Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mother's Instinct

When I became a mom I had no clue what I was doing. And, yeah, I am still pretty clueless. But, that said, I do feel like I have a motherly instinct. Don't we all have a natural primal instinct to care for our children? I think we do.

That's why when Stinx woke up in the middle of the night I always responded to him. It is a natural response. It wasn't something I had to think about. I just did it. When a mother hears her child's cry, she naturally and automatically responds to her child's cry for help. It's like when a baby cries, a breastfeeding mother's milk often has a let down. I remember in our last pre-natal class after the babies were all born, they were all crying at the same time. My breasts were sore! Aching! It was painful! Why? Because my body had a natural physical reaction to respond to the babies cries.

Babies cry. It's their only way to communicate. How else can they get their mother's attention? I feel it is my responsibility to respond to Stinx' cry. And yeah, the older he gets, it will become easier as he will be able to explain more in words what he needs. But in the mean time, I do my best to find out what is wrong.

When Stinx was less than a month old, I had company over and when he woke from his nap crying, the visitor told me, "it's okay to let him cry. It's good for him."

I responded by saying "it's not okay to let babies cry, especially when they are this young and even my doctor agrees."

Maybe it's just that older generation, but it still seems quite common to let babies "cry it out". My mom had even suggested it, numerous times. Even Dad has brought it up. I just don't get it. The thought of letting Stinx CIO goes against my most natural, and intense maternal instinct. How could I do that?

I'm not saying Stinx never cries. And I'm also not saying I have never sleep trained/night weaned Stinx. We have, but we've always tried the most gentle ways possible (He was 10 months old). We've never left him alone to CIO. I've done things to change his sleep patterns while being there to comfort him. Of course night weaning wasn't pleasant but at the time it helped my own mental health. Will I night wean my next baby that young? Probably not. Will I sleep train the next baby? Probably not. Next time, I will know I am in for a lot of sleepless nights. Next time, I will be co-sleeping with baby. Screw this crap of getting out of bed. I think my biggest misconception was that babies should sleep through the night by the time they are 6 months(or whenever). Who convinced me of that bull crap? Anyways... I'm getting ranty.

So my question is, why do mother's let their babies cry it out, even though it goes against their motherly instinct? I know the answers... bad advice and pressure from family, friends and society, unrealistic expectations of a baby's ability to sleep etc etc.

CIO is just something I can't wrap my head around. The only exception I can think of is if it is the only safe option for baby. Ie. Parent being so frustrated they are tempted to shake or hurt their baby, so they leave the room. That I understand. But the fully planned CIO sleep training, just doesn't make sense. The only other exception I can think of is a mother's mental health. But in that scenario, I really do belive that the Father should give the mother a break, and take over the night time parenting and until she is well again, and even then, I think the Dad should help out by taking turns..

Which kind of gets me onto another point, I really think more Dad's should be involved in nighttime parenting, even if it is just once or twice a week... Maybe most dad's do. But I know with my husband, I have to remind him to help me otherwise I'll go months without his help.

Ok. End of rant.


Alisha said...

Do you really want to know why?
There are a couple of really interesting theory's out there, the one that seems to be the most interesting to me is the one that states that they are missing that part in the brain. No I am not kidding, and yes I plan to get flack for saying that...but let me explain as only a wannabe Psychologist could...When THEY were babies they were ignored because society told Grandma that it was low class to sleep or nurse their babies and were supported by everyone that Crying was natural...doctors etc. (as some still do)...anyway, their babies (older generation) since they were not attended to, did not develop the parts in their brain that responds to crying, use it or lose it...literally. So now they did or did not do the same to their children, and the cycle continues.
Now some people respond to crying...maybe that is because their parents bucked the trend? I know that my mom was a trail am I.
Any way, there are some parents that CHOOSE to be AP because they want to do better for their children than was to them, and others that were just born AP. Because of the wiring in their brains....

Stinx' Mom said...

Thanks for the interesting comment. Next time we chat you'll have to share the other theories with me. Or I could google them when I have time.

Deb said...

Very well written. It makes me think of the comment that more then one person has said to me: "Sometimes you just have to let them cry," My immediate response is always No, you don't. I find Alisha's response very interesting as well. I have often wondered why so many people can do something that feels so unnatural. It is interesting to hear that some people don't have the capacity to find it unnatural.