For Lu: The Baby

So I've had a really hard time writing this post.  It should be titled "Welcome to Parenthood: Where Nobody Knows What They're Doing."  Because, seriously.

You have a baby now, it's overwhelming and life-changing, and I've heard it gets easier - but I haven't been there.  So I wouldn't know.

You might let your baby cry herself to sleep from the day she's born.  You might never let your baby cry herself to sleep.  Either way, you wouldn't be alone.  I've tried to be somewhere between the extremes ... but who knows? maybe that's worse!

Everyone will give you advice and none of it will be the same.  Generally speaking, though, here is some of the best advice I have been given.

First, words of wisdom from my mother:  "Your job is to raise your children so that they don't need you."
If you ever find yourself a slave to your child, something is wrong.  Obviously newborns need their mothers. But as they get older, you should be teaching them to be independent, even if it's in small ways.  I nursed Liam exclusively except for the bottle I gave him once or twice a week, just so that he would take a bottle.  You need some leeway - for a temple trip, a night out, or just a few hours alone with your husband.  Take steps to make that possible.
(Binkies are another touchy subject.  Personally, I think they can be a lifesaver for the first few months when you are SORE and your baby just wants to chew on something.)
(Also, put your kid on the floor sometimes.  She won't like it but it's good for her.)

Second, a paraphrased gem from a "sleep expert": Don't project your own emotions onto your baby.
Babies cry when they are hungry, tired, uncomfortable, etc. If you can figure out what they are telling you, the communication becomes more effective, and your baby will cry less.  
When we project our own emotions on them (she thinks I've abandoned her! she's scared! lonely! resentful!), we are the ones who suffer most.

Third, an acronym about baby schedules from my sister-in-law: EASY
Eat - Activity (play) - Sleep - You time
This way you feed your baby when she wakes up, and put her down when she gets tired.  It should eliminate sleep crutches like being nursed to sleep. I haven't done the best job of implementing it though....

Finally, the best advice I think I've ever seen, coming from Pinterest a few weeks ago:

I think this sums it up nicely. You are this child's mother.  You are entitled to receive inspiration on her behalf, whatever it may be.
Don't forget that.


Bonnie said...

I love that. I've never thought about how I am entitled to inspiration for my children (and how to raise them), but now that I think about it, I can think of specific instances when I was inspired to help my children in specific ways (and it worked!). You are a wise mother, Rachel.

If I could add a couple more comments (along the same lines)...

You know your children better than ANYONE. Hands down. Don't let anyone (even your doctor) tell you to do something that you don't think is right for your specific child. Doctors deal with the average child, not your specific child, and other people only have experience with their child. It's your kid, do what you want.

Also, I was at a conference this weekend where a woman referenced Elder Holland's recent conference talk. He spoke about how we don't need to be better than anyone else. It's just about us. This definitely applies to being a parent. It doesn't matter if another kid always looks like they stepped out of a catalog or if another Mom makes a gourmet breakfast every morning. You do what you're good at and in your way and you'll be the best mother ever.

Miriam said...

what a cool saying, that could go towards anything! I'm going to have to borrow that :) Wish I could tell you it gets easier....but, when one thing improves another hard thing comes along. It's just the nature of life it appears.

Linnea said...

I love what your mom says - I heard that once in a class at BYU (I think by Brother Barlow, that would have made it marriage prep) and he said, the goal of parenting is to parent yourself out of a job. :) It's so true.

Danielle said...

I could spend all day commenting on your posts. Some days it would probably be best that I just avoid your blog because I neglect other things that need to be done....

Love this post, like I love all the other ones. Great advice from a great mother.

Thais Martins Fernandes said...

Jean, nicely said...

I love EASY - I used it with both of children, it worked great!

By the way, have you ever heard of Priscilla Dunstan view on baby cry? It's amazing... I was upset I came across it after my baby was a little bit older, but tipe: "Priscilla Dunstan On Oprah" on you tube and you'll see how amazing her work with babies is!