Sunday 7 August 2011

Channelling Africa - part 2

Previously on Aux Petits Oiseaux : Part 1

Once a week, a friend from prenatal/posnatal yoga class and I hang out at a bakery. Last week, we decided to each invite another new mom and create the Super Hot Mama Club (it's not really a club...especially with a name like that). This get together is a privileged moment where we can vent about baby stuff and eat delicious croissants while breastfeeding and changing diapers.

At one point, we talked about the pressure, from family and friends, to practice the Cry It Out (CIO) method. When Alice was 3 months old, I was with my mother-in-law when Alice fussed a bit in her bassinet. I responded immediately and soothed her with great success. Then, my mother-in-law told me: "Don't ask yourself why Alice doesn't cry. You don't ever let her cry". This could have been a compliment but the tone in her voice implied otherwise.

At first, Part 2 of this post was supposed to be about why I don't prone the CIO method. I wanted to tell you that channeling Africa really works since I can count on my two hands the number of time that Alice cried (for more then two minutes) over the past four months. Well, I can quickly tell you that in order to do so, you basically need paid leave from work, serious support from your family and friends, understanding the importance of breastfeeding and meeting your child's needs even before crying pretty difficult to do in most Western societies where you have to go back to work asap!

However, last night, I received a phone call from a "member" of the Super Hot Mama Club that made me truly realized that each family dynamic is different and that channeling Africa is maybe not the ultimate answer to a cry free baby...and a happy mother!

For that Super Hot Mama, bed time is a challenge. Her five months old daughter, cute as a button, made the sleeping routine physically and psychologically difficult. Honestly, for her, channeling Africa is not the solution. Offering the breast when her baby is upset is counterproductive since she wants to get rid of the "nurse my baby to sleep" situation.

When I hung up the phone, I knew that the next few nights would bring its share of anxiety for her daughter but I was mostly worried for my her mother's heart must be crushed while listening to her daughter's cries from a distance.

Do you have any suggestions? Did this situation happen to you? How did you manage?

* * * * *

vanessa - lynn david handbag co.: I don't know why people are always saying stuff that is going against maternal instinct. It is driving me crazy!!!

emily: I simply can't do it...maybe when she will be a toddler but not at the moment.

lara kasabian: I'm with you, cry = there is a problem. Since I have a year paid maternity leave, I can take the time to listen to my baby and help her even before she starts to cry. So happy to live in Quebec (my part of Canada). No problem with your English (it is very good), you know, I'm French. Take care xox

uk lass in us: Well, some people use CIO for other moments. Not my cup of tea but sometimes you maybe have to take drastic measures!?! Oh, are you talking about the 5-10-15 sleeping method?

lila: I never did CIO. It looks cruel (for the entire family) but maybe you have to do it for certain situations (ex: baby sleeps in its room alone)!?!

zel: Africa rocks :)

giselle: Really? Good to know that from somebody actually living in Africa!

kara: Wow, we must be sisters ;) We are doing the same mama stuff! Let me know what happen with 2-3 years old kid fits. I should get some Dr Sears books at the library. Take care xox

taryn: I also love "read your baby, not the books". And yes, mother's intuition rules.

~e: Thank you so much Erica. I actually started to read baby books after I gave birth. More a curious thing than a "I don't know what to do" thing. I also don't like labeling parenting but I like the attachment parent theory. I took what felt good for us. I loved The Happiest Baby On the Block (the only one I had while I was pregnant). I don't know the other google now! Thank you again xox

anonymous: I got the fabric via Purl Soho a few years ago to make that dress. I didn't see that fabric available online in a while. For cute fabric in Montreal (but not Nani Iro) there is l'Effiloché on St-Hubert street (bad service but good selection) and I recently read about a great place in NDG but I don't remember the name (pretty pointless sorry).


tassy said...

Hi, I lurk here, but having read your post I just had to comment! As a mum to a now 2 year old, I clearly remember the long discussions I had with my friends about whether to do controlled crying or not.

In the end, I chose the middle way (see The Baby Whisperer book - this is just a really brief summary). You don't leave them to cry. But you don't nurse them to sleep. You calm them with soft words and patting/stroking and then leave the room. When they cry, you come straight back and repeat.

The key is that they learn very quickly that you are there for them. You will leave but you will always come back. They trust you. So they go to sleep! Yes, it takes
you a week to get to that stage, but you have to earn trust!

