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Saturday, February 10, 2007

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Hi Arwen,

I'm a lurker with a 7-wk-old little boy. It's interesting to read your thoughts and what's worked for your baby. I think you're right - if you love your child and trust your instincts, we can't mess up too much. At least I'm hoping that's true. We have made different choices for our kids, but, like you, what we're doing seems to be working. We had a fussy newborn, too, who is thankfully becoming more content the older he gets. Here are a few things that have worked for us:

* His carseat is his bed. He sleeps in the room with us (and I'm in no hurry to give up the peace of mind that comes with him being so close), but he wakes up screaming whenever he lies flat on his back. So when he was about three weeks old we started putting a blanket over the seatbelts and letting him sleep in his carseat. He loves it. I don't know how long it will be before he can sleep flat, but at this point, the carseat has been golden.

* The silver bullet for crying is the car, in our house. He loves loves loves to ride (I think it's the vibration, because as soon as I crank the car he falls asleep), and I have been known to drive for hours to get through a restless day.

* Like you (I think), my husband and I decided that I would stay home with him, regardless of any financial benefits of additional income. Not to criticize anyone else's decisions, but for my family, I just can't imagine doing this any other way.

* I don't have a sling, but I have a baby bjorn-style infant carrier. It's my favorite way to take him in public. I know he's warm enough, he sleeps without complaint the entire time (because he's close to me, and nothing really sleeps as well as a mom, right?), and I have a little more control over his exposure to germs. I'm with you - I like having him close when we're out.

One expectation that has changed is the hope for a routine this early in the game. I have been pretty scheduled with his feedings, but I let him play when he wants and sleep when he's tired. I know that if I pushed him, I could get his sleep regulated, but it just doesn't feel right. Not at his age.

Anyway, that's what we've done, for what it's worth. Thanks for the post!

I'm glad to see you're taking it all in stride, Arwen. Camilla looks really well and it looks like her personality is beginning to emerge.

My mother-in-law reacts to my stated intent to breastfeed my babies perhaps as long as one year with thinly veiled disgust. The idea of it simply seems to gross her out. She says that she's not that kind of woman, that the bottle was perfectly fine, thank you. I don't frown on the bottle-feeding thing, but feel a little uncomfortable that she views my future breastfeeding of her grandchildren as something kind of weird or gross. Ah well. I resolve to aspire as you seem to do to coolness and calmness.

I was up at 4:30 this morning because I could not stop thinking about how terrified I am of those first few weeks (months?!) Then my two best friends and their babies came over for breakfast and told me it's all worth it. I think I have the lowest (and fewest) expectations possible for EVERYTHING- sleeping, feeding, crying- everything! And because of that, I think, the only decision I've made is that we'll do whatever keeps us sane and functioning. I know it will be worth it and I can't wait to figure out what works for us, but the anticipation is killing me. Then again, I've never been good at patience!

Feel free to ramble anytime, I loved this post (!) and I think you have plenty of experience to draw from! Plus she is just the cutest thing ever!

Hi Arwen,

I got here via Rachel's blog and just *had* to comment when I read about the white noise CD. Yesterday one of my brothers showed me a page of white noise CDs and I thought it was the weirdest thing *ever*, and though they still make me giggly, I find it very interesting to read about your experiences with them.

Your father's advice sounds most useful.

I don't have children yet, and don't expect to have them any time soon, but I like reading about this stuff anyway. I suspect your parenting philosophy is really quite close to mine. I've loved the idea of a sling forever, largely due to a lovely picture of my mum wearing me, I've liked the idea of co-sleeping ever since I first read about it, and breastfeeding sounds absolutely lovely to me (though I suspect actually *doing* it might change my mind a little).

Luckily my boyfriend seems to think all of this is fairly normal and will easily accept "odd" things if I can explain them properly, even if the rest of society doesn't always get it and he's probably even more wary of dogma than I am.

