Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Baby Unwise

I've really been enjoying Three Moms and a Podcast, a podcast where my friend Kaysie and two of her buds dish about different mothering issues.  A few weeks ago they talked about the-book-that-shall-not-be-named (aka, Babywise), and I've had a lot of thoughts rolling around in my head regarding GKGW and programs of its kind.

I've mentioned it before, but when Nate was born, I thought this book was gold.  We followed it like it was child-rearing manna from Heaven.  Sure enough, he slept through the night by 8 wks, even though he was 4 wks early.  But at a very high price - his early sleeping habits, coupled with scheduled feedings during the day and a full-time night shift work schedule, cost me my milk supply.  By 5 months it had disappeared. 

We used the program again with Susannah.  And by 6 months I was struggling again.  I managed to make it to 9 months, supplementing heavily with formula, when I became pregnant with Abigail.  I tried nursing her while pregnant but she was no longer interested. 

Abigail's time at the breast started roughly.  She was born 7 wks early and was only 4 lb 7 oz when we brought her home from the NICU.  She never latched well and by 12 wks she'd weaned completely.

With Luke I was determined to do something different.  I knew that God had made me to nurse.  I had sweet toothless babies and breasts to feed them, but for some reason "God's way" wasn't cutting it.  I was drying up far before it was time for weaning.  So I went to a breastfeeding support group as soon as Luke arrived.  At first I was skeptical.  All these hippie ladies sitting in a room with nursing toddlers kind of scared me.  And when I mentioned how I didn't know how to boost my supply while doing Babywise, a hush fell across the room.

"You know," the lactation consultant (now my dear friend, Mellanie) said, "your baby didn't come with those instructions imprinted on him.  He just knows he's hungry."  I immediately went on alert.  I knew about those no-schedule, family-bed marsupial parents.  I'd been warned about them in my GKGW class.

But I kept coming back.  And I saw that these ladies really loved their kids too.  And many of them loved Jesus as well.  And that GKGW wasn't God's way.  It was a way that some Christians raise their children.  And while it wasn't wrong in and of itself, neither was it right or holy or somehow perfect. 

And I threw out the book.  I still kept the basic routine of eat-play-sleep, but I let Luke set his own schedule.  And he nursed past a year, almost all the way through my pregnancy with Gabriel.   Gabriel, too, nursed for over a year and my supply was plentiful.  Leah Claire is 8 months old.  She still wakes a couple times a night, but she's exclusively breastfed and happy.  My supply is abundant and since we cosleep it's not a big deal to drowsily nurse her in the night.  (Frankly, with the noise and craziness of our daytimes, it's a special time for the two of us).

My point is not that Babywise is one hundred percent wrong, though I do have serious caveats about a book that undermines natural milk production and made me numb my soul to my maternal instinct to comfort my child.  My point is that it is not God's way.  Neither is Sears', or Pantley's, or anyone else.

When we were born again, God filled us with the Holy Spirit.  As we became mothers, that same Holy Spirit empowered us to mother our children.  We must listen to the still, small Voice of the Father and ask Him how we should mother, not some silly book.  We should rely on the natural instincts that our Creator gave us to care for our little ones.  And we should pray, often and earnestly, that He would fill us to overflowing with knowledge and wisdom to raise our children in the way that they should be raised (this may come as a shock to you, but not all kids are the same - my kids might have different needs than yours.  That's why an omniscient God gave them to me!).

So let's give each other grace.  I won't call my way perfect or anoint it with the "God's way" moniker if you will do likewise.  Let's pray and support and encourage each other to seek the Father about raising all our kids to follow Him all the days of their lives.

Stay tuned - tomorrow I'll tackle No Greater Joy.  

(PS, thank you to my sisters for not punching me out, in Christian love, when I repeatedly gave them copies of the book.  You know, back when I thought it was God's way.)

(PPS, now I'M the hippie, co-sleeping marsupial mom)


Flo said...

Thank you for writing about your experience... :)

Mellanie said...

Very well written Tamara! I really have bigger issues with the fact that they call their program "God's Way" than I even do with their rigid feeding & parenting styles.

Isn't it interesting how parenting can change us so much? We too started our with GKGW but we didn't make it past a couple of weeks. I had waited so long for my first baby that I wanted more than anything to hold and cuddle him while he slept. I thank God that He has allowed me to grow and change with each child. I can't even begin what would have happened if we had tried to raise Bekah using Ezzo's methods.

You are an amazing mom Tamara and I have so much admiration for you. I am thankful that you did come to FBS that night and even more thankful that you kept coming back. :-)

Kimberly Geswein said...

Tamara- :) LOL about you giving us copies. I wanted to burn them! I love you! :)

Manda said...

Great post! The line about the marsupial parents made me laugh. :)

Unknown said...

thank you for sharing! We tried GKGW with Morgan and it failed miserably...but of course i felt like WE were the failures. We've done the opposite to an extent with Bryce and he's been a much happier baby as far as feeding goes! And we're with you on the night wakings...2x a night still! But I'm ok with it. :)

Gayla said...

LOVED this post! And I agree w/ Mellanie- my biggest issue is that they have the nerve to call it "God's Way."

Would you mind linking our podcast here on your blog?

Tamara said...

Thanks, Gayla. And it already is linked. I brightened the link color so it's easier to see. HTH.

Mommypotamus said...

Loved loved LOVED this!! Can't wait to read what you have to say about No Greater Joy.

Erin said...

"hippie, co-sleeping marsupial mom"

Love reading your blog Tamara!

Heather said...

When Reagan was 6 weeks old and I was in our pediatricians office crying about how she just couldn't comfort herself to sleep like the "book" said, my wonderful pediatrician said, "Your baby is not a book. Do yourself a favor and throw it out the window." Turns out she had terrible reflux and "crying it out" made her condition far worse. Best advice I ever got!

wordstolivebymommy said...

my sis still swears by this, but I trusted myself more with the second baby, and actually ENJOYED infancy. I know for my sis, she had NONE of the bad potential side effects, but I agree, I HATE that the book is called "God's way"

emilymomto3boys said...

I too wanted to burn them.....but you're still my sister!

TulipGirl said...

Btdt. . . got the lost-milk-suppy, failure-to-thrive t-shirt. . .

Thankfully, that was my oldest (who is now 15) and he teases me about it and God has been so good to lead us far away from our "trying to do everything right and earn God's favor" way of parenting/living/interpreting the Bible.

Rejoicing for God's grace. . . and like you. . . rejoicing in FREEEEDOM!