It started innocently enough. I was visiting a friend who recently gave birth to a baby girl. Sitting on her couch, sipping tea, I asked her, "So…how often do you feed your daughter?" It was then that I was introduced to the principles of Babywise. Being pregnant myself for the first time, I was intrigued.
A couple of days later, I bought the book. I read it within days, and knew it was for me. Being an organized person, I feared chaos in my home once a baby was born. My husband went along with me, trusting that I'd do what was best for our baby. Even before my daughter was born, I looked with disdain at my friends who demand fed their babies. They were all wrong; I was right.
When my daughter was born, I thought to myself, "This guy has to be crazy. How can I follow such a distinct pattern when my newborn is so unpredictable and needy?" The first week of her life, I followed my maternal instincts: I rocked and nursed her to sleep, slept with her when she couldn't settle down in her bassinet, and held her all the time. But I was exhausted and remembered how Ezzo said I would tire myself out if I didn't follow his principles. I called my Babywise friend, and she encouraged me to "bite the bullet" and let my daughter learn to fall asleep unassisted. My stomach churned, but I wanted my daughter to be able to fall asleep without me. And I wanted to sleep more myself.
The next day I started. She only cried for a few minutes the first time. For the next two months, every day was different. Some days she'd fall asleep right away. Other days, she'd cry off and on for 45 minutes. Each time I'd listen to her cry, my heart would ache. My husband would pace back in forth, checking the clock. "Don't you think you should go in there?" he'd ask, with a concerned look on his face. Listening to her cry put such a strain on our house. It literally ate away at us…as we attempted to go about our daily routine.
My daughter slept through the night at ten weeks, and I was sure I had made the right decision…until several months passed.
I worked hard at following other ideas in Babywise, like starting solids at four months old and stretching her breastfeeding more and more. When she was almost six months old, she nursed 5 times a day.
According to Gary Ezzo, she should have been nursing 4 times a day, with her mealtimes lined up with the rest of the family. Just before I was about to drop another feeding, I noticed something when my daughter nursed: she was getting increasingly fussy during the sessions. Could my milk supply be low?
I couldn't believe that because in the first few months, my milk was abundant! I found a group of people on a discussion board who pointed out that maybe I wasn't nursing enough to stimulate milk production. They also encouraged me to re-evaluate Babywise due to Mr. Ezzo's lack of experience with breastfeeding, pediatric care, or sleep issues. I discovered his lack of integrity in many other areas, which made me question how valid Babywise could be.
When I decided to stop using Babywise, it was not a sudden decision but rather a gradual process. I researched cue feeding, read through the AAP's recommendations, listened to other women who had "been there…done that," and made my decision. After I left Babywise principles behind, my eyes were further opened. For the first time, I could rock my daughter to sleep and not feel guilty. I found myself truly enjoying motherhood and breastfeeding in a new way. My milk supply returned as I nursed before and after her naps. I truly felt freed; because I was unshackled from a set of ideals and could love my daughter and do what I felt was best for her.
It's not easy to admit when you've been wrong, especially as a parent. But it was the best change I could have instituted in my parenting. I finally admitted my secret pain to my husband and to other friends. I could enjoy the gift of motherhood at last.