Hi Arwen,

I got here via Rachel's blog and just *had* to comment when I read about the white noise CD. Yesterday one of my brothers showed me a page of white noise CDs and I thought it was the weirdest thing *ever*, and though they still make me giggly, I find it very interesting to read about your experiences with them.

Your father's advice sounds most useful.

I don't have children yet, and don't expect to have them any time soon, but I like reading about this stuff anyway. I suspect your parenting philosophy is really quite close to mine. I've loved the idea of a sling forever, largely due to a lovely picture of my mum wearing me, I've liked the idea of co-sleeping ever since I first read about it, and breastfeeding sounds absolutely lovely to me (though I suspect actually *doing* it might change my mind a little).

Luckily my boyfriend seems to think all of this is fairly normal and will easily accept "odd" things if I can explain them properly, even if the rest of society doesn't always get it and he's probably even more wary of dogma than I am.

J is almost 7 months old now. Neither one of us had any experience with babies before he was born, so we had zero expectations. Here are our "data points" for what they're worth.

. He slept in a Pack-n-play with bassinet attachment in our room till he was 3 months old. Then we booted him to a crib in his own room. Having shared a room with him at my inlaws over Christmas, we are positive that this was a good decision. He is not a good roommate -- makes a lot of noise and also wants to play if he sees us in there with him!

. We breastfeed. I went into it with a goal of 6 months; we'll be at 7 months next week. Like you, it went well from almost the beginning, so we were exceedingly lucky there. We'll continue until 1 year, when I run out of milk, or when he weans himself, whichever is longest.

. I've written to Moxie, too. How awesome is she?

. Someone gave us a sling; I was opposed to it. Then I tried it -- he would sleep in there and I could get work or read or something. IT was great! Then he got HEAVY and that was the end of that. We now have an Ergo and are still getting the hang of it, so it's mostly for around the house right now. We mostly got approving looks when he was in the Bjorn at the store or whatever.

. We do have a travel system (out of curiosity, what made you decide against one?). J just graduated to his bigger carseat and we are missing that baby-carrier, I tell you. It made life so much easier to be able to strap him in indoors and on the floor instead of in the 10-degree weather in the backseat of the car.

. We did the shifts thing for screaming fits, too. One would come down to the basement with the little dude screaming while the other stayed upstairs, out of earshot. Total sanity saver. No sense both of us getting strung out by the screaming. Luckily we are past that phase *knock wood*.

. We used the swing to entertain for (at most -- that's all he'd put up with) 15 minutes so we could cook dinner or whatever. He's outgrown that too. He does love his Jumperoo though. We also had a vibrating chair but that didn't get used as much.

. I work, not for any financial benefits (real or perceived), but for my sanity. It is interesting to me that people assume that moms work just to make more money. We have no family in town and I am not the sort to make friends easily so the isolation and lack of babysitters would quickly make me depressed, cranky, and slightly insane.

----
She may outgrow the hatred of the carseat -- J did. All of a sudden, he was fine with it and rides quietly now. Well, he babbles to himself, but that's just fine by me! I don't remember when it happened but it was such a blessing. NOthing made me crazier than a screaming baby in the car when there's nothing you can do about it.

Thanks for sharing your decisions. Like you, I'm interested in the choices that other parents make.

I have 2 kids, ages 2 years and 3 months. I am curious to hear your thoughts on baby spacing. I just wanted to have another baby, and I wanted to be able to stay home the first year, but I also want a career and I graduated from college when my older son was 14 months. We decided to go ahead and get pregnant then, that way I could stay home for a while and then start a career once the little one is old enough for me to feel comfortable leaving him with a babysitter.

My kids are totally different. Adrian (the older one) loved the car, slept in a crib from the very start, and would have been happy in a cradle swing 24/7. I tried to breastfeed for 2 months but I was still in school and as a chemistry major I had long labs 3 days a week where I was out of the house for 7 or 8 hours at a stretch. Also my ob/gyn put me on the birth control patch before I had a chance to establish adequate supply. So he was formula fed and very colicky because of it. Also I used a car seat/stroller combo for tranport.

