Monday, November 2, 2015

Follow Your Gut

I have to share the latest development that has me SO VERY THRILLED!!

Much of my parenting journey has been a struggle between following my mama's instinct and wanting to know and do what's best for my child, based on research. Ugh! It was a battle to find the balance. In the second year, I was much better about only following my gut rather than asking for advice and searching for articles every time I wanted guidance.

I can already tell that I will be much more relaxed for the second child. I truly believe that you have to do what works best for YOUR child and YOUR family. That's all that matters.

Well, we certainly took the route of survival when it came to nursing and sleeping and raising Ian. During his pregnancy we were determined not to co-sleep and then immediately chose to co-sleep on the night we brought him home from the hospital. We never turned back. We had to in order to survive. That's what Ian wanted and needed. And, in the end, it's been a really beautiful journey.

We nursed until he started really slowing down and it became a bit too painful and much during this pregnancy. The last time he nursed was during his 22nd month. That was much longer than I ever expected we would.

Co-sleeping and breastfeeding have been truly incredible adventures.

Due to the fact that we co-sleep, I had been lying down with Ian until he fell asleep for both naptimes and bedtimes. We'd read books, sing songs, and then lie next to each other until he fell asleep and I would leave the room.

In the last two weeks, I found a new pattern and routine that's worked for us. He loves to say, "I'll be right back, Mama" and then leaves and returns.  Or, he doesn't mind it if I say it and come back. He even repeated it the whole time I was at the beach... "Mama be right back." He feels secure in that we will always return for him and that's a wonderful thing. A fantastic bond that's been built.

Well, I have started telling him that I will be back to check on him after he falls asleep. We read books, sing songs, and then hug and kiss before I leave the room. He has fallen to sleep for naps and nights for a week now, comfortable and secure in the fact that he is safe in his own bed and without his mama.

This has given me so much extra time in the evenings and more freedom in the afternoons. It's given him independence and an ability to fall asleep, securely loved, but on his own. I am so glad that we waited and did this at his own speed, even though it was certainly challenging and exhausting at times. He's able to come to us if he needs to, but he doesn't choose to.

This weekend we were at my parents' house and he needed me to return to the room once or twice more each night, but this was only for extra hugs and kisses. Extra reassurance in a place other than our home. It was a need and it was met. He then felt secure and fell asleep.

Every child is different. This is what Ian needed. He is a truly active and busy child by day, sits very still for book after book, loves hugs and kisses, and by night, he loves cuddling.

Our next step will be trying to move him back into his own bed at night. He moved back into our bed during the first trimester of this pregnancy because he would wake once in the night, and that was too much for me. Now he sleeps through the night in our bed, but soon there will be another baby waking often. It will be best for all of us if he's in his own bed and rested (we think!). But the most recent accomplishment of falling asleep on his own, happily and contently, is huge and wonderful.

My fervent prayer is that I will be able to show our next child the same love and security, but in the strategies that work best for him/her. It will be a whole new ball game and I am trying to go into it with an open mind. We may or may not co-sleep and who knows how long our breastfeeding journey will be, but one thing's for sure... I'm going to cut myself more slack and know that eventually he or she will reach the same security that Ian has (even though sometimes it seemed like it would never come!).

New Mamas,
Follow your gut, 
lose the guilt, 
and love your child and yourself the best you can. 
Do what's best for your family.
The end.

One of the VERY few occasions Ian fell asleep on his own  (and not in the carseat/stroller) before this past week.
He was sick and obviously needed some rest.

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