Monday, May 26, 2014

My "Famous" Baby Blues Analogy

Pregnancy is such a special time of life. The focus is all about you, your growing belly, how you look, how you feel. Yes, people talk about the baby, but it's centered around how you feel about the baby, what you hope for the baby, where you are having the baby, what you are going to name the baby.

The preparation for the birth and a new baby is so exciting. Part of what is so exciting is the unknown. I like to compare it to Christmas. All the preparations are part of the fun. So much fun, in fact, that Christmas starts earlier and earlier each year. All the presents under the tree -- it's so fun to guess what they might be. The anticipation of the big day surrounds the entire season, just like pregnancy does with meeting this new little person on his/her birth-day.

Birth day comes and goes, just like Christmas. Everyone has opened their presents and they spend the day checking out their new swag, trying on their new clothes, listening to new music. We admire the new baby, rehash the birth, take pictures, count fingers and toes, and decide who they look like. It's a magical day.

By a few days in, routine slowly starts to set in. The glow of the Christmas happiness is still present but the newness of the presents has worn off and the tree looks a little less exciting without the presents under it. Mom is still feeling afterpains when baby latches and getting breastfeeding established, but the excitement is diminishing and she may be exhausted.

Once the tree is down, New Years is over, and January is underway, well, it's pretty depressing. Summer is months away and there's not much to look forward to. Several days after birth, it's pretty normal (about 70% of women) to experience Baby Blues. While just about everything you read will tell you that it's hormonal, I think there is another element we ignore. Any time you are looking so forward to something and then it's over, there is a let down. The focus isn't on mom anymore, it's on the baby. Mom usually looks about six months pregnant and "squishy" for a time and that can be depressing. She's waking up in puddles of milk, she's not sleeping in normal cycles, and she may be tending to other children. The baby is here to stay and you are responsible for him/her! It can be overwhelming.

Like everything else, Baby Blues generally passes. It's a normal reaction or phase and knowing that can be half the battle. If you experience feelings of extreme depression or anger, consult with your care provider. While postpartum depression is not as common, it does occur and it's important to get help.

While I am not experiencing Baby Blues, I did have to power through this winter! I am extremely relieved that summer is right around the corner! Aaah.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The "Cry it Out" Style of Parenting -- Is This You?

I had an interesting conversation with my husband last night. Our son got a ticket yesterday for not having an updated safety inspection sticker, and he was actually quite depressed over it. He immediately went to get an inspection but was still left with this $200 ticket.

I told my husband I think our son should pay for it. I apparently am all about teaching a life lesson. My husband said something to me I will never forget. He told me that my approach is like letting him "cry it out". He went on to ask me if I know when my inspection is due, and of course I have no idea! It gets done when the guys at the lube place tell me it's time when I'm there for an oil change. Well, David has been teaching Daymon to change his own oil and that's how it got missed. In fact, he went on to tell me that he's pretty sure Daymon didn't even know what the state inspection is because he's never explained it to him! Yeah, I'm pretty sure I haven't either.

OK, OK, I heard what he was saying, and I pouted the rest of the night. I've thought about it all day long though. I am adamantly opposed to letting a baby cry themselves to sleep, but this idea of forcing (helping?) our children to be independent lasts much longer. At what point do you start letting them figure things out on their own? Make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes? Suffer the consequences of their actions? It actually starts early on, but being allowed to make mistakes and knowing that someone is there for you, even to bail you out, is comforting.

"Crying it out" is more than letting a baby "learn" to fall asleep on their own. It's a way of parenting that I strongly disagree with. I'll be super honest and tell you what I think. I think it's a lazy way out. I think tired parents are scared of holding their baby to sleep because they've been told that the child will never figure it out on their own. They've been told that the child will eventually give up and sleep -- and they are right. I believe that letting a baby cry themselves to sleep teaches them that their parents are not to be trusted. They are alone. No one is there for them. The stress of the situation eventually causes the brain and body to shut down. Sleep is the only escape.

David knows this is how I feel about letting a baby cry it out. I'll be honest, his words stung. But he's also the best person I know. He makes me want to be a better person. I don't want to parent in a "cry it out" fashion. I want my children to know that I am there for them when they need help, when they don't know what to do -- even if that means footing an expensive traffic ticket. I want them to trust me and feel... well, attached.

And so I realized, as I've been thinking about all of this today, I have a tendency to be "lazy" (using my own words here) and take the "easy" way out. It's easier to pass it off as fostering independence than to take responsibility for teaching and supporting these people in my house who are very independent. It's pretty easy to let them do whatever they want and not take (or share in) the responsibility of their actions. Most of the time, things work out fine and they make good decisions, but being willing to lovingly help them out when they need it is harder than it seems.

Hearing Martha Sears speak a couple of weeks ago was very inspiring. I have found myself thinking about her and how she would react to certain situations with older children. It's a fine line between giving them space to make mistakes and still taking their hand and showing them the way. Three out of four of mine are teenagers now and it's a wild ride! The oldest is heading to college in the Fall, and I just hope that we have taught him enough to get by in the world. More than that, I hope he (and all of them) know that we will not leave them to "cry it out" alone. We will help them along in this crazy life. I am so thankful I have a wonderful man by my side who shares the same philosophies I do -- and reminds me when I have forgotten.