The little one, Devin, is a much happier baby. We breastfeed and cosleep and use a sling. I got crunchy! But I can see an obvious difference. I am also with him 24 hours a day and can pretty much anticipate his needs, so there's not much crying. We both sleep better at night as well. He lurves the sling. However, he hates the cradle swing and gives me very dirty looks when I put him in there to tend to his brother or make dinner. Sometimes he forgets that he hates it and falls asleep. I think it just swings him a little fast for his taste, even on the lowest setting. He's a very low-key kid.

I have a well-established schedule for Adrian, but Devin pretty much goes with the flow. I think if circumstances were different I might want my kids a little farther apart but this spacing was the best for us, all things considered. I learned so much from my first parenting experience. No matter how much people tell you in advance, nothing prepares you for the real thing. And nobody knows your baby like you do. I just smile and nod when people tell what I should be doing with my own kid. They don't have to hear the screaming.

Before I was a parent, I was one of those how-dare-you-bring-your-child-to-a-public-place types, with the glaring at the INSENSITIVITY of these parents with their kids and the screaming and the running and the getting into everything. Oh, the universe got even with me, oh yes it did. My pediatrician had to give a referral to a specialist for Devin, and I only got an hour of notice before the appointment. I packed up both kids and schlepped them to the hospital, where I proceeded to have the single most disorganized, sweaty, embarassing public experience OF MY LIFE. Adrian was running and climbing everywhere, Devin was fussing and squirming, and I was having to provide proof of insurance and ID and sign forms in a large hallway with all sorts of busy hospital types bustling past. Ha! That'll teach me to think that MY KIDS wil NEVER act THAT way in public as I will be a paradigm of discipline and perfect parenting. HAHAHA!

Camilla is getting so big! She is adorable and looks very happy - so I guess you are doing right by her.

As the mom of three (nearly 5 year old identical twin girls and a 2 year old girl) I think you've hit the nail on the head about the parenting philosophies. Do what works for you child and all will be ok. Each child is so different (my twins are like night and day about some things) so it makes sense to tailor your parenting to each one of them. Breastfeed, formula, co-sleep, crib sleep, car seat, sling - or any combination of these things - it's all ok.

One of the most important things I've learned is to follow your heart and make decisions based on what works best for your family. I think your parents gave you all the skills you'll ever need to parent. They gave you the ability to love without measure and trust in your faith. Pretty much, that's all you need.

Hi Arwen, Bryan, and Camilla! Such wise words from such a new Mom. Well done you. I've loathed the "Mommy wars" for years now, and whenever I chance on one of those discussions about breast or bottle, or work or stay-at-home, I start yelling at the TV/radio/magazine, "I breastfed and supplemented with formula! I work part-time! Why must it always be either/or?" Common sense and lots of love, indeed. Give Camilla a kiss from her Indiana cousins.

Our parenting style was like yours for pretty much exactly the same reasons. The baby bjorn was the carrier of choice for us, because the boy just didn't want to be carried in a reclining position at all. I am going to risk sounding slightly judgmental here (I don't mean to be) and say that even though I was forced to parent this way with my first child because of fussiness, after going through a whole infancy this way, I would parent even the calmest baby the same way. There is good scientific evidence that shows that holding your baby almost all the time stimulates brain development and it is absolutely the best way to nurture a strong and healthy emotional bond. Good for you for listening to your baby instead of the 'experts.' And as you probably know, us moms of fussy babies get a lot of flak and criticism from those whose babies are "quiet" and "good sleepers," who seem to that our babies are spoiled. For those people, I can only hope that they are blessed with a delightful but colicky child like my own. You will also find lots of support from other parents who also had "one of those babies" and you will be sharing war stories of never being able to go anywhere in the car and all of the floor walking for a long time. The fussy ones are usually very bright babies who know how to ask mom and dad for what they need. You will also probably find toddlerhood to be a relief, as she grows more independent (forward facing car seat--hooray!). Whereas the average parent experiences it as an increasing challenge.

