Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Hush Little Baby

I hope that my child looking back on today
Will remember a mother who had time to play
Because children grow up  while you're not looking
There are years ahead for cleaning and cooking
So, quiet now cobwebs dust go to sleep
I'm nursing my baby and babies don't keep

I should clarify something before I embark on this very emotive subject.  And it is emotive for a very good reason. I am against CIO (Crying It Out) but I let our two and a half year old cry one night last week.  Both Mister Husband and I had been in to him a couple of times each.  He had done his wee’s, had a drink and what followed after that was pure and utter messing.  For the last ten months, he has been waking up anything from once a night to three times.  Even the baby doesn’t do that.  So we let him cry.  He didn’t cry for long.  He wasn’t even crying, but more of a winding down sound with lots of loud yawns mixed in.  That was our two and a half year old and it might sound like I’m splitting hairs here, but when it comes to small babies, I am absolutely against allowing a tiny infant to CIO.  I get distressed when I read about “sleep training.”  I read once on a parenting website, of a mother putting her small, small, tiny, infant baby through sheer hell at just a couple of months old, to get her to sleep the night.  And guess what? It worked, apparently.  Wrong!  All she did there was teach her small, small, tiny infant baby that no-body would come to her when she cried.  Imagine that?  It distresses me no end when I hear stories like this.  Horror stories of how some mothers will leave their small babies to cry so hard and for such long periods of time, that they vomit on themselves.  A long period of time for a small, small, tiny infant baby is five minutes.  These mothers have admitted to leaving their baby to cry for a whole forty five minutes.  I feel physically sick when I think about it.  I hoped that times had moved on from draconian practices.   I admit, I stood outside in the hallway when Screecher Creature No. 1 was about 7 months old, give or take, and gave the old Cry It Out Method a shot.  It was murder.  I couldn’t do it.  My heart was literally held in a vice grips and every mothering instinct I had, screamed louder than he did to get in there.  Get in there and pick him up dammit.  He doesn’t know any better.  But you do!   I honestly, hand on heart, don’t understand how anyone can stand and listen to a baby crying like that.  Because I tried.  I’ve been there with the sleep deprivation, when Mister Husband and I were almost snarling at each other.  I understand what it’s like to be pushed to your limit, to be so desperate for just four hours of unbroken sleep that you would try anything.  Once I resorted to putting one of our boys in his buggy at night and leaving it by our bedside where I could push it when he woke up.  This went on for about three weeks. Maybe more.  I co-slept for a brief time with another one when he was very ill with chicken pox and a serious bout of teething.  I cried with them but I could not let them cry alone or for long periods of time.   Aren’t we programmed to respond to our babies cries, no matter how small, how tiny?  Look at how our bodies react when there’s a baby crying somewhere in the vicinity. Big, wet, leaky patches on our t-shirts.  If our bodies know, how come our minds don’t?  Aren’t the two supposed to be connected?  Aren’t we supposed to be connected to our babies and tend to their basic needs?  I often wonder is it a genuine desire to “train” a baby or is it as a result of pressure from family members to “get your life back?”   A very short 10 months ago, we all had control in our lives.  The clock said it was 7am so time to get up for work.  Oh look, it’s 11am now.  Put on the kettle and have that Kit Kat.  Here comes lunchtime because the big hand is at 12 and the small hand is at 1.  And the best time of the day, 5pm and home time.  (If you’re lucky!)  Now there is this little being present and not only is the How To manual missing, the clock means damn all to this gorgeous little creature.  Nappy brain is very much in evidence but unfortunately so is the ability to still be able to tell the time.  It is difficult to change the previously hard wired old ways and obey The Clock.  Difficult to give up old controlling ways and be led by another.  But how awful to regret not holding your baby when they’re upset.  How sad to look back on your short, short time with them and wish you had done things differently. Some people go to great lengths to mould their babies into the person they want them to be at a defenceless age.  Sticking rigidly to a sleep schedule, a feeding schedule, not making eye contact with them at certain hours of the night, not picking them up because they will get “spoilt”.  Food spoils, not babies.   Stop reading the books written by those who do not have children of their own.  Read your own baby instead.  They are an open book and will tell you what they want.    In recent times there has been a lot of media attention drawn to nursing homes in the country.  Owners and staff members in certain unfortunate ones have found themselves on the receiving end of the law for their deplorable treatment towards their elderly charges.  It’s a sad fact of life that the very young and the very old get the raw end of the stick sometimes.  The weak and the vulnerable forced to live by someone else’s stiff and unyielding rules and regulations.  I’ve stopped reading about such things because I find them too upsetting.  But then, ssh, wait.  Something odd happens. You’ll never guess but the small, small, tiny infant baby grows up.  Goes to school, maybe college, after that, secures a job.  The small, small, tiny infant baby is independent, more than capable of looking after him or herself but in some cases, it becomes necessary to move back home.  Where they are cared for and looked after.  Meals made and placed on the table in front of them.  A nice bedroom in which to sleep.  Clean laundry and in general a place to stay, to relax where they know they are loved and wanted, secure in the knowledge that their parents would never see them stuck for anything.  It’s a bit ironic but perhaps some babies should be born adult sized because in some cases, as adults they are better looked after than when they were babies.            

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