Thursday, 11 March 2010

Surrendering to a decision I had already made

Anyone who knows me will know that Ella's sleep has been a common topic of conversation. She still wakes at night and recently stopped napping in her cot during the day. Every few weeks I hit a wall of exhaustion and we re-evaluate how we are dealing with things and try to improve the situation. We got to the point at the weekend where I just felt desperate and exhausted and just couldn't go on with nothing changing. But here is the rub. I just can't and won't leave Ella to cry. Many people have sung the praises of leaving your bub to cry for three nights and how it worked wonders with their child's sleep. Now I believe these stories but I just couldn't get my head around leaving Ella to cry. So each time I got to the end of my rope I would ask for advice and be told that this was the only option.

But this week a miracle happened. I realised I had already decided what I wanted to do and the only step left was to surrender to it. I had a lovely chat to a mother who has chosen to raise her children in a gentle way. She has her babies sleep in her bed until they are gently ready to leave. She finally put into words what I have been struggling with. I know how I feel in my heart but I just kept getting stuck thinking that going with Ella's needs would lead my life into chaos and it scared me. All these fears stopped me surrendering to what I knew in my heart. And also it is hard to choose a different way of doing things without people to talk to about it and see how it is done.

So that night we decided to welcome Ella into our bed, not as a desperate way to cope with her waking, but as a normal way to parent your child when they do normal baby things, like waking in the night. We have also decided to change our practical bed arrangements to make it work. And for day naps if she needs to feed to sleep with me that is fine, or if she needs to be in the wrap or buggy that is fine too. I am going with her and not thinking about 'routines' and what other people are doing. We are going to do our own thing and go with our own pattern.

As soon as my husband and I made that decision I felt such a huge burden lifted and such peace and freedom. I am no longer reaching for some illusive perfection or the 'right way' to do things. Instead I can feel confident in my instincts, my research and my relationship with Ella.

As I look around our home I see that I had already made this decision. All the books I have read are gentle in approach. I am committed to breastfeeding for as long as it is a positive experience for us both, and I always gravitate towards parents who do things in a gentle way. So my conversation really just gave me permission and a practical way forward.

So I feel like a new woman. I am not going to work as much as I had, so I have more energy. I am going to bed with Ella so I get early nights and napping during the day even if their are other things to do. I am slowing myself down to move more at Ella's pace, rather than what I was trying to do before.

I have hope and joy back in my relationship with Ella. Life is good!

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