I am still learning so much about parenting from my child. Discipline is both an art and a science, and you could study it for a thousand lifetimes and still have more to learn.

Oh, Camilla is gorgeous! (Daniel's a handsome little guy, as well - as babies named Daniel tend to be, I find :)). I think your Dad's advice was spot-on - I was similarly lucky in that my parents also brought me and my siblings up in a way that I found pretty congenial, so it wasn't like I had to invent a totally new pattern from scratch, or worry about repeating major mistakes they made, or anything like that. The only parenting advice I actively shied away from was the kind that said that this was the ONLY WAY and you would be SCARRING YOUR CHILD FOR LIFE if you didn't start using it yesterday - whether it be wearing your child, letting him CIO, never letting him CIO, whatever. (Barring a few basics, of course - I'm not saying I'd endorse a parenting plan which leaves it to your best judgment whether or not to strike your infant).

About the carseat - there's hope yet. Daniel loathed his infant carseat, and screamed for longer than I thought was physically possible when he was in it, but when we switched to the larger carseat when he reached the appropriate weight, he loved it and routinely fell asleep in it for a while. I have no idea what was up with that, but there you are.

Great post. It is neat to see how we each put our own touches into parenting.

Ainsley is 10 months old this week. I had lots of expectations, but of course they were all wrong. But I think we have done okay - she is happy and healthy. I can say that my child slept swaddled until she was nearly 5 months old. She got overstimulated easily and sometimes the only way to calm her was putting her in the "burrito". She would be instantly at ease.

And the carseat was a must-have and being that we love being outside and I get horrible cabin fever, we spent nearly every day during our warm weather last summer and fall out and about.

:-) She is beautiful.

Arwen, I couldn't agree more. Every kid is different and they all deserve to be parented in the way that benefits them most.

That's what I'm looking forward to most about having another baby - no matter how much I though I knew that with the first, some of your fears and habits just have to be worked through the first time. Now that I know for a fact that the decisions aren't nearly so life-and-death as they seemed, I'm hoping for a more relaxed infanthood the next time.

Good for you on your parenting philosophy. I've always been a pretty relaxed parent although I had high expectations for my children's behavior. Worked for me -- they're teenagers now and great kids. The thing you have to remember is your kids have strong personalities from birth and they are what they are. I think parents take way too much credit for their parenting, both good and bad. (I am not talking about truly bad, neglectful or abusive parenting, I am talking about well-meaning, high-functioning, loving parents.) I think the best thing I ever did for my children was to choose a really great guy to father them.

Just wondering as I've seen it now in your post and elsewhere...what is "crunchy"??

Anyway, I have 2 kids (Nathan: 2 yrs 7mos & Sophie: 3 mos old). The parenting of them has been different because they are different. For instance:

One liked the car and one does not and lets you know it EVERYTIME she's in the carseat.

One was formula fed because he wanted nothing to do with it and one is still being breastfed because she doesn't like the bottle or the formula for that matter.

One slept in his crib in his own room because we were nervous first parents and weren't sleeping even when he was because of the noises, and one sleeps in her own crib in our room because now there's just no other space in our present house and she's breastfeeding and does not sleep completely through the night.

One would have nothing to do with the swing but would go in the snugli while the other one will go in the swing happily but fusses when put into the snugli.

One was a completely over-sensitive, fussy-sort of a baby and one (so-far) has been a quiet, non-complaining baby.

So there you have it...totally different approaches for 2 totally different kids!


I, too, would like to hear your thoughts on baby spacing, Arwen, because I finally clicked on your link and the post plus the comment thread gave me hives. It's hard for me to put my finger on what it was. Perhaps the treatment of a family like an assembly line, where an increase in productivity goes along with improvements in efficiency in putting out the "product." Maybe it was the total sense of entitlement with which these good people were discussing their future children. Nary a "god willing", or an "if all goes well" in the lot. Maybe it was the fact that putatively religious people can discuss decisions about having children without one reference to prayerful discernment. Maybe it was the blatantly judgmental attitude pointed toward people with more closely spaced children--and the implication that they must be "cutting corners" somehow in the quality of their parenting. I guess that is one reason to be thankful for my infertility--I have been forced to accept that I am not in charge of this thing. God is! There is no perfect baby spacing, no perfect family size. One child is as perfect a number of children as three or ten. The one thing I do know is that if you are making the decision to please yourself only, then it's probably the wrong one. You've got to take each stage of life as it comes, and never forget that everything good that we have is a gift.

