The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fussy Evenings and Parenting Strategies

In the evening, Tiana is generally fussy. I have read that this is very normal. She also does what they call "cluster feeding" during this time as well. This means that she wants to nurse pretty much constantly during this time. I think it is more about wanting that comfort than about actually being hungry. I initially thought perhaps my milk supply is less at night, but I now know this is not the case, since I was able to pump a ton of milk last night when I didn't nurse her.

Last night, Vinny slept over his grandma's house to spend some time with his aunt and uncle visiting from out of town. I had a rehearsal to go to, so that meant Marc would be alone with Tiana. I was gone for about an hour and a half. I nursed her shortly before I left, but knowing she likes to eat a lot in the evenings, I left several bottles... just in case.

Before I left, Marc made a comment about possibly taking the baby to his mom's house so he could see his sister too. I looked at him with disbelief. "What?" he asked. "Nothing," I replied, "I just thought you would find being here with her challenging enough without trying to get out of the house." He made some comment about it not being a big deal, and I left.

I came home to a happy baby that daddy had just put in the swing. "Yea! Daddy did a good job!" I commented. I also noticed that the dinner table was just the way I left it, no dishes were done, no laundry was done, and well... nothing was done. But Tiana was happy. That is really all that matters.

They had not left the house, as I suspected. He had fed one bottle. Marc commented, "She is demanding." He had spent pretty much the entire time meeting her demands- changing, feeding, or just holding her. Yes, holding her is a demand. It is quite clear that she is demanding to be held when nothing else is wrong and she cries frantically until you pick her up and then she stares at you lovingly and contentedly. Feeling loved and secure is a baby need.

While Marc used to stay home with Vinny at nights while I went to school, Vinny was a much less fussy baby. I don't recall him having a fussy time of the day at all. I would be shocked if Marc ever again made a comment about me not getting anything done with the baby. I think he sees that it is more the norm than the exception that I spend most of my day just feeding and holding the baby, and this is not out of laziness.

I have read the babywise theories on scheduling babies and the attachment theories and a little of everything in between, and to a certain extent... they are a mixture of crap. The babywise stuff just does not seem rational- Anyone who tells me to ignore a screaming baby is crazy. I don't believe you can spoil a newborn. They are not crying to manipulate you. Tiana doesn't want me to hold her constantly because she is trying to control me... she wants me to be near me because she loves me. Isn't that God's design for parenting? For children to love their parents... like God wants us to love him?

Along the same token, a lot of the attachment stuff strikes me as kooky too. I want my baby to sleep near me... but I will not constantly open our bed to her. She comes in to eat, but I need space too. I need to sleep comfortably without worrying that I will roll over her. No, I do not believe that my child's long hours in child care will create bad behavior. Vinny has had long hours at day care since he was 2 years old, but he has always been a well-behaved kid. One article even suggested bringing baby on date night if you feel the need to get out because frequent changes in caregiver are not good for baby. I'm sorry, but as much as I want to get out for happy hour or something, you might as well not be getting out if you have to stop to calm a fussy baby. Like I said... evening is fussy time- the point is to get an occasional break from that to keep my sanity as a mom. Happy mom= happy baby.

What I find is funny is how much we want to rely on methods and strategies. It is because of our utter desire to control life and have a method or an answer to all of life's challenges. Why can't we just trust that God has given us children and God has given us instincts, and if we just follow Him and trust our instincts, we can relax and not try to control everything. I mean... God is our Father, right? God doesn't give us a perfect schedule to follow. And when asked about the most important of the rules for His children, the answer was just to love...

1 comment:

  1. Yeah that Babywise stuff freaked me out. And more so it was people's odd need to have their babies sleep through the night so soon. Everyone is so obsessed with sleeping through the night and yeah, okay, I'd love a night of full sleep but I have an infant, it ain't going to happen. Any sort of "cry it out" stuff won't work on a newborn. They don't cry for the hell of it. They cry for a reason. Now I have started semi-CIO with Annabelle but nothing serious. And it's only with her going to bed. I basically don't want her dependent on me to fall asleep so I've started laying her down when she's drowsy and she whimpers until she falls asleep. But she's made her own schedule, so I didn't see any need to push one on her.

    Attachment parenting also seems a bit odd to me because I need my space. But oddly enough from what I've read, I'm more attachment parenting than not. LOL!!

    I agree with you by the way you need your hour or so. I know people who still haven't let anyone baby sit their kids and they are 4 years old. This concept was totally odd to me. I can understand not letting your child spend the night with a grandparent if you breastfeed but I didn't and Kaylee was over with Grandma for the night at like two weeks old. And I think it was good. It wasn't until we stopped doing that and no longer did date nights that things started falling apart in our marriage.