Before we had Baby C, my husband and I had a lot of ideas of what we wanted our baby to be like and not to be like…well mannered, no temper tantrums, sleeping without needing to be rocked, sleeping through the night…after having a baby, I can honestly tell you all that gets thrown out the window. We read a lot of books and prepared as much as we could but we learned to listen to our baby and do what’s best for our family. Sometimes it may not be the “conventional” way, but we do what works and we wouldn’t change a thing.
I can remember before baby was born, we talked to a lot of our friends and decided that the Cry It Out method (CIO) was the way to go if we wanted our baby to sleep through the night. We heard that it took only a few nights of crying (possibly up to a few hours each night) and the reward would be baby sleeping through the night and soothing himself. Well, I can tell you right now our little guy is 6 months and he has never cried himself to sleep at night or for a nap. My husband and I love cuddling and rocking with him and six months later we still do it. Ever since he was two months old, he started sleeping anywhere from four to six hours. Over the past two months, he’s been sleeping eight to ten hours but we do have to pop the pacifier back in a few times each night. We don’t mind getting up to put the pacifier back in a few times if that means he doesn’t cry for hours. We co-sleep and have been since the day we brought him home from the hospital. We used to bed share (thank goodness for a Cal-King bed) but we all slept better when we had our own space so baby is now sleeping in his playpen next to my side of the bed. Co-sleeping has been great for breastfeeding and it helped the whole family get more sleep.
At our four month Healthy Baby appointment, I remember our pediatrician asking us if we rocked baby to sleep and if he’s in his own crib…my husband and I answered honestly and said that we still rock him and he is still co-sleeping in a playpen. That response was followed up with a 5 minute lecture on how we needed to put him in his own crib or else we would end up having a 4 year old sleeping in our room with a bad habit of rocking to sleep. We left the doctor’s feeling bad that we were creating poor habits and setting our baby up to be too dependant on us. We questioned our decisions and tried to put him in his crib that night. He ended up crying and waking up a few times – it left mommy and daddy very tired and cranky the next day. The next day, I nursed him to sleep then put him back in the playpen next to us in our room.
Fast forward to our six month Healthy Baby appointment, my husband and I ended up lying to our pediatrician and saying that he was sleeping in his own crib at night and self-soothing himself to sleep. We lied because we didn’t want to hear the whole song and dance about how we were not doing the right thing. It was not just the pediatrician, we got a lot of lectures and bad looks from our friends too. There were a few nights I ended up crying to my husband because I was worried I was failing as a mom.
Our little one sleeps 10 hours and just started putting his pacifier back in his mouth on his own. During the day, I nurse, rock with him then put him in the crib in his room for naps. At night, he still sleeps in a playpen in our room.
I’m so lucky to have a partner that loves and supports me and the decisions we make. For all your first-time mamas out there, just remember that there’s no one right way to parent. Don’t let people make you feel guilty or bad on how you are raising your child…listen to your baby and do what’s best for you and your family.