Wow, Ersza, talking about judgmental. I think you need to go back and read Arwen's many, many posts which give glory to God, even as she was struggling with inexplicable infertility.

God willing, you will get to experience the joy of childbearing and birth. Perhaps then you will experience how easy it is to abandon yourself to the very earthly, very mundane, chit-chat about all of the tedium of childrearing.

Besides, see this quotation from Michelle's contribution:

"One of the most important things I've learned is to follow your heart and make decisions based on what works best for your family. I think your parents gave you all the skills you'll ever need to parent. They gave you the ability to love without measure and trust in your faith. Pretty much, that's all you need."

Anne - thanks for using my quote to help Ersza see that we are just trying do what Arwen asked - give her our best advice. I've been blessed three times over and have never once taken these blessings for granted. I don't think I have all the answers, just the ability to pose the right questions. It is my wish for Ersza that she finds solice in something - she obviously is hurting.

um, I don't think Ersza was talking about Arwen's post. She's talking about the post that Arwen linked too. And it was interesting reading for me as well, since I'm infertile as well. She's right that the comment list to THAT post (the one linked to) had no God willing, or prayer about spacing, or anything like that. The comment that gave me pause there was the one about having too much control in child spacing? While it is true that I find modern society exerts too much control in child spacing - I also find that people in general seem to forget that nobody here on earth ultimately has control about child spacing. That it is up to God. Period.

As far as parenting philosophy goes... well, I have always gone with what works for me, and have asked questions of those I respect, and used what would work for our family. The kids seem to be doing okay - but I thank God's grace for that :-).

Peace with you, Arwen - and thanks for your prayers during this time for us.

Let me clarify that I am speaking of the link that Arwen included in the top of her post, not any discussion that has been going on here. I really think something is missing in that whole thread (on that other blog) and I would love to see Arwen's take on it. She is usually quite a breath of fresh air when it comes to such things.

And, gosh, could you be more condescending? I experienced the joy of childbearing nearly eight years ago, thank you very much. Since then my life has been full of many challenges and rewards. Have I always gotten what I wanted? No. Which means I am pretty lucky.

Yeah, I think that was a big misunderstanding, E. Ouch, though.

I didn't feel as strongly as you do about the post (I mean, I didn't have a urticarial reaction at least ;) )but I also went over there and I commented because I couldn't help myself.

There is a certain perspective that fertility struggles give to these discussions (the one over at bearing) that I think is essential to share. But I must confess there is a streak of green in my observations. Child spacing? Oy, up until now I worried about miscarriage spacing---where would it be more convenient to have my next physical and emotional breakdown? On spring break? Before or after final exams?

But I think our pain has a teaching emotion in it and its important to share it compassionately.

As for Arwen's post--gosh, dearie! So so reasonable and common sensical. Well, I guess I shouldn't expect anything less from you my friend! How did you get so level-headed and wise at your young age? (For the fiftieth time she asks this.)

And this is Dr. Jim on parenting philosophies: "all parenting philosophies are heuristics and not algorithms"---I just wanted to include that since I thought you'd appreciate his math-speak.

And double gosh---aren't we prosperous Americans so INTENSE about our parenting choices? We'd all do well (I include myself in that group) to remember that for some people choice in parenting philosophies means do I give the strongest child or the weakest child the most food because we have so little to go around?

Bouncies vs. swings and whether or not to use soy formula seems rather ludicrous in that context, doesn't it?

Anyhoo---Funky Va-Milla is so lucky to have such loving and attentive parents!

