Thursday, June 13, 2013

When an emotional melt-down leads to some horrific advise

Every second Tuesday of the month I go to a postpartum peer support group facilitated by a nutritionist/homeopath.  This Tuesday the topic was on nutrition and well-being.  I was feeling extremely exhausted on Tuesday.  Not knowing at the time, my body was fighting a major cold that soon hit me later that day.  I was tired.  Tired of having to wear my daughter and tired of the all night nurse-a-thons.  Mostly I was worried that I should be doing 'something' to get her to sleep more independently ... not know what that 'thing' is without her crying...not having the energy to do a lot of pick-ups/put-downs...I was drained.

I felt that maybe, someone at the group would know a good resource for meditation.  I'm horrible with living in the moment and quieting my mind.  I felt that maybe if I was able to meditate while nursing at night, H would fall asleep faster and not need me to actually fall asleep for her to go into a deep sleep.

Due to the exhaustion and the looming cold and everything else on my mind - when I asked for help I started to cry.  I said to the group that I am 'DONE' with the way things are and that I'm looking for meditation support to see if that can change things.  All the facilitator heard was 'done' and saw the tears and she proceeded, for the next 30 minutes to tell me that I need to make a change.  She implied the following:

- my daughter has set the boundaries and if we continue the way things are going, she will be an unruly toddler
- that she will not learn how to sleep and may become obese and have difficulties in results in kids that cannot sleep through the night by themselves.
- comfort nursing is bad
- that on an 'energetic' level (no idea what that means) she feels I have been unhappy for months.
- That she let her kids cry it out and they turned out okay..
- That Einstien's definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results (thereby insinuating I am insane?!?!)

I was so hurt.  She refused to listen to what I was saying (granted through tears...mainly because what she was telling me was making me cry more).  She was giving me just wrong advice.  I know for a fact that sleep is a developmental milestone that all babies will reach when they are ready.  Some can be helped to reach this milestone earlier...others cannot. I know for some families CIO is the only way to get sleep.  I know that many babies have been left to CIO and they are in fact okay.  Hubby and I have talked about this A LOT and we believe that this choice is not right for our family.

I have also talked about the topic of sleep with my local LLL chapter and I believe that comfort nursing and co-sleeping and baby wearing will change as she matures and gets older (therefore I could in theory do the same thing again and again and I WILL get different results as she isn't static and does change).

I am just very upset that someone in a position of 'authority' wouldn't let me speak my feelings and felt the need to interject her own beliefs into my life.  I know she came from a position of trying to help and possibly give me 'permission' to let my daughter CIO....but that's not what I was asking for!  What scares me however, is this woman will become a IBCLC come July and is a breastfeeding mentor.  How can she mentor people when she so clearly feels that comfort nursing is wrong.  She even told another woman in the group that she needs to set boundaries and not let her son comfort nurse.  She said 'you are not a pacifier once he is done actively sucking, get him off!".  This is a personal choice! I would thinks he has read the literature out there on how pacifiers are plastic human nipples! Some babies take them, others do not.  If a woman wants to let her baby comfort nurse...that is HER OWN DECISION.  It isn't right or is up to the woman to decide if it is okay with her.

I came home from this meeting very upset.  Luckily an on-line community support group for anxiety and depression saved me and helped put things into perspective.  Hubby and I also had a really great conversation and we agreed that we will break down the sleeping situation and see if there is a way to make minor changes so that I feel progress is being started.

I haven't confronted the facilitator about this yet...I am torn on whether I should or not.  In one hand, she was coming from a place of wanting to help, on the other...she needs to know that she wasn't listening to me...and if you are going to counsel, listening is the first step.

I still am wanting a meditation resource.  Is there anything you have used that has worked? Either a book or something I can down-load onto my ipod.  I would just like to be able to learn how to shut my brain off.


  1. Here's the sound miserable. Co-sleeping isn't working for you anymore.

    I understand, I was in the same place 4 months ago.

    I was ADAMANTLY against CIO, like felt SO STRONGLY against it that when I hit the point where it sounds like you're at I WAS SO UPSET. I WANTED co-sleeping to work, I didn't want to put the baby in the crib, I didn't want him to cry. But like you're describing, I was DONE, I hit my limit and I finally accepted that I couldn't keep functioning like I was and something had to change.

    Ultimately CIO was the answer. And for clarification, CIO is a misnomer, it's more like fussing it out. The first night or two YES there's crying but after that there's not a lot of crying.

    And guess what, the older your baby gets the more you'll come to find out that most people end up CIO...they just don't label it! They'll tell you oh yeah, we let her fuss before we go to her, or we leave her for 10 minutes before we go into her, blah blah blah, all versions of CIO. Basically anyone who doesn't have their baby in there bed had to do some form of CIO to get the baby in the crib. I'm not sure where in history we decided to label it CIO because it just makes us all feel bad about it but really it's just putting the baby in the crib, which everyone except for hardcore co-sleepers/attachment parents do at some point.

    Want to email me and I can tell you more? And give you the REAL story. It really did save my sanity and I am a total convert. I imagined a baby screaming in darkness thinking they were all alone...that's not what it is and that's not how it goes down.

