Thursday, January 5, 2012

Obsessed with a Silent Night

Well, this was intended to be my December post but somehow December escaped me without posting. Oops! So, this is what I was reflecting on throughout the holidays. Also, know that I have a sick, just-turned six month old as I write this and that he is my third so I am living it...really.
So, how many of you have felt or experienced the "your baby should be sleepin" stare? Picture it - three or four moms all talking about their daily grind of infant feedings, blowout diapers, dogs barking during naps, totally forgetting that our children have been prayed for and are gifts from the Lord, and then it happens...the quiet moment when it surfaces...there's a baby in the crowd that doesn't sleep through the night. The other moms put on their "experienced" hats and scramble to advise this mom who obviously has a lot to learn about mothering. After all isn't this the new gold standard of parenting? By the way, I must add I have totally been on both sides of this moment and forgetting what a gift my children are in both instances and daily. Just so you know I'm not "hating" on anybody. There. Right there with ya.
I wish I could have understood the physiology of how babies eat and sleep in the onset of my mom journey. My first was a piece of cake and I thought I had it all figured out when she slept through the night pretty easily and early on. Then came #2 and I have been humbled ever since - ha! She had no interest in sleeping while hungry and kept me on the midnight run for months. I was so frustrated because I had the expectation that this one would sleep as well - after all that is what I had learned to be "normal." And we do NOT know what "normal" really means for newborms anymore!! Our commercial comforts have helped us manipulate babies into certain patterns that create a sense of control that we are desperate for. Babies are not sleep terrorists just waiting to for you to fall into a deep sleep just to be awakened by their ill-timed desire to eat. We mess it up! We don't know what is "normal" anymore and place unfair expectations on babies that leave us feeling inadequate, exhausted, victimized, and basically no longer living like we are taking care of a literal gift/reward from the Lord.
I realize that some of you may be huge on scheduling feeds and sleep schedules, etc...If you are successful at it it is probably because you have a very good milk supply but please be weary of advising friends of your habits. Severe scheduling, expecially in the early weeks, can really kill a milk supply. Term, healthy babies if given the chance - meaning Mom keeps baby close by and does lots of skin to skin care in the beginning - will eat! They really do want to. I could talk for hours about that but maybe will expound later. Huge on a good hospital experience, obviously. =) Kind of what I do! ha!
I guess I need to wrap up where I am going with this and think I can do so easily -- we should chill out!!! Most of us make enough milk, most babies eventually can figure out how to latch, most breastfeeding problems will work their way out in time. Here's the icky part - breastfeeding conversations almost always bring out drama. Kind of the same concept of cheerleading Moms, sorry, had to - not all and just plain funny. More icky - we start to see that our control sometimes just gets in the way of our own physiology, including our milk supply needs as well as babies' nutritional needs. More icky - it may actually just be an obsession?
Here are the basic steps to having a baby these days (with like 100 ommitted):
Step 1:desire/want pray for baby, step 2: find out gonna have baby, step 3: how will I feed baby? step 4: baby prep, step 5:frantic search for all books and persons that will help get you back to a "silent night" of sleep. Guess what? You really do not have to have 8 hours of sleep every night for your whole life. We can actually function quite well if we sleep when the baby sleeps and quit trying to make the baby sleep when we want to sleep. Really? Why does this even seem logical? We expect a helpless human who can barely communicate to live up to a standard? Given there are also many homes where somebody has got to just put their foot down and teach kids self-independence in falling asleep (hence the need for Supernanny - ha!) but this is hardly a good idea for newborns and young infants. There is actually research out there looking at the increased stress hormones (cortisol) in babies if they are left to "cry it out" and how it may affect them and also Mom in bonding (see link to article below). We bond through self-sacrifice. For those of you out there with a Christ-centered parenting style I am talking about really dying to self, daily. Well, we all love our children and are trying our best. Let's keep in mind we have other goals for our children than sleep. I pray His grace to be lavished upon us as we grow in our parenting roles. Let's not be obsessed with a silent night now so that when they drive off and are independent one day we would have learned how to sleep sweetly knowing we have loved them well.
If you have thoughts or resources please share!