(And can she GET any more weirded out by her boy cousin?)

As someone who commented over at Erin's blog, I feel like I have to explain/defend myself to some commenters here (I'm sorry Arwen if this is straying too far from your post).

I'm a longtime reader of infertility and pregnancy blogs (as in, 7 years, before they were called blogs and before I was married). When my husband and I decided (after much prayer) that we no longer had reason to avoid pregnancy, I assumed we'd get pregnant within the year because we knew I had regular cycles, but after reading so many stories of women who struggled for so long, I was prepared for almost anything -- but I was pretty shocked when we conceived the first month. The same thing happened with our second child two years later. When I read Erin's blog, I found it refreshing to read about a fellow NFP-using Catholic who is now struggling over when to be open to another life. It's not like she had one child and is now saying that she wants to wait a decade for another--she's said that they've always been open to the possibility of having 4 or 5 or more -- how many people in the U.S. today say that? For me, it was a huge shift in thinking from the way I was raised to let go of planning exactly how many kids I wanted and when. My Lutheran mom had fewer than 6 open-to-life cycles in her entire life, being on the Pill before and between her two pregnancies, then was sterilized when my sister was 6 weeks old. I now have two kids under three and the thought of getting pregnant again soon terrifies me. How mentally drained do I have to be to justify avoiding another pregnancy? If we can't fit another car seat in our paid-off cars and can't afford a car payment, is that a good enough reason? After two immediate pregnancies, I feel that for me, being open to life means that I'll be holding a baby in under a year. There was a recent article in Family Foundations, CCLI's magazine, about balancing needs of current children with the importance of being open to more and how HV did not intend for families to just produce as many children as their bodies could crank out. While it's critical to not become selfish with spacing, I think it's valid to say that my mothering abilities are being stretched as far as I can handle right now and adding a third child at the moment isn't in our family's best interest. I just wanted to point out that for families whose children are conceived quickly through NFP, there are struggles because of that planability that might not come up if kids took a year to be conceived. It isn't the pain of infertility, but it isn't easy either.

As for parenting philosophies, I think you've got it all figured out, Arwen -- whatever works for your family is the best way. I found myself naturally falling into the AP camp but if straying from that works for us, so be it. My toddler moved out of our bed at 18 months and weaned at 24 months and that puts me on the less-AP side of my friends. If our baby needs a different timeline than his brother, we'll do what works for him and us.

Ersza, I am sorry. I thought you were referring to Arwen's blog and comments. I certainly wasn't trying to be condescending at all, just working from the information you gave about your current difficulties conceiving. I thought your tone was rather gentle considering Arwen's blog gave you hives, and I should have followed my hunch that I was missing something.

Humbly,
Anne

Just to clarify what I meant about your gentle tone: I meant your initial tone, wherein you requested Arwen's input on child-spacing.

Oh my goodness, CUTE SWEATER, CAMILLA!! What a fashion plate! :)

I think your and my parenting "philosophies" are exact opposites; my kid (now 2.5) sleeps in a crib (and has since about 2.5 months), he was formula-fed by necessity, and we never had a sling. (I always thought that the baby'd get really hot -- she doesn't, obviously?)

BUT! I also received the sage advice from my parents, to trust my instincts. It eases my mind (still!) every day.

You're doing great. I love reading.

Arwen, sounds like you and Bryan are doing a great job with your sweet baby. I am a firm believer in the fact that every child is different, and that every parent must decide what is best for that particular child. Good post.

Hmmmmm ... what choices have we made? Lets see,I stay at home, "we" breastfeed, Selena sleeps in her own room, and we do use the car seat as an infant carrier. One of the reasons for this is that she absolutely loves it! We use the swing and have tummy time and crib time and exersaucer time etc. Every morning after the first feeding, Selena and I do snuggle in bed together and I cherish that time!

This is what has worked for us ... and who knows if the same things will work for our next if God blesses us.

I really enjoyed your post. Keep up the good work.

