Ode to ‘ganket’

You’ve been crushed
beneath small heels
covered in mud;
strangled, your floppy neck
unable to breath;
deserted in a Target aisle
unknowing of where you were;
smeared with jellied snot
and ketchup, yet
here you are
Magic Blanket,
your sour milk breath
sighing comforting silence.
Your princess skin,
of cotton candy, wadded up,
dries crocodile tears
and salves playground wounds.
Does she speak to you,
Magic Blanket?
When your frayed forehead
bowed, touches hers,
sitting cross-legged
on the Lego-strewn floor.
You, Magic Blanket,
a better mother than I.

My marriage

My marriage
One thing I know is marriage.
My marriage, which dawns anew
every morning with the cold grey light
filtering through half-open blinds; like my eyes.
Weighted, trying hard
to drag me back to sleep. “NOOOOOOO!”

Her toddler protest, not really a protest,
a staunch affirmation of her tiny place.
I’m awake now, awake enough. To hear
your muffled response, gentle words,
between the open and close of the refrigerator door.

Your side of the bed is cold, you’ve been awake for awhile.
Since you heard the insistent voice,
“Da! Da! Da!” From my side to hers
leaving me warm to dream a few moments longer.
It’s been like this, you know, since she was small.
You getting up in the morning with her.

You get jelly-smeared fingers, diapered protests
and wet kisses. All to allow me
a few more moments, of unfettered sleep.

And when I awake like I did today,
from a slumber beneath heavy down with
one foot out in the cold — I can hear,
you and she talking, muted, in unaffected
conversations …
And I know my marriage,
how it dawns anew.

fallen

she
is a snow angel
shaped from flakes,
brushed aside
by the warmth
of insulated bodies

she
has snow wings
with bones
made, outlined
with sticks
and stones
straining to burst
into color
or flame

she
has a halo
of sunlight, star breath
threatening
to dissolve her
beneath its
tug-o-war gaze

she
isn’t seen by them
as anything more
valuable,
revealing nothing
but serpent tongues,
a colorless impression
passed over

she
comes between some
fog rising,
light falling
her reality shattering
their glass darkly

she
is a snow angel
free to be
bound

she
is a snow angel
who may
one dawn
disappear

The “A” Word — Killing babies or women’s rights?

Abortion.

It’s the one topic I refuse to talk about. The one I refuse to post about. The one I hate to think about. I’m sure that all of you on both sides of the political spectrum will think me ridiculous for doing so. It’s a clear-cut choice, isn’t it? You’re either for abortion or you’re against it. For the record, I despise loaded terms like “pro-choice” and “pro-life,” so I will not be using those. Instead, I am substituting “pro-abortion rights” and “anti-abortion rights,” because that’s what it’s really about.

I’ve taken the time to sit down and actually think through what it would mean to be either pro-abortion rights or anti-abortion rights. I’ve considered all arguments, and having been through my own less-than-perfectly-timed pregnancy, I can understand both sides of the issue very well.

On the one hand, we have the problem of women’s rights.
Women who are in impoverished, abusive circumstances where — quite frankly — no child deserves to be raised. Women who will become slaves to the system of welfare, food stamps and government assistance while working overtime jobs at minimum wage because they had to drop out of college to care for a baby they weren’t ready for. Women who will be ostracized from their religiously conservative families and communities for having children out of wedlock and lose all of their relationships for the sake of the child. Those are the women I have so much compassion for. It’s because of those women that I am incredibly reluctant to declare myself anti-abortion rights and say it should be illegal.

On the other hand, we have the sanctity of human life.
No, I don’t think a zygote holds the same rights as myself as a fully-formed fully-functioning human. I don’t think a two week old embryo is the same as a full-term child. But see … no one does. And that’s the problem.

