Your baby is not broken

Sleepy Baby

I try to keep this blog away from too much parenting, but I’m an utter failure. What can I say? I think it’s probably better that I say these things that come to my mind here rather than trying (so, so hard) to be get my opinion across diplomatically on Facebook groups. It never works. I never mean to offend people, but somehow I always do.

Anyway, back to the point of my story. Being a mom to a tiny person, I belong to lots of groups on that aforementioned social networking site (I join these groups for business networking reasons – perhaps there lies my folly) that cater directly to those who define themselves by the fact of their status as mothers – that is to say, new mothers. So, every third day or so, someone posts “how do I get my baby to stop getting up so many times a night?” Ten other women have always recommended the usual myriad of sleep-fixing books in the first 45 seconds after the question has been posted. The majority of them read exactly like this: “my son/daughter/dumb acronym for son or daughter didn’t sleep through until s/he was 83.7 months, but I found the book ‘How to bewitch your baby into doing something totally unnatural’ helped ALLOT (sic, obviously)”.

Seriously, I remember those days of never, ever sleeping and I wish that instead of giving me a list of reading material, someone had just slapped me across the face instead. I tried book after book, method after method. Nothing worked. Why? Because babies aren’t supposed to sleep through the night. It’s amazing how these stupid books and so-called experts can make us call into question our own instincts (or worse, distract us from the fact that we even have instincts) and create their own little market by claiming to fix problems that don’t actually exist. I would have gotten a hell of a lot more sleep if I hadn’t been so worried about when my daughter should be eating, playing, sleeping and pooping. I was so busy trying to shush and pat her into my skewed view of what life and motherhood should look like that I probably kept us both up. If I hadn’t had so much on my mind, I could probably have fallen asleep after middle of the night feedings. But I bought into this idea that there was something fixable about the situation and, like a fool, put a bunch of energy toward something that actually didn’t matter. It turns out, in case you are wondering, that babies are people and not things that come with a manual. Your baby is not broken. It’s a baby. Just roll with the punches.

I’ve been pretty hard on the baby experts, but surely pop culture is to blame…? Clearly someone is putting it out there that babies should do as told, that they have 6-8 weeks to get that night-waking situation under control, and that’s why we think something is wrong when our babies ignore these rules. Right?

If I could go back in time, I would toss all those sleep advice books in the trash (ok I’d recycle them – I love trees) and use some common sense; baby=untamed animal=will do what’s natural. How can that be wrong?

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8 Responses to Your baby is not broken

  1. Cary Morton says:

    I’m so sadistic.. I laugh at all those women with “broken babies” … my daughter was sleeping 12 hours a night at 2 weeks old. It wasn’t until she was 5 or 6 that I realized how incredibly blessed I was to have a baby that slept all night and never cried. I think mothers tend to gravitate towards -anything- that even mentions it might fix our children because as new mothers, we don’t know what we’re doing, and we’re afraid we’re doing it all wrong. Mothers as a whole need to take a collective chill pill.

    • Jen McLeod says:

      My sister in law’s kids were all like that. I think she drugged them. LOL. It’s so sad that we don’t have a clue what we’re doing. It’s sad that we have this assumption that life will go on as it had before – that it’s the child that’s wrong and not us. It bugs me that “experts” are jumping on vulnerable mothers and making them think that if their kid isn’t sleeping, it’s something that the mother is doing wrong, and that can be fixed by buying a book. How horrible to take advantage of new mothers. And yeah, I fully agree that mothers as a whole need to take a chill pill. COMPLETELY agree.

  2. ditchingmycomfortzone says:

    I love this! Having 3 kids and wondering if you are doing it right when there are a million books telling you something different. Babies are people and are all different! Thanks for stopping by and liking my post! I look forward to reading more of yours!

  3. lana684 says:

    I agree that for 6-8 week olds to sleep through the night is weird – but at what point should they start sleeping through the night?? Mothers need to function – especially in a multi-baby household.

    • Jen McLeod says:

      It’s amazing how little sleep we can survive on. I guess it’s just what we sign up for when we decide to become mothers – it’s not like it’s a secret that babies aren’t always great sleepers.

  4. zomelie says:

    Your second paragraph had me rolling!

  5. My favourite parenting book ever was “The Three Martini Play Date.” It had exactly the right amount of tongue-in-cheek humour to keep me laughing (even when I wanted to cry). I was blessed with good sleepers, which is how I ended up with three children, but if I hadn’t been, I would have followed the lead of a dear friend who let her son cry it out in his pram in the garage. I am not making this up. He is now an amazing young adult, successful, well adjusted and happy. 🙂

  6. I love your take on this idea of parenting!

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