    Here's my email, email me if you want some help because I WAS you a few months ago and I totally understand where you're at. I can also tell you LIFE IS SO MUCH BETTER when you finally get the baby in the crib, sleeping on their own going to bed at 7pm.

    1. Good point Jesica! I just realized after reading your post that my baby does CIO, but we call it "getting her fussies out" and sometimes takes about 10 minutes before bedtime. She goes in smiling, fusses, and rolls around, and then after that it's time for the pacifier and she goes to bed. It just occurred to me that we DO a form of CIO. Sometimes she'll just roll over and shut her eyes if she's wiped, but most of the time, she needs to wind down.

      She is a very smiley happy baby all day long, so I feel that she needs this "emotional" time to get it all out before she goes to bed. She fusses because she is so tired.

    2. The thing is...overall I am not miserable. I am more stresses thinking that there is something wrong (as society views) with what we are doing....I have come to terns with how things are. The melt-down was due to a horrible cold I have. Hubby had it and gave it to body was fighting it and I was running on empty.

      We have tried to let her fuss....but she doesn't. She screams right away...and if the bight I had food poisoning is any indication of how much she can go for...we couldn't let her cry that much. She has cried in the car so much she throws up. She would be the girl who screams in the darkness for hours...even if we went in at intervals to console her. She is high needs and wont take a soother so our options are limited. As much as it would be nice to have her in bed on her own by 7 - it isn't happening right now. I would love her to sleep on her own during the day.. so that's what we are going to work on...

      Co-sleeping allows me to get sleep. The alternative wouldn't.

  2. Oh, dear. I am so sorry this woman dumped all of her beliefs on you in your time of need. You clearly just needed to talk and be heard in your support group. It makes me so sad to think of you crying while she's telling you that she thinks you've been unhappy, and you're basically doing things "wrong". How upsetting!

    My sweetie isn't the best sleeper either, and I KNOW how sleep deprivation can make you feel totally lost and like something needs to change, but you're right babies do have sleep milestones on their own. You can't force them, but you can gently encourage them if you see a behavior that is favorable.

    For instance, I was so nervous about stopping nursing my baby to sleep, and wondered how I would ever stop...well one sleepy night, I put her down...and she slept without nursing. So I just kept it consistent and did it the next night. She did it herself.

    Last night was the first night I didn't nurse her at all. I was talking with a business associate during the day and she said "your baby still nurses at night? Interesting" and that's all the nudging or advice I needed to think...hmmm. Is she nursing, or am I just letting her comfort suck back to sleep? So I decided to put the binky back in and pat her. I was up 4 times, but it worked. I will continue to try to do this, but if she needs me, I have no problems taking her to bed to nurse all night if she can't go back to sleep.

    You are the best judge of your babies needs. Hang in there.

    And I always feel so alone in that I am so sleep deprived, so I am with you Amanda! I am also so tired. :) Just know you are not alone in this!

  3. Sleep deprived is a difficult state to make any decisions. We are dealing with new sleep issues, so I can't exactly offer advice of "well this works" for helping baby sleep, but what really helped ME cope was having a plan. I made a chart of every single possible thing that could be making things so awful at night. Then we altered one variable at a time to see if anything made a dramatic difference. Cosleeping worked great for us... for a little while. Then fussing himself to sleep worked for a while, currently we are nursing to sleep again.

    I personally don't believe there is a single well-intentioned thing a mother can do that will 'ruin' or even delay her child's development. I do think the most harmful thing is to force herself and her baby into any ideal because society or a facilitator, or LLLI, or anyone else says it's 'right.'

    1. Amy - you are very right. Your comments are similar to what Sarah Sprague and I were talking about (the author of and creator of a few different support groups for gentle parenting and those who wish to Wait it Out). Here's what she said to me on Tuesday,
      "When you give a depressed person advice that they cannot follow and that makes the anxious, goes against their instinct and makes them feel that they have to choose between "failure" and "leaving their instinct behind", you create someone more depressed not less depressed. Her advice might be very good advice for someone who needs permission to walk away from a parenting style that is not a good match for them. But for you it seems like it's advice that is creating more conflict and more depression/anxiety."

      What I am learning above all else is I need to listen to my instincts AND listen to my daughter. She is only 7 months old. I believe that for at LEAST the first year, attending to her needs is my duty - I cannot spoil her. I am not allowing her to run my life...she doesn't understand what is going on either.

  4. Here are two old adages for you:
    "One good sleep asks for another" Make sure naptime during the day is preserved. Don't try to be Supermom and run yourself ragged through the day. Get some rest for yourself too.
    "If mom is calm, it's easier for baby to be calm" If the baby is sensing you get anxious around bedtime it will have an adverse effect.
    The internet is a great thing but don't use it or anything else as a yardstick for how you raise your child. You are the momma and momma is boss ! Some babies sleep through the night from day one and some take six months or more to. You know the things you can do that calm your child. Try them all and if they don't work, you did your best - it was a bad night, try again tomorrow. As long as baby is fed, clean and rested you are doing a great job.