Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Baby Sleep Part IV: Deciding to Feel Good

"We have a sleeping baby.  I feel like such a good Mommy." 
~text message to the husband

A couple weeks ago I did some random journaling to try to work out my feelings about helping my baby sleep better. My original thoughts about always helping my baby to sleep soothingly just was not working consistently for him and I was having a really hard time changing my plans.   

Doing some free writing about all my mixed up thoughts and emotions really helped me feel better about what we are doing.  I thought I would share some of what I wrote as a conclusion to my series of baby sleep posts.  I’m going to try to drop the topic for now.

I’m all mixed up.  I’m really bad at this.

I believe it is important for me as a mother to feel good about the parenting decisions I make.  That my confidence in what I am doing transfers to my son.  That me feeling confident in the decisions I make actually impacts the outcome of those decisions and how they impact my son. 

If I feel confident and comfortable letting my son cry a bit while falling asleep it will have a different impact on the results, how he feels about the process and even his little nervous system.  If I decide to do it but sit and cry in the living room that will impact him in a different way.  If I don’t feel good about it, it won’t work.

The problem is I am a very careful and thorough decision maker.  I weigh out all the factors.  I seek out opinions from both sides and try to really hear them out with an open mind.  I read books, visit websites, blogs, forums etc to get as much information as I can.

They always contradict each other.  There are very few things in this world that are very straight forward, black or white, good or bad, damaging or nurturing.  There is always various shades of grey.  There are too many variables to ever truly have a clear picture of the right thing to do in every situation. 

At some point I have to just decide to stop thinking, stop hearing out all the experts, stop weighing all the evidence and anecdotes.  At some point I have to just make the best decision I can and decide to feel good about it.  Put all my confidence in the fact that I have done my best to make a thoughtful and considerate decision and that is all I can do.  That is enough.  I’m not going to find ‘the’ answer.  Someone is going to disagree with me, and have valid reasons to do so. 

My son does not know what all the evidence says.  He does not know what the experts think about how my decisions will impact him.  He does not understand that there is more than one way to raise a child. 

He knows nothing but me and how I make him feel .  That is his whole world.  There is nothing else to him.  The best thing I can do for him is to make his whole world feel stable and confident.

I just need to let go of all this anxiety about doing the ‘right’ thing and just do the best I can and choose to feel good about it.  If I can’t find a way to feel good about my parenting decisions then there is my que that they are the wrong ones.  Not what the experts say, or a friend experienced, or what others expect that I should be doing. 

I feel bad when my son has red eyes, is yawning constantly, and has a quiet blank stare all day long even if he is not crying and seems to be happy.  I don’t feel good knowing he is sleep deprived.  Sleep needs to be a priority.

I feel good when my son gets regular naps and I don’t let him get too tired before I put him down sleep, even if he cries some in the process.

I feel confident in my ability to know when he is ready for a nap.  I feel confident in my ability to know if he is in pain or needs more from me to help him sleep.  I feel confident in my ability to help him wind down and get ready to fall asleep on his own.

I know that how I feel about my decisions on how to handle his sleep impacts how well he sleeps.  I need to get it together.  Stop obsessing, do what I know is right and trust myself that I will know when I truly need to change the plan.  I know how to mother my son.  I know what is right for my son. 

I am good at this.  It is hard on me but I am good at this.  


  1. Jen - I love reading your thoughts! (YOU should write the book)
    Now - just when you and your little Ben have this all figured out, and you think you know something, along comes another child and you have to start completely over and wonder and hope you are not messing him up (mother of 5 speaking) Nothing will ever work twice - except love.
    You are wonderful. Make sure your kid reads this someday when he needs to know of your commitment to him. ♥ love from 'Aunt' Sarah