Like many soon-to-be moms, I read a lot of baby books while I was pregnant with my first child. I knew all about what to expect during the pregnancy, and my husband and I took a class so we could prepare for the birth itself. Overall, I felt pretty confident. After all, we tried for 5 years to get pregnant with Chloe, and I was going to do my best to make her happy.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Chloe turned out to be a fairly easy baby. She was healthy and generally good-natured. She smelled as sweet as honey and I’d spend what felt like hours just marveling at her perfect smallness. However, there were some things that didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped. Breastfeeding, for instance, took us a while. The books and the nurses made it sound so easy, but it took lots of tries and advice and eventually a nipple shield (for a short while) for both of us to get the hang of it.
Then there was the sleeping. Orâ€¦ lack of sleeping. Chloe was an extremely light sleeper. Anything could wake her up, even quiet sounds like the dog walking by her door or the heater kicking on. Unfortunately, during those times the only thing that would help her back to sleep was nursing.
Eventually, exhausted, I began searching for an alternate back-to-sleep soothing method. I scoured the baby books and parenting web sites. At first, we tried giving her the pacifier that the hospital had given us. I’m embarrassed now to say that I really wanted to do things “by the book,” and “by the book” meant discouraging pacifier use. But, I tried it anyway. Chloe would give it a few sucks and then spit it out. I’d edge it back and she’d spit it back out. Basically, no go.
So began the long trial (and error) of every soothing thing I could think of – humming, singing, white noise, radio, baby-wearing, softies, blankets, rocking, teethers (I had high hopes for Sophie the giraffe), and anything else I could think of. Each option was given several chances in the hopes that it would be “the one.” Sadly, some crying ensued, but I wasn’t about to give up hope.
One afternoon, after putting Chloe down for her nap, I heard her rouse after just a short while. I’m sure I cringed inwardly, and honestly, I can’t remember exactly what I was doing (possibly prepping dinner), but whatever it was took a little time to complete. By the time I got back to check on her I found that she had gone back to sleep! On her own! Hallelujah! But, wait. What was that thing clutched in her little hand? Was thatâ€¦ my bra?!
Miracle of miracles, all Chloe needed was my bra. I’m not saying it was all perfect from then on out. Oh, no. However, I began leaving one with her and sometimes it worked. Plus, I learned to not go rushing in (this was totally against the grain of “by the books” back then, but I was beginning to see how bending the rules might have its advantages). Eventually, Chloe began putting herself back to sleep (and sucking her thumb, sigh).
The moral of this story? No matter what anyone tells you, no matter what advice you’ve been given or tales you’ve been told – there will never be a child exactly like yours, or a mother exactly like you. While it’s good to glean information from the plethora of sources out there, the best things you can do is experiment, trust your instincts, give it time, ask questions and don’t be afraid do things the way that works best for you and your baby. Because, you are the mom, and you will figure it outâ€¦ eventually.
The post above is one of many personal stories that have been included in theÂ MAM Blogger Real Parenting Guide. My particular post is Chapter 8: Soothing a Baby (With a Bra), but I encourage you to read other chapters and also to find out more about the products (bottles, pacifiers, teethers, etc) that MAM makes. The right tools definitely make the job of parenting easier.
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