Thursday, March 22, 2012

can't you just nap with him?

Yesterday I was at the 6 month (one month late!) visit for our baby. I was lamenting our sleep problems, when I realized that our pediatrician is cool in many ways (wise with natural remedies, and so on) and I do really like her, but she's seems a tad out of touch (with me) in other ways.

Like when I told her that I was having trouble getting baby to sleep anywhere but the guest bed (not safe!) for his nap. And she said, well then just grab a book and nap with him. And do what with my 3year old? Put him in front of a cartoon until he turns into a drooling aphid?

And when I mentioned that none of us were getting any sleep (and I mean that almost literally) and joked that we needed 2 night nurses and we'd be all set. With a straight face she said she had a list of numbers of good ones. Clearly she's not in our tax bracket.

I don't really expect our doctor to solve our family sleep problems. I don't even know why I asked, since I have read up on almost every approach to baby sleep that our library affords us. Perhaps that is the problem, though, with modern parenting-- information overload. And the cynical me thinks (and knows) that most of these books are out there so that books are sold, rather than babies are allowed to sleep. From the great and growing empire of Sears family books (if your child cries he will become a sociopath and it'll be your fault!), to the sleep training quick-fixes (watch movies with your hubby while teaching your baby to sleep and wake up singing Hallelujah!), they all have the answer, and it's only one or two sentence that acknowledge the reality that most parents need to hear: Do what works for your family.

But you see, all of the books do say that at some point. And that's not going to sell anyone anything. My old pediatrician from our old town said that we were doing a great job as parents, and to just do what we needed to do. That was nice. I should remember that. It would also be wise to remember that she may say that to every parent, no matter how rotten, knowing that parents will do what they will do regardless of her advice. Sure, blow smoke in your kid's face, you're doing a great job! AKA, the high-self-esteem for all parents philosophy.

It seems, in the small survey of parents I know, that many of us don't seem to have to confidence to know what it means to parent without identifying with a book, method, or expert's opinion. I wonder if this has always been the case, or if it truly is a symptom of the media-glut that we parent in these days. I have taken out so many parenting books from the library, only to open many of them, say "yeah right," and snuggle up with a good book of MFK Fisher essays, where I am told how to eat spring peas, not how to care for the babies I love more than life itself. It just gets tiresome to be told over and over again conflicting stuff... and then feel like a martyr or monster if I don't/can't/won't follow the advice.

Some of it I could and did follow, until #2 came along. Then whether I am supposed to snuggle our 3 year old to sleep every night, or let our baby fuss for a while before sleeping, I can't because there are now two with needs. And those needs can't both be met at the same time. And certainly not at 3am.

So I'm going to try to listen a little harder and see if there is a mommy-voice inside that does exist despite all the loud competition. And, if you have any advice of your own, join the chorus, please.


  1. If we only lived in a commune, we could go half on a night nurse! ;)

    You're not alone...and, as I tell myself in the wee hours, this will pass.


  2. I had to chuckle at your doctor offering a list of night nurses. Really? As your grandma used to say to us always, "This, too, shall pass." And by golly, every "stage" did pass. Except for maybe the messy room stage. You ARE doing a great job. Just look at the picture in your previous post. It is your mommy-voice that created such a happy, healthy baby.

  3. I meant the pic in your most recent post, though both are lovely

  4. I know what you mean, about doctors, books, sleep AND having two! Amen! I like to console myself with the idea that everything that makes having two kids SO hard is why we chose to have two in the first place. The value of not being raised as the sole center of the universe.
    I have so much sympathy, and so little advice.
    It will get better? Might be a couple of years though. You can do it. You are a lioness. Roar..

    1. Hurrah, for things HAVE gotten better!

      Not sure if you are getting follow up comments, but I *cannot* comment on your blog b/c I have some old WP acct that I no longer use and can't sign into with my info... any way you can let people comment without using their e-mail? (WP recognizes my e-mail, but wants to link it to an old blog that I don't use anymore!)