Tuesday, December 13, 2011

love/trust


There are no words to express to someone who has no children how difficult being a parent is.  Had someone told me I would be this confused and lost I would have laughed and said, surely it's not that hard.  Um, yes, it is.  Some nights, and the past couple have been like this, when 9:00 rolls around and Bennett is still wide awake I want to - and sometimes do - cry from frustration.

Last night J swooped in and rocked him while I showered and took a few deep breaths.  I told J I feel like I'm lacking in some way, but he said that is why there are two parents, so someone else is around to relieve the pressure sometimes.  Shouldn't I, as a mother, be able to put my baby to sleep without losing my mind?  Why doesn't motherhood come with infinite patience?

I have all of these ideas of what Bennett should be doing, which means I get frustrated when he does things a different way.  I've always been like this, unable to handle deviation with grace or calm.  Apparently everything bad and good about a personality comes along when the transition from person to mother occurs.  Who knew?

Last night Bennett finally settled down and went to sleep only to wake after a couple hours.  He was fussy from vaccines and a congested nose - we have got to get the congested nose under control somehow, it has ruled our lives most of his short life - and I pulled him in bed with me even though I've been trying to do less of that.  And you know what he did?  He snuggled in, quieted down, lifted his hand, which was curled into a fist of course, and gently rubbed my face until he drifted off, which took all of five minutes.

As I lay next to him waiting for sleep to come for me I thought about how determined I am to do things right, even though it's anyone's guess what that means.  Time and again in the three short months he's been here I've circled the idea of letting go, doing my best, following instinct instead of books or articles, but I always drift from that ideal over to self-doubt and once I land there I have a hard time shifting back over to listening to my instincts.

Am I the only one who really, really struggles with this?  Am I the only one who has to resolve to do better, to ignore the books, to look at him and see he is happy, well rested, calm, and secure, and let that be my guide?

How can I get frustrated with him for waking up and needing me in the middle of the night?  He instantly settles when I let him sleep next to me, so why not let it happen, and ignore the voice in my head that says, he will never sleep alone, he will struggle with sleep for the rest of his life.

He was with me for thirty-nine weeks straight.  He has been outside the womb for a mere three months, of course he needs me, wants me, settles down best when he is next to me.  Why do we live in a culture that discourages this?

This may be the only time I get to experience babyhood with a child that is mine - though my heart hurts at that thought - so why not let go, do what is best for him, ensure he feels safe, loved, secure?  I am his starting point, his beginning, and I want him to know he can always find safe harbor where he began.

18 comments:

  1. YES, YES, YES!!! Trust your momma bear instincts Angela. Enjoy your little boy as long as you can. You are his mother and everything you are feeling is how a mom is suppose to feel when taking care of her newborn infant. Even though I have never mothered a live child, I can tell you that everything you wrote in your last 2 paragraphs lets me know that you are on the right track for what you and your baby need in the ways of nurturing and parenting. Keep it up my friend, you know what you are doing!!!!!
    Love to you during this holiday season <3

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  2. I think every mother goes through this. My daughter is three and there are still times i wonder if I'm doing things 'right'. She too slept best with me, and still does; but that doesn't mean she always sleeps with me. (does that make sense?) When she is tired but not wanting to lie down all i need to do is cuddle her in a chair and she's out in 5 minutes.
    If it makes you feel better, he WILL sleep on his own, in his own space when he is ready. But he will always come back to you when he needs you. Enjoy the time with your little man. It really does go oh so quickly.

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  3. Time will certainly help you trust your instincts. As for sleeping with you, how many adults do you know that still sleep with their parents? My 11 month old sleeps with me and while I feel like he is never going to sleep in his own bed I know that it will not last forever and I am grateful for the bonding we are doing now. Enjoy this time with Bennett because one day he will be going to bed alone or be to "old" to cuddle like he does now.

