Tuesday, August 27, 2013

thoughts on three

*I wrote this months before Audrey was born, but did not have the courage to post.  After re-reading, I have decided to publish, and write more on parenting in the  future. I hope you enjoy!*

It is hitting me. In those moments when I have a minute to breathe, I realize that it will soon be completely different. Although it has been two and a half years, I do not forget the 24 hour demands of a newborn. I do not forget the exhaustion, the wondering if this baby will ever go to sleep!  There is so much joy, so much dependence and so much love.  It is also really, really hard.  Sometimes it is hard to admit it. For fear of admitting weakness as a parent, for fear of admitting the reality is not exactly as we hoped.  

"We worried that we were not strong enough as mothers. That we were lacking in some fundamental emotional point of clarity or spiritual virtue necessary to parent our babies correctly. ... One-size-fits-all parenting advice provides peaceful affirmation for those parents whose own personalities and babies' temperaments happen to fit the prescribed mold.  In those for whom the neatly-packaged advice does not resonate at a heart level, however, it can stir up not only massive amounts of fear, but heavy guilt and shame as well.  For a new mother, the perception that either she or her baby is failing in some way is an incredibly difficult burden to shoulder amidst the already exhausting day-to-day life with a newborn."
(Tietz and Oyer. Spirit-Led Parenting, p. 38)  

Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer have written a beautiful book about dealing with the fear and struggle of parenting a newborn. Both mothers felt the pressure to follow advice from other mothers in their circle, as well as from traditional parenting books.  Both parents broke away from this to discover freedom in their parenting. (This book is written from a spiritual perspective, as both moms turned to prayer and the Holy Spirit for direction in their parenting.)

(Charlotte, 7 months old)

(Charlotte, 4 years old)

I too, read many books, including "The Baby Whisperer", "The Happiest Baby on the Block" and others which prescribe certain ways of caring for newborns.  These ways encouraged babies to sleep, eat and play within prescribed rhythms throughout the day. I will never forget walking Charlotte in her stroller, while she was crying at the top of her lungs, because it was not her time for feeding within the rhythm.  We desperately longed for a sense of "normal" in her "schedule".  The reality was much different. Then I decided to sell the books and forget the ideas. They did not work for us, and for our baby. 

(Lila, 1 or 2 days old)

(Lila, 2 years old)

Lila came with a huge personality and a huge set of lungs! The nurses in the hospital thought she was so fussy because I was tandem nursing (although Charlotte did not nurse the entire time I was in the hospital) and my mom was worried that she had colic. She cried a lot.  I don't even think I remember the extent of it. And now, as I snuggle her and nurse in the evenings, it seems like ages ago.  She is confident now and although she soaks up physical affection and snuggles (perhaps physical touch is her love language?) she does not cry often. 

The truth is, a baby changes a family.  A newborn is a miracle. Don't be afraid mamas, to ask for help. Because it is desperately hard, and we are living in a Facebook, Pinterest world where making comparisons becomes second nature.  The mama you see baking fresh bread, engaging in art projects while keeping a beautifully neat house... that mama has struggles and fears too.  Listen to your baby, and listen to their needs.

These words are for myself. I am trying not to cry when I think of everything changing once again.  I wonder how I will meet one more person's constant demands through sleep deprivation.  I have no idea what three will look like in real life.  I do know that I will respond to my baby's needs and wants to the absolute utmost that I can. My two older girls will learn about caring for another person and what it takes to sacrificially love. They will learn to love this new little one too.  The love will multiply in our family as we learn to love another new little person.

Yes, we are pretty much a full fledged "attachment parenting" family, including co-sleeping as needed, full term breastfeeding and tandem nursing, and baby wearing. We did not set out to parent this way, but through life and learning to listen to our children's needs we have decided to parent within this philosophy. I feel strongly about it, and although "Spirit-Led Parenting" isn't really an attachment promoting book, it does present some attachment concepts as possible options within a Christian context.  In reality, our girls sleep primarily in their own bed now, Charlotte has self-weaned, and our discipline is a non-punitive approach. Often, I keep it all to myself. Because of fear of others thoughts and opinions of me. I think the time has come to write and reflect on these choices as the months pass and baby number three is about to make an appearance! 


  1. I've wanted to read that book, and really like the authors other writings. I have realized even more with Malachi that we have to do what's best for us, what we feel most comfortable with, and what we value most. It's hard to go against the grain and do things differently, but I definitely agree that you have to take care of your littles ones the best way your family can, and let go of outside pressures, however they come.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I hope lots of parents get to read this. And lots of children , parents, and families are celebrated for how uniquely they were created!

  3. I agree with doing what and how you feel best for your baby. We care for Caleb the way that works for us, and definitely for him. Had I have used a schedule for feeding when he was a newborn, it would never have worked. I would nurse him as soon as he woke up, and whenever he started crying, and I could tell the difference in his cry. It was such a bonding time too. Hats off to you Pamela! We want more kids, and having one has been life changing...let alone having three :-)