I loved this post, Arwen! You are a wise mama.

I definitely will be checking out slings and such when our little one comes along.

But now I am a little curious- where *do* you guys go in the car? I am a total homebody, but would probably go a little crazy if I couldn't/didn't leave the house more than a few times a week :-)

I really do wish more people could hold your same opinions about parenting, which is one of having really no SET opinions at all. I was on a discussion board a few weeks ago where someone felt the need to explain to EVERYONE that the reason we have so many problems in this country is because of epidurals, formula feeding, and moms who don't stay at home. Oh, and it was a MAN. Anyway, it's refreshing to go somewhere online that doesn't pass judgment.

Violet turns 6 months this week, and I really didn't have any expectations. (Other than the fact that I didn't expect reflux, but that's because I'd never heard of it. For those who have gone through it, you have my deepest sympathies!)

We started out EBF, and I was absolutely loving it. However, by 4 months she just wasn't gaining the weight she should be, and I was so afraid we would have to switch to formula. We figured out though that it wasn't that my milk was insufficient, but that she just was spitting back up WAY too much of it. So the ped suggested putting a little bit of rice cereal in her bottles. It made SUCH a difference in her that I started pumping for all of her daytime meals, and only nurse her during the night. I never saw myself as a pumper, but here I am.

We use a travel system. The reason for this is that Violet HATES being put into the carseat, but she's content once she's in there. So once we get her in there, we're not taking her back out until we darn well have to. I would much prefer to be able to use a sling, but she's so squirmy that she just does everything she can to wiggle her way out.

She naps in her cradle swing. Because of the reflux, I've found that she naps better with that incline. All the *books* tell you this will make it so they can't fall asleep without motion, but she does quite well at getting herself back to sleep in the middle of the night, so a big raspberry from me in their general direction.

For the first 4 or 5 months, we put her down to bed in the co-sleeper, but now she gets put down in her crib. She stays there until she wakes up for a feeding around 2 AM, and then I just leave her in bed with me. Now that she's 6 months, if she wakes up hungry, she'll actually make her way over to me and try to start nursing through my pajamas. It's the cutest thing! Since I don't get to nurse her during the day anymore, I really treasure the time in the middle of the night.

And I've gone on for way longer than necessary, so thank you again for being so open to different parenting styles!

Arwen -
I don't have children yet, but I loved this post. I loved hearing your ideas/thoughts on childrearing. I look forward to many mosr posts on the subject, etc.
It's true that there are expectations that will go out the window, I'm sure. In trying to get pregnant, I've already been thinking about some of these issues. I'm aware that some choices I think I will make will totally be dependant on how my child reacts. I'm glad you have the attitude that every child is different, etc. I appreaciate hearing that advice.
You baby is so incredibly cute. Your nephew is too, but Camilla is just precious.

What a great post. I like the idea that mommies can talk about parenting techniques, without getting all bent out of shape. You are absolutely right about every baby being different, and that parents have to meet the needs of their baby. I wish more people could take such an open-minded approach to parenting.

Delurking to say I really liked your post except for the section where you pointed out in your list of beliefs that divide mothers: "People think spanking is child abuse." It made it sound odd, as if it wasn't child abuse.

With respect, spanking a child >>is<< child abuse and illegal in many states and provinces in North America.

People may differ on formula use, co sleeping, breastfeeding, sleep training, baby wearing, what type of sling to use etc, but none of those things will physically hurt a child. Spanking does.

It wasn't a good example to use. It is the only thing that stuck out for me in a post that spoke sensitively to relying on instinct and fostering respect for parenting choices.

j

Just to clarify: Spanking is not illegal in any states in the union though there are several bills floating around that would make it so.

It is illegal in Sweden and maybe a couple of other countries.

Just to be sure, I looked it up and it is not even illegal to spank a child in school. (Though probably the parents would bring consequences worse than a penal code.)

Whether or not it is child abuse is largely an issue of opinion and is a culturally constructed idea.

