Friday, July 19, 2013

Finding Grace in "Failed" Babywise

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Stacy Trevino, mother of two girls (Bailey, age 3; Boston, age 15 months). This is something I wrote and shared with family and friends last March. It's not your typical success story. It's more of a "finding grace in a 'failed' babywise story" story.  

I've written blog posts and facebook status updates about how "difficult" Boston was as an infant. In the grand scheme of things, she wasn't even close to difficult when compared to the full range of babies facing moms these days. No colic. No digestive issues. No illnesses (until a cold, around month 10.5).  No rare syndromes. No common syndromes, for that matter.  

She just had the unfortunate luck to be born into the arms of a mother who equated perfectly scheduled with perfectly content.  A mom who equated her own contentment with the contentment of her baby girl.  

Being an experienced (read: prideful) babywise mom, there were a lot of expectations that I put upon Boston when she was born.  I expected her to take full feedings - as opposed to snacks - to help regulate her metabolism from day one.  I expected her to follow an eat, wake, sleep pattern through the day to help keep daytime and nighttime straight in her tiny little head.  I expected her to fall asleep on her own (without nursing or another prop) so that I wouldn't have to break bad habits later. I expected her to settle into a regular nap pattern by week two, three at the latest.  

So when she didn't fall into the babywise mold easily, I was unnerved. 

When she woke up early from naps, her cries were more than just the normal twinge against my eardrums. It was like tiger-claws across the chalkboard, ripping holes in the surface. It unleashed nothing short of fury that stewed within me as I carelessly plucked her out of the bassinette and sat down to nurse her.  YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE SLEEPING, my mind screamed into her little face. YOU AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE HUNGRY YET, as I replayed the previous nursing, wondering if I could have done something differently to coax more milk into her. TWENTY MINUTES OF CRYING IT OUT SHOULD WORK, as I (admittedly) squeezed her a smidge too tight as the rage pulsed through my veins. 

And the real kicker. The thing that I was most peeved about? I HAVE THINGS ON MY TO-DO LIST STILL TO DO DURING THIS NAP. YOU'RE INTERRUPTING MY DAY. THIS WAS *NOT* ON THE DAY'S ITINERARY!

As weeks turned into months, turned into close to a year, I battled with this child.  My agenda versus hers. My need to control and manage and portray the perfect little life versus her need to eat and play and sleep.  

Around month six, people start asking about her personality. What's her temperament like? 
Her disposition? Her character? Who is she?

I didn't have a clue.

Of course I made something up - because what good mother doesn't know what her baby is like - but I was just grasping at straws.  The conversation usually turned toward her erratic naps and unpredictable wake-times. Something I was well aware of. 

Time rolled on and I kept myself in the dark about the little person in front of me. I let my disgust about her waking early from a nap plague her wake time and rob me of any joy as she played.  I continued with my to-do list of chores and let the anger swell as she "got in the way" . . . after all, if she had slept like she was supposed to, we wouldn't have this problem.  

It wasn't until January - two months shy of her first birthday - month ten of her twelve-month life - that I was finally awakened to the fact that I had a contented baby on my hands. Despite my ignorance (and my ignoring), she was happy.  She loved to crawl and cruise and throw pillows on the ground. Any song with a half-decent beat elicited a head bobble and claps. She'd talk your ear off if you'd let her.

But I hadn't.

I'd spent too much time talking down about her as a person because she didn't nap well.  I made her out to be a monster of a child because she wanted to nurse more often than I expected.  I imputed disobedience onto her because she didn't magically sleep through the night at week eight.  

Oh dear Boston, girl. Mommy is so sorry. For the hours of playtime that I missed. For the smiles and the laughs and the cuddles that I refused to give you.  For the ones I refused to receive from you.  For the spotless dishes and floors and clothes that took priority over you.   
But I'm here now.

I'm here.

And I am loving getting to know you. 

9 comments:

Chris & Jen Hulme said...

Thank you so much for this post. As a Babywise mom, I can totally relate to these feelings when things aren't going "as they should", and I truly appreciate your honesty with this.

Chris & Jen Hulme said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie Ball said...

This is a great post! There are parts about BabyWise I don't even try to follow. They just don't fit with our life and this particular baby. We send our baby to daycare, so other people make decisions for her during the day and usually they aren't necessarily the same decisions I would make. At first, I got SO stressed out over it... until I realized baby girl was happy and well-adjusted even though she wasn't doing exactly what I thought she would. The key of BW (or, my takeaway) is to listen first to your baby and adjust your routine/schedule around what works best for them AND you. It's teamwork. Great post! :)

Laura said...

I definitely needed to read this! I have so many friends that their children just majically nap for 2 hours at a time, they followed the 4 hour feeding schedule right away, and here I was with a baby who would nap maybe 45 minutes and would sometimes fall back asleep after that transition and most of the time wouldn't. I finally realized I'm putting way too much stress on myself and Zoe. She's ok. She's happy. She now has awesome naps at home (not so much at day care). And does she always go 4 hours between feedings? No, but she does have a feeding routine which at least is predictable and all I care about. Thank you for writing this and being honest. It's so nice to read other stories that are similar to ours. Babywise is great, but I also think you have to follow your baby's queues to keep you and your baby sane :)

Teri said...

Thank you for writing this post. After reading so many success stories, it was nice to read one that related closer to my own story (naps are proving to be challenge for my 7 week old). I appreciate your honesty and am glad to know I'm not the only one who feels like this sometimes! :)

erin m judd said...

You are so brave to write this. Thank you for your honesty.

Brittany W. said...

I also thought your post was refreshingly honest! I have had those same angry/frustration moments when trying to balance baby & to-do's! You're a wonderful mom and you will have so many special moments here on out that will fill up your heart and mind that her first year won't feel so heavy with regret. <3

Renee Cook said...

thank you thank you.
i consider myself a 'babywise' mom. but, it took a couple months of newborn imperfection in my child for me to realize i was taking the 'successes' and 'failures' too personally. i think the downside of the babywise mentality is that it tends towards pride (in success) and guilt (in failure). sure, they have disclaimers about the fact that it won't work to a T, but overall, the descriptions and instructions in the book sound like science. and the fact it, we're raising humans. so life isn't perfect. babies aren't perfect.
we can schedule and CIO until the cows come home and sometimes the baby wakes early. oh well.

don't get me wrong - i am so thankful for the babywise principles and i think the authors are brilliant! they were writing a book and their job is to be specific, direct, and 'scientific' in a way.

but, i so resonate with your feelings - thank you for sharing honestly.
it's such a good feeling to come before the Lord in repentance of my pride, ask for HIS wisdom in parenting, do our best to follow good parenting advice & methods (such as babywise), and then let it go & learn to flex & ultimately enjoy our precious children.

The Jones Family said...

Seriously, thank you so much! This is exactly how I've felt the second time around. Our firstborn was a great sleeper...our second, not so much. Your words gave life to what I've been struggling with and it is a relief to know that I am not alone in that. Sometimes no matter how hard we try, the outcome is going to be different. I'm learning to accept that even though the process can be painful at times. I'm thankful God shows me grace so I can then extend it to others, including my little guy!

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