One of the most basic decisions you make as a new mom is deciding if you are going to put your newborn on a schedule or swing the pendulum the opposite direction and let your baby lead based on their needs. *Note: if you decide not to do either, you are by default choosing the latter. I’m going to go ahead and lay all my cards on the table and admit I’m as textbook type A as they come. I love calendars and to-do lists. I hate surprises. Structure and routine make me feel comfortable and “in control” of my little circus. So, if you had any question as to which camp I fall into, naturally I supported getting my little one into a rhythm. (My son must take after me, because he came home from the hospital eating every three hours like clockwork). I say rhythm rather than schedule, because I wanted to listen to my baby’s needs and adjust accordingly. I wanted to avoid the rigid standards that I tend to set for myself.
I was planning on going back to work at the end of my maternity leave, and I knew it would be better for everyone involved if there was some type of plan so we all knew what to expect. I worried what might happen if we weren’t on a routine, so after five weeks we moved my son from a bassinet at my bedside to his crib. Not long after that he started sleeping through the night and was happy almost all the time. I felt like I hit the baby jackpot. I am an advocate for moms doing whatever works best for their family. This worked out great for mine.
Our dear friends were recently visiting from out of town, and I got to meet their eight week old. He slept on my chest in the middle of a party and was completely content to stay that way for hours. Like any mom, I missed my son being that small. I started to question if I had done the right thing in my own parenting. Did I let my son sleep on me enough? Did I sacrifice snuggles for schedules? That question plagued my mind for the next day until I realized I was at it again. I had been reading books that recommend putting your child down while they are drowsy rather than letting them fall asleep in your arms. The goal is to help them learn to fall asleep on their own so they will be better sleepers down the road. I struggled with this because on one hand, I want my son to learn to fall asleep in his own bed, grow up, and one day be an independent, contributing member of society.
On the other hand, there is no better feeling on Earth than when my son falls asleep in my arms.
Society puts so much pressure on moms to get their newborns to sleep through the night. The quicker you earn this badge, the better mom you are, apparently. But babies also need love and affection. They need to feel their mother close and know that they are safe. So for now, I’m tossing the books out the window and soaking up all the snuggles I can get. Maybe I’m making a huge mistake, but I think I’ll take my chances.