At 1 A.M. last night Gideon woke up crying inconsolably. I tried to feed him, but he was not interested. He went back to sleep and repeated the same pattern twice before the thought came to me that maybe Gideon was not hungry. I’m slow, I know. He did not want to be held, he did not want to be in his crib. Gideon did not know what on earth he wanted, all he could express was that he was not content. The poor little guy was so sleepy, and could not be comforted. Finally, in a desperate attempt to calm him down I got him out of his crib for a snuggle in the rocking chair. As soon as I lifted him, I knew it. His body was radiating dry heat and his little head was hot against my cheek. Gideon was also limp with exhaustion from lack of sleep, and just wanted to lay his head on my shoulder and pass out. He had a little fever of 100.9. Nothing to call the doctor about, but I just felt so guilty for not noticing sooner.
I decided to let his smart little body do its job, and at about 4 A.M. I chucked all the sleep training no-no’s out the window, and brought my sweet little baby to bed with me. Gideon instantly relaxed, loosened his grip on the pacifier letting it dangle from his lips, and collapsed into a deep sleep. I just lay there staring at him. We both slept peacefully until 8 A.M.
All he wanted was to be in bed with me.
I’ll be the first to admit that as a new – oftentimes insecure – mother, and in an attempt to do what’s best for Gideon, I’ve ended up following some theory or belief to the T only to discover over and over that my instinctual reactions to Gideon’s cries or behaviors will not quiet down. Even if a desired action or behavior is achieved through some approach, I still only feel successful or like I’ve done my motherly duty if I do what feels right over what the experts tell me to do.
In most aspects of life “it just felt right” would be considered pretty insubstantial proof that whatever you said or did was indeed right. And of all things to justify, parenting and child rearing are two things that you’d think would require practices that are evidence-based or backed by some pretty meaty quantitative research. But God made the parent-child connection to be a relationship where patterns and statistics cannot apply.
It has taken me almost 7 months of loving Gideon and feeling connected to him in a way that I can’t describe, to realize that we really need each other. He needs me to be there for him, and to teach him that his cries and needs matter. I need him to know that they do.
So take what you read, what you’re told, whatever methods you decide to stand for, and see them for what they are: things that there are a time and place for, interesting, at times groundbreaking and useful when you’re at your wits end … but more often than not, completely irrelevant. Because nothing and no one can read or interpret your baby like you can. And your baby can’t be comforted by anything or anyone like you do.
Here’s to your mad innate parenting skills!