Real life isn’t like the parenting books

One of the perks (probably the only one) of having really bad morning (i.e. all-day) sickness in a pregnancy, is that you get lots of time to read.  That was me last summer…for once in my life, I had too much time to read…something I never thought would happen.  And along with The Lord of the Rings trilogy and random other novels, I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on about this amazing event that was going on and making me so sick.  Pregnancy, labour, home birth, water birth, birth in general, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, etc., etc.   If it was about natural birth and parenting, I ate it up.  Lying on my bed or the couch, or on a good day, sitting in a chair, I read and read while sipping lemon water and occasionally munching some wholegrain cereal.

[And just in case any of you are going to comment and tell me that small meals of protein throughout the day help with morning sickness…just let me say, thank you for trying to help…and that may have worked for you, but it definitely does not work for me!  Protein in most forms like eggs, cheese, peanut butter, meats, etc., my body just could not handle very well, especially before noon.  Thus, Barbara’s Bakery Shredded Oats ceral became my constant friend, along with buttered toast, berries and altoids.  But anyway…I’m getting off-topic…but I just didn’t want to blow-up at anyone who told me the protein thing for the billionth time…)

Co-sleeping (the practice of having your baby share your bed or sleep right next to your bed) was something I read quite a bit about because originally we weren’t going to (Aaron left it pretty much up to me).  I guess I just listened too well to that story of King Solomon and threatening to cut the baby in half, but I was very scared that I would end up rolling on my baby and killing it.  And then I read this wonderful article which supplied some very helpful links to scientific studies showing how safe co-sleeping is.  After reading those, I was sold and became quite excited…it definitely appealed to my mommy heart to have my baby sleeping right next to me.

And in the beginning, it was wonderful.  Christmas Eve night, Cedar’s first night home from the NICU, I cuddled his little body next to mine and it was pure mother bliss.  Especially having seeing him in his isolette and then little hospital bed, all covered with wires and tubes, tucking him up against me and falling asleep to nothing but the sound of all of our breathing was amazing.  And as he got older and got over his nursing problems, not having to get out of bed to feed him was great!  I became a big co-sleeping advocate.

And after Cedar was born, I continued to read occasionally about how great co-sleeping was and I agreed wholeheartedly.  We weren’t sure how long Cedar would stay in our bed, but I figured probably until he was weaned, which would hopefully be when he was a year or older.  A couple months ago, he got too big to try to fit all three of us on our queen bed, so we moved him to a crib-turned-co-sleeper right next to it and that worked really well.

But now, he’s sleeping in the library/guest room/office in the crib-turned-back-into-a-crib and I find myself wondering what happened.  According to the parenting books that advocate co-sleeping, everything should be peachy as long as your baby sleeps next to you and you nurse and cuddle with him at night if he fusses.  But…shockingly enough, real life isn’t like the parenting books.  They don’t tell you that your baby might be a light sleeper who wakes up four to seven times a night, crying and thus waking up Daddy who really needs his sleep so he can get up in the morning and go to work with power tools and on high ladders.  And that this can continue for weeks and no one will get much sleep, leaving the only sane option to be to put the baby in the other room and let him learn to put himself back to sleep when he’s not hungry.  I never thought that would happen.

One thing I’m definitely learning in this phase of my life…in my marriage and in parenting…is to hold very loosely to the ideas that I had when I was single.  Back then (seems like another lifetime), I had so many plans and big ideas for what I would or wouldn’t do, but oftentimes life throws you something you don’t expect, something that you didn’t anticipate at 18, and you need to roll with it.  Even though there’s already been lots that I didn’t plan on, I’m learning that if you trust the Holy Spirit to guide you, He will.  And like so many other things, it ends up just being another opportunity to throw yourself on Jesus.

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3 thoughts on “Real life isn’t like the parenting books

  1. Excellent posts! Even though I’m not anywhere near marriage or motherhood yet, I’m finding that the ideas/plans I had when I was 16, 18 or even 22 have changed quite a bit over the years. Sometimes what works for someone else doesn’t work for you and vice versa. And sometimes God just has something else in store 🙂

  2. So…have you thought about a protein diet;-) lol I couldn’t resist! But once again a beautiful post, Jessica. I wholeheartedly agree with you, I too had many ideas of how life would be and how my relationship with Eliana would be, but the LORD had other ways of doing things and once I gave up the books and started leaning on Him and His Word I relaxed. I don’t think anything changed, just my way of thinking. I love your work!

  3. Ha! Your paragraph about the small meals of protein make me laugh! After 7 months of 24/7 nausea, I’ve only been told about a billion times to eat crackers in the morning…but it does NOT work for me and sometimes I’m tempted to do unspeakable things to the unfortunate person who happens to be next to open their mouth!

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