), or scared (sleeping in a different room) sidenote: everything in parentheses is what was going on in our house Friday night.
Hence, these are all exceptions to the rule.
it dawned on me. Yes, it worked for me, and yes, it worked for many other people. But you know why it worked for me?
- Because Anna was my only kid, so it was easy to put all our attention on her.
- Because we have a queen size bed in her room, so on nights when she was fussy and I was trying to drop the night time feeding, I could sleep in there.
- Because I have an EASY kid.
- Because I had the ability to put all my attention on her.
A friend told me last week that 90% of people lie about their kids sleep habits. I am one of those 90%. I BRAGGED, I mean, BRAGGED, about my kids ability to sleep through the night since April.
But consistently, I failed to mention that at least 2-3 times a week she would wake up screaming, I would nurse her, I would bedshare, and we would go about our life. And I would try to be sympathetic towards my other friends, and I would say have you done this Babywise trick? or this 12 hours of sleep by 12 weeks trick? Or anything else I had read, completely ignoring the fact that I was not following my own rules.
So here I am first and foremost proclaiming, mom’s and soon to be mom’s: Do what you have to do to survive. Do not pay attention to what books say. Do not pay attention to what people say your kid should be doing. Do what you have to do to survive. The most important thing for your baby is a happy, rested, and unstressed mom.
Secondly, I admit, I attachment parent. Not excessively, but mildly. If she’s really fussy, I nurse her. If she wakes up in the middle of the night and needs to go back to sleep, I nurse her. If it’s 3:00 am and she wakes up, I crawl into bed and sleep with her. If it’s Saturday and she needs to take a nap and won’t sleep, I’ll bedshare so we both get a nap.
No one is perfect. If we have bad habits, we have bad habits. At the end of the day though, we are both healthy. We are both rested. And we are both very, very, very, happy.
So mom’s, myself included, before we jump to giving advice. Let’s look at everything that could be the issue. For my friends baby, maybe it isn’t just that she can’t sleep through the night. Maybe her tooth hurts, and maybe she just wants mommy to hold her. Maybe she wakes up scared in her room. There are ways to figure it all out. And I am totally open to giving advice, but I want to make sure I’ve uncovered all the possibilities before I jump to say something like “your baby is old enough that it should be doing x, y, and z”.
The best piece of advice I’ve been given during this whole mom business has been “survival.” You have to do what you have to do to survive. If that means nursing your child to sleep, you do it. If that means bed sharing, so everyone in the family can get some rest, you do it. It is your baby. You do what is best for your family. Not what some book says, Not what some friend of a friend says. But what works for your family.