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  • hatheoharis

Trust Your Baby & Trust Yourself!

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

"Nice pits", my nearly 2 year old son says with a smile as he digs his fingers and often sharp nails into my arm pit. I laugh, smile, and recognize how he is the only person in my entire life who has ever commented on my amazing arm pits.

As Henry turns 2 - wait, he's 2 already?!? - and his fascination, no, adoration, of my arm pits continue, I am learning more and more how all of the parenting books out there matter so little to the relevance of me and my family's world. And, when it comes to Henry, he's not about to abide by any book which does not include Peppa Pig or Dinosaurs. Well, he also loves Grumpy Bruce so we might have some headway there.

Trust Your Baby & Trust Yourself. I wish someone had told me this because it would have made a lot of these parenting "issues" sooooo much easier. At his 6 month check-up, Henry's kind and encouraging pediatrician said, "Now is a good time to start thinking about weaning him during the middle of the night, sleep training, and giving him a transitional object to help himself fall asleep on his own." I smiled and emitted a tiny insecure laugh, left with an agenda to sleep train our child and upon day 3 of said training resulting in Henry wailing non-stop for over an hour - yeah, that was terrible and we tried sleep training him over and over again many times - I realized our child was so not going to abide by anything the books, doctors, or sleep training gurus instructed.

Trust Your Baby & Trust Yourself. Henry didn't take a transitional 'object' until he was nearly 2. Yes, that means he did not start sleeping through the night until he was 2. That means he continued to nurse at least once during the middle of the night until around 18 months of age because that's the only thing he wanted and the only thing which calmed him. That means he refused for anyone, even his loving daddy, to put him to sleep and to help him get back to sleep. Ultimately, Henry was telling me,"Mama, I'm not like those other kids. I will get to a confident sleeping place when I am ready."

Henry's transitional object was not a blanket (the kid doesn't even like to cover himself with a blanket while he is sleeping because he's so cuddly warm; has been since he was a baby). It was not a stuffed animal (his "friends" are instead relegated to our couch, their makeshift cardboard house I made, or our bed). It was not a sound machine (running waters and delicate rainfall are for forests). His transitional object? MY ARMPIT!

Now as he is weaning himself - yes, for all of those mommy bashers, I am still breastfeeding because I'm listening to my child and myself, thank you very much - he has found the act of stroking my armpit as he rests his head on my left arm to be calming and aids his transition to sleep. It surely makes for some occasionally uncomfortable sleeping experiences - remarkably, my left arm rarely falls asleep - but this is temporary and once he is asleep, we transition him to his own bed.

Henry is my guru. He has taught me to close the books and listen. As a yoga practitioner, you'd think I would be able to listen more to my gut instinct. As a mom and one who experienced perinatal and post-partum distress, not so much. Being a mom challenges my mindfulness in ways I continually work on. Maybe it's because most of our mental load is heavy with things we have to do which propels us into the future (laundry, make the bed, Henry needs to brush his teeth before we go to Nana and Bapa's house, is the oven off, did I brush my teeth, need to change Henry's diaper before we go, and for the love of everything, Robert needs to clean his office) distracts us from our now (did I eat yet and am I even hungry?) and pulls us into his now (playing racing cars, watching Grampy Rabbit sing a song on Peppa Pig, and jumping on the bed and snuggling).

I'm still figuring out how to balance it all and I think this will be a continual experience. Yet, "Trust Your Baby and Trust Yourself" reminds me that listening to what he and I need and know to be true has resulted in not only many more opportunities of sleeping through the night, but also compassion for his individuation and strengthening my belief in myself as a mommy.

So, Trust Your Kiddo and Trust Yourself. And, remember, when all else fails and your child refuses any type of transitional object, give him your arm pit.

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