I recently ran across this article which outlined the number one problem I have with the pro-abortion rights movement. When does a fetus become a baby? I think everyone can acknowledge that a baby is a baby the second its full-term wiggling body exits from the womb and even five minutes before that time. I think everyone can acknowledge that the 24-week-old preemie laying in the NICU — who will live to become a growing, thriving child — is a baby with full rights. No one would be cool with someone coming in and killing it right there in the incubator. But if it’s inside the womb instead of outside? Then it’s fine. Totally fine.

So what makes a baby a baby? Why is it okay to abort a 24 week-old fetus inside the womb but not “abort” it once it’s outside, hooked up to wires in the NICU? Why is it okay (for some pro-abortion folks. Not all) to have a late-term abortion for a fully formed and functioning fetus, but if that same baby were to be born it would be an atrocity to kill it?

When does fetus become a baby? When does the fetus cross the line into humanity? Is it our job to determine this?


What about the right of women? Is it right that they should be stuck in a cycle of poverty, be forever tied to an abusive man through a child, or lose all of their friends and family because they aren’t allowed to abort a 4-week-old fetus (which we can all acknowledge isn’t the exact same thing as killing a baby)? Is it our place to tell her she has
to be a parent and that child eventually ends up in an abusive and neglectful situation?

These are the questions I struggle with. These are the questions that I am so conflicted over but am slowly coming to terms with. My attempt to reconcile these questions will be the topic of my next couple posts as I outline where I am at on the subject of abortion. Any and all feedback is welcome, of course.

There are three kinds of parents in this world…

I have been getting more and more fed up with what I’ve seen from the natural/holistic parenting movement. I have “unliked” more than one Facebook page for the unforgiving judgmental attitudes I’ve come across towards anyone who does anything the more mainstream American way. Take, for instance, this post by the Facebook page Zen Parenting. I should note that this viewpoint does not necessarily represent that of the page owner, but rather of another person who sent the question in.

Zen Question: “I know this is silly, but does anyone else look at the vaccinated, circumcised, formula fed, cry-it-out babies and see nothing but poisoned, mutilated, malnourished, neglected, and abused children? I’ve read some comments about cry it out where people leave their children until they throw up and their nose bleeds! It makes me sick to my stomach every time I read about a child getting their two month shots and crying for hours after or getting ‘snipped’ and I can’t do anything about it! I’ve managed to change a whopping two whole minds about circ… It just gets to me sometimes. I’ve liked some mainstream parenting pages and I just want to bang my head against the wall ‘how much cereal should I put in my child’s bottle, she’s two weeks’ and pictures of children getting held down for shots ‘she didn’t like it but she didn’t turn into a newt! haha’ UGH. Venting, I know, I’m sorry. How do you deal with the heartbreak you feel for these children who deserve so much more? How do I make a difference? Do you stop trying to make a difference?”

I am really tired of this ‘holier than thou’ attitude that masquerades as pity and love for those poor children being so horribly abused by their parents. It’s time that we who take a more natural approach to parenting look at things from a different perspective. There are three kinds of parents in this world…or at least in America.

1. Researchers

This is me. Researchers are parents who endlessly, religiously and vehemently search out information. We read books, articles and blogs. We watch videos, documentaries and news casts. We talk to doctors, experts and other parents. We do all of this with the aim of learning everything about any given subject, whether that be childbirth, breast vs. formula, circumcision, cry-it-out, co-sleeping or vaccinations. We don’t just read one side of any particular issue, we read all sides. And then, based on all of this information we have taken in, we decide what is best for our individual families. Maybe that means we have natural childbirths and breastfeed yet choose to follow the CDC vaccination schedule. Maybe we decide not to circumcise or vaccinate but decide that doing sleep-training for our 9 month old baby is the best thing for him. Whatever the decision is, it comes from a well-informed place of doing what is best for our family.

