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Hi, I’m the mom of two little boys – my big boy is three years old and my little guy is one. When I was pregnant with my first, I decided my parenting style with my new baby would be natural and go-with-the-flow. After about 8 weeks with my newborn, I had the epiphany that trying to “go with the flow” was actually stressful and unnatural for me (repressed perfectionist, much? :)). The unpredictability was putting me on edge. I could tell my newborn was overstimulated but I didn’t know what to do about it. Things just felt off, and I felt it didn’t need to be this way. How would we ever have normal lives if I had to spend over an hour walking/bouncing my baby around and replacing a pacifier every 20 seconds every time he needed to nap or sleep at night? A friend had recommended Babywise and Val’s blog to me during my pregnancy, but I hadn’t read any of it, thinking instead that my instincts would be enough. As I gave it a chance a few months later, I was surprised how much the principles rang true and put into words some of the values I wanted to project in my parenting. My instincts and many BW principles melded together well and I felt like Babywise gave me a foundation. I combed Val’s blog, re-read the book, and was always prepared for what common issues and scheduling changes might be coming up for my son (I laugh a little now at how much time and brainpower I had for this as a mom with only one tiny baby. Ah, perspective :)). As my son grew – and I mellowed a little – many Babywise principles became ingrained in my parenting. As a first-time mom, I really appreciated having a plan for how our day would normally go. It gave me confidence as a mother. I could tell my son was now happy and well-rested. He slept through the night 11 hours at 11.5 weeks old (only two weeks after starting BW) and never needed to eat in the night again. He was, and still is, a great napper. None of the myths and horrible side-effects that people mistakenly attribute to BW were true of him. I quite successfully breastfed him until he was 12.5 months old, he is happy and super bright, well-adjusted, he trusts and loves me unreservedly. I can’t say enough about how the eat/wake/sleep cycle, a naptime/bedtime routine, and other things I learned from Babywise, Valerie, and the wonderful Chronicles group made so much sense and were just right for my son and for me.
By the time I was pregnant with my second, I didn’t question how we would parent him as a baby since I had implemented and learned so many things the first time around. I am grateful now that those plans and expectations were already set (generally, of course – no two babies develop on the exact same timeline), because little else about my second son’s newborn and baby stage could have been predicted. I went into early labor at 25 weeks and was in the hospital on drugs and bed rest for the next 11 days that they could keep me pregnant before our son was born at 27.5 weeks gestation, weighing just 2 pounds 6 ounces. Most things about our NICU and super-preemie experience were of course new and often stressful, but when we finally got to bring that baby home to live with us instead of the hospital staff, that old confidence started to come back. My second boy cracks me up and surprises me with his differences from his brother, but even though his personality is all his own, the same principles I have used to parent both my kids have worked so well for him. I don’t treat them exactly the same (and I’m sure this will be more and more true as they grow up), but it all comes from the same beliefs and goals – as Val says, the “why” is more important than the “how.” I remember, my older son wouldn’t nap on me or in his carseat during church after he turned five months old. Just refused. We have a 3-hour block of church, so no matter what time we met when he was young, it always interrupted a nap and turned into a game of entertaining him ’til we could get home to his crib and he could crash. I had a small nagging worry then that my parenting style had made him into this non-snuggly baby since he wouldn’t nap in my arms. Had CIO done this? I came to realize his inflexibility was really just his personality. As an oldest child, he is such a rule follower and a checklist person. He thrives on that part of BW. I could probably have taught him more flexibility (and try to now), but when it was just me and him to schedule all day, it was easy for me to work my plans around his naps and schedule. He had rarely needed to be flexible. By default, my second has had to be more flexible and he handles it beautifully. I am amazed and grateful every week during Sunday School when I hand him his blankie and he cuddles up on me and takes a nap! I feel like I have improved my balance of consistency and improvisation with him. He is a great traveller and sleeps well. He adores eating and testing my resolve on things that are “a no.” Again, some basic Babywise principles have successfully helped us and our spunky, joyful baby.
I love the confidence Babywise gave me as a confused first-time mom. I love the BW belief in setting seemingly-high expectations for your kids and helping them to achieve those expectations. I love that it helps us teach them responsibility and self control. I love having well rested kids, who then are happy, enjoyable to spend time with, and able to pay attention and learn. I love that we can provide comfort and stability for them with a mostly predictable routine. I love the wisdom in Val’s blog and I love being part of the Chronicles group. This isn’t to say Babywise is perfect or our family is perfect – every day we have times of contained chaos in our house, with the normal emotional outbursts of a 3-year-old, and the alternating gleeful and angry squawking of a rather spirited baby who likes to experiment with what he is allowed to do now that he can run around. There are always ways I could do better, and not always enough energy to work on those. But life is good and I am thankful for the ways Babywise assists and supports us in parenting.