Monday, April 28, 2014

Our Parenting Style

I wrote this on my private blog awhile after Rico (our first) was born.  Maybe it will help a new mother out there!

While I was pregnant I researched a lot of different things:
*healthy eating for pregnant women
*common problems/how to prevent them
*aftercare of the newborn
*vaccinating while pregnant
*natural remedies for common ailments
*pregnancy testing, including Rho Gham, blood sugar, group b strep

...the list goes on and on...

Literally the day after he was born I realized I hadn't read one thing on breastfeeding, how many wet diapers a new born should have per day, how much do they sleep, what are the common milestones and when do babies usually reach them. I guess I had figured that I would "just figure it out" or "it would just come naturally." I have come to realize I am not as much of a "natural" mother as I thought I was going to be. Yes, I do know when to nurse, when he needs to sleep and so on, but that has taken months. During the first few months I didn't really quite know when he needed to nap or go down for the night. People would say things like "Looks like Mom knows best" when in reality I felt basically lost. I started praying for guidance. I prayed for quite a while to know how we were supposed to raise our son.

We have received a lot of advice on how to raise him. The most often given is to just let him cry. Put him down in bed at night and let him cry. If he's playing and starts crying, let him cry for awhile before you get him so he "knows" that sometimes he just has to wait. When he was two weeks old, after trying this a few times, I broke down crying wondering why I wasn't allowed to hold this completely innocent baby who just wanted to be held and kissed and cuddled. It was then that I realized that maybe that kind of parenting wasn't for us. J didn't like it either but since we had been told, mostly by our parents that that was the way to parent, we did it.

We have come to realize that times are different. Crying-it-out may work for some families, but it is not a one size fits all parenting style. How could our loving Heavenly Father  send us to Earth and expect all babies to obey this rule. We all started out as different intelligences and having different constitutions. Why would this somehow change once we reached Earth?

Our baby is a high-need baby. There, I've said it. He likes to nurse every 2-3 hours, if he doesn't he whines and gets mad at me. He likes to nap a few times a day and when I am a little late on nap time, he fusses and sometimes refuses to go down. If he really starts to cry and we don't give him what he needs the cry gets louder. He won't stop, like I've read tons of stories of babies doing--he.won't.stop.crying. He likes to sleep with us. If he's in his crib, he'll last for a little bit, but sleeps much longer and better when he's snuggled next to us. He likes to be worn in a wrap. He wants to be held almost constantly  and to save my arms and sanity, we've adopted the wrap. He loves watching when I make food, clean or just wander around. He loves going on walks in the wrap and looking at the birds. He likes playing with people. Yes, he can play by himself but will "last" much longer on the ground playing if someone is sitting with him, as I am now--he is not a self soother. He is intense. He is unpredictable and can be draining. 

Now, to some we may seem to be spoiling him by wearing him a few hours a day and letting him sleep in the wrap, rocking him to sleep, sleeping with him, letting him nurse, for the most part, when he wants to. But, every child born is different and all have different levels of needs. Some babies can roll around all day and be held enough to feed and be rocked to sleep. Some don't need to be rocked to sleep. Some babies are like mine. They crave the attachment of mom and dad. They NEED to be held and nursed often. I feel like he doesn't feel secure without it. 

The Baby Book has saved my mind from exploding in frustration and confusion in wondering what it is that Rico wants. I have struggled in knowing how much I'm supposed to hold him; how I'm supposed to get the house clean to my standards and wondering if a schedule would be better for our family. 

So, after praying for quite a while and reading a lot of different things on parenting and babies and needs/wants I finally gave in to Dr. Sears. It was a huge relief when I opened this text-book like book and started reading about high-need babies. How to get him to sleep better and that co-sleeping actually has scientific backing--mothers breath out enough carbon dioxide to stimulate a new-born's breathing. There is also proof that wearing a baby does not make him spoiled and that the idea of spoiling a baby is ridiculous. Rico was inside of me for 9 months getting every bit of nourishment and love from me and that doesn't stop when the cord is cut. He is a baby. A BABY. He is not an adult, or a tween or a child, he is a baby. He needs his diaper changed, needs to be fed constantly (especially with breastmilk) and most importantly he needs to be nurtured. Mothers are the best nurtures. I am very glad that I did not give in to the advice that was given and listened to the promptings of the Holy Ghost who was pointing me in the direction of how best to care for my son. The best part about this parenting style is that it fits us. It can be easily adapted as Rico grows and as we have more children. 

James Jones has a wonderful, spiritual, scientific and scriptural parenting program. We plan on using it when Rico is old enough to start understanding different concepts. He believes that the first two years are a time of nurture. Babies need to feel secure. They need to feel that they are worth something and that their parents can be trusted and that people are basically good. I have been wondering, if I fail at the first two years, will he believe me when I tell him The Church is true? Will he believe me when I tell him that his father in Heaven loves him and wants to be with him for eternity? That only in temples can sacred ordinances be performed to seal families for time and all eternity? If his trust starts building at birth, have a done a good job so far? 

I believe that how we parent from the time our baby is born throughout the rest of their lives matter. I want Rico and our other children to know we are telling the truth when we say The Book of Mormon is true and I know this because I have prayed about it. I know that if your father and I and you keep the commandments and do what The Lord wants us to do we will be together forever and have worlds without number. 

Now, I don't think our parents did a bad job. Actually I'd say they did a great job. I am saying that now there are different resources and points of view and we are trying one out because the other one wasn't working for the three of us.

So, yes. I have a high-need baby. He is in no way a bad baby. He has different needs and I think J and I are finally figuring out those needs and caring for him in the way he needs to be cared for. If it weren't for J's support with every aspect of our parenting style, it would not work. He has a tremendous capacity to understand things that I don't and to explain things over and over until I comprehend. This parenting style makes sense to us and it's "working" like it should.

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