2. Deferers

These are the parents who, for any number of reasons, defer to those who they consider to be experts and adopt their suggestions for the decisions they should make regarding their children. Most of the time, this comes about with a mother following all of the recommendations given to her by her pediatrician. This is completely understandable…most mothers realize that these folks have had years and years of medical training and experience. Naturally, they are going to follow those recommendations that they feel stem from knowledge beyond any they could have themselves as normal laypeople. Pediatricians are inherently seen to have the well-being of each and every child client in mind. Parents trust this and will often do whatever their pediatrician recommends…whether that be circumcision, breastfeeding,  or following the CDC or an alternate vaccination schedule. Whatever the case may be, these mothers also have the best interest of their children in mind and trust the decisions made by those in positions of knowledge and authority.

3. Abusers

This is the final kind of parent. The parent who is willfully abusive, neglectful and unloving towards his or her child. This parent does not consider the well-being of their child on any real level, either out of hate, anger or even ignorance.

Words used in the above Facebook post like “malnourished”, “poisoned”, “mutilated” and “abused” DO NOT and SHOULD NOT refer to the children of ANY parent except those who willfully (and sometimes ignorantly, I grant) abuse their children. I am just so endlessly tired of being equated with the third type of parent just because I used  a method of sleep-training with my 5-month old or because I stopped breastfeeding at 5 months and switched to formula.

We are never going to win people over and guide them to a more natural and holistic method of parenting if we use such volatile and judgmental verbiage. If you consistently approach those who parent differently than you with the attitude that you are better than them and they are only abusing and neglecting their children…you will only serve to make the rest of us look bad.
So please. Just stop.

Confessions of a two year-old all grown up

 

 

I am participating in Reverb Broads Summer 2012. Check out there site here and join in the fun! Today’s prompt is courtesy of  Kassie.

What gives you nightmares?

I’ve known for quite a few years that I had night terrors as a small child. What I didn’t know, until more recently, was that they got so bad my parents eventually took me to a child psychologist, probably thinking I was slowly losing my mind. Or possessed by a demon. Possibly both. Anyway, a few years back my mom told me that the psychologist told me to draw a picture of the dream I’d been having. The one that caused me to turn into a screaming sleep zombie. It would seem that my little two-year-old self picked up the crayons and drew a picture of my bed situated in my bedroom and hundreds, nay thousands, of spiders making their way out of the walls, the floor, the ceiling, and crawling their creepy little hineys towards my bed.

When my mom told me that not too long ago, my eyes got wide and I gasped in horror–I might even have fainted.

“MOM!” I screeched. “I SOO remember that dream!”

And I do. I’ve had this memory in my brain for as long as I can remember of that exact scene taking place. I’ve always chalked it up to something I’d imagined long ago or maybe a movie I’d seen and somehow morphed it in my mind. I was pretty shocked to hear that it was an actual dream that I had as a very small child. I still have this dream very occasionally. And it is still just as frightening.

This, my friends, is why I am deathly afraid of spiders.

I remember a time when I was 7 or 8 years old and I found a tiny little spider in my room right before bed. My dad was unable to kill it before it skittered away into the abyss of my bedroom. I refused to go to bed until the murderer spider had been caught and properly disposed of (and by ‘disposed of’, I mean killed. Brutally.) My dad also informed me that the arachnid in question was called a jumping spider. As you might imagine, this did nothing to help my fear.

Luckily, I am not quite so terrified of them as that nowadays. I can even kill small spiders myself, with the help of a very large shoe or any other object that is capable of causing blunt-force trauma. I did have an epic stare-down with a large spider a few months back. He was on my living room ceiling right above my couch. I kept a close eye on him, making sure he didn’t move a muscle (do spiders even have muscles?) until my husband got home. Then I made him kill it.

However, I think this is a fear that will stay with me forever and there is nothing I can do about it. I can’t stand the tarantula section of the store. I get mini-panic attacks when I see pictures of huge camel spiders on the interwebs (pun intended). I realize my fear is probably irrational with no real basis. Supposedly they are tiny little creatures that are more afraid of me than I am of them. But I still contend they are slowly trying to take over the world. Just look at those hundreds of beady little eyes. There is nothing innocent about that.

 

 

Boobs and babies and stuff

This week, Time magazine came out with an article on Attachment Parenting and the cover has sparked outrage, disgust and defensiveness. I’ve been trying to keep quiet with my opinion on it, but it just isn’t working.

