Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I judge the judgers

Well, things got easier and I thought I'd blog more and then I didn't.  Because even though things got easier in some ways with Max, I wound up trying to do more stuff, and also I got really tired.  And I just couldn't figure out what I should even write about.

So here's the quick and dirty update and then I'll go into what I really wanted to write about.  Max was an elephant for Halloween.  He was very excited when we put him in his costume and he looked adorable.  Halloween has been a sad holiday for me for awhile because I really consider it a children's holiday and I love the idea of doing it with my children.  I used to tease my cat that if Jeeves and I couldn't have children, I was going to dress him up as an octopus and push him around in a stroller on Halloween.  Abbott never looked particularly thrilled with that idea.  Halloween this year was a lot of fun.

We sprung an enormous leak in our ceiling in Max's room.  We're on day four of the repairs.  Turns out it was a shower a few floors above us but the a-holes who live up there didn't think to call the super and tell him they were having issues with the shower EVEN AFTER THE SUPER CALLED THEM AND TOLD THEM ABOUT OUR LEAK.  I'm sorry, was I shouting that last part?  I hate them.  So right now there's a huge hole in the ceiling, an industrial dehumidifier running, and Max has been sleeping in our room again.

I went back to work!  It's part-time, but it still required figuring out childcare.  We hired an amazing nanny, E.  We love her and more importantly Max loves her.  Makes being at work a little easier, although I really do hate pumping.  But I have yet to meet anyone who's like, "I love to pump!  It's so fun!  It's not uncomfortable or awkward or boring at all!"  I also find that being at work has generally made me a happier person.  I feel like I got a part of my identity back, and it's actually fun to use a different part of my brain.  And I enjoy being home more on my off days - I find I'm more focused and patient.  AND!  Guys!!!  It gives me an opportunity to listen to the podcast Serial on my commute!  Have you been listening to it?  Well, you should.

My epic battle with DMV has finally concluded and Jeeves and I are now the proud owners of my dad's old car.  It's nice to have the car, and even nicer to be done with DMV.

What I really wanted to talk a little about today was sleep training Max, or more specifically, how everyone has a very strong opinion about every single parenting decision you will ever make and apparently there is only one right way to do anything ever.

For his first 3.5 months of life, Max was a pretty great night sleeper.  Terrible napper.  But at night, he would usually fall asleep after we (usually Jeeves) rocked him, then he might wake up around 11pm to eat, or I might give him a dream feed (where you wake your baby up to eat but they aren't really awake and they go right back to sleep after eating).  After the dream feed, he'd go back to sleep and wake up one more time - between 3am and 5am, eat, go back to sleep till 7 or 8.  Around 2.5 to 3 months, he stopped waking up at 11am and we stopped doing the dream feed, so he was only waking up one time.  It was awesome.

Then, around 3.5 months, things changed.  He stopped going to sleep easily, it was taking 30 minutes to get him down.  He started waking up two times a night to eat.  Then three times.  I can't necessarily say that he really wanted to eat, only that he would wake up, cry, and because it was the easiest way to get him (and therefore me) back to sleep, I'd nurse him.  And sometimes he'd wake up, crying, but it would only have been an hour since he had eaten, so I knew he wasn't hungry.  On those occasions, Jeeves or I would try to rock him back to sleep.  I became sleep deprived and ragged.

I started looking into "sleep training."  I had read Weissbluth's book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and I agreed with his central premise - that sleep is really, really important and kids need to get enough of it.  But I felt super squeamish about rapid extinction (where you put the munchkin down awake, close the door, and let them cry it out until they fall asleep and you don't check on them or anything).  Thanks to a friend, I landed on a book with a somewhat gentler approach, but it did still include letting the kid cry while they figure out how to comfort themselves and fall asleep.  The method suggested waiting till 1) the baby is 5 months and/or 15 lbs; and 2) recommended not doing any sleep training in the weeks surrounding a return to work (also, the book said not to do it when the kid is teething, or sick or when you're traveling, etc.).  So even after I found this method, we waited another couple of weeks before we implemented it.

I'm not going into what method we used because it's not really the point of the post.  Here's what I will say - the method we chose worked really, really well for us when we finally decided (after checking with our doctor) that it was time for us to sleep train Max.  I would be happy to discuss our experience with anyone who's interested.  And maybe at some point I'll actually go through what we did step by step.

No, the point is that I cannot get over how goddamn judgey everyone is about a family's choices in child rearing.  I made the mistake of using the Google when Jeeves and I were hemming and hawing about sleep training and trying to decide what method to use and when to use it.  The method we used, which is really quite moderate in my opinion, comes from a book.  The comments section of the book on Amazon is peppered with snotty comments about how sleep training your kid means you're a lazy parent who doesn't really want to take care of your kid.  An attachment parenting site said you shouldn't do anything to prevent your child from waking up and needing to be held at night unless you are dangerously sleep deprived.  Pro sleep training sites talked about how people who are opposed to cry it out should stop whining about how tired they are.  In other words, everyone was completely convinced that their method was the only right  method, and everyone who did something different was a Terrible Parent.

I talked about it with Kate and she sighed loudly - "I never judge other parents' choices.  Except those people.  Those people who are judging everyone else.  I judge them."  I have a friend who let her kid cry it out every night for 35 nights until he was able to fall asleep on his own.  I have a friend who has to lie down in bed next to her 4 year old every night until she falls asleep because she tried letting her cry it out one night and it wasn't for her.  I have a friend who has a family bed - toddler, baby, husband, dogs - everyone in the pool.  I'm not into doing any of those things.  All of their kids are fine and healthy.  All of those moms are good moms who love their kids.  I wish we could all just chill out a little bit and be a little more supportive of each other's choices.  This is hard!  I doubt myself all the time!  When I make a decision about how to parent Max, it's after careful deliberation and research and soul searching.  Maybe not everyone does the same amount of research, but I am pretty sure that the majority of moms just want to do right by their kid and put some thought into what they're doing.

In conclusion, here's a picture of Max in his Halloween costume.