This guest post is part of our Month of Mothering. We’re featuring the words of women (and a few men!) from a variety of walks of life. In recognition that all mothers want what’s best for their baby, and knowing we all have different ways of achieving that, we welcome commentaries and experiences from mothers of all different philosophies and practices. Please note that the opinions expressed and baby care techniques used are reflective of the individual posters only, and do not imply endorsement or recommendation of the Other Baby Book.
by Ashley Farrell Korecki
I went into mothering thinking I had it all figured out. I’ve been working with babies in some form or another for over 10 years, and nannying for the past three. Surely, I had it down. After observing different methods and philosophies, and using a variety of baby gear, I had a pretty concrete list of “do’s” and “don’ts”. Do baby signs everyday. Don’t use pacifiers. Do use cloth diapers. Don’t let the baby sleep in our bed. Do exclusively breastfeed… You get the idea.
The first thing on the road to great parenting was a natural childbirth. Without going into that whole story, I basically went 50+ hours of trying for a natural, drug free delivery, only to end up with a C-section. I should have realized then that God was reminding me that things don’t usually go the way I plan.
Breastfeeding was another top priority. But wow, was it hard at first. Shane, my son, had low blood sugar. So when he was only hours old, we gave him a little bit of formula. Once we were home, Shane wanted to nurse 24/7. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with it, and he never seemed satisfied. His pediatrician – she is awesome, I must say – said we should try giving him a pacifier, because he might just like to have something in his mouth. Despite our previously stated anti-pacifier approach, we went to Target in search of pacis. Sure enough, Shane loved his binkie. He began nursing at a much more reasonable rate, which made Mommy very happy.
Then there was sleep. You know the saying “sleep like baby?” I don’t know who coined the phrase, but they obviously didn’t meet a baby like mine. Shane has SOMO (Scared Of Missing Out) Syndrome. Sleep isn’t a priority of his. For months I would just let him sleep in bed with me (once again, despite my previous convictions). He loved it, and honestly, I loved it too. Shane seemed happier and slept better when he was next to us and I love cuddling with him. But as he got older, co-sleeping was more of a challenge than a comfort. He would wake every hour. I tried feeding him, but he wasn’t hungry. He just wouldn’t fall back asleep. I hated the idea of letting him cry, so I tried a no-cry sleep method. It didn’t work for us. After months of sleep deprivation, I got to the point where I could barely function. So, I made sure he was well fed, freshly diapered, and I let him cry. It broke my heart at first, but I quickly learned that Shane has different cries, and not all of them needed immediate attention. If it’s his tired cry, then I’m OK with letting him figure it out for a few minutes. Sometimes, he just wants more time with Mommy. If he doesn’t settle down, I snuggle with him a little while longer. Now I understand why so many people were telling me to let him cry a bit. Sleep is a wonderful thing for baby AND parents! Some fussing may not be for everyone, but we’re all happier now that nighttimes aren’t playtimes.
So, I guess you could say motherhood hasn’t been the smooth sailing I anticipated. There have been so many things that my husband and I have had to pray about and sort through, and we’re often re-working our strategies. Shane’s not even eight months old yet! In the midst of trying to figure it all out, I learned to weed through the advice and find what resonates with me and my family. I also learned to give myself the grace to change my mind. It doesn’t have to be All or Nothing. Shane is breastfed, but when I’m not able to nurse he takes formula. He hardly takes a pacifier anymore, but he loves putting anything he can find in his mouth. He sleeps in his crib for half the night, at which point he comes in bed with us. For nap time, I put him in his swing, bust out my guitar and sing to him until he falls asleep. He wears mostly cloth diapers, except for when daddy’s on diaper patrol, it’s bedtime, laundry day, or I’m being lazy. We sign with him… when we remember. Our days look different than I imagined they would when I was pregnant. But our days are packed full of love and laughter, and that works for me.
Ashley (Farrell) Korecki is a singer/songwriter who resides in Cambridge, MA with her husband, son, and dog. When she’s not at home rockin’ out with her family, she’s teaching Music Together classes in the Boston area. You can follow her on Facebook and check out her music.