9.17.2008

DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?

Yesterday afternoon I was almost crying because I thought I was going to literally die from fatigue. Erik called from work.

Me: I am so tired. Charlie just woke up from his nap which means that I won't get to sleep while Luke is taking his nap.

Erik: Just lay Charlie down. He'll cry, but he's a baby. They're supposed to sleep, he'll fall asleep eventually.

Me: You're not listening. Charlie just woke up. He's not going to sleep.

Erik: So what? Just lay him down and take a nap. Who cares if he cries?

ARGH! I'm not sure if the fact that Erik can sleep while a baby is crying makes me jealous or angry. Logistically, it makes sense for him to be able to tune Charlie out so well during the night. He has to get up in the morning for work, while I just sit at home during the day, blog, eat bon bons, and nap at my leisure. (Only if that were all true...)

Seriously though, even being as sleep deprived as I am (and I really am right now), I hate the "cry it out" method. When I hear a mother say that it bothers her to listen to her baby cry in the other room, I want to say, "Well, yeah, that's mother nature telling you it's a bad idea." In other words, Dr. Sears has said,
"...listen to the biological cues of your body when your baby cries rather than to advisors who tell you to turn a deaf ear. These biological happenings explain why it's easy for those advisors to say such a thing. They are not biologically connected to your baby. Nothing happens to their hormones when your baby cries."
When Luke was first born, I had a huge problem of comparing myself to other mothers. They would tell me excitedly that their child only nursed 4 times a day and slept all night, while Luke was still nursing whenever he wanted (I lost count after 8 times a day) and sleeping no longer than a 4 hour stretch at a time. It depressed me. I felt like I was doing something wrong because I was responding to my child's needs.

Luke did not sleep "through the night" until he was around 15 months old. (He is now a wonderful sleeper... well, with the crib tent, of course.) I then started talking to realistic mothers and realized that my child's sleep habits were not abnormal. I was being way too hard on myself.

One of the most common questions I get asked now is what I am doing differently with the second child. For starters, I have decided to respond to my child's needs in a way that I was afraid to with Luke. When Charlie cries, I nurse him without hesitation. When he wakes up in the middle of the night, I go to him immediately. He is a much happier baby than Luke was. Coincidence? I don't know.

This doesn't mean that I am not extremely tired. However, I also have a better perspective. Yes, I don't get a full night's rest right now, but I know I will one day. This won't go on forever. I also think that in a few years I will wish that my children needed me like they did when they were infants.

Although Erik may not respond to a baby's cries, he does respond to other things. The other night, at 3 a.m., I was lying in bed nursing Charlie. When Charlie finished nursing, he turned his head to the other side and spit up all over Erik's face. I heard Erik wake up and say, "Gross, Charlie! He just spit all over me!"

I turned over so that Erik couldn't see my face, and smiled. At last, I felt vindicated.

15 comments:

  1. I think Jeremy would've woken up furious if Wyatt had spit up on him! That's hysterical! I have squirted milk at Jerm before in the middle of the night, though!

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  2. oh the life of a housewife... :)

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  3. So are you happy to be a mother? Sometimes it seems like you love it, and other times I wonder if I am just doomed!!! But I do understand that there are good and bad days just like everyone has, I guess the difference is posting them on the World Wide Web.

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  4. LOL - Charlie spit up all over Erik's face! That's hilarious! Not for Erik, but hilarious!

    I know what you mean about the lack of sleep thing! Cristin, it doesn't matter how we try to explain it or how many times we try to explain it, guys will never understand the emotional attachment we have with our babies - thus making it extremely difficult to "just let them cry!"

    I hope you do get some more sleep :)

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  5. Thank you for responding to my grandson's needs. I think you are a different mom this time around and I think that is why you have a happier baby. It is already paying dividends, isn't it?

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  6. Honestly, I'm grateful for you posting what honestly happens to you and your children. It helps me feel more prepared for what to expect when I become a mother...I know you can never know what your children will be like, but once you get past the comparing yourself to other mothers or comparing your child to other children, I think that's where you really become empowered to do what you need to when you need to, and to truly be happy in the process (albeit exhausted at the same time). Thanks for being such a real life example to so many!!

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  7. Ha! Way to go, little Charlie buddy!

    Oh, Cristin. For someone who has no desire to have children, I think about this sort of thing a lot. I want to be really prepared when I finally do have kids (though I suppose NOTHING could ever TRULY prepare me enough).

    I don't know what I'll do. Having the little heathens on a schedule seems awfully nice (albeit Hitler-esque). But I want happy babies, too.

    And if I have all four at once, I will only be sleep deprived for 18-20 years, as opposed to stretching it out to my deathbed.

    Good idea, no? : )

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  8. Ha ha I'm sooo happy I don't have kids yet! I don't know if you should listen to Mom. My theory is that any two kids closest in birth order are the most different. Me and you-very different. Me and Kelley-even more different. Which means the next kid you have will be another Luke (good luck!) You're still an excellent blogger even on no sleep. Remember there is always the "schedule plan" which will "have any baby magically sleep 8 hours at age 3 months"

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  9. I think I may have mentioned this before, but just a short few years ago, (o.k....about ten! But I swear, they have whizzed by!) I told John all I wanted for Mother's Day, was sleep. After getting back from church, I shut the door, closed the blinds, and John kept the kids in the other part of the house ALL DAY. (Except for when Addie needed to nurse, he'd bring her in, then he'd take her back out). I remember those sleep deprived days so well. And you are right Cristin, one day, you don't be any more. My sleep deprivation comes now from older kids not getting home until 1 or 2 or 3 in the morning...but that's a whole different kind of sleep deprivation! A friend of mine recently reminded me that even 5 years ago, when Carla was 1, I would turn down going to lunch with friends, because I didn't wnat to wake her up from her nap. She thought I was crazy. Now she has two little toddlers, and she completely gets it. There is nothing worse than waking up a napping child...ON PURPOSE!! ughghghg. Hang in there.

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  10. WOW, this post really made me feel good about being a mom. I feel the same way. My baby Grace is a TERRIBLE sleeper. I tried at 8 months to let her cry it out...I couldn't do it. I have always nursed on demand, and I feel like my baby is SOO much happier becasue of it. I hate it when people ask me how many times a day she nurses..."um, I dont' know, I do it whenever she wants". I feel like when I meet Graces needs right when she needs them met, she feels secure that I will meet her needs. Therefore creating a secure, and happy child. Thanks for this post, it makes me happy to hear someone who feels the same way.

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  11. You are hilarious. I think I spent 80% of my waking hours yesterday reading your blog. Thanks for the entertainment! :)

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  12. Good job, Cristin. I have learned that I am happiest, and my children are happiest when I listen to MY instincts and not other people's opinions. I pick and choose what advice I take and see what works for us. And I totally relate how guys just don't understand the connection we feel with our kids and how basically our instincts won't allow us to do certain things that they so casually think are good ideas. Good post! I'm so glad to hear from a mom I relate to:).

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  13. I seriously loved this blog! I could substitute Jared's name for Erik's, lol! Maybe that's why our husbands connect so well. But I'm right with you, I'm nursing 3-4 times a night! I'm totally going to have the baby spit up on Jared tonight! Just thinking about it makes me laugh.

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  14. Does Kaci realize how funny her comment is? Does she realize that she is the common denominator?

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  15. Brandon hears nothing at night. And on Saturdays or Sundays,he's always shocked when he's slept in and wakes up to find me gone and a kid in my spot even though I've woken him up to tell him "don't roll over to my pillow, there's a kid there."

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