For those not in the know, here is the cover:

Time Magazine cover

For the sake of discussion, I am going to choose to ignore the ridiculousness of the title “Are You Mom Enough?” implying that you have to be some sort of super mom and/or are the Epic Mother of Awesome if you practice attachment parenting. I don’t approve of dissing moms just because they don’t parent they way you do.
I am also going to say, for the record, that I do not approve of this photo. I think it sensationalizes and purposely distorts this issue in an extreme way to sell magazines. They show a boy, not a girl. The child depicted is 3. He looks 5. They have him standing on a stool, instead of being held like he normally would. They also have him looking straight at the camera like he’s saying “Oh yeah. I’m suckin’ on my mom’s boob. Get over it.” In short, I think this photo is ridiculous and over-the-top. A more appropriate photo would have been this one, although the kid still looks ginormous:

Now. On to why I disagree with the haters out there.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with breastfeeding a child beyond the traditional United States 1 year of age. Nothing. In our culture, however, breastfeeding is seen in general as gross and something that should be done and over with as quickly as possible.

Why is this? Why is something as natural as a mother feeding her baby in the way nature and God intended, seen as disgusting? Because American culture has sexualized the female body past the point of no return. Breasts are no longer seen for what they are: the means to provide nourishment. They are seen as sexual, erogenous parts of the female body that a large percentage of males have a weird fetish for.

This is the root cause of a lot of breastfeeding issues in our country. This is why women can’t breastfeed in public without getting disapproving glances. This is why women can walk around a store with their boobs hanging out of their shirt, but store employees will tell a mother to go to the bathroom to breastfeed her child. One is okay in our society, the other is not.

This is also the root cause for the uproar about the Time Magazine cover. It is seen as gross, pedophilic, socially unacceptable and way too sexual for a young toddler to still be breastfeeding from his mother. This mindset is purely a product of our oversexualized culture and society. And frankly, I am ashamed that so many people buy into it. Many are people who I would expect more from.

I have read hundreds of ignorant comments from people all over the internet in regards to this photo. I have heard comments from people I know personally. Comments that range from “This is just gross.” to “This child will be socially stunted for the rest of his life! He won’t ever be able to function on his own” to “This is child abuse. This women is an incestuous pedophile.” to “There is absolutely no benefit to breastfeeding a child this long! Get him a bottle!”

Comments like these are, to put it nicely, ignorant. It’s not gross. The child will not be socially stunted because his mother breastfed him longer than what is deemed “acceptable” in our society. It is not child abuse. And there IS benefit to breastfeeding, not matter how long you do it for.

There is absolutely nothing sexual about a toddler breastfeeding. We don’t even become sexual beings until we hit puberty. (Don’t pull a Freud here. Just don’t.) And if you think the mother gets some sort of sexual pleasure from it…well. You’ve obviously never breastfed a child.

The World Healthy Organization recommends breastfeeding until AT LEAST two years of age, and there is no scientific evidence that shows any detrimental effects from breastfeeding for any longer. In fact, there are many benefits from breastfeeding as long as possible.

Somehow our society has managed to degrade the beauty and wonder of a woman’s God-given means for feeding her child into something shameful and unnatural. It has somehow become more natural for us to take away beneficial, comforting and healthy breastfeeding away from children and shove a plastic nipple into their mouth filled with the milk from another species as soon as they hit one year old and call it “normal and appropriate”.

Wake up, people. And stop falling for the lies society continues to feed you.

Why church is hard for me (a response)

My dear friend and secret twin just posted this on her blog (of which I am a huge fan). I was going to comment, but as I kept typing, I decided I would just make it a post on my own blog because it was getting rather lengthy.

First, read her post. Then come back and read this.

I must say that Deanna has described, to a T, what I feel whenever I walk into a church. There is the overwhelming feeling that I Must flee followed by the overwhelming familiarity that attempts to wash over me followed again by the overwhelming feeling to flee.

