Adventures in Boobieland: Making Parenting Mistakes

There comes a point in every mothers life when she realizes she made a mistake with her child. Some mistakes are bigger than others and some are easier to fix than others. Like many new parents, I swore I was going to be the perfect mom and while I was pregnant I did countless hours of research figuring out which products to buy and how to best care for my little bundle of joy. I was great, until the baby arrived and the reality of raising a child sunk in. There are things I swore I would never do, but over time (and out of convenience) I started doing. My biggest offense? Letting Merle sleep with us in bed.

As a newborn, I was paranoid and petrified about having Merle sleep with us because of all the literature I had read on SIDS. Her dad and I had countless fights over it, but I always won and had her sleep in the bassinet no matter how late I had to stay up to get her in there. She quickly started sleeping through the night and I was counting my lucky stars that we had such a good sleeper. When she was about four months old, she started waking up throughout the night again to nurse. The midnight feeding wasn't bad. The 2 am feeding wasn't bad. But the 4 am feeding felt like cruel and unusual punishment, especially on the days I worked early. It started off by accident. I fell asleep during one 4 am feeding and I had a heart attack when I woke up a couple hours later with the baby beside me in bed. She was of course perfectly fine, so when it happened again a few days later, I wasn't as freaked out. And then I kept letting it happen until it turned into an all night, every night thing.

At Merle's six month check up, I gave the doctor my confession and she didn't seem worried and urged us to sleep train Merle. Sleep training for anyone who does not know is the concept that babies should be forced to sleep on their own and on a set a schedule. Ideally this would organically happen as newborns and then they would retain it as they grow older, which is how I had mentally planned it out while pregnant. For older babies, you are supposed to let them cry until they learn to self soothe and adapt to your predetermined sleep schedule. How traumatic I thought. Also living in a studio apartment where she can always see us and we can always see her makes sleep training nearly impossible.

Lately I've been dealing with the consequences of allowing Merle to sleep in bed with us and not sleep train her. We have a nine month old who has sworn off all sleeping schedules and has several nights a week where she doesn't go to bed until after 11 pm, no matter how earnestly I try to get her to sleep. We have a set bedtime routine of bath, baby massage, reading, and nursing that we do every night, but it's always a surprise as to when she finally goes to sleep. And as I've said before, the less sleep I get, the more frequent sitings of Megalasaurus become.

It's frustrating to not have time for myself between when she goes to sleep and when I go to sleep, but more importantly Merle isn't getting the sleep she needs. It is devastating to realize the mistakes you have made as a parent are negatively impacting your child. I wish I could reset the clock and make sure I do everything right the first time, but I can't. Everyone makes mistakes as a parent and the best anyone can do is to give honest effort into making the right choices for the child. When parenting goes awry, you have to do a little extra work to steer things back on track, but fortunately children are resilient and will forgive you faster than you forgive yourself.

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