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  4. Bollocks to anyone who says he'll never sleep on his own. He will. (if he doesn't i'll have the same problem with J so at least we won't be alone!!) La Leche League is all for bedsharing and i reckon they know what they're talking about. Oh speaking of which is there an LLL group near you? Mine is fab realyy helps me trust my instincts. He will only be a baby for such a short time. I think we have to appreciate while we can. You are doing so well. (and i keep writing a very similar post in my head, i just never get round to typing it up. And J rarely sleeps before 10pm if that makes you feel better, and after sleeping well for the first few months now wakes regularly through the night. I'm so exhausted.)

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  5. I would guess it's like this for everyone! Even with my kids now, sometimes the interruptions for questions that are sweet & sincere make me upset... then I realize how great it is that they desire to come to me and want me & I realize how selfish I am. But it's a TOUGH job to be needed so much. It's also wonderful to be wanted so much and it's incredible that God provides what we need to survive even when we are needed so much... make sense? Hope so. I was reminded of this today - to just slow down, take what comes & assume that my plans for what needed to get done were different than what God thought needed to get done.

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  6. You are not alone, I think every great parent struggles with exactly this. I used to be so against co-sleeping, but once I got that baby home and we settled into our routine co-sleeping just came naturally. When I really thought about it, it IS natural so I didn't kick myself too much over it. Now at almost a year and a half he has absolutely no problems sleeping in his crib throughout the night and has done so from around a year on, when he weaned himself.

    And honestly now that he is in his crib I miss sleeping with him, cuddling with him, watching his little lips twitch while he snoozes. There are times I wish he could sleep with me still.

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  7. I once heard someone in a TV show tell her adult daughter, "No one knows what's best for your baby more than you." Just because all the books say you shouldn't encourage that, every baby is different and has different needs. Of course at some point Bennett will need to learn to sleep on his own, but I don't believe he should have to learn to sleep all by himself at only 3 months. If you are both more comfortable near each other for the time being, then be near each other, I say. :)

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  8. If it helps, Aeryn was the same way and we gave in and let her sleep with us. Now, at 15 months old, she lays down "sleepy but awake" in her own crib, chatters herself to sleep, and sleeps all night, waking up with a stream of chatters around 8 or 9 in the morning.
    Your Mommy Instinct is strong. Follow it. Trust it. Not one single author of one single parenting book on the shelf knows YOUR baby like you do.

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  9. Wow, Angela, thank you for writing this, so honestly and candidly...

    Every single word you've written, I could write myself. I cling to the idea of "shoulds" - Owen "should" be doing this, I "should" be doing that...it's so much of why I've been a basket case for these short 12 weeks of his life!! I turn to books, the internet, the "experts" to tell me how I should be mothering this little boy. I have so much difficulty with the chaos that is inherent in raising a newborn!

    I think parenting after loss is especially difficult because, at least for me, I no longer truly trust my mommy instinct; I tell myself that if my mommy instinct was indeed strong, then why couldn't it have saved Otis? Slowly, surely, I am learning to be more gentle with myself and indeed trust my ability to know what's best and what's right for my baby...but it's an every day, every moment challenge.

    Sending you lots of love and thinking of you and your family.
    sarah

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  10. How do you manage to do this, every time you post? This was me, absolutely. I say was, as I have let so much of this go with Juliet here. I do follow my instincts much more and I can safely say I have not picked up a book or googled a single thing this time around. But back then, when it was just Angus - my god you've just nailed it. And Sarah's comment as well - that really summed it up for me also.
    You're doing a brilliant job and as Bennett grows, so will your confidence. Keep following your heart.
    xo

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  11. I had periods where I broke down with both of my kids. Even with the second one I had lots of moments of self doubt. But really, you do what you mentioned in the post. You look at them, see that they are happy and growing, and know that you did that.

    There are all sorts of parenting books out there, and, while you don't need one, I am sure that there is one out there that works for you. You may fit more with Dr. Sears books on attachment parenting. Me, I took bits and pieces from different books. And I found out that even though I am the same mother, the same parenting style doesn't work for both of my kids. My daughter is more independent, and my son is a little snugglepus who definitely needs a lot more from me.

    And it is ok to get frustrated when they need you during the night. It doesn't mean that you don't love them, or dont' want to be there for them. It just means that you are human and tired and just want to get back into your own bed. In the end Bennett will develop into a wonderful strong caring person. And you get to see it with your own eyes. I know that he will because just from your writing I can see that you have it in you, and that you will model it for him, and that is really all he needs.