I have to constantly struggle with myself to not go back to complacency. It would be so much easier for me (and probably my husband as well), if I could just decide that I’m okay with being a “Christian” and going to church on Sunday, regurgitating the same things that people have been regurgitating for hundreds of years. I have honestly almost come to that point several times. Why? Because, finally, I might get a break. A break from my mind. A break from feeling torn between hiding what I believe (or don’t) and shouting it to a lemming world. A break from feeling judged and worried about what others will think. A break from the endless need I feel to examine and learn everything I can before coming to what is most likely going to be an indefinite conclusion. A break from the fear of how my lack of religiosity will affect our future family dynamic. A break from awkward tensions I cause with various family members.

I could just go back into my shell of religion and be a good Christian. It is so tempting. Because being outside of the norm is very hard. I am not truly comfortable with anyone save my husband and my immediate family. Outside my family cocoon, the world just seems to weigh down on me. It tries to constantly pull me back.

I want somewhere to go where I can feel comfortable and safe. I want to be around like-minded people with whom I can discuss and bounce ideas off of. I want to be able to share this overwhelming passion that I have developed for studying religion.  But I really can’t…because it’s just not normal.

Being in church, I have to battle with myself the whole time. I have to battle with the side that wants to run away when Rock of Ages starts up on the organ for the millionth time. And I have to battle the side that yearns for that old feeling of familiarity and comfort that I had long ago in such an environment.

I have to constantly fight the feeling that I should just stop what I’m doing, turn around and go back to where I came from. Because there, I was safe from everyone else. But I wouldn’t be safe from myself.

“There are days when the fight wears you down and it feels heavy. That’s the vertigo trying to pull you into a warm, but suffocating embrace.”

Why I’m A Bad Parent- Part the 2nd

This is a continuation of a short series about why I am a bad parent (tongue in cheek, don’t worry!). There are so many parenting styles, solutions and techniques that no one thing will ever work for every child. Nevertheless, parents never fail to receive judgment and condemnation (even if it’s in a silent glare) about how they do things. Over the next few posts, I am going to talk about the first few months of my husband’s and my parenting experience and why we have chosen to do certain things. Please, feel free to offer input (and judgment) in the comments. Read the first two posts here and here.

Once upon a time, I had a dream. I had a dream of marrying a nice young man of God. We would have eight youngsters. I would be a stay-at-home mother who might do something like photography or graphic design on the side. My husband would go to work every morning, come home in the evening and we would all sit around the dinner table eating a hot meal as my children told him what they did in school that day. Of course, by school I mean homeschool. I even had the guy I was going to marry all picked out. I didn’t plan on attending college and even if I did, it would be more for something to do until I was able to meet the man of my dreams. Then I would quit college (or my career if I got that far along in life), marry, have kids, and stay home to care for them for the rest of my life.

And now, 7 years down the road, I am married. Not to the boy I thought I would. Someone far better. I have a baby. But I definitely won’t be having eight. And I now have the chance to quit school, forget my journalist aspirations and become a stay-at-home mom for the remainder of my life (or at least the next 25 years). But no.

I am a bad parent because I am going to spend the next two years as a full-time student.

I am a bad parent because at some point in the next 10 years, I am going to hold a full-time job doing what I love to do.
That’s right. You heard me. I am going to be a selfish, feministic, ungodly woman and put myself before my children. Right? There are some who would see it that way. But I don’t.

I will fully admit that the number one thing in my life is my family. I would do anything for them. Anything at all. But I also don’t think that being a homemaker and being an educated, working woman are mutually exclusive. In fact, I would venture to say that for me, my family and how I desire to bring up my children, it is essential.

I have had the goal of completing my bachelors degree and being able to do what I have  passion for (journalism) for awhile now. It is my dream. I would absolutely LOVE to be a working journalist. The art of journalism is the expression of everything I stand for. It is a thankless, low-paying, saturated industry and I freaking love it. And I am good at it. I can write ledes, slap together copy on deadline, layout a section with flair, and edit like a bad mamojama with the best of them. The newsroom is a hectic, stressful, crude environment to be in. For some reason, I adore it. It’s like a photographer who loves the smell of the darkroom. It isn’t a particularly pleasant smell, but it just smells like art.