Nathaniel has slept wonderfully ever since through all sorts of changes and complications. And he is confident.

Hope you find a method that makes you feel comfortable.

Little Gray Pixel said...

I'm glad you brought up this conversation, and I'm going to write a short novel on my thoughts for the topic.

I think everything is challenge when you have a baby because every baby has his/her own personality. I honestly never thought I would let my baby cry herself to sleep. But then I met her. She is strong-willed and short-tempered. She is an absolute joy, as well, but when it comes time for bedtime she is an absolute nightmare.

I think the problem with all of these different methods for raising children is that it puts mommies at odds with one another -- "my method is the ONLY and BEST method."

But everyone is missing the point. If one method worked on every baby, there would ONLY BE ONE METHOD.

It is hard to hear your child cry. It is. But it's absolutely harder on the mommy than the baby. It is exhausting to leave her, go back in and pat her belly, leave her, repeat until she sleeps. But it will work with practice. Tell your friend it will be OK.

As the doctor told me, "It's more important for the baby to sleep. If leaving her in her crib to cry for a few minutes works, do it."

Claudia, you are feeling pressure to let your child cry, whereas I experience the scorn of other mothers who think that me letting my baby cry is cruel.

It's a lose-lose situation for people to be so judgmental! The moms who look down on parents who must use CIO might not be so lucky with the temperament of their next child. Those who are pushing you to let Alice cry are the ones who are just jealous that Alice is so easily soothed by you.

I hope with my next child that I will be blessed with a good sleeper! Fingers crossed.

(Hopefully this is as scatter-brained as I think it is, and actually makes sense.)

Lina said...

I used to be amazed at those babies who seem to be content and hardly ever cry. Oh to be the lucky mum who can console her baby. Both my children were very colicky, despite rocking, feeding, constant comfort and cuddling there were a few months when both of them cried and cried and cried for 2 or 3 hour stretch in the evening. There is nothing worse than being a new and tired mother and not being able to comfort your baby. Thankfully they grew out of it by the time they were about 5 months.

Janet said...

Great comments above. My daughter is four months old this Tuesday, and so I only know what I've learned from her so far. I think there are different types of babies (Have you been to the site Ask Moxie? A great, supportive resource, I think. Moxie has a theory about tension releaser vs. tension increaser babies) and the best thing for moms to do is to try to realize that and not judge other moms. Some babies, as Lina pointed out, can't even be comfoted when they're very small. I can't imagine how difficult that must be.

I don't think true cry it out would work for my Juno, but sometimes, if she's really tired, there is a little bit of crying at bedtime or naptime. Usually, I sit next to the crib and comfort her every minute or so, and keep offering her the pacifier. Eventually (usually no more than 3 minutes later) she takes it, and then lays her head down and goes to sleep. I can't stop her from that little bit of crying, and I think it might even help. If she really freaks out (which hardly ever happens) I pick her up and start the bedtime routine again.

But she has to cry sometimes, like when we're in the car. We could pull over and I could take her out to try to calm her, but we're never very far from home, so it seems like a better idea to head home and comfort her there. So hard to hear the crying, though. I know you don't have a car, Claudia, so you don't have to work about that!

You raise another very good point--those of us who can stay home with our babies for months have so much more freedom to figure out what works. I know women who've had to go back to work after 6 weeks here in the States. I'm a college professor, so I won't be going back until Juno is 4 1/2 months, and even then, I'll still be home with her 3 days a week and my mom will watch her the other two. I'm so, so lucky, and I know that.

The Super Hot Mama Club sounds like fun! :)

peanut said...

I don't have any advise to give as I don't have a baby and have never cared for one for longer than a couple of hours but I thought I'd share a story my uncle once told me. My cousin was one of those babies that just seems to need to cry and won't be comforted. My uncle said that eventually you just have to give yourself a break. He once put my cousin down on the floor in the middle of the living room and walked outside and stood in the yard. I'm sure that sounds awful but he could still hear her, so he knew she was breathing, and she was too small to crawl or roll herself anywhere. He went back inside after a few minutes. I've always thought it's important to know that you can take those moments (safely, of course).

As an aside, I've been wanting to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. We've been trying to have a baby for over three years now and most baby stuff I come across makes me feel horribly sad but I always feel comfortable when I come here. Thank you.