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  12. Constantly congested nose is a red flag for reflux. Is he fussy when he eats, or if you lay him down right after eating, or even constantly "snacking" at the breast?

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  13. I don't think it's reflux. He is a good nurser, he doesn't snack. I feed him when he is hungry, but I don't let him snack because I want him to get full feedings with fore and hind milk. He doesn't spit up very often either, or fuss when nursing, or after.

    J works in a hospital, though he doesn't work for the hospital, and I think both of Bennett's colds have come from there. Unfortunately the snotty nose lasts long after the cold has gone.

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  14. I have decided that you can read every parenting book out there and still doubt your skills as a parent. And doubt will probably be present in every single stage of your kiddo's life. From one believer to another, always remember this: His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Never has this truth meant more to me than it has now that I'm a mother. I will screw up when it comes to babying my kiddo versus helping him gain independence. I will screw up when it comes to discipline. I will screw up when it comes to patience. But thats okay, because only God is the perfect parent. You're doing great, momma!

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  15. Amen sister! I am with you 100%!

    Back in Oct, after seeing my therapist and talking with her about Allie's frequent night wakings, she suggested I stop reading books and go with my gut. I whole-heartedly agreed, and then proceeded to read some more books. Ha! Right now I am again working hard on letting go. Somehow it seems letting go shouldn't be so much work, but I guess it is for me. Oh well... let that one go! :)

    As for Allie's sleep - the past 3 nights we have snuggled close in bed (I think some body part of hers is always touching me, and a fair amount of the night she is pressed up against me - and she's slept better! (This means she has slept 2 1/2 hour stretches instead of 1 or less). But I think she loves it. And really, I do too (mostly).

    I too am so saddened that we live in a culture that doesn't value the mother-baby bond, and the intricate needs of babies. IF you want another book to read - one I found interesting is called "Our Babies, Ourselves" - I forget, but I think it's written by an anthropologist who compares things like sleep, breastfeeding and parenting across a few different cultures.

    You are doing this right - what's right for you and Bennett is all that matters. And speaking from my experience, I know it can be hard to let that be. Hang in there!

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  16. Oh yeah - and in regards to learning to sleep on his own - a funny comment I've heard regarding that issue when people ask a co-sleeping parent how long they're going to let their child sleep with them - someone remarked - well, if they get into the local college, I guess they can still keep sleeping with us. :) Granted, I'm biased because I've chosen to have Allie sleep with me, but I trust she will one day sleep on her own. And as my dad asked me recently - wouldn't she feel more safe and secure in her own bed, and sleep better there... well, as a "grown" woman I much prefer to sleep with my husband than by myself, so why would I expect a baby to want to sleep alone? That said, I know some babies do better in a crib on their own than with their parents - to each their own. Sorry - I could go on and on about this as I am passionate about it. :)

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  17. I am right there with you, we've been surprised at how much more difficult parenting is then we expected it to be and are SO thankful we have each other to lean on, it would be so impossibly hard alone! And I completely understand the frustration with middle of the night wakings, Ian is still waking to feed every 3-4hrs at night...very difficult!
    We also co sleep and I too have the internal struggle due to societal pressures about whether this is best, but just like you this may be my only time to experience babyhood with a baby of my own and if it's what he so desperately craves I have to believe it's whats best for him. I've also had several friends who did the co sleeping thing and there kids are now sleeping on their own without any difficulties, those friends also commented that it was the only way they could get better sleep for them and baby while breastfeeding.
    Thanks for being so honest with this post, you are definitely not the only one experiencing these thoughts and feelings!

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  18. You are not alone! I have such a hard time trusting myself as a mom (and person in general) that I am getting therapy for it. It's hard to let go of the great myth that there is the "right" answer somewhere out there...somewhere outside yourself with someone that probably knows better than you. I'm calling B.S. on that internal voice :). The road to surrender is not an easy journey but your baby will drag you down it one way or another :). Love to you!

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thank you!

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