Monday, November 24, 2008

Roll with it.

I'm horribly frustrated by all of the conflicting information out there about raising babies. FOR EXAMPLE:

Books and doctors tell you that you can't spoil a baby by soothing them, holding them, feeding them on demand. We picked her up at almost every cry. We put her to sleep by feeding her. We rocked her. We learned her signs and her schedule. Despite what books (and other doctors) said, we co-slept when the doctor recommended it to raise my milk production. And it all worked.

Fast forward six months. Harper is going through a needy stage. If you are out of her sight, she fusses until you come back. She's becoming aware of us and what we can give her. Yes, she has moments of self-entertaining, but overall, she's just needier. When her demands are being met, she's such a happy little girl. When her demands are "ignored" (it's hard to ignore a baby with the lung capacity of an entire cheerleading squad), she escalates until you can't think straight. So, one book would tell you that you need to let her fuss. Another book will tell you that she's in a needy phase and you need to comfort her.

Harper WAS a little girl who went to sleep easily. I held her, fed her a bottle, waited until she was drowsy, and put her in her crib. She'd roll over on her side and go to sleep. Now Harper is a little girl who goes to sleep, wakes up fussing five minutes later, goes to sleep (with major soothing), wakes up five minutes later...fuss, sleep. You get the idea. And that's just nighttime. Naps are a whole other dance with an unlearnable number of steps. The books say to just put her to bed drowsy and walk away. Unless you can walk to the next state over, that method is crap. She can easily (easily) cry for an hour and show little signs of giving in to sleep.

Babies change every week, so it doesn't seem like there's one piece of advice that can stand from week to week. Every time there's a shift in her needs, I refer to the books to see if they can be of any help and I walk away more confused/irritated/frustrated than ever.

I think I'm swearing off of baby books. If I screw her up using just my intuition as a guide, then so be it. I just can't take one more contradiction.

As a side note, Harper's new love of exploration leads her to forcibly grab whatever piece of flesh is closest to her little grabby hands - your lip, chin, cheek, eye, nose, ear, neck. Note to self: You can't cut baby's fingernails too often. Note to birthing class teacher: You can't use one of those teeny files to buff down a baby's fingernails. They just don't hold still long enough for you to sand away those ten little sharpies. (Remembering the horrified look of angst on birthing class teacher's face while talking about those baby fingernail clippers, those terrible torture devices. Grow up, lady.) Thankfully, Harper is learning not to use her little tools on herself quite as often. I see her rubbing her eyes and ears with the backs of her fingers instead of trying to claw them out/off.

Ok, it's time for Harper's morning nap. I'm going to find a way to just enjoy this time with her and let it be a relaxing time for both of us instead of such a struggle. If I ruin her, well, I'm sure some book will want to tell me how I messed her up and how to "fix" her.


Momma Mary said...

Shelly I feel for you!!! Hang in there...I am in the same boat about the books. Thanks for making me smilw when I read your post.

Desmond said...

I feel your pain. Since baby raising is not an exact science, doctors and authors can only give their expert opinion. So take the books for their advise and then continue on the path you have decided to go on, which is a good one. Use your motherly instincts and intuition and totally enjoy your time with Harper.


FarStarr said...

Hang in there! We did the "let her cry to get herself to sleep" thing. It was literally 1 week of Hell, but then it was over. Now, at 15, she still puts herself to bed every night!! Here it is, 9:00pm on a weekend, and she's on her way in to bed. Bedtime is still 8:00pm on school nights...and we have NO problems. Enforce bedtime early and it might prevent issues later..:) Good Luck..she's a cutie!