Convenience

March 20, 2009 at 3:56 pm 5 comments

I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a panel discussion on schooling options…Public vs. Private Christian vs. Home schooling. Each mother had incredibly convicting reasons why she chose the option she represented. Of the three, the most striking was the Public School representative.

Her narrative was so touching I almost shed a tear.

She passionately spoke about how their family believed that the public school system was a mission field and that they wanted to be involved in the school system as Christians as well as parents. She told stories about how they met with teachers and prayed with them. How the teachers would call them with prayer requests and tell them about students who could use a “positive influence.” Then she told the stories about the kids whose lives were affected through their decision to get involved. She spoke about the many letters they received over the years penned by these students as they approached their graduation day, outlining the family’s impact on their lives.

I wish I could say that’s why I’m leaning toward the public school option. But it’s not. I’m leaning toward public school because the schools are within walking distance from my house, there’s no tuition (unlike private), and it will give me a little kid-free time through the week (unlike home schooling).

Similarly, I wish I could say that my 8 month old still sleeps in our bed because co-sleeping is our family philosophy and we do it primarily to promote bonding and intimacy. Not that I disagree with that philosophy in any way, but it just wasn’t our “plan” before having children.

I had lots of “plans” about the type of parent I would be:

…I would never allow more than an hour of TV per day (if that)….studies showed that excessive TV viewing under age 3 increased the likelihood of ADD in adolescents.

… I would never give him candy to keep him quiet….well, that’s just bad parenting, and of course, all the popular literature disproved of it.

… I would never let my baby sleep in bed with me…too dangerous, almost everything I read warned against it.

All the popular literature had me freaking out over the potential risks of co-sleeping so much, I was a nervous wreck anytime my first son was in bed with us. I couldn’t get the hang of nursing lying down and he started sleeping through the night at 6 months, so it never was an issue. We were lucky to have such an easy baby.

By the time baby number two came along, I knew the TV and the candy had a stronghold on my parenting techniques, but co-sleeping still scared the crap out of me.

Things change.

When I was pregnant with my first, I saw his face in a dream and it was like I “knew” him. I don’t know how else to explain it, I just knew there was something special about that dream. I had a similar dream with my second. I could see his eyes sparkling with vivacity. I just knew he would be a happy baby.

And he is. Now. He’s the happiest baby ever…strangers nickname him “smiles.”

But he didn’t start out that way. I was so distressed when I thought I really didn’t “know” him from my dream the way I thought I would. He never seemed happy. He cried A LOT. It turned out that he had some reflux issues that resolved after a couple of months.

But he loved to cuddle, and always wanted to be held, just to be touching someone (mainly me). He would also wake up every two hours all night long. For MONTHS. So, as a sanity saver, I learned to nurse lying down.

At first, I attempted to put him back in his bassinet every time he finished nursing. But he was…(and still is)…a very light sleeper and almost always woke up the minute his head hit the bassinet mattress. Ironically, he would fall fast asleep the very second his head hit our mattress.

So, I eventually grew comfortable enough to fall asleep while feeding him in a side-lying position. And I didn’t move him when I woke up and realized he was still there. He slept so much better (and much longer) in our bed, so we did what worked.

Now I love having him sleep next to us. I love that he is such a cuddler and I love that my presence comforts him to a peaceful sleep.

Like I said, I wish I could say that he’s still there because it‘s our family philosophy to co-sleep. I wish we held to any parenting philosophy. I’m not totally sold on the Baby Wise thing nor am I completely sold on Dr Sears attachment style of parenting. Instead, it turns out that the Spilled milk family philosophy is CONVENIENCE.

The problem is, the selfish brand of “Convenience” parenting doesn’t come with any books.

But selfish and unselfish alike, my wavering thoughts these days are:

On one hand, I think he needs to learn independence and learn how to soothe himself to sleep. On the other hand, I know he’s not going to want to sleep with us forever and we want to cherish this time while it lasts.