These things are largely a matter of fashion which is why, as Arwen points out,they shouldn't be taken so blam seriously. They change according to the current trends.

25 years from now, there could be folks who consider letting a child under 5 watch television or giving a child soy formula child abuse. It is entirely trend dependent.

There is a compelling argument to be made that it is not an effective form of discipline but that doesn't make it illegal.

Now if Arwen had said, "baby-shaking," instead of spanking, you would have a point...but though CA and MA have bills floating around that may change things, as of this writing, spanking in the U.S. remains an issue entirely up to the judgement of the parents.

Baby KILLING however, is entirely another matter. In many states, if the child is only half out of the womb it is perfectly okay to club it like a baby seal.

Its all a matter of fashion, you see.

But I digress.

Arwen,
I loved reading this blog. It is so insightful. The advice your father gave you is right on. That is something I have been working on myself. I have two children, Dominic (almost 24 months), and Stella (almost 11 months). I am normally a pretty uptight person, who likes things to go a certain way, blah, blah, blah! Since I have had my wonderful children, I have been forced (thank the Lord!) to look at things differently and take things a bit less seriously. My kids are 13 months apart, and Stella, the younger one, was a HUGE surprise. Well, she was actually pretty little (6lb 8oz at birth), but I had no idea I could even become pregnant, while nursing my son Dominic, (literally all the time), who was 4 months when I conceived Stella. I thank God everyday for my little darlings, and I know that it was all in God's awesome plan to have both of them when we did. But, needless to say, things were not exactly as I had planned them. There is a funny saying that goes something like: if you want to make God laugh, plan your life out. I don't know if I have that exactly right, but the message hits home to me. While planning is good, and necessary, I have learned that I must always leave room for God's plan. After all, that is what life is all about anyways!
To get back on track here... I breastfeed. Like I said before, Dominic was an avid nurser! Any problem could be solved with nursing. It was his comfort, his, nourishment, his favorite thing to do. So when I got pregnant, I was absolutely determined to continue this for him. He just recently (at about 23 months) weaned from the breast, and it was a rather easy adjustment for him! Stella is also nursing and I plan to continue until at least a year, but she is totally different from her brother in this, because nursing is not her everything! Unless she is hungry, or tired, she would rather suck her thumb, and be carried around. She has often seemed rather fidgety at the breast in the last few months, and unless this changes (it might just be teething), I might introduce the idea of weaning, to see if this works for her... and me, because nursing a fidgety and anxious child can be very tedious at times, especially in public. This may be her way of telling me she has had enough.
I also carry my babies everywhere! Although, I never used a sling. With Dominic, I suppose I didn't feel the need for it, as I didn't get out too much by myself, and was always nursing him and holding him anyways. I tried it with Stella, but couldn't get the hang of it. It would have been mighty useful though, with a newborn and a 13 month old. But we made do. I got creative with holding the two of them, and recently, if I needed it, I have used a backpack carrier for Stella so that if we are out, Dominic can run around while I run after him, and I don't need to worry about Stella, because she's on my back! (these carriers work best for an older baby). I also did use a double stroller quite a bit in the summer. I loved it, because it allowed all three of us to get out in the summer weather almost everyday!!!
I desperately wanted to co-sleep with my children, and have a family bed. I always knew I would. But... my children have always been rather sensitive sleepers. Well, lately, since they have been sleeping in the same room together, they have become excellent sleepers. I started each of them in our bed, and then at about 8 months or so, ended up having to move them to their own beds, because they would begin waking very often to play!
Anyways, I realize this is way too long. Sorry! But I do love reading your posts. They are enlightening, wise, and refreshing!
You have such good insights into parenting. And I love the pictures of your adorable little Camilla!

Wonderful post. I wish I would have been where you are when my daughter was only 4 months old. I did follow my instincts, but I didn't trust them and constantly questioned my choices. Now I am so thankful that I met her legitmate needs--she has grown into a secure,independant, loving 6-yr. old. Treasure this precious time with your baby--it sounds like you are on the right track!

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