Monday, November 26, 2012

rolling over, and just when I needed it

Guess who decided to roll over today?

Yes, even though she's been sitting unsupported for almost a month already, Nell hadn't rolled over until this morning

In a strange way, it came at a perfect time.  It's not that I wanted or needed Nell to roll over by a certain age, but as it happened, over the past few days I had been questioning my ability to be a good mom, second-guessing my parenting intuitions, and wondering if I was making all the wrong choices.

There was her pediatrician telling me last week that I ought to have introduced solid foods by now.

{I haven't.}

There were the friends and acquaintances whose six-month-old is being 'sleep trained,' whose five-month-old is being left to 'cry it out,' whose two-month-old sleeps through the night in her crib already.

{Nell sleeps with us, we don't leave her to cry herself to sleep, and she most certainly does not sleep through the night.}

And don't even get me started on all the moms who seem to manage to keep perfectly tidy and well-decorated homes, all while their babies nap on predictable schedules and, of course, you guessed it -- sleep through the night.

I have a happy baby, and Nathan and I are happy, and we generally feel that what we're doing seems to be working for us.

Lest you think that I'm writing any of this from some perfect ivory tower, while I did say that I have a happy baby, I do not have a baby I plunk into a crib who yawns and promptly falls asleep.  I have a baby who is sometimes content, when swaddled, to fall asleep by herself for daytime naps.  A baby who sometimes needs to be nursed to sleep.  A baby who wakes anywhere from 2-5 times a night to nurse (usually twice) or just needing to be re-settled.  (To be honest, I don't keep track, and I usually can't remember in the morning how many times she woke up.  And I don't want to.  It's probably better for my sanity that I don't know.)  Today this baby has not napped all day unless I was with her.  She has a stuffy nose and has been crying all day, the poor little girl, and is currently refusing to sleep at 10:00 pm, after attempted bedtime at 7:00, fussing and crying, finally a brief success at 9:00, and oh...  just kidding, Mom!  Awake again by 9:45.

But like I said, happy baby and happy parents.  Things are overall good.

Still, there are those moments of self-doubt, you know?

And while I knew all along that Nell's 'delayed' rolling over was probably due to her general contentedness, or maybe even her being such a chubby baby, or maybe, as my sister pointed out, due to her big cloth-diapered bottom, I was glad she decided to start rolling today.  There was something about her rolling over that just made me feel like it's all going to be okay.  She rolled over on her own timetable, just as I knew she would.  Perhaps I am not the world's worst mother, after all.

I was glad it happened this morning, and that she and I were just hanging out at home, and that I was there to see her roll over for the first time.  I cheered, and flipped her back to her stomach, and she did it again.  And again.  And a fourth time!  

She was oh-so-pleased with herself about it each time.

Aside from the fact that Nell's rolling abilities have (quite irrationally, I know) helped me stop feeling like the most incompetent parent in the world, I've also been doing some reading when I could lately.  I'm all for intuitive-type parenting, but it's nice to have some facts to back up what you feel right about doing for your family.

Here are a few things I've read recently that I more or less liked.  I like some of these more than others, but all of them have something to say that I think is worth reading.

"Our babies believe that we will be there for them unconditionally, so when we refuse to parent them in the same way at night as we do in the daytime – answering their cries, cuddling when they are sad, feeding them when they are hungry – they become confused. I refuse to risk breaking that sacred bond of trust that is formed at birth."

This whole post is just great.  If parenting is of interest to you, and you're not necessarily doing the mainstream thing, you will appreciate this post.

2) Harvard study decries the 'Cry It Out' method: Children Need Touching and Attention, Harvard Researchers Say

"[Commons and Miller] say that American childrearing practices are influenced by fears that children will grow up dependent. But they say that parents are on the wrong track: physical contact and reassurance will make children more secure and better able to form adult relationships when they finally head out on their own."

"You can teach good sleep habits and associations, but you can't force your baby (or yourself) to sleep. You can train your baby not to call for you in the middle of the night, and that might mean you get more sleep, but that does not necessarily mean that your baby will be getting more sleep. He or she might just not bother trying to get your help."

