Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mommy Wars: Babies & Sleep & Self Soothing

You would never guess how many sleep books there are out there for parents to read. And you wouldn't believe how much your day is surrounded & focused on sleep. There are times when you are so tired of thinking about sleep, you just want to crawl in bed....and sleep. Sleep is a huge subject for any parent under the age of one.

There are also several different opinions on this matter. I am sure you will find a different version or variation of sleep in each parent.

If you were to google baby sleep patterns or something like it, you would more than likely come up with several resources referring to the Ferber Method. One of the many forms of Cry It Out (CIO). There is lots of controversy around this subject. Some think it's horrible and others want plant a big fat kiss on Ferber's face.

Don't worry, I am not even going to touch on the controversial side of it. That's not the point of this post.

Hailey has always been a good sleeper. She began sleeping through the night at about 3 months old 12 hours. She did regress at 6 months & randomly woke 1x a night (always around 11pm) until about 8.5 months old when she began to sleep through the night again. She did this all on her own, no sleep training required and I never resorted to sleep training during the 6-8.5 month period.

Why, you ask? Not because I don't believe in CIO. It's not that I don't, I just choose not to. I know several people who have done it and it's no skin off my back. To each their own.

As a matter of fact, at 10 months old I still rock Hailey to sleep every night (if she will let me! Sometimes she just wants to do it herself!). And I am not ashamed of this whatsoever. I am sure the avid Ferberizers out there are cringing as they read this!!

Self-soothing. This is what Ferber teaches. The ability for a baby to self-soothe themselves back into a peaceful slumber without the help of mommy or daddy.

Here is why I choose the route I do.

Most moms get to hold their babies right after their birth. Cuddle, kiss, stroke and begin the breastfeeding process. They get to cuddle, nurse and snuggle with their babies every 1-2-3 hours a day.

Bonding. The ultimate bonding experience is considered breast feeding (this will be another post all in its own). Even if the mother chooses to bottle feed, she still gets to hold her baby close to her as she does so.

Most mothers also get to take their newborns home with them once they are released. They are with them 24/7 from the second they are born.

Then comes my story.

My baby was born 7 weeks early. She was whisked away at birth due to her prematurity. I got to spend a total of 30 seconds with her before they wheeled her out of the room to the NICU where she stayed for the next 4 weeks.

During these 4 weeks, she was handled by 2 different nurses each day. Different touch, feel, warmth. I was not able to be there 24/7. I didn't get the breastfeeding experience most moms do. My baby was put in an isolette only to be brought out for a short amount of time to be held. My baby got to spend a majority of her first 4 weeks of life by herself in an isolette.

She had trouble eating. This is what kept her in the NICU for that long. We had trouble getting her to eat an entire bottle by herself from a nipple let alone my breast. I pumped and feed her my expressed breast milk through a bottle.

She also had reflux. And add to that too fatigued to eat by mouth and you got yourself a difficult feeding situation. I had to hold her upright and on my lap to feed her. Not only to help her stay awake but also to help the reflux so her food wouldn't come back up, slow her heart rate and have her turn blue because she wasn't getting any oxygen. Yes, I got to see my 2 week old baby turn bright blue in my arms. I had a nurse swoop her out of arms to get her to start breathing again. Makes my heart jump just thinking back on it.

My point is I didn't get to have this blissful bonding experience with my baby until she was 1 month old And even then she still needed to be feed held upright on my lap for the reflux. She screamed bloody murder when she was put to my breast and I was NOT about to stress her out so much where she would stop eating and need to be hospitalized for failure to thrive.

So yes, cuddling and snuggling with her as I rocked her to sleep was the only bonding time I got. It wasn't until she was 3 months old when I got to cradle her as I fed her.

And as far as self soothing. She knows how to self soothe. Trust me. She sleeps 12 hours at night! I hear her from time to time talking to herself in the middle of the night then drifting back to sleep. She doesn't need me to fall asleep. I just prefer and love rocking her to sleep. I love watching her sleep. It's so amazing and peaceful.

So next time anyone decides to judge another for their sleep choices (whether it be CIO or my story) consider the circumstances. You never know what someone's story is.

1 comment:

Parker's Paradise said...

Exactly! I hate that people feel like it is their place to make you feel like you've done or are doing something wrong. Not everyone/baby/situation is the same. As long as it works for you...screw them!