Monday, April 5, 2010

By the book

True confession: I own several books on parenting. They are really mostly books on sleeping. How to get your child to sleep, how to get them to stay asleep, how to get them to nap, when naps are too long/short, etc. Hence the name of this blog, I guess. I acquired these books shortly after we came home from the hospital. Those first few weeks were smooth sailing but right about the time our boy was 5 or 6 weeks old, he forgot how to sleep. And he cried. And cried. And cried. And, of course, this was during the time that my in-laws were in town visiting the new baby. I can't begin to describe the level of anxiety I was experiencing at any given point in my day. Let me also just say that my in-laws are actually very nice people, but nothing adds to that feeling of incompetent parenting more than having it witnessed by someone else whose been there and done it successfully. So my husband stopped on his way home from work on a couple of occasions to pick up the necessary instruction manuals for how to encourage our infant to find his way back to Slumberville. Unfortunately, I am also one of those people who has a problem with TOO much information. I would read one book and feel settled on a plan of action to soothe my child and then read something else and think "No, that's not right. This must be it." and in the end, I was running in circles like a dog chasing it's tail. This is also the reason I try to stay away from Google and avoid browsing the internet for all sorts of random parenting issues from eating to napping to walking, etc. In any case, the problem with our offspring ended up being not related to sleep at all but actually acid reflux. Once he had some baby Zantac, things started to calm down. As much as they can anyway.

I must also confess here and now that we did do sleep training with him when he was older. It was one of the tougher things I have ever had to do, but I do believe that it helped him sleep better at night and he does go to bed without a fight typically. *knocks wood* And no, I am not advocating it for everyone because it was super hard and if there are other ways to deal with a cranky kid that are more comfortable for parents, I say "Go for it!" In any case, we have recently begun that transition from two naps to one. The dreaded "yuck zone" as one book calls it. Where two naps is almost too much and one nap is not quite enough. This is also a transition that our pediatrician said wouldn't happen for a few more months. Which has caused all sorts of doubt and anxiety in me wondering if this new desire to sleep only once per day for a huge chunk of time is more related to a schedule issue than actually being physiologically ready to only have one nap. So, I have started hitting the books again. And Google. And it's hard to stop. What I have found is that most resources agree with my MD but also that every baby is different. I have also read that when a baby is over-tired they throw more tantrums, which might explain why World War III occurs whenever the tot is denied something. Oddly, that makes me feel better that my child isn't turning in to a brat but is really probably just tired a lot of the time. So, that's a relief.

But it's also somewhat disappointing for me. I wish I had more confidence in myself as a parent. I would love to be the mom who just knows "That's not my kid" when the doctor, friend, grandma, reference material, etc. says that your baby should be doing "x" by the age of "y". But, typically, I am not. Especially when the information comes from an authority figure or (for some reason) a book. I don't know why that is. Any yahoo can write a book, right? In fact, there are thousands of parenting books out there with thousands of different ideas and suggestions for raising a kid. So, it really is silly for me to give any one idea any more weight just because it's in print, right? I wonder if parental confidence is something you develop as time goes on. Or is it something that you just have or don't have? If you tend to be a more confident person does that make you more confident in your parenting? I wonder if there is a book about this...maybe I will Google it.

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