MothersI'm not exactly sure what to put on this page, but I want something to be here, so I'm going to share this testimony in case it might encourage some mothers. *hugs* ~ Jeri Carr, mom to four children ages 2-11 ;)
InfluencesAs a new mom I felt rather lost and amazingly overwhelmed when my first child made her loud appearance. I too often found myself influenced by other mothers and by so-called "experts." I think it was partly because I was an only child and didn't have that much experience with children. I had done some babysitting (thank goodness), but not a whole lot. I wanted so much, though, to do the right things for my baby, and I talked to my mom and other mothers, read books, and seached and searched.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, a former pastor and his wife, whom I admired very much (they took the Prep class from the Ezzos themselves, by the way), loaned me their Preparation for Parenting manual and tapes. They gave them to me during a Christian conference my husband and I were attending, and while I carried them with me another mother saw them and commented with enthusiasm about how much she enjoyed Prep for Parenting. I thought, wow, it must be really good!
I put off listening to the tapes and reading the manual, and I ended up only listening to a short portion of a tape in the days before my baby's birth (there have to be some positives about being a procrastinator, right?!), so they didn't really influence me the first couple of months. My mom, however, had given me an easy-to-read book about babycare that was more "balanced" and supportive of things like the family bed, if you wanted to do that, and it encouraged cue-feeding. Also, the lactation consultants at our hospital encouraged those things.
After struggling the first week trying to figure out how, the first two months I fed mostly on-cue and often -- very often. And after wondering how in the world to get enough sleep while still nursing my baby at night as much as she needed, we began sleeping together in the family bed. At the two month visit to the doctor, the doctor told me my baby was doing well and to keep up whaytever I had been doing. Regretfully, other influnces seeped -- or flooded? -- in, and I did not keep it up.
Since I felt I should at least read the Prep for Parenting manual that went with the tapes before giving it back to our pastor and his wife, at around that time I finally read through much of it (I can't remember if I finished it completely -- that was about nine years ago), and jotted down a little list of things I had learned from it. I also read Dr. Spock's book on babycare.
One idea I drew from both was the importance of a baby learning to sleep through the night in their own bed. Also, according to the Prep book "routine" was crucial, and Dr. Spock said that babies naturally start getting on their own schedule by around three months, and my daughter at 2 1/2 months hadn't the slightest resemblance of one yet, so I began to think that she might need a little help from me.
At around that time, a friend had a baby shower for me. My baby tended to be a fussy baby -- aka high needs -- and both nighttime and new situations tended to bring out more fussiness, so she was fussy that night.
I tried to nurse her in a private, quiet, and dark place to minimize distractions and to hopefully help her to be more calm and content. While I was in the quiet room trying to do that, a lady visited me to keep me company -- and to offer her services to help me get my baby on a schedule. She suggested that she could come to my house and after I nursed my baby, I could leave (so I wouldn't have to hear her cry), and she would stay with my baby while she cried, and then I could come back in a few hours and nurse her again. . . etc.
The help she offered clearly felt wrong, but hearing her words fed my insecurities as a new mom. The combination of her offer and reading what the Ezzos and Dr. Spock had written influenced me to choose to let my baby cry-it-out and to begin to put her on a schedule.
The night I chose to try and "teach" my daughter to sleep in her crib for a longer stretch of time at night was a night my husband was working the night shift. I remember lying in the room next to her bedroom reading Prep for Parenting and hearing her cry and cry and cry and cry. I don't remember for how long, but it was for over 45 minutes. I did not visit her during that time for fear that I would cause her to cry longer by doing so. :*(
It did "work," and she started sleeping through the night until around 4:30 am when her daddy left for work, and then I brought her into bed with me. I tried to let her cry-it-out for her naps, too, but she got too upset and praise God my mommy-heart would not let me do that, too.
I began trying to get her on a schedule. It was hard to do because at first she could barely go 1 1/2 hours between feeds, but I bounced her, danced with her, and sang to her to help her learn to go longer between feeds. By six months she was finally going three hours between feeds. I forgot to take into account growth spurts, though. We both felt stressed with my efforts to keep us on the schedule.
The start of a big change came when one night while exercising at the gym. When I went to the gym when our baby was little, my husband stayed home and watched her. While I enjoyed cardio exercise and weight training (I used to be in a lot better shape way back pre-baby than I am now. ;)) at the gym, usually my little baby was back home crying. She was held and cared for, but she missed her mommy.
That night before getting on the tread mill I grabbed a parenting magazine to read. I came across an article by Dr. William Sears where he talked about something I had never heard of before, something called attachment parenting. From then on a slow change in the way we parented our daughter began that would bless our lives, and the lives of many others, immeasurably.
I felt eager to learn more about attachment parenting, and when I got on the Internet when she was eight months old I entered the words "attachment parenting" into a search engine and a whole new world opened, and we began trodding in earnest down the attachment parenting road. I began nursing on cue, feeling good about sleeping with my baby, learning about gentle discipline, and I stopped worrying about holding my baby too much.
Those were just the tip of the iceberg of changes that took place. The biggest changes took place in my heart. I felt truly free for the first time. . . free to listen to my baby and meet her needs without reserve and free to listen to my heart and my God-given mothering intuition. :) It's a journey with bumps and sometimes potholes LOL, but we're try to keep our eyes on the goal and our focus on God and following His will, knowing that He will bless our efforts and knowing that His grace is sufficient through it all.