I planned on having children after I’d completed my degree and had some time to work in the field first. Fate had other plans, it would seem. I am thankful every day for my daughter. She teaches me so much, and in this particular journey she has taught me to work even harder to achieve my goals. It is not easy caring for an infant and carrying on a full-time school schedule. However, I have a goal that I will achieve.

Now, I suppose some people might say that I am selfish. That my children come first and by being in school and potentially working, I am neglecting that duty. That as a woman, my biblical place is in the home caring for my family. That I should be dropping everything to be a wife and mother.

I disagree.

One of my biggest parenting goals is to teach my children to dream big. Dream as big as they possibly can and then dream bigger. I want to teach my children the courage and perseverance to pursue those dreams. I want to instill in them the self-confidence they need to know they are good enough and smart enough to be whatever they want to be. I want them to reach their fullest potential as people in this world. I want them to feel what I feel when I see that finished newspaper lying on the table in front of me after I’ve put hours and hours of blood, sweat and tears into it.

Children learn by example. You can talk all day long to them, but if you don’t walk the walk, it doesn’t do a lick of good. How can I possibly instill in my children those values that I mentioned above–essential, important, vital values–if I don’t live them myself? How can I teach my children that they can overcome any obstacle if I haven’t done it? How can I show them that they have every right to pursue whatever dream they want if  I haven’t been there? I don’t think I can.

But Kaitlin, you might say, you will find all of your fulfillment in being a mother. You won’t need anything else aside from your children and your husband in your life. Your family will become  your dream.

And to that I respond, quite frankly: No. I won’t.

Perhaps I am wrong in my thinking on this. Perhaps I will change my mind 5 years down the road. Who knows? But right now, for me, this is not the case nor do I ever see it being the case.

I am a wife, yes. I am a mother, certainly. But those two things do not define who I am deep down, inside, the core of ME. I am a learner, I am a skeptic, I have morals, I believe in the innate goodness of the human spirit, I am a listener, I am empathic, I desire the best for everyone, I am a researcher, I am a world traveler (or will be eventually), I am a writer, I am an artist. I have dreams, I have goals, I have desires, I am a human being.

Having children does not mean that I have to push all of that away in order to become A Mother.

My daughter does not define who I am anymore than my husband does. Certainly, their presence in my life continues to shape who I am. But they do not define me.

In order to feel fulfilled as a person and to feel that I have reached my fullest potential, I need to complete these two goals. I cannot ever be properly satisfied with myself if I quit school and leave my journalistic dreams to die a lonely death. I will live the next 25 years fantasizing alone at night while I sit on the sofa drinking wine and eating chocolate. What if. What if I had finished what I started? What if I had actually done what I was passionate about? What if I had chased my dreams down…and caught them?

I don’t want that. I don’t want to live a life of What-Ifs and Maybes. I don’t want my children to look at me and see only their mother. I want my children to look at me and see their mother, a writer, a journalist, a lawyer (dream #2…) and someone who is passionate about life and doing whatever she sets her mind to.

I intend to lead by example.

I am a bad parent and proud of it.

Why I’m A Bad Parent- Part the 1st

Herein begins a short series about why I am a bad parent (tongue in cheek, don’t worry!). There are so many parenting styles, solutions and tecniques that no one thing will ever work for every child. Nevertheless, parents never fail to recieve judgement and condemnation (even if it’s in a silent glare) about how they do things. Over the next few posts, I am going to talk about the first few months of my husband’s and my parenting experience and why we have chosen to do certain things. Please, feel free to offer input (and judgement) in the comments.

About 6 weeks ago, my darling little daughter began what I am calling a “sleep regression”. She has always been a pretty good night sleeper. From the beginning, she slept 3-4 hour stretches. Those stretches extended to 6-8 hours when she hit 10ish weeks old. Then, around 3 months, all Hell broke loose.

