Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'm Annoyed and I Blog, so....(on the evils of sleep training)

   I just wanna throw this out into the universe, fully aware that what you say on the internet cannot be taken back. Ever, no never. (Two blogs in two days? I must be avoiding laundry....)

  I am annoyed. Really, super, incredibly annoyed. I am tired, so tired, of reading about how babies on sleep 'schedules' are being stressed out, taught not to trust, growing deep seated emotional issues, are forced to sleep when they aren't tired, aren't being fed when they are hungry, etc. etc. etc.
  First off, Exhibit A:


 I started sleep training my baby at 3 weeks old, when I could no longer function for lack of sleep and she still thought that day time was for sleeping and nighttime was for waking, she couldn't stay asleep for more than 30 minutes at a time, and we both were generally unhappy beings. The first few days of attempting to put her on a schedule, which meant she was eating every 3 hours like clockwork, and getting the doctor recommended amount of sleep, she cried. A lot. And then in a few days something magical happened....she slept during her naps. She slept for longer stretches at night. The "cluster feeding" stage was long past, and most babies at that age need to eat every 3 hours, which she did.
   I have never not fed my baby when she was hungry. The assertion that sleep-schedulers starve their children or don't follow their hunger cues simply demonstrates ignorance on the part of those asserting it. In all  my discussions on forums, reading websites, books, blogs, etc., I have never come across a single sleep-training mom who ever thought it was a good idea to not feed a hungry baby. 
    Secondly, the idea that babies who have been brutally subjected to the "cry it out" method are being emotionally scarred and will never be able to trust their parents or anyone, is--sorry--stupid. My child has no problem whatsoever trusting anyone. She smiles at strangers. She cuddles with strangers. She is not afraid of people, she likes them. She is obsessed with me, the mean tyrant that I am. She NEVER cries. The ONLY time she cries is when she is tired and she is not in her crib. Then she will cry. If she's tired and she's put in her crib, she does one of two things: rolls over silently and falls asleep OR rolls over, moans for a few minutes, and falls asleep. Nap time or bed time is never a crisis in our household....it's welcomed. It's comforting. There's no fear or mistrust on her part that she won't be taken care of when she wakes up. 
   Furthermore, and I owe this to the sleep training, her teething has not interuppted her life or sleep whatsoever. Occasionally she is fussier or clingier to me than normal (again, where is this "tear in trust" that sleep training her has created?) but other than that, she is sleeping 12 hours a night and sleeping through all of her naps during the day. As long as she is being held or she is in her crib, she feels safe and the pain of teething is forgotten. 
   The fact is, I know lots and lots of sleep scheduling moms with the most well-adjusted children I've ever met. The fact that every time I pick Clementine up from the nursery after church on Sunday, the workers tell me she is the best baby ever, they want to take her home, she's always well-behaved, let's me know that maybe those mean scheduling moms are on to something. 

  I know every child is different. I would allow that maybe there is a child out there somewhere who does not respond well to eating and sleeping at certain times of the day. Okay sure. But uh....don't all of us normally eat at similar times during the day? Go to sleep and wake up at similar times every day? Isn't that how our bodies work? Don't we get hungry if we don't eat at the normal time we eat? Don't we get tired if we go to bed later than usual, our bodies become weak, etc.etc.? I don't think following this common sense idea and helping our children learn how to sleep is such a horrible, psyche torturing thing to do. It has made my entire family's life easier. 

   Sleep schedulers don't believe that not comforting a crying baby is good. We don't believe that our wants should win out over theirs. We just believe that humans--including the baby humans--require a certain amount of food and sleep every day and we can provide the comfort of structure and consistency and knowing what to do when and that they will be provided for when they need. Scheduling has provided a security for Clementine, a surety and comfort that her day will be the same and she will never have to go hungry or tired. Consistency is one of the absolute best and most comforting things you can offer your children! 