~mama e said...

agreed w/ really have created a "safe" open-minded space for discussion on thoughtful topics. great comments above.

i'm loving reading books now too from more of an informational standpoint...i've turned into a total junkie! warning: "the continuum concept" is more of an anthropology book with kind of dry language; nevertheless a fascinating read on one culture & its child rearing.

p.s. how are you liking that teething necklace? is it small enough for alice to keep in her mouth, etc.? they're beautiful pieces, but i too have a 4 month old, which is a little developmentally young for full hand-mouth coordination...

xo. enjoy your week

oh pps! you are SO lucky to live in beautiful Quebec and especially so in a country that honors the importance of an infant's first year. that would never happen here, b/c god forbid something that crazy might smack of "socialism" & commies. sigh..

courtney said...

I think I'm in the same boat as your friend, but so far I'm still responding like you respond to Alice. Arlo is almost 11 months old and still wakes up anywhere between 1 and 5 (!!!) times a night. Sometimes he is okay with his daddy rocking him to sleep, but most of the time I have to nurse him to get him to sleep. It's exhausting! For the most part he's a mild mannered little guy, but he is SO strong willed that I haven't yet wanted to let him cry it out. I feel like we would be up for hours and hours listening to him scream if we tried that.

I keep telling myself that eventually he will sleep through the night on his own. I mean we won't still be doing this in kindergarten, right? (right?) Man, do I miss sleep though. Oh, and you're totally a super hot mama.

Daniela said...

Uff, I am struggling with this as well. Olivia has always been a good sleeper, but I nurse her to sleep. As long as she has a full belly, she'll sleep through the night. That is great... but the night starts at 11pm! (No adult time whatsoever!!!) Before that, there are only cat naps during the day and she won't sleep earlier. I've read the books and they just end up stressing me too much and I just feel more comfortable following my instinct and other mothers advice (such as this great forum you have created) so... nursing to sleep, great for now, but what happens when we want a night out and we have a babysitter?? Not so much fun for the babysitter. So, my great plan is, to follow the routine (pj's, nursing + bottle, story, song and bed), then leave her to sleep on her own coming back to reassure her when she starts crying and hope for the best. I have to do this! It will work!!! And I am not a CIO parent, but I have tried everything else and I just think I need to give this a chance as well... Good luck to you too my dear!

Melissa said...

Have you heard of the book "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley? I was so relieved to read it because I really didn't want to let my daughter CIO but she wasn't going to sleep for the night until anywhere from 11pm to 1:30am. My husband and I were starting to go crazy for sleep and time alone together! In her book Pantley talks specifically about how to gently help your child fall asleep without creating a "suck-to-sleep" association and without needing to let her CIO. She also walks you through creating a personal "sleep plan" that's tailored to you and your baby's needs--because we're all different. This book might help your friend out. I know what it's like to be so desperate for sleep that it feels like CIO is the only option left to you! But, it doesn't need to be.

JoeyNomad said...

I like your insight - I've heard bad things about the "let them cry" method and been warned not to try for the first few months at least... but I can see how you would go there with persistent sleeping issues!

PJ said...

First, can I part of your Super Hot Mama Club?

Second, I had heard that babies between 0-3 months should always be consoled when they are crying -- but not necessarily by giving them the breast. Many of my friends swear by the book "The Happiest Baby on the Block," which advises parents on how to calm a crying baby. It is my understanding that babies shouldn't be left to CIO out until they are 4 or 5 months old.

As Levi is only 4 weeks old, we are trying to comfort him as soon as he starts to cry. We determine if he's hungry, wet/dirty or tired and then tend to those needs. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries to get him quiet, which definitely can be frustrating.

Maya said...

hi! im the hot mama member who had experienced the CIO technique this week with my 5 months old! first i wanna thank u all for the suggestions, support and stories!

WE decided it was time for the Marquise ( as we call her ) to do her nights in her own bedroom because she was already usualy sleeping for 10 hours straight + my BF is on parental leave for the next 3 weeks before starting school and work again! the main reason we tought of the CIO was because since we had big heat in Montreal...the Marquise wouldnt go to sleep unless i breastfeed her over the crib...yeah yeah i was bending over the crib with my nipple in her mouth for few minutes until i would take it out and i would have to do it 4 to5 times before it worked!!