4) A friend posted this on facebook: The Key to Whole Baby Nourishment, and this bit jumped out at me:

"For one thing, don’t we want to teach our children to associate close physical contact with emotional intimacy?"
I've been ruminating on that one lately.  Quite the impetus to put down whatever else I'm doing while I'm nursing and just connect with my baby.  Even something good, like a book, can wait for later sometimes.  And certainly checking my email on my iPhone can wait.  I'll give those chubby legs a gentle squeeze, or offer a finger to that little grasping hand instead.

I'm aware that this blog has been woefully neglected of late.

The blog isn't the only thing, either.  The house is a mess, for example, and I'm behind on my bookkeeping for my work.

You know that little 'Babies Don't Keep' poem?



  1. Grr lost part of my comment again when I had to split it and I'm too tired to recreate it all. I agreed to try Jon's approach of laying her down and giving her a few minutes of struggle before intervening. Amazingly, it's made a huge difference for us. Instead of 5 hours, it takes at most 10 minutes and 85% of nights it doesn't involve any crying. Yes, we still struggle some nights/naps but now I have a happy and well rested baby. It's shocking to me how much happier she is during the day. With Jefferson we never fussed over nap and sleep schedules because they just magically happened. With Edith, we watch her like a hawk for the most minute of drowsy signs and pop her into bed ASAP or she melts down. She sleeps next to my half of the bed (again different from Jefferson) and now when she wakes up in the middle of the night to nurse, I can lay her back down and she goes back to sleep without a PEEP. Before, Jon and I had to take shifts rocking and bouncing and "soothing" her to no avail.

    She doesn't sleep 12 hours straight like her brother did, and I don't expect that of her. She's doing just great in her own way! A certain lovely mother you know by the name of Mrs. Wells told me that she reminds herself she is giving her children the *gift* of rest. Sometimes that involves struggle. I see the fruits of that gift when she spends her days smiling instead of crying. I just said to my mom yesterday that I have struggled with this so much because it's not what we did with Jefferson. She looked at me and said, "You didn't have a second Jefferson. You had an Edith. She needs what she needs, not what he needed." I know that may sound simple and silly to you, but it was such a lightbulb moment for me.

    Anyway, I didn't mean to leave such a long comment. I just wanted to let you know, from a mother who has also been struggling with self-doubt, that you are doing GREAT! Keep trying and praying and listening to your mommy gut.

    "If there were only one way to raise godly children, God would have told us what it is. Since he hasn’t, Christian parents must work out this area of life, like all others, with prayer and trembling (cf. Phil. 2:12)." - Dr. Philip Ryken, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia

    1. We watch Nell for the first yawn or eye rub, and try to act on it immediately before she gets over-tired. Of course then sometimes that leaves me confused if she's yawning ten minutes after waking - is she yawning as she's just recently been asleep, or yawning because she didn't sleep long enough and I should have tried to re-settle her instead of getting her up? This parenting thing can be confusing. :-/

      I love your mom's comment... sounds exactly like something my mom would say! And it's so true.

      We are fortunate that Nell is, in general, a great sleeper and a happy, contented baby. I just hope that I can facilitate her happiness and create an environment for her to be well-rested and feeling her best.

      Thanks for your great comments, Ruth Ann!

  2. Not judgmental at all! I just had to reply because this sleep thing has been such a topic in our house these days. We don't have anywhere else for Edith other than in our room and it's working for us this go round! I wasn't able to nurse Jefferson so it wasn't as much of an issue for him to be in his own room. I wouldn't want to traipse up and down the stairs either and Edith would have to be sleeping in the family room if she weren't in our room.

    Tonight was definitely a nursing/rocking makes it worse night so I kissed her and prayed with her and laid her down. I have to continually remind myself that it's selfish sometimes for me to rock her.

    YES! I have been enjoying Janet Lansbury's blog and some other sites on RIE. I need to head over to the library and see what I can find there.

  3. Sleepless in America is another great book - I wish I had read it earlier in my parenting journey. And, just for some perspective, I highly recommend Bringing Up Bebe, first because it is hysterical, and second because I think we American moms are so obsessed with our kids these days (and I am one of them) that is helpful and healthy to see how perfectly fine kids can turn out under different parenting methods. I'd add my two cents on "sleep training" but I think it's all already been said. My kids are 5 and 2 now and fantastic sleepers, but they weren't always. I never really set out to "sleep train" them but a little gentle, loving guidance can go along way - as it does in all areas of parenting! But, no matter what you do, she'll get there eventually, just like with the rolling over :) There, see, I couldn't help myself and gave my two cents anyway! Love your post!