Friday, July 16, 2010

Success with Babywise

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Here is a great story that shows how a mom listened to her common sense in the face of difficulties.


Before getting married and getting pregnant I was a nanny for 4 years for two different families. One followed the AP style of parenting, the other followed a loose routine, similar to the Babywise style. While I adored both families and both sets of kids, I could definitely see which one I wanted to mimic in my own parenting.

When I was halfway through my pregnancy with my first child I started looking online for routines and sample schedules for breastfed babies. I'd of course never dealt with a brand newborn breastfed baby's schedule as a nanny. Unfortunately I found nothing! All I found were statements like "breastfed babies can't sleep through the night" and "breastfed babies will eat sometimes every hour or even every 30 minutes". I wanted to cry at the thought of breastfeeding constantly 24/7 for a full year! Nobody in my family had breastfed their babies but I was determined to do it. I figured I'd wing it and make up my own schedule. Then my mother-in-law, who breastfed her two babies, gave me two parenting books that were recommended to her by another teacher. One was On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and as I read it I kept exclaiming to my husband "See! This is what I've been looking for!" and "well, of course, that's just common sense!".

When my son Tobias was born I started the routine in the hospital straight away. I woke him every 4 hours all that first night to make sure he ate, otherwise he would have slept straight through. My milk came in just 48 hours after giving birth and I attribute that to my efforts to get consistent, full feedings at least every 3 hours all day and every 4 hours all night. Once home we fell into a routine and it was wonderful. Everything went smoothly right from the start and I loved being a mom. Tobias gained weight so well and was such a happy, contented baby.

We moved across the country at 4-6 weeks after Tobias was born, which was quite the experience! Considering how complicated our move was (AZ to GA and then drive to MN with a newborn and 3 cats), things went pretty well. I was very tired but that seemed normal given the circumstances. I got a clogged milk duct during Tobias' 6 week growth spurt and we had to use formula to get him to go 3 hours between feedings because we had an 18 hour drive to do in just 2.5 days and I had to drive the car while my husband drove the truck. Once we got settled in our new home things settled down and Tobias got past his growth spurt. But I was still tired. Tobias slept through the night at 8 weeks, but I was still tired. My milk supply still hadn't fully recovered and I was losing too much weight. Everyone said it was normal, just feed more and my supply would recover. I did, I spent 3 days feeding Tobias "on demand" every 1.5-2 hours and eating oatmeal to boost my supply. By day 3 Tobias was screaming crying, way overtired, and my milk supply still wasn't recovered, in fact now I wasn't letting down well. He gained no weight that week. I put him right back on a schedule and supplemented with 4 ounces of formula and he became his happy, well-rested, well-fed self again, gaining weight just fine.

It wasn't until 4 months postpartum that I realized something must be very wrong with me, everything was off. I went to the doctor and turns out I had postpartum thyroiditis, which caused the weight loss, fatigue, and milk supply issues. Nobody had ever suggested a medical issue as a reason my milk supply was off! Once my thyroid levels evened out at 6 months I was able to breastfeed 100% with no supplementing for 1.5 months before my thyroid levels became off again. It was such a clear line, thyroid levels good=good milk supply, thyroid levels low or high=poor milk supply. I went on to breastfeed to 9 months before I chose to wean my son.

Thank goodness I ignored the advice of the attachment parenting, breastfeeding advocates that ignores aspects beyond demand feeding vs. scheduled feeding. I hate to think what could have happened if I had continued to demand feed and stubbornly insisted on no supplementing and that my body could fix itself with more feedings. I needed medical attention, a regular routine, and sleep! Babywise ensured those last two so I was able to cope with my medical problems and care for my son.

Now I'm pregnant with baby #2 and can't wait for him to arrive. I don't dread those newborn days because I know what to expect, I have a routine and am confident in my ability to use the Babywise principles to handle life's normal bumps in the road. Tobias is 2 years old now and thrilled to get a baby brother. He still sleeps well and is such a happy, loving little boy. He's a joy to be with, people offer to babysit him for free, he is incredibly intelligent, but more importantly than that he is kind, obedient, helpful, and trusting. I have been able to allow him freedoms because he obeys so well. He walks in stores beside us because he always comes when called, he sleeps in a big boy bed because he knows to stay there until we come get him.

I could probably write a whole other novel on just the benefits of Toddlerwise, but I won't :) For now it is enough to say that because he had healthy sleeping and eating habits so early, we've been able to move on to bigger and better things with him, like potty training, learning the alphabet, taking trips as a family, and preparing for a new little brother.


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