By WaltzingMatildaandMe on June 04, 2013
Before I had a baby I knew as much about "controlled crying" as I did about mining in the Amazon. To me, they both seemed unnecessary and did more damage than good. My impression of "controlled crying" was putting your child into its cot and letting your little darling cry for any given period of time until they either went to sleep or threw up, in which case you would change the sheets and start again. I had heard people say, "the first week is the worst but it gets easier once the child gets use to it". "Gets use to it?" I thought to myself, "who gets use to crying?", then I remembered, me.
It seems that anyone who has managed to conceive and give birth has now become an "expert" on raising children. From the moment a lucky little sperm burrows itself into that egg you have "experts" offering, pushing, preaching and lecturing to you about how to give birth and raise YOUR child. Once I announced that I was "with child" (makes me sound like a lady and not a ladette) I had people lining up to give me "advice". I use to find it hard to get an opinion on my latest hairdo, now I had a line around the block. For a person with an anxiety disorder, large groups of people "offering" "advice" is daunting. For a person with an anxiety disorder AND a photographic memory, it's sheer hell. Not only was I overwhelmed with conflicting information about my bundle of joy to be, I also managed to remember EVERY... SINGLE... WORD... In which I played over in my head for the next 7 months. Like I said, sheer hell.
I was 10 weeks "with child" (again, like a lady) when I was lucky enough to have been given a library of books by a good friend of mine. However, after sifting through them I thought to myself, "my friend hates me and wants me to fail". Each book had conflicting information to the next. It was as confusing as listening to someone talk about Creationism. One of these books was called Save Our Sleep, by Tizzie Hall. The name Tizzie Hall provokes many different reactions amongst parents. But it's usually only one of two; you curse her name and all she has written, or her name rolls off your tongue with a gentle smile because you slept 9 hours straight last night. I browsed through her book while I was "with child" (still, like a lady) assessing the routines and timetables but it was all too much to take in. I was having a hard time reading the TV guide let alone a guide on babies, feeding and sleep. I picked up Save Our Sleep again when Matilda was 2 weeks old and not sleeping longer than 45 minutes. To those in the industry, this is known as "catnapping". At that point, I would have slept with Tony Abbott if I thought it would have helped my baby's sleeping habits. Looking back, trying to manipulate my baby into a routine wasn't for her sake, it was for mine. Again, Tony Abbott in a hotel, I would have been there. Standing in the hallway, book in hand, trying to distinguish a "protest" cry to an "emotional" cry was near impossible. To me it was all noise and not stopping for no one. She would be in her bassinet crying her little lungs out and I would be on the hallway floor crying my mummy lungs out. Both of us just needed someone to pick us up and give us a hug. In the end the "controlled crying" didn't work with Matilda but it worked on me. I found myself blocking out all emotion, becoming numb and no longer crying. I guess this is the philosophy behind controlled crying for babies. They cry, no one comes to help, so they give up. Tizzie Hall's "advice" was damaging, not for my baby, but for me. The book went back to my friend and needless ti say, I don't incite "controlled crying". For babies or mummy's.
Advice is like the Foxtel guy at the shopping center trying to sell you The Movie Channel. You vaguely listen to what is being said but you rarely buy into the deal being offered. One warm morning in November I was explaining my dilemma about Matilda not sleeping to a fellow mum when she offered up this tid bit of advice, "babywearing". As the name suggests you "wear" your baby like you would any other "organically made" fashion accessory. Now, I am fully aware of mothers carrying their babies for centuries and it's truly a beautiful thing. However, let me stop you there for a moment, just back the truck up. I, the anxious mother, recently diagnosed with PND, who gets claustrophobic in a sleeping bag needed to "wear" my baby in order for her to sleep?!? At this stage I could not get far enough away from my baby and someone was suggesting I get even closer? "Have you sniffed too much sandalwood and gone mad?" I thought to myself "I'm ready to send it back from where it came". Feeling guilty about not being an "Earth Mother" and carrying my baby, I bought a wrap and tried it. Needless to say the wrap lived in the closet until recently.
The worst advice I have received since I became "with child" (again, still like a lady) was by the attending midwife during my labour. Having endured a long, painful and invasive labour (I'll go into the gory details another day) I was at the tail end (no pun intended). A few big pushes and I shall have my prize. For those of you that have endured a labour and vaginal birth you can attest that it's a very primal thing. You truly find your inner cavewoman. However, the midwife on night shift the day my daughter was born seemed to think that ladies should be ladies, under ALL circumstances. With the obstetrician encouraging me to "get angry and push", I was told by Mrs Mind Your P's and Q's Midwife, and I quote, "stop making that noise, you will hurt your throat". "My THROAT?!?" I thought to myself, "bugger my throat, what about my vag!". And in that moment my dear friends I stopped being a lady and became mummy.
Whatever "advice" your friends, family and fellow train commuters try to give you about your children. Do what i do. Simply smile, nod and think about the fact that I didn't have to sleep with Tony Abbott for my baby to sleep through the night.
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