On Mothering: Part Two

Soaking Cold! As my son would say.

Soaking Cold! As my son would say.

If you missed Part One, you can find it here.

Several months have gone by since I wrote that post. Even after I wrote with such resolution, I still went through huge concerns regarding how I should be doing bed time, nursing and other infancy stage questions. I wanted to share with you some specific things that have come up and how things are turning to be just fine – of course!

The first thing you need to know is that I’m pregnant for the fourth time! This was the root of many of my insecurities. My daughter has pretty much always nursed to sleep. I tried to nurse until I knew she’d be full and then lay her down drowsy. After six or seven times at 3 in the morning, I realized that I was about to become dangerously frustrated with my newborn and I brought her to bed with me.

All along, she could not self-soothe within any reasonable amount of time. I continued to try as she got older, even zonked out she would some times wake up and not go to sleep unless she nursed. I know there are probably some moms (or at least I imagine you’re out there) saying that I just didn’t have the tenacity; she needed to learn to soothe herself and I didn’t give her the chance. Let me help you understand this. It’s the same in the car. If she was tired she would cry scream like she was dying. Sometimes I would stop, but other times we just couldn’t. Knowing that she was fed and changed we would just keep driving. This baby (who fusses for about 3 seconds and goes straight to screaming bloody murder) has screamed for almost an hour and a half. Usually even then she didn’t fall asleep, but when she did she would still be gasping for air as if she was till crying. You know, those quick inhales like she’s sobbing. Talk about heart breaking, not to mention making this very spontaneous, adventurous momma never want to take another road trip again!

I began to wonder if she was ever going to go to sleep without nursing. How was I going to move her from a sidecar-crib to a floor bed of her own. I didn’t mind the idea of tandem nursing, especially for the health benefits. But I did not want her to be so dependent on me with our next blessing comes. Even when I had six months time, I was concerned as to whether everything would work out. I was already a little stressed about the chaos that would be if I didn’t “fix” this.

Our family took a little trip for my husband to take a class at a nearby college (I live in a big state, so nearby is often several hundred miles.) I had the privilege of spending time with a mother whom I respect, possibly more than any other young mom I know. She was complementing me on how “chill” I was with my firstborn. I admitted that I was just to young to know about all the parenting methods and cultural expectations and I just did was I thought was right. Pair that with a super-easy going baby and what’s not to be chill about?! By the time my daughter came around I was aware that there are certain “ways” and she was one of those “high-needs” (oh, how I hate these labels) babies. I admitted to my friend that there were so many things I said I would not do that I caved and did, just because it was what worked. She didn’t know this, but as I used the example of bringing my baby to bed with me, it killed me to admit it to her. She has so much resolve and seems so comfortable in the way her and her husband have chosen to do things. While I know she doesn’t have it all together, I still feared what she thought of me in a number of ways. Even the idea that she may read this and find out that my daughter’s crib is right next to my bed gives me some butterflies in my tummy!

As usual, fear of man led me to stress quite a bit about it all again. My daughter got sick after that trip and so of course then she was waking up several times a night (by that I mean a good six times or more) and nursing. It all seemed kind of hopeless. “If I was only more like her (out of town mommy-buddy), I wouldn’t be in this mess.” I kept telling myself I had done something wrong along the way.

To make a long story shorter, here’s what happened next. My husband and I knew it was time for us to make an adjustment. I tried to ignore how my super-mom friends do things and ask myself what I believe about Biblical parenting. Find the extended version here, but basically I am for healthy independence but I’m all about helping my children make the adjustments at their own pace. Yes, I could sing my son a song and lay him down at one month old and he would sleep all night long. With my daughter, it’s been very different. One day, during my much-needed alone time she got tired early. My husband walked with her until she was pretty much asleep then laid her in the crib and rubbed her back while she fussed herself to sleep. He did this nap and night time for several days and then I took a stab at it. Sometimes with me she still wants to nurse and it takes longer/more fussing than it would for my husband. She has gotten better and better at self-soothing. Very soon we’ll be able to lay her down and leave her with just as little trouble. After our trip I said I would let her cry it out if that’s what she needed to learn, but that it was only fair to try and help her learn. It’s so encouraging to see how far we’ve come!

In the last post I mentioned pleasing the Lord and not being lazy. If I had only followed my own advice. I just need to show my children Christ-like qualities: patience AND discipline, kindness AND healthy boundaries. This Psalm has been so many things in recent months so I’ll share it in closing with you today:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
 In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.

 Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.

Psalm 127

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