However decided that it was time to stop that bad habit ...and have done the CIO the first night..our hearts were so broken we have now change the way we deal with it. The Marquise still needs to learn to sleep in her room alone..but we have install the same sheats she had in her moise in our room and i have left one of my breast pad next to her so she still have the same smells around her. Also..we go see her everytime she wakes up during the night ..witch happen 3 to 4 times a night now ( compared to maybe 1 ). No need to say we are exhausted but i think in this case we need to stay strong because i would not be able to deal with this alone when Bf his going back to school and work in september! It sure is a big change but it has to be done at some point and for us, its now or never!

again! thank u for not judging :)

Celia said...

this is a loaded question, so i'm just going to give you my experience and the different solutions i've come across. i have to say that lucia is VERY easy to console... except at bedtime. at around 1 month, every night became a struggle. she was exhausted, but would refuse to fall asleep no matter what i did. if i wasn't holding and walking her around, she'd scream her head off. many nights, she'd do this for hours and i, too, would end up a crying mess. joe works nights, so it didn't help that i was dealing with this by myself five nights a week.

a friend of mine had tried the "ferber method" (a version of cio) and it had worked splendidly for her and her baby girl. after she told me this, and after receiving TONS of pressure from different people to just let her cry, i decided to give it a go. i knew it would be extremely difficult for me, so i made sure to start on a night that joe had off for moral support. it was a total DISASTER. lucia is, for the lack of a better word, EMOTIONAL (i can't wait to see what her teenage years bring to the table). she tends to let her frustration escalate and get out of control. she had barely cried for two minutes, when she started choking and puked all over herself. we rushed to pick her up, and she continued to throw up all over us too. we felt like the worst parents alive, and to be honest, that night is still a sore subject for us. the thing is, instinctually, letting her cry didn't feel right to me, but due to pressure, i felt the need to try it. i'm not saying it's wrong to let your baby cry (like i said, i know cases in which it's worked quite well), but you have to KNOW your baby and KNOW yourself, and always do what feels RIGHT for the both of you.

after that incident, i was determined to make bedtime a pleasurable time. night after night, as the evening came both her and i dreaded what was to come, and i wanted to put a stop to that. she's actually a great sleeper (once she's asleep), but i wanted her to be great at *falling* asleep as well. so, i've tried MANY things. some with great success and others, failed greatly.

another thing to understand is that some babies, lucia included, go through phases. so although you may find something that works very well, it might do you no good a month from now. from about month 1-2, we did "baby dance party" every night for about 45 minutes. i'd dance while holding her; first we'd start with fun and fast songs, and i'd slowly switch to very slow and mellow songs. once i could see that she was having trouble keeping her eyes open, i'd feed her and she'd pass out. once that stopped working, i'd rock and sing to her for about 1/2 an hour, feed her, and she'd pass out. i don't think that phase even lasted a month. next up was WALKING. every night, i'd dress her in her pajamas, put her in her stroller and we'd take about an hour long walk. she'd typically fall asleep during her walk, but if she didn't she'd easily fall asleep once we got home. ever since we got back from hawaii, the walking seems to piss her off, so i've stopped. now, i just wait until she's extremely tired, put her in her crib with a pacifier and turn her white noise machine on, and she passes out immediately. it's definitely gotten easier, but not without A TON of work on my part.

Celia said...

here are a few more suggestions:

"the happiest baby on the block" book really helped us.

if her baby sleeps in a crib, have mom leave something she was wearing (shirt, sweater) in the crib with the baby. i started leaving my cardigan on the crib's rails, and it's worked wonders.

i know people like to judge, but the pacifier truly has made lucia's life so much easier. it's a great soother for her, and i have to be honest, i'm not too concerned with spoiling my FOUR MONTH OLD.

she might be putting her baby down too early. lucia would start to show signs of being tired at around 7pm. i'd put her down, and within a half hour, she'd wake up screaming. i realized that all she really wants is a power nap at that time, so me trying to get her to "go to bed" was very frustrating for her. most babies are in for the night fairly early, so i figured the same went for her. NOT TRUE. now, she takes about a 1/2 hour nap at around 7, and doesn't go down until 9-9:30. ever since i started doing this, she falls asleep much easier, sleeps much better (never wakes up more than 2x a night), and sleeps in until about 8-8:30 in the morning.

good luck!