   If you don't put your baby on a schedule, and you follow more of the "attachment" style parenting....that's great. If that's how you have chosen to provide for your child, and you both are happy and healthy beings, I am happy for you. Truly. Motherhood is hard enough without having to always feel like you're doing it 'wrong', right? Really, just because I know that for me sleep training = well-adjusted, easy baby doesn't mean that I think not sleep training = crazy, difficult baby. All babies are different. I wish that both sides of this issue could appreciate that and just support each other as we all attempt to navigate filling the sweetest title we've ever been given: Mom.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On Nursing in Public (& the lack of consensus)

   I've "liked" all these pages on facebook that have applauded my desire to nurse my baby. Because A) who doesn't like to be applauded? and B) nursing is a difficult, full-time job and those of us that choose it definitely need support. And sometimes an ear to listen to us. And sometimes just the reminder that we aren't the only ones fighting this battle.
   The problem is, a lot of the groups I listen to that are uber-supportive of breastfeeding are also uber-angry about the people that uber-aren't supportive of breastfeeding, and they are constantly reading and re-posting links to articles about moms who have won the battle to breastfeed wherever the heck they want! (In most states--if not all--it is legal to nurse in public anywhere, anytime, and you better not try to tell a nursing mom to go away because she will get really mad and write an article about it that will circulate on facebook and twitter!)
   Now look, I get it, I've nursed in public. As a mom, when your baby is hungry, you feel this pull stronger than the earth's magneticism to feed your baby, and it definitely overpowers any sense of "modesty" or "timing." But I find it ironic that the people who are so upset about the groups that are offended by seeing a mom nurse in public are so offended by the offense of these people....and the pro-nursing-in-public-moms are so angry at perceived judgement on the behalf of the offended that they can't help but publicly judge the judgers and.....all the judgment and offense flying around is so exhausting and I can hardly keep it straight (did I even keep it straight? I don't know).
   As a Christian nursing mother, I think the answer is quite simple and straightforward and should remain devoid of judgment, offense or pride: "let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or stumbling block in a brother's way." (Rom 14:13). No fuss. If what I am doing is going to cause another to stumble--whether it be into judgment, offense, or impure thoughts--I shouldn't do it.
  I am not ashamed of breastfeeding. I don't think I'm doing anything worth being offended by. And let me be clear--neither does God. Breastfeeding is natural, it's great, it's a gift from God, something he built into my very design. (Al Mohler discussed a few reasons why it shouldn't be surprising that breastfeeding is so good for mom and baby here). But something being natural and God-given is not a justification for doing it in public. That's why there are stalls on bathroom doors. That's why husbands and wives sleep in their own rooms.
   The question is, do we as Christian mother's have the "right" to breastfeed in public if we know it may cause a brother to stumble? Does doing something that's so great and God given mean it should be done in public?
   Obviously the answer is a resounding No. I wouldn't breastfeed uncovered at church, in front of my brother's in Christ, so why would I do it uncovered, in public at Target or wherever else? It's not because I am ashamed, it's because I love my brothers.

  I'll take it even a step further....I'll cover up in the designated nursing room in front of other nursing women at my church just because they do. When I first discovered that my new church has a room just for nursing moms to nurse in, I was ecstatic! When I discovered that I was the only mom in there not covering herself up while nursing, I thought--I should remedy that. Not because I have any reason to be ashamed but because I am not prideful enough to think "I'm right, they're wrong. Just cause they cover up doesn't mean I have to." Sure, I don't have to but if there's a possibility that I am going to cause one of them to stumble--cause one of them to think, "does she think she's special?" I am not going to do it. I know how easy it is to be a judgey-mommy so whenever I can and am conscious of it, I am responsible for protecting my sisters from it.

   There is a sickness in the world--it's called pride, and envy, and selfishness. And it's super entangled in this "I can breastfeed wherever I want to" issue. Let me be clear: I am super supportive of nursing moms (I AM ONE!). God designed us for it and I think, barring physical issues, we should do it. I do not agree with the world's idea of "this is MY body, it's FOR ME, my own use, my own pleasure." We were bought with us a price, and our bodies are NO LONGER OUR OWN. Breastfeed your babies, ladies, if you can! But please--let's not model our feelings of our rights after the world's. If you can cover up--cover up. If you can be discreet--be discreet. If you don't have to offend your neighbor--don't offend your neighbor. If you can be modest--be modest. This is not to promote a feeling that you should be ashamed (shame on those who ask mom's to cover up in order to shame them!) but to show love to your brother's and sister's in Christ. Let's not make anyone stumble for the sake of our own pride.