On one hand, it’s dangerous for him to be in bed alone, so it ties me to the bed even when I don’t want to be there
On the other hand, I caught him a couple times lying on his stomach with his face down. I tried to wait as long as I could to see if it would startle him awake. I waited to (a slow) count of 10, and he didn’t move. So now I would worry as much about him sleeping in a crib outside my view as I did when he was born about the dangers of him sleeping in our bed.

My husband is as conflicted as I am. The sweetheart that he is, he enjoys snuggling with the baby as much as I do, and doesn’t mind him being there. On the other hand, he wouldn’t object to the baby moving out either since he misses the former “marital use” of the bed.

So, what to do? Either decision goes against the “Convenience” family philosophy. Allowing him to remain in our bed keeps our delightful codependent relationship blissfully in tact and allows me to monitor his sleeping positions, but hinders my husband’s sex life and my personal freedom to physically detach myself from my little snuggle junkie. But moving him means I’ll have to endure lots of crying and getting out of bed in the middle of the night, and I’ve grown quite fond of staying in bed through the night.

So, I’ll most likely wait another month, and if I don’t catch him kissing the mattress anymore, we’ll let the sleep training begin. It will be physically and emotionally stressful on all of us, but in the long run, it will promote the “Convenience” style of parenting it seems we have adopted. I hope.

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I’m No Superwoman I Never Thought I Would Say…

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ck  |  March 21, 2009 at 12:02 am

    My daughters never co-slept, but I also dipped into the Convenience-style of parenting.

    ZERO guilt.

    I decided that there is so little convenience in parenting that if I could find some, it was mine.

    Reply
  • 2. KathyB!  |  March 21, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    All my kids co-slept. Purely for convenience. And I have no guilt or regrets.

    However, there is one minefield on the horizon that you should know about. Eventually they can’t sleep anywhere else and the convenience you enjoyed initially turns into a major pain in the ass later. I would enjoy it, and go with it, and put him in his own bed for naps and occasional night so that you don’t go past the point of no return. We did with our twins and it got a little ugly 🙂

    Reply
  • 3. Gibby  |  March 23, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    My girls never co-slept either, mostly because I am an evil mommy who gets even nastier if she doesn’t get her sleep in a big bed without kids.

    However, now that my youngest is four, I love the words, “Mommy can I sweep wif you,” on those rare occasions of a nightmare or just not being able to sleep. It feels so good to cuddle her.

    But the bonus is that my kids will sleep anywhere.

    P.S. We went the public school route, and so far, so good. (And this is coming from a mom who did 12 years of Catholic school.)

    Reply
  • 4. Jenny  |  March 25, 2009 at 5:02 am

    I’m sorry I didn’t see this entry until now. I can relate to every single bit of it! Your baby sounds like my baby, in all the ways you detail. We don’t co-sleep anymore, but we did. We also co-slept with our first. She was an extremely difficult baby. Screaming like a woman being drawn and quartered does not even begin to describe her temperament, and the sleep issues were endless. We tried every which way to do the Convenience Technique (you should copyright that name somehow), but nothing helped. WIth our son, I was terrified he’d be the same way, and he started out the same way. I had to sling him almost all day, every day, for his first three or four month. He wouldn’t sleep any other way. But, oh, how I loved his snuggly body in our bed. I really feel the pain of being torn on this front, and I have to say it’s the one “issue” that conjured the most emotion for me with both my babies. It’s hard to strike a balance and figure out what really is convenient and best for everyone, isn’t it? I hope you figure out the equation. Good luck!

    Reply
  • 5. faemom  |  March 25, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Great post! How nice is the use of the Convienve Technique. Our first co-slept with us. If I’m not sleeping lightly, he’ll still climb into bed with us at 3yo. Now it’s just annoying because he snuggles and I can’t move. So good luck with that! Oh and don’t worry about tummy sleeping at 8mos, if he can roll from tummy to back, it’s ok if he rolled from back to tummy in his sleep. My second loves to sleep that way.

    Reply

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