Before baby ninja was born you would hear me discussing loudly with friends (generally those without children) the virtue of routine and how I was going to establish one immediately and how baby ninja would fit into my schedule thankyou very much. So, post birth and post initial hell I’m not getting any sleep trauma, I embarked on what would turn out to be the most upsetting, depressing and fruitless journey of my life. (I exagerate not).
For fear of litigating reprisals I shall refrain from naming and shaming the advice I took however I can tell you that I was seduced by the idea of contentment and problem solving that these routines would bring about. (I suppose I must say in their defence that they have helped lots of people, they just didn’t help me).
So, day one wake at when? and feed by when? eh? But she’s been awake since 5 and has fed three times already and it’s only 7 oclock. OK so I’ve missed the first stage but I’ll make sure she naps at the appropriate times. But when baby ninja was supposed to be napping she was doubled up with wind (and yes she was entirely breast fed so that’s another one for the dispelling myths page) dirtied two nappies and then needed feeding again. By this time, nap time had been and gone and I was on the next stage but now she wanted to sleep. Cue cold sweat. This just wasn’t working. Anyway, I struggled on and everyday, almost every hour actually, I’d start again and try and get her to do what she was ‘supposed’ to. Follow the routines. It was simple wasn’t it? No it wasn’t. After about a month of this and spending more time in a darkened room trying to get her to sleep than actually sleeping; I cracked. I was miserable, lonely and frustrated. Why wasn’t my baby doing what she was supposed to?
I told my mum that I was struggling with a routine and what she said saved my sanity. “Well, baby Ninja hasn’t read that book has she”she quipped. Simple as that. I suddenly reaslised that I was trying to achieve someone elses ideal. So, I shelved the books and set about trying to just enjoy being with my baby rather than establishing some military routine. I’d been so concerned about looking for signs of tiredness I’d forgotten to just gaze into her beautiful face and to hold her close. I’d been so obsessed to get her to sleep in her cot that I’d not gone out and missed the opportunity to make new friends at baby groups.
I feel really strongly (probaly irrationally so) against these books that make us feel like failures because they don’t work for us. They gave me nothing but pain and when I hear people comment about how their baby isn’t doing what they’re supposed to and how they’re tearing their hair out trying to make it work. It makes me cross. Not for them, I feel sad for them. It makes me cross that there are people out there praying on your vulnerability as a new mother and counting on your fragile emotional state to sell a concept that is often unachievable. If they said at the begining, “this doesn’t work for everyone but that’s fine, you’ll get there in the end” then I might not be so opinionated but it’s because they tell you that your baby should be doing such and such, should be capable of such and such which, if they’re not makes you feel like a total failure.
Anyway, baby Ninja settled herself into a routine at about 16 weeks only to go and change it again about a month later and so on. Things are much more settled now at 10 months and our days are fairly predictable but that has happend all on it’s own, without ‘professional’ intervention.