Monday, February 27, 2012

Put the baby down, and no one gets hurt.

When you have your first baby there are a lot of myths that you believe that are absolutely outrageously untrue. Things like...
You are a bad, neglectful parent if you let your child cry.
Wait-- you didn't believe that? Just me? Crap. Well, I believed I was a bad neglectful parent when my child cried. If Sam was crying... I obviously needed to be holding him and comforting him. Crying means there's something wrong and I should fix it. And my intense belief that I could and should comfort my child at all times made for both a very miserable mama, and miserable child for several weeks. I was doing nothing but holding him all day long. I would set him down and he would start crying again, and I would dash to the bathroom and feel guilty the entire 23 seconds I spent in there peeing and washing as fast as humanly possible before I went back in to grab him so he would stop crying. His cries played upon my insecurity as a new mom and loudly announced my inadequacies to anyone within earshot.
It got to the point where I couldn't even lay him in his crib to sleep at night.
Needless to say-- I wasn't showering. I wasn't eating. I definitely wasn't sleeping. How could I while hold a baby?
Then I got sick. And I was on the phone with a friend crying over how exhausted and miserable and guilty I felt. And she gave me the most amazing advice I have received since having a baby. She said: You won't be able to take care of anyone if you aren't taking care of yourself. Put the baby down.
So... I did.
And he cried. And it was brutal. I cried too.
I put him in his crib and I got in the shower-- and he wailed.
I set him in his chair and I ate yogurt-- and he screamed.
I laid him down in his crib to sleep-- and he fussed and cried. I resisted the temptation to pick him up, but rubbed his tummy and sang to him softly and he finally... FINALLY settled down.
The next day I took  deep breath and tried not to feel guilty and did it again.
By the third or fourth day, he started settling down faster. And these days? He's totally chill.
Every morning when he wakes up, I feed him, then put him back in his crib and he stays there cooing at his mobile and fists and entertaining himself for about an hour while I shower and dress and usually do a little laundry. Then I go in and get him and we go downstairs where he sits in his chair and we listen to music while I eat, then I feed him. We do all manner of activities throughout the day, some of the time, I hold him and snuggle him, some times I sit him in his chair next to me while I work, and sometimes I put him in his crib and leave him to nap alone. At night time I feed him, swaddle him, and lay him down, and he goes right to sleep. I don't go back in 6 times to pick him back up and try to rock him while he screams.
My son is well cared for. He is loved and snuggled and played with and given tons of time and attention and kisses. I am pretty sure he knows how much he is loved, that he doesn't feel neglected or abandoned as I used to fear he might. He is healthy physically and emotionally, and is smart and growing and developing appropriately. And I am happier and healthier emotionally and physically, and not battling unnecessary guilt.  So as it turns out-- putting the baby down didn't actually hurt anyone. And it didn't make me a bad mom. In fact-- I dare say it may have made me a better mom. I seem to enjoy my time with my son a whole lot more since I started putting him down so I could take care of both of us.
It was really the simplest solution. Oh, we have so much to learn!


LisaM said...

It's REALLY hard at first though. Good lessons of first time mamas. :-)

ztoamom said...

Congratulations, darlin' - that is loving Sam. and you.

thepianist86 said...

i love you valerie!!

-choir buddy