Encouragement for Christian Parents
Before having our first baby, I thought I had the whole ‘rearing children’ thing sorted. I had watched my older siblings raise their children, done plenty of babysitting, and even helped mothers with post natal depression for a while. I thought fussy babies were created by fussy mothers, and was convinced I would have an easy child who would sleep through the night by the six weeks. I certainly wouldn’t be one of ‘those’ mothers still getting up during the night for their six month old!
I had heard a lot of positive stories about Babywise before having my son, and read Preparation for Parenting just before he was born. Most of the mothers I knew had their babies on similar routines and said it made things so much easier.
Enter our son! I remember holding him for the first time and thinking ‘this wasn’t what I expected’! He just wriggled so much more than I remembered other babies doing, was very strong and unsettled, and put his very loud voice to a lot of use! Little was I to know this wouldn’t change!
The first few weeks I had a lot of difficulties breastfeeding, so we didn’t manage to establish much of a routine. I still followed much of the advice in the book though – I fed, then had some awake time, and then put our son to bed.
As the weeks went on I became more and more frustrated. Our son just wasn’t doing what he was meant to do! He was very fussy during feeds, then would be awake for a while, but by the time I put him to bed he wouldn’t sleep! I would refuse to rock him or hold him because then he would ‘get used to that’. But he used to cry and cry. I would feel like such a failure if I gave in and fed him, feeling like I was going to completely ruin him.
I persevered for around four months. By this time we had a very unsettled baby who wasn’t putting on as much weight as he should be. My milk supply was dropping, he screamed through most feeds (most likely frustrated he wasn’t getting enough!) and was still waking up 5 or 6 times a night.
What I was doing was most definitely not working! Where was this easy baby I had been promised who would sleep through the night and learn to ‘self-soothe’?
I would go back to the book for advice and found nothing that seemed to fit my situation or my baby. Because my supply was dropping so badly I knew I needed to try something else. A call to the ‘Australian Breastfeeding Association’ told me I should be feeding more often. Unfortunately it was too little too late, and I never managed to establish a decent milk supply again.
It took a long time to remove the voices in my head from reading Preparation for Parenting. I found it so hard to relax, to parent our son to sleep, to ‘break the rules’.
I’m so thankful I did though! While our son could not be labelled ‘easy’, and still has a lot of difficulty settling down to sleep, we have a great relationship, and he is so much more secure. We ended up co-sleeping and have so many wonderful memories. My husband is convinced all those parents with babies in cots on the others side of the house are missing out on so much!
I truly believe now that the command to “Do unto others as you wish them to do to you” should be extended to our babies and toddlers. Since I wouldn’t wish to be left to cry alone, I sure don’t expect my son to anymore! And if I wake up hungry and thirsty after a bad dream at night I would love to be fed and comforted, not ignored!
Why should we believe the lie that parenting is meant to be convenient? That it shouldn’t interrupt our sleep or couple time or personal hobbies? Shouldn’t parenting be an exercise of servanthood – caring unselfishly for a small person who is unable to care for himself or herself?
by E., Australia