Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Prompted To Write: Rules To Live By

I've decided to take up Meredith's writing challenge with the topic Rules to live by.  Follow the link if you'd like to join in.

My recent stay in hospital revealed to me that I am much more of a rules person than I thought I was.  Rules are ok; they have their place.  But rules and small babies don't mix.

I've decided to ignore the baby books.  I partly blame those so-called 'baby whisperers' for the mess I've ended up in.  The nonsense they peddle to nervous first-time parents is criminal.  Have a strict schedule and your baby will sleep through the night at six weeks.  Let your child sleep in your bed and they will still be sleeping in your bed when they're in high school.  Don't let them suck their thumb or they'll still be sucking their thumb when they're 18.  Let them cry otherwise they'll manipulate you and will turn out to be a wuss.  You get the drift...  Of course I wanted to do things 'right'.  I'm a first-time mum.  I didn't have a clue.  Friends recommended these books.  Some were a bit more full-on by telling me I HAD to have a schedule otherwise I'd have a child hanging off my boob all day. Yep, those books combined with my ordered, structured personality were a ticking timebomb just waiting to explode.

What I learnt in the MBU is that when it comes to babies the only rules are good old-fashioned common sense, flexibility and love.  I drove myself mad trying to find the 'secret ingredient' to get Rory to sleep longer.  The only thing to do is resettle, resettle, resettle, and cuddle without the fear that I'm still going to have to cuddle him to sleep when he's a grown man!  I'm going to treasure these cuddles right now because they'll be over before I know it.

Many of those baby books treat all babies the same.  That the same routine etc will work for ALL babies!  What rubbish!  Babies are different just as all children and adults are different.  Before I had Rory I needed a good eight hours sleep a night to function, but I have friends who get by just fine with five.  I allowed myself to be convinced that there was something wrong with my beautiful son.  That just because he wasn't a good sleeper during the day that it erased all of the lovely things about him.  So he doesn't sleep for very long, so what?  He's got the best smile and laugh.  He loves people.  He's very handsome.  He loves to kick his little fat legs, especially in the bath.  I get annoyed when people ask me if he's a 'good baby'.  What's a 'good baby'?  One that sleeps all the time?  If that's the yardstick, then he'd be a 'bad baby'.  I was guilty of seeing him like that.  I wanted a robot instead of a son.  One that followed the rules perfectly.  I couldn't see what a gift I'd been given.

I came to hospital desperate that they 'fix' Rory's sleeping for me.  They gently showed me that I was the one who needed to be 'fixed'.  With a more settled mum, came a more settled bubba.  I needed to be freed from 'following the rules'.  When it comes to babies, the rule to live by is learning to be that patient, wiser, kinder person who helps them grow up in this world.

This was taken a few weeks back on the 12th April -
mine and Duncan's 5th wedding anniversary.


Jenny said...

Well said Sarah. After 5 babies myself I can totally agree. I felt like such a failure after my first was born because he followed his own rule book! Run your own race and you'll enjoy Rory a lot more.

Karen said...

Great post....and completely agree with this : "the only rules are good old fashioned common sense, flexibility and love."

PS. You didn't read Babywise or Tizzie Hall's SOS, did you? They are VERY routine based....and give pretty poor breastfeeding advice to boot. Babywise is the only book I've ever thrown in the bin, I couldn't even bear the thought of donating it to charity because I didn't want anyone else reading it!

Sarah said...

Run your own race.... I like that saying, Jenny. It's definitely been true that since I gave up trying to do things according to the books, I've enjoyed Rory a lot more and concentrated on getting to know him as a person rather than someone who needs to be 'controlled'.

Karen, unfortunately I did read some or all of both of those books. Babywise was given to us and I bought Save Our Sleep after a friend recommended it. They have some good points, but they don't work for Rory and I really can't stand the scare tactics and warnings of negative consequences if you don't follow their advice.

Meredith said...

Hooray for you. It eventually dawned on me that the reason there are so many different books on how to raise babies is because there is no such thing as one size fits all. What a relief to realize that. Thanks for sharing your story.

Emma said...

You have given me a lot to think about as a fellow 'rules person' Thanks, Sarah.