I don’t like to leave my baby (unless it is with her daddy). I plan my day according to her schedule. It is important to me for her to take her naps. If I am in the middle of something and she calls for me, I drop what I am doing and go to her. Nothing is more important to me right now than keeping her happy and healthy.
Before Avery was born, I really had no idea what kind of parent I would be. I read a few books (including the dreaded Baby Wise) but it wasn’t until after (well after, in fact) she was born that I stopped analyzing and planning what I was going to do with her and just let it happen. What I have found is that my parenting style is very baby-directed and instinctual. I do what feels right, when it feels right, and that is the end of it.
In all of our struggles with Avery’s (very) wakeful personality- I am talking often up each hour, with the occasional long stretch of 3 hours thrown in there- Blair and I have discussed what we could do to make things better. He really wanted to try a form of “sleep training”. Pretty much letting
her cry a little bit, going in and comforting her periodically, until she manages to fall asleep on her own. What Blair didn’t understand though, is how I, as a mother, am wired. People lose sight of the most basic fact- that we as humans are MAMMALS. We have instincts just like every other animal out there, and we should listen to them. When I hear my baby cry, especially a piercing cry, I begin to sweat, I can feel the adrenalin surge, and every ounce of my being desires to go to my baby and fix whatever is wrong. Leaving her to cry in her room, while my brain is screaming for me to go to my baby, just doesn’t make sense to me. Sleeping through the night is a milestone, just like crawling, walking, talking, and I am sure my baby will get there, on her own time, just like every other baby.
What I am getting at is following your instincts as a parent. People (myself included) spend so much time worrying what others think. Take, for example, the little to no desire I have to leave Avery under the care of someone else. We have a wide variety of loving and capable family members close by that could take Avery off our hands for an evening. In fact I would imagine there are some who are just waiting for the day. But I am just not there yet. Now more so than ever, because Avery has started to have severe separation anxiety (which very common to begin between 9 and 12 months). Part of it is that Avery is still breast fed, day and night, every 2-4 hours. Part of it is that she does not drink from a bottle. Part of it is that she is so wakeful I worry about her caregiver getting her to sleep. And most of it is that it just doesn’t feel right to me yet.
Some might say they worry about me. That I need some time to myself and with my partner so that I am nourishing my most important relationship, and myself. Others might call me a martyr, or like I said at the beginning of this blog, “too uptight” or “hanging on too tightly”. Let’s go back, however, to the premise of this blog. We are mammals. We are animals. I don’t see monkeys, deer, bears, cows, racoons, etc. leaving their young to go off on their own for a while, while grandma monkey looks after the baby. These animals are with their babies day and night, until the natural age of weaning (found to be about 6x the length of gestation for our closest relatives, chimps and gorillas). I am not saying that parents who leave their children are doing the wrong thing. I am all for spending time alone with your partner. Everybody needs that. I have just been creative in finding that time to re-charge. I take a hot bath after Avery is down for the night. I read a magazine, book, or forum while she naps. After supper I go take a walk on my own or spend some time in the garden while Blair plays with the baby. Instead of going to the movie theatre, Blair and I rent a pay-per-view movie off the satellite dish. We enjoy talking in bed before Avery wakes up for her first feeding.
This is not how I imagined it would be. I particularly remember telling Blair that it was really important to me that we still have date nights every couple weeks when the baby came. What I didn’t anticipate, however, is that these date nights would be with a two-foot tall chaperone. And that's alright with me.