Smugness Enters the Mommy Wars

I am not an “attachment parenting” mom.  Nope — never have been.  It didn’t come naturally to me.  What did come naturally to me was to nurse each of my five babies and put them down in the crib to sleep, and then to try to catch a break and do the other things I needed to do.  I’ve never had a baby in my bed.  And I didn’t actually want my babies hanging onto me in a sling.  The very thought of it made my back ache, to be honest.

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This approach worked for me and my babies, but getting a system in place whereby they went down happily to sleep didn’t happen with a snap of my fingers.  It took a lot of planning and practice.  I’ve now been through it five times, and I put so much thought into the whole process that when I had my fifth, I decided to film videos about all the little things I had learned (i.e., how and why I did not fall apart!)  Call me stupid, but I didn’t think there was anything obvious or easy about any of it.

So a piece by Nicola Kraus that ran yesterday on the Huffington Post lambasting different parenting styles, particularly the attachment parenting, has me just a little bit irked.  Kraus, a former nanny and co-author of the best-seller “The Nanny Diaries,” says that her “detachment parenting” techniques resulted in her baby sleeping through the night by 6 weeks old.  She pleads with all the so-called “attachers” to get their babies out of their beds and bring back “sleep, sex, movies, dining and travel, so that the marriage that produced the child is as healthy when that child trots off to the great world that awaits them as it was when you said, ‘I do.’”

According to Kraus, it’s not too hard to do this.  Just put the baby down while she’s awake — and snap! — your whole exciting life awaits, as easy as pie. This sounds like a commercial for a Sandals resort, babysitter included.

Here’s Kraus’ description of her night-time routine:

“I nursed her often and for hours, but I always put her to bed awake in her own room, and by 6 weeks, she was sleeping through the night. By 12 weeks, she was sleeping twelve hours. She loves her crib.”

That’s it?  That’s all a parent needs to know?

Listen, I have nothing against Kraus; she makes some good points. What bugs me is her assumption that everyone else makes a choice not to have it so easy!  Everyone else chooses sleep-deprivation, abstinence, bad TV, and boring domesticity, and her approach yields NONE of these results. First, I think that is untrue, at least in my experience, and secondly, I find her attitude a bit smug.

I did end up in a similar position (with respect to baby in the crib from day one, no co-sleeping, and a breastfeeding and sleeping routine) but I will in fact say that it was damn hard!  It took a lot of sacrifice and work.  Over the first few months, I fed the baby very regularly all throughout the day, giving up many outings to make sure she was on the right schedule.  Usually, with a newbie, it took me at least one hour to do a full feeding.  Oftentimes, over the late-afternoon and into the evening hours, my baby would want to cluster feed and nurse non-stop, which wore me down.  Then, she would collapse for a good part of the night.

Not one of my babies – I repeat, not one – was sleeping “through the night” at 6 weeks, nor for twelve hours at 12 weeks.  At 12 weeks, I always had to do a “top off” feed to get them through and they were for the most part sleeping through the night by around 6 months old. I considered myself lucky, and according to many other moms I spoke with and my doctor, I was!

So while attachment parenting is not for me, I certainly don’t think that means everything comes easily, as Kraus suggests.  I was blessed with five very good sleepers but it still took a while to get them there, so don’t feel too bad, you other moms.

Kraus reminds me a little bit of the mother-in-law who talks about how her baby slept through the night at 2 weeks, and walked and talked before age 1.  Can’t wait to read the next piece on potty training – maybe she won’t even need a kiddy potty!  Just take off the diaper and presto!  Good times await!

I think we can learn a lot from hearing about the experiences of other parents — I know I do — but I am growing tired of the “I do it best’ers.”  We’re all doing the best we can with the children we’ve been given.

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