I Knew There Would Be Opinions…

One thing I have learned quickly about parenthood is that everyone has an opinion and that’s fair. I told a girlfriend (who is expecting herself) to treat opinions and advice like pieces of clothing on a shopping trip… you try on the ones that look good, but you don’t end up buying everything- even the things you do buy you sometimes don’t end up wearing. Also, to take it one step further, some of the things that didn’t look good on you will look great on someone else- that’s advice. It is with this frame of mind that I reflected on the following comment:

“I just want you to know that I have replaced my soap operas with your melodrama- taking care of a newborn…I thank my lucky stars that my three children (ages 6,4 and 8 months), were and are good sleepers; even with our first we never had the problems you and your husband are experiencing. I sense you read about parenting and what to expect from your child at different stages…at some point you have to throw those books away and stop treating your lovely daughter as a science experiment. When you are at the point of questioning why your child doesn’t understand what you are trying to teach her….give your head a shake and remember she is only 5 months old. Your are clearly going through some intense emotions….maybe it’s time for you to go and see a professional for your anxiety about motherhood…your frustration towards your child….and husband. Yelling, crying and lying in a fetal position on the floor is not great modeling behavior for your daughter. Hope this helps….”

I went back and forth in my decision to respond to this comment. On one hand, I am not sure that I should have to justify myself (actions, thoughts, emotions) to a complete stranger, but on the other hand I don’t think she meant to be mean spirited and she highlights some important things that I think could be addressed. So I am using her comment as a jumping off point to get some things out into the open.

For starters, yes my daughter is lovely 🙂 Thank you for noticing. I thank the creator every day for bringing her to me, and I have such joy and pride in my heart when I look at her little face. She is a gift, she is everything I could have asked for in a baby (challenges and all). I did not enter into parenthood lightly, expecting miracles, nor did I simply read a bunch of books and decide to make my daughter a science experiment. I am an Infant Development Consultant with multiple post secondary degrees, one of them being in Infant Development in fact! I have read tons of different books on infant sleep; Pantley, Hogg, Sears, Ferber, Obleman, and I had plenty of practical experience in the field working with many families. When it came time to try and find the best sleep solution for our family, I had a hard time though, becaues this time emotion was heavily involved. Originally I was against letting Everly “cry it out,” I thought that it was so cruel. But after learning the research and psychology behind the different methods, I began to understand that helping Everly learn to put herself to sleep was the best choice for everyone in our family. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but we made it- we had to, because a family bed was not working for our family. None of us were getting the sleep that we needed. Everly would have meltdowns during the day because of her tiredness and her father and I wanted to be present parents- sleep deprivation does not allow you to be a present parent! If we had all been sleeping well, we would have continued on with a family bed, I believe that 100%; but we weren’t, so something had to change. So yes, thank your lucky stars that you didn’t have to walk a mile in our shoes, because they are long miles and the shoes are not very comfortable.

Everly is actually 6 months old and no, I don’t expect her to recite theory to me, but I do expect that she is intelligent and will learn to self soothe eventually, like all of her milestones, and I will be very proud of her. I don’t think it is an unrealistic expectation. I think that believing this process of sleep training would only take two weeks was an unrealistic expectation though, because we have come to learn that one of our daughter’s gifts is tenacity (like her mother!).

I am going through some intense emotions, isn’t every mother? To deny that, I think would be doing a diservice to all of the other mothers out there who read my blog and are going through the same things. I for one, feel less alone in what I am going through if I know that others are going through it as well. I do not believe in my heart that there is not a mother out there who didn’t resent her partner or baby at one point in her motherhood. I don’t think that in reacting to my challenges I am being a negative role model for my daughter at all. She is seeing that when faced with a challenge, people aren’t perfect and that they make mistakes they feel terrible about. Some people are even brave enough to admit their mistakes to others… and not just a few others, they are brave enough to post it on the internet for anyone to read, rather than sweep it under the rug and pretend all is well. Everly will see that I struggled and that other women supported me. She will see that despite our struggle we stuck with it because her father and I felt it was in her best interests. She will see how much we love her, because I have not been shy about sharing how hard this has been to do, despite how vulnerable it makes me to others. She will see that my vulnerability helped others.

I know that there are people out there who will think that I am a crazy monster for even letting my child cry for 2 minutes, but you know what, that is their opinion and I strongly believe that they are intitled to that. Some people  still get up every 2 hours with their 10 month old baby, it may not be what we would do, but that’s their choice. We all do what works best for our families and as long as no long term damage is being done to the children physically or psychologically why should we judge each other?

Like I said before, I don’t think this reader meant to be mean or hurt my feelings (as I foolishly allowed them to be initially), I think she meant to help. So thank you for your help and for your opinion and for giving me the opportunity to speak to some questions or concerns that other readers may have had as well. I would also like to thank this reader for this comment because it has helped me to reflect upon my situation and to weigh that question- is this worth it?… Yes, it’s worth it because like I said above- something had to change, none of us were sleeping! To continue doing the same thing over and over while getting the same results is the definition of insanity, and then I really would need to talk to someone!

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5 Comments

Filed under Daily Check In

5 responses to “I Knew There Would Be Opinions…

  1. Well put Jessica. I think you are doing a great job with Everly. For every new parent there will be times when you hear some advice that you think is the best choice but I think that being a good parent means choosing the best choice for yourself and your family (and only yours). I don’t believe you are harming her with any of the techniques you use so to be honest, I don’t feel the need to have an opinion, I’m more just interested in the process.
    Even people with children and ones that have struggled with their child’s sleeping patterns don’t know what is like to be in your family. We were all raised differently, so our understanding of situations will always be different. I hope that you never feel discouraged by anyone’s comments and I hope you and your family have lot of happiness and rest in the future 🙂

  2. Thank you for your excellent response. I can completely relate to your struggles, and I am encouraged by your thoughtful approach to parenting. My first daughter was a good sleeper, and when problems came up, they were easy to fix. My second daughter is a different story. After two weeks of using a Pantley approach to solve our problem, we gave up and brought her into our bed at night after swearing I would never bring a baby into our bed. Thankfully, we are all sleeping well together, but I don’t want to continue like this for too long. I am dreading having to try to ‘fix’ the problem again, but I know, in the end, it will be best for our family. It is so helpful knowing that there are others out there going through the same situations and feelings. All the best.

    • Jessica Bender

      Thank you for your supportive comment. You will know when it is time to change. For us a family bed worked great for the first 5 1/2 months. I was going to use a cosleeper at first, but when I saw how good she slept with us, I thought why not! You do what works when you need it to work 🙂 Yes that time will ultimately come when you have to help her learn new sleep strategies, but just know that like me, and tons of other moms you will get though it!

  3. Awe, hugs and screw the opinions.

    Each person has to figure out what works best for them and that means trial and error, success and failure.

    I also feel your pain as we have had our own set of issues to overcome with our Everly.

    Right now we are teething and have been since 3 mo. For us that is the major source of the problems here. I know discomfort can get in the way of self soothing. Is your Everly teething?

    Well, if you ever need to talk or vent I am here for you.

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