At this stage of my pregnancy, I've left the topics of pregnancy and birth behind and have ventured into Post-Partum Depression and Sleep. Both of these I struggled with after Jacob was born. I've been learning some things about them and about myself in the process.

Up until now, I've been super-sensitive about my parenting and easily feel condemned or self-doubting if I come across information that goes against what I've been practicing. I've also felt somewhat helpless to try and change certain ways of doing things because Jacob can have such intense reactions. Most of you would never believe that because he's such a calm, easy-going guy most of the time.

Anyways, I came to the realization that PPD has been a big factor in how I've coped or not coped and maybe I don't need to be so hard on myself. That I can be okay with some of the "mistakes" I've made or at least look at the positive results and not just the negative. That admitting some of my choices have had less than desirable results in some regards, and yet benefits in others, and there were valid reasons for my choices, as well as difficult circumstances surrounding them (like PPD and a high needs child). That every parent is unique and so is every child.

As long as I've kind of refused to look at any other ways of doing things, for fear of the guilt, self-doubt and condemnation that would come into play, I've felt fairly good about my parenting. Jacob is well-adjusted, very bright, adaptible, and affectionate. However, Rod and I have lost a great deal of sleep and I was not myself and not taking care of myself terribly well. Being the "giver" and "self-sacrificer" and "compassionate person" that I am, it was natural for me to go this route.
I think I got a twisted view of attachment parenting in the back of my mind, that if I didn't answer every perceived need, Jacob would somehow not reach his full potential or be emotionally damaged in some way. Plus, I never gave him much of a chance to prove that he could calm down or go to sleep without a lot of help. I was just in the habit of doing everything I could to soothe him because he has always had a more difficult time "shutting off" and if he got too worked up, it was even harder to get him back in a place where he was relaxed and able to sleep. And I thought if I didn't help him, he just wouldn't get the sleep he needed, and then we'd be in real trouble.

But recently, my sister-in-law and I were dialoguing on parenting and PPD and sleep issues and for the first time, I felt someone saw inside my soul and understood my fear of advice and misunderstanding and suddenly I was free to explore other ways. I picked up a couple of books from the library and started reading. I found the second one on sleep to be especially helpful: "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth. His big premise is that if a child has healthy sleep habits (there are four aspects which I can't name at this very moment), it will be the foundation of his whole life and learning process. I came to the realization that Jacob has probably been chronically over-tired. I've actually thought that in the back of my mind for a long time, but wasn't sure how to change that. Anyways, all I've done is try to get him asleep around 8:30, to nap around 1:30 and return him to bed silently when he gets up before it's time. He's reacted very well to both and two nights he slept from 8:40 to 6:40 and last night (after missing his nap for whatever reason), he slept from 8:00 to 5:00 and then went back to sleep until 6:45 and then again until 7:45. I'm also trying to work with dark and light to work with his internal clock better as well as pointing out that when the clock says "7", he can get up.

Part of me doubts that it will stick, but I'm really hoping it will. I've learned so much about the different stages from newborn on that I'm excited to use with the next one. I still have to sort out how I feel about "crying it out", but at least I have a frame of reference and more tools now.


Anonymous said...

That's great to hear, Sonya! (I'm having troubles signing into Blogger for some reason, hence the anonymous) I've heard great things about that book and it seems to make alot of sense. As for "crying it out" stuff, you can still do what you feel best about. Sometimes kids need to fuss a bit, but if he's really crying, I know it would be hard to leave him and that's okay! You can still encourage healthy sleep habits! Way to go on exploring and challenging new things! :)


Mercy said...

last year, when we were having our bedrooms painted, we all moved down to the basement to sleep. it was very dark, even in broad daylight. the kids have never slept better! they slept about 2 hours more at night than they normally would have. now, we have a very heavy blanket over their windows so that the sun doesn't wake them up before time. in fact, now they sleep in longer than i would like them too. maybe it's time to take off the blanket :)

glad to hear you've gotten some freedom to explore further ideas in parenting!! it's always so good to feel free!