It started when bedtime exploded. We have had a regular bedtime routine from 8 weeks old. It has helped immensely, signaling to her when it is time to wind down and sleep. We would go through our routine, I would nurse her, she would fall asleep, and then I would put her down for the night. The end. But 6 weeks ago, she stopped just falling alseep. It would take me upwards of two hours of rocking, shushing, nursing, swinging, walking, etc., to get her to fall asleep. And then she might only sleep for 15 minutes before waking and beginning the whole thing over again.

And then she stopped sleeping long stretches. Slowly she went from waking twice a night to three times. Then four times. Until she was waking around 10 times a night, not sleeping more than 1 1/2 – 2 hours at a time. It was ridiculous. I was getting no sleep, she was getting no sleep and both of us were frustrated, grouchy, and dreading bedtime every day.

Clearly, something had to change.

I am a fan of Dr. Sears and his Attachment Parenting techniques. This is what we had basically been practicing for the first three months of Babygirl’s life…and it worked very well. She was happy, we were happy, and we had established such a bond and connection with her.

However, it was clear that what we were doing in regards to her sleeping habits was no longer working. And so I started looking to other sources. I went out and bought the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby by pediatrician Dr. Weissbluth. In addition to lots of medical information and actual studies on how babies sleep and what is and is not healthy sleep for them, Weissbluth also has a game plan for getting babies on a healthy sleep schedule. His plan, however, is adaptable to your parenting style and what feels comfortable to you.

The first thing we were doing wrong is putting her to bed WAY too late. Weissbluth says that babies my daughter’s age should be going to bed between 5 and 8 p.m., not 10 p.m. like I was doing. He says that contrary to popular belief, an early bedtime doesn’t mean an early wakeup time (this has proven to be true thusfar).

For getting her to sleep at night, we picked the “graduated extinction” method. Which is where, after our bedtime routine, we put Babygirl down for the night whether she happens to be awake or asleep, say goodnight, and leave the room. If she cries, we wait 3 minutes before responding, then we go in and soothe her until she is quiet again. Then we leave. If she cries, we wait 5 minutes and repeat. Then 10 minutes thereafter until she falls asleep. The next night, we start by waiting 5 minutes. Then 10 then 15 thereafter, gradually increasing the time each night.

This felt the most comfortable to me because I want my baby to get better sleep than she had been, but I just couldn’t be spending 2-3 hours trying to GET her to sleep every night, only to have her wake up 10 minutes after I accomplish that. She needed to learn to soothe herself to sleep, but I didn’t want to just set her in her crib and leave her to cry for hours on end without some sort of reassurance from me. I didn’t want her feeling like I’d completely abandoned her.

And so, I am a bad parent because I let my helpless Babygirl cry in her crib for several minutes at a time.

It should be noted that I do NOT agree with just letting your child cry any earlier than we started this. Newborns need to be responded to in order to develop that sense of trust and connection with their parents. But Babygirl was beginning to cry for no reason at bedtime. She was warm (but not too warm), fed, dry and tired. But she would just keep crying. No matter what I did, she would cry. Whether I walked, bounced, swayed, sang or shushed she would still fuss and cry.

So why not let her learn self-soothing techniques while she’s crying? I feel like at that point, I was only handicapping her because I obviously wasn’t helping her feel any better. So I figured why not give this method a shot.

I have two words for you.

It’s working.

She has been sleeping a full 12 hours at night, and has been waking up only twice to eat. When I put her back down in the middle of the night, she goes right back to sleep. She has been able to put herself to sleep more often. And she has finally shifted to taking 2 or 3 long naps during the day instead of a bazillion cat naps.

She is happier during the day and not as tired. And most of all, when I go to get her out of her crib in the morning, she is still the smiley, happy, loving baby that I adore.

This method won’t necessarily work for everyone. This may not be everyone’s style. But for us and our child, it is going great.

I’m proud to be a bad parent.