Here's a snapshot from 8 short months ago: One of our high school friends, who's baby turned 2 years old in July reports, that he is still sleeping in bed with her and her husband. Andy and I turn to each other and vow never to let this happen. No one should let their children sleep in bed with them. We will put our baby in his crib where he belongs! People in glass houses, I tell you what.
Jack arrives, he is placed in my arms and I proceed to never ever want to put him down ever again.....ever. I can't explain the thoughts/feelings that led up to this, but I looked at his tiny little face and all I could think about was that I don't want to miss a second of any of this. What if this is it? What if this is our one and only? I can say that some part of me felt some guilt about being a working mom and I had read in Dr. Sears book about how attachment parenting can help keep the bond between you and your baby strong even when you return to work. I still wasn't intending to have him sleep with us, but that kind of happened. Basically all my emotional shit, compiled with his fun reverse cycling (i.e. not taking a bottle during the day and thus nursing quite a bit during the night) led to him sleeping between Andy and I and the majority of the nights my boobs would stay out. Pretty hilarious to wake up with both sides of my nursing tank down, but whatevs.
I found this system to be the most ideal for me to still get some sleep at night, but when he hit the 6 month mark, I started feeling like it was time. I read "Babywise" when he was a few weeks old (i.e. the cry-it-out method). I didn't have a problem letting him cry before naps and even before bed. I started the process of having him fall asleep on his own in his co-sleeper at about 3 months, but when he would wake for his night feeding (around 4am) I would grab him and fall back asleep. Thus most mornings I would wake up with him in my arms. So that was the procedure from about 3 months until 6 months.
At our 6 month appointment the doc said we should spend the next few months trying to eliminate his night feedings. So it seemed like a good time to really push the sleeping all night in his own bed issue because obviously it is hard to eliminate a night feeding when he is sleeping right next to the boobs. Because our master bedroom is in the basement and Jack's room is upstairs, and because I can barely get to the bathroom in the middle of the night, let alone navigate the treacherous stairs of doom, we set up his Pack-n-play in the room next door, which we converted into the walk-in-closet of my dreams!!!! Holla Kelly! My girl Kelly also puts her baby in the closet to sleep!
The first few weeks of our attempts went pretty well. The progress was interrupted by a ridiculous snot monster that took over Jack's nose. He couldn't breathe (see my TVT on the holy trinity of snot fighting tools). After that week we had a little bit of relapse into the crying before falling asleep, but it wasn't bad. To give you an idea: I would say nights 1-5 consisted of about 10-15 minutes of crying before falling asleep. Sometimes he would really put up a fight and go for 20-25 minutes. Like I said, he's stubborn like his father (no way he gets that from me). But by the end of the week he would usually give a little whimper when I would lay him down, maybe let out a small two second cry, and then fall asleep. Like I said, then we had the week of snot-monster-invasion, so the week after that the first two days he cried for about 10 minutes and then got back into his routine.
Then the end of last week and last weekend we had a couple of days of fever, so that interrupted our progress again. He was crying uncontrollably every hour. *sigh* poor kid. That was one of those times where I felt absolutely helpless as a mom. Andy made the mistake of sighing big one night. Like a 'why can't you fix this kid, I am trying to sleep' sigh. So I took Jack upstairs and tried to get him to go to sleep while rocking him in the glider. That didn't work, but it did calm him down, so we came back down to bed and he slept for a few more hours. On Saturday night, our 3rd night of him screaming, I turned to Andy and said 'I just don't know what to do. I guess I have to assume this will get better right?' Sometimes we have to admit we can't fix everything. He assured me kids survive this stuff and I felt better. I was so thankful on Sunday morning when we woke up at 11 and I realized he had just slept for a seven hour stretch! The fever had finally broken.
Since the conquering of the evil fever beast (keep in mind that was two days ago), we went back to putting him down in the crib. Sunday night, he was not happy. He put up a fight. But last night, two second whimper and he was asleep. I couldn't believe it. I kept having to peek in I was worried he suffocated or something. I wasn't expecting him to go down that easy.
He still wakes up at around 3 or 4 am to eat, but I have started willing myself to stay awake enough to return him to bed after he is done eating. The first few times he cried for a minute when I laid him back down, but now he just snuggles right back down to sleep. It is truly awesome. I know there are so many of you out there that put your babies in your cribs right away and you are probably reading this and thinking 'Thank God we did that! I would not want to deal with this now'. But in all honesty, Attachment parenting/sharing sleep/whatever-the-hippies-call-it really was one of the most special things we did as parents and I don't regret it for the world. Sometimes I look at Oak, who's Macky-Bear sleeps like 11 hours or some shit and I am like 'wow that would be nice'. But then I have to remember Mac and Jack, though they have adorable coordinating names, are not really much alike. Jack's reverse cycling has really been an interesting challenge, but honestly I think I am kind of grateful for it.
I don't have a hard time being away from him because I know that the second we are back together again, he is ready to cuddle and be held. I love that! And I do think that is absolutely due to the way Andy and I have parented thus far (Um it is so fucking weird to write the word parented.....who's a parent? me? no way). And I think it is so special that Andy and Jack have such a close connection as well. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he stayed home with Jack for three months, but it also has to do with our "style". It still feels fucking weird to say "parenting style" so I am just going to say "style".
Andy is a man's man. He likes guns, drinking scotch, spitting, smoking cigars, playing with knives, that sort of thing. It was kind of hilarious when we went to R.E.I to buy our jogging stroller (still preggo obvi) he turned to me and said 'I will carry the baby around, but I will not push him in the stroller'. I was like 'okay, whatever'. Well since then, Andy has changed. The first time I came home to find him wearing Jack in the carrier, I tried to mask my shock. It seemed Attachment Parenting felt natural to him as well. Of course if you ask him, he would probably just say 'that is the only way he would stay happy all day'. But Andy is like an M&M, hard on the outside, but soft chocolate on the inside.....mmmm M&Ms.
Being a good parent....me too for taking the picture while laughing.
We have always "worn" Jack. We have various carriers. The one Andy uses is our b.jorn knock off that his sister bought us. Then I have an Over the Should Baby Holder (hahaha. the name makes me laugh), that I bought at a consignment sale for $6.
Don't judge this is a terrible picture of me!
The Moby was my absolute favorite. I loved having him snuggled against me and he almost always drifted cozily off to sleep when I would put him in. Jack has pretty much outgrown the Moby. I can pull it off every once in a while when we are doing something that involves walking around and it coincides with his naptime, but for the most part he wants to be able to look around.
AHHH! This is a crazy ride!
And of course there is the hiking backpack.
Andy is saying 'Fuck me! I have to wear this kid for 6 miles up a mountain?'
Basically, this all boils down to, we are the hippies you read about when you read the articles on Attachment Parenting. I would say Andy was definitely not someone who would become one, I was obviously someone who would, but we both did. This is definitely what felt natural and right to us. Again, there are times that I look at other people and think 'did I do something wrong? should I have done it differently?'. But I think you have to give yourself a break as a parent. I would be lying if didn't wonder if our "style" is the reason Jack doesn't take a bottle easily. But there is no way of knowing and I am trying to convince myself not to think things like that. Besides, all those beautiful mornings waking up and looking down at his sweet sleeping face, I don't think I would trade that for anything. It was what made me happy to get up out of bed in the morning and go to work because I knew I would see it again very soon.
So there you go, from one accidental Attachment Parent to the world.