This one’s a long one, so I’m splitting it up into two parts. Happy reading!
When I was pregnant with Bunny (and every pregnancy before her) I was terrified. I was way too terrified to read anything about parenting. I justified this by saying that I don’t want to stick to one doctrine and I’d rather learn by experience and through community and friends.
This did lead to a few embarrassing situations, since Bunny was born on a holiday. I didn’t even have the basic newborn care class they give to new moms at the hospital. The result? A diaper rash when Bunny was four days old was the way I learned that you need to use diaper cream every time you put on a diaper.
The discovery of a thick layer of dirt at two weeks old is how I learned that washing behind the ears is not just a cliche that 50’s moms told their kids.
But generally I muddled through, and really didn’t feel the need to get into a parenting book.
Then came the inevitable: I was going back to work, Bunny was moving to her own room, her daytime sleeping habits were terrible (even though she was sleeping 6 hour stretches at night) and we had NO SCHEDULE. So I caved.
When Bunny was about 3 months old I read “The Baby Whisperer”.
For about 3 days there I felt like the clouds had parted and I knew ALL THE THINGS. Here was the best way ever to solve every problem Bunny had and everything will be sunshine and unicorn farts because this woman knew EVERYTHING.
Sure – the book was slightly condescending. Sure – there were a few annoying things about her tone. But hey – she made SENSE! SHE EXPLAINED STUFF! SHE GAVE STRUCTURE! (Apparently she also made me type in all caps).
I picked out a couple of choice chapters on sleep and establishing habits and made Shmerson read those parts of the book too.
Then a week passed.
Then 2 weeks passed.
The truth is that around day four of trying the not-so-aptly-named “EASY” method I saw I was walking a precarious path. At the end of week one I started to realize that maybe said whisperer was not really whispering to me. By week two, my new mantra was “EASY my ass”.
When it comes down to it, here’s what I learned from the Baby Whisperer:
1) The best way to wrap a towel around your baby when you take him/her out of the bath is by sticking one corner of said towel in your mouth. I’m putting this tip first because honestly this most useful thing in the book. Towel-wrapping before I learned this trick was slippery, precarious, and frankly terrifying.
2) The stages of sleep for a baby. This was super-helpful in understanding why Bunny cried when she was tired, and also helped me understand that sometimes crying is just her way of falling asleep. Really awesome info. Though I could have found that by googling.
3) Dream feeding to sleep through the night. Worked like a charm and brought Bunny to 10 and 11-hour stretches. But again – google would have done the trick.
4) Establishing a bedtime routine helps get a baby to sleep more easily. Honestly – I already knew that – picked it up from a friend. So I guess she only gets credit for reminding me that I knew it already.
Here are a couple of other things I learned from the baby whisperer:
1) A baby is not a machine or a computer. There’s only so much “programming” they can take in, and some things are just a matter of temperament.
2) Bunny does not like to sleep during the day. Trying to shoehorn her into some sort of schedule, even if it’s a fluid one, will not work. She’s just a crappy nap-taker. It’s just how she is. I tried every trick in Mrs Whisperer’s playbook. Twice. Three times. I did EVERYTHING. And yet – Bunny continued to be a terrible napper. She’s been sleeping through the night since 3 months. But daytime – forgettuboutit. To this day the only time Bunny sleeps for more than 40 minutes during the day is when she’s snuggled up to me. Even then it doesn’t always work.
3) Parenting books are silly.
Yep. My original thesis – diaper-rash and crusty-ear inducing as it was – was right. I think parenting books are silly. I think that a child is a fluid, constantly changing being and there are no manuals that will teach me how to raise that being. I can do research – sure. But to think that any one book would change the way I parent completely, or would be the end-all be-all solution for everything – in my eyes at least – felt silly.
Then, sometime during the first week of February, I watched an episode of “The Colbert Report” and realized, yet again, that I was wrong.
[To Be Continued Tomorrow…]