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Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Having my son was and still is the single greatest thing that will ever happen to me. It has not always been easy, at times it seemed almost impossible, but every moment good and bad, tired and even sad has been worth it.

Bowen was born at about 1 AM –so it wasn’t until about 5 Am that all those newborn ministrations were done, not to mention what we as new moms have to do to get sorted, were complete. They brought him in to me sometime in the early morning. It was surreal. This was my baby and I was now a mom! Luckily (at least this first attempt) breastfeeding went easily and my little love tucked in under my arm, after his first meal from me, fell asleep. He stayed with me all day and seemed unfazed by the loud movie his dad chose to watch from the bed next to mine. I think it was the drugs that kept me unfazed – but how was my son to know any differently? He felt safe and he knew he was safe so any noise was a non-issue. This oddly would play out in a somewhat hilarious way later.

As they do in hospitals, the nurses decided that I needed rest and solid sleep to recover. So around ten pm they took Bowen back to the nursery. It was around midnight that I woke up with the worst feeling of worry. I went immediately to the nursery and that is where I saw my son screaming and alone in his crib. No one was consoling him; no one was even on their way over to check on him, it was just a bunch of nurses thinking, “This is all normal”. IT IS NOT!!!!!! No baby cries for no reason. They cannot manipulate and no matter what anyone says it is not good for them. If they are crying they are either in discomfort, hungry, in pain or scared. I asked the nurses wtf was going on and why they weren’t doing anything. They treated me as if I was a typical ignorant new mom (moms don’t let these nurses or doctors ever intimidate you – you have instincts – you’re the mom – you know!). To appease me they took his temperature – he actually had one: over a hundred degrees! I immediately picked him up – even as they were telling me to leave him with them – I think they saw the look in my eye and decided to keep their teeth. As soon as he was in my arms he was immediately quiet and calm. And when the nurse came into our room five minutes later to take his temperature it was normal again. Needless to say my boy did not leave my side for the duration of our stay at hospital.

When we got home we settled as best as we could into the roles of new parents. His first bath and his cries destroyed me –so I immediately decided on family bath time where I would put him on a sponge matt in a few inch filled bath between the legs of his father while I bathed him. He was comfortable and loved it – even though his father had to admit our son’s cannon had remarkable aim as he looked over in wonder at him in the tub.

Over board you think? I’m going to tell you “no” – I wasn’t going over board. As I said before babies can’t manipulate and they don’t cry for the heck of it – and no matter what anyone says it is not healthy. Because I didn’t force my son to use crying as a method of communication he didn’t cry much at all. He only cried if he was sick (remember the after effects of all those inoculations! Ugh! Which as an aside you know I’d never do again), or hungry and I hadn’t stepped up fast enough, wet diaper, or if he was hurt. And after a week I had his signals down so that within moments of just a few sounds I could anticipate what he needed, therefore never forcing him to cry. And you know what? He was the best-behaved baby I have ever known. I could take him anywhere and even at a few months people were blown away by how good he was. Do you know why? Because he was already feeling secure and safe in his world.

Now to the biggy: “crying it out”.

OBVIOUSLY I think you know where I stand on this one. I think it is cruel and an abomination and does permanent psychological damage to your child. When they cry and you don’t respond they are learning that they don’t have control over their world, that it isn’t a safe or a predictable place. It sends confusing messages. These parents that think, “crying it out” to create a sleep schedule, probably respond to some tears in the day. What do you think that does to a kid’s psyche? You are permanently fucking them up. I don’t care how tired you are (my son’s father didn’t get up with him once in the night) and my son decided (due to his tiny tummy and the fact that my milk stopped coming in properly) that he needed to eat every two hours. Can you say tired? Yep I was. But I brought him into this world and I owed him everything I could to help him.

Children need consistency to feel safe. Leaving them alone to cry it out, yet responding to tears at another time does NOT do this. Remember, as I already mentioned, babies cannot manipulate. Their tears are a real sign of distress, and if you want to raise a secure and confident and mentally stable child you need to respond immediately. That mother/child bond is the most important thing you can give your child at this age. They need holding and contact and lots of it. My mother-in-law was sure I was spoiling my son; with love? Really? That is impossible.

Bowen was calling the shots as far as what he needed after he was born. And I was listening. He creepily slept, at times, with his eyes slightly open. If I moved him from the bed or from my side he would stir and start to fuss. I, of course, would immediately bring him back to me. It turns out his nursery was a waste of time and money. Due to his needs and wishes, he slept with me for the first few years.

Again, my first pediatrician tried to make me feel bad for this. I didn’t listen. I’m glad I didn’t. You know why? When sleeping next to my son I noticed that at times he would stop breathing altogether. I would sit and watch, waiting for him to start breathing again. He didn’t, not until I would rub his belly or move him in some way, and then the big long deep breath would come and he’d resume his normal breathing. This happened more than a handful of times. I learned to sleep light and I would wake as soon as I detected a change in his breathing and was fortunately always there to get him going again. Can you imagine if I had listened to my doctors? Can you imagine if I had made my sleep more important than his emotional or physical health? I don’t even want to.

We have a lot to learn about the human psyche. And if you look around we have way more to learn as to how to raise confident, caring and secure children. Parents need to trust their children and their own instincts. We’ve been raised or conditioned to believe that doctors or other “experts” know best. I’m here to tell you they don’t. Every child is different and we need to listen to them, not dictate our beliefs of what they should be or how they should be acting on them. They know what they need from a very young age. It is NOT crying it out. It is definitely more unconditional love and patience. And no matter how tired I was, I made a promise to myself that EVERY time Bowen would wake, even after the 20th time, I would greet him with a smile. I’m happy to say that I kept my promise.

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