Monday, April 16, 2012

Becoming a Parent

I already touched on this topic from more of an emotional side with this post.  Today's post is more about the practical, day-to-day how-to's of parenting wishing and desires. Its part of Elphaba's PAIL Blog Roll. This month's topic is on The Type of Parent We Want to Be. This post is about what works for us.

First of all though, let me say this. The very thing I love about the blog world and social media is also the very thing I can hate about it. While it brings so many incredible (primarily) women together, women who otherwise would never have meet; women who would never have been able to share ideas, triumphs, fears, hopes, and dreams; women who would never have been able to encourage each other, to spur each other onto greatness; women who would never have been able to celebrate the life milestones with one another from across the continent from each other. It also allows us to share our opinions with the world wide web. Opinions that are sometimes spoken in pure, kind, nonjudgemental, honesty. Other times with snide, haughty pride, and condemnation. I think we could all use a good dose of Hold the Truth Tightly and Your Passionate Opinions Lightly!!!

As women we compare ourselves and our worth by the world around us. By their accomplishments versus ours. By their looks versus ours. By their relationships versus ours. You get the point.
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 2 Corinthians 10:12

*emphasis mine

I highly doubt this post will bring anyone a sense of shame for not measuring up... I am just not one of those incredible-can do it all-look great while doing it-dinner on the table every night-after daily crafts-amazing daily devotions-intense work outs-all the while keeping an immaculate house-type of woman. I am a new mom, slowly adjusting to life as a stay at mom,  and one who definitely realizes every day how few answers she really has. I am however a fairly confident individual. I in no way want my confidence to come across as arrogance. While I realize I don't have all the answers, and have worlds left to learn, I am confident that our love for Ellie Faith will lead us to the correct path of parents for us and for her.

You are the best mom for your kids, no matter how those kids came to you - through birth or by being chosen. You have been custom made for your children, just like your spouse and kids have been custom made for you. You are the best You only You can beYour Children Want You! Like April Perry states in the post I just linked/referenced its our uniqueness and love that our children long for. 

In order to decide what type of mom you want to be, and what resources you want to use to help you be best you can be, you have to  know who you are as an individual, as best you can for whatever life stage you currently find yourself. I am in my late 20's. I realize I have only touched on the realization of who I am, in Christ, and as an individual. But there are some things I do know.

I am organized.
I like schedules and lists. I like coming up with a plan, making goals, and watching them come to fruition. However, I also understand the importance of flexibility. I am not a task-master type general, who has her entire days mapped and scheduled out. No, I like down time, quiet time, do-whatever-time, curl up on the bean bag and watch TV with the hubs time. Because of this, I knew Ellie Faith (and hopefully our other kids) would be put on a set schedule, while being taught/trained in flexibility. We follow the Mom's On Call schedule, with some adjustments to meet our family's needs.

I am opinionated.
Yes, unfortunately, I can be a little hard handed/mouthed with my opinions, often times even before I have experienced the situation I am being opinionated about. I need a dose of humility, a whoppin' dose  most of the time. Over time, I have learned that my opinions are definitely not always God's opinions as well. Really - who knew!?!? ;-) I need the opinions and knowledge of others, who have been there and done that. I needed to start listening and asking for advise. Ugh, so tough! I gleaned some information from The Baby Whisperer, Happiest Baby on the Block, Babywise. However, I have found the advise of mother's and friends who have already been down the path of motherhood before you, often are best advise-givers around.

I am educated.
I am nurse by education, primarily a critical care pediatric nurse by experience. I have scientific knowledge and I value science. I can't just make all my parenting plans based on my whims, feelings, and emotions. I love me some evidence-based studies and outcomes! So while I have the education to take care of other people's kids, under doctor's orders, it was time to start educating myself on how to make the right choices for our kids. I think its important to get your information and research from several reputable sources. Some sites I like are The American Academy of Pediatrics and Dr. Sears.

I am creative.
I have loved creating disasters things since I was a kid. I love crafts, decorations, styling, etc... Its how I enjoy life and get some fulfillment. Because of this, I needed to spend a lot time making multiple folders on my desk top, create several boards on Pinterest, and make many of my own creations for our nursery. Along with this, I love making memories, and creating special moments. I have loved coming up with fun ways to make Ellie's first, and upcoming, experiences meaningful for us as a family.

I value Individuality.
As cookie cutter as I like my life to be sometimes, I do value differences. Jared makes "fun" of me sometimes because I watch some of the most bizarre eclectic editorial and investigative shows on TV, as well as read a wide variety of literature. I freak him out when I say things like I want to go ask so and so just how they found their drug dealer. What! WHY? I have just alway been curious how those types of people find each other. I like to ask questions... a lot. What makes people tick, do what they do, and be who they are. Ok, I am nurse, so I might also be trying to diagnose the askee with some sort of mental illness. Anyway, I hate when people are forced into a mold, and made to all be the same. We were created as individuals, not prototypes. I hope I am able to discover each of our own kids individualities, value them, and help cultivate their own uniqueness.

I am a Christian.
This is the biggest identifier of all for me. If Christ is really and truly the Author and Perfecter of my faith, my Leader, and my Savior I have to trust He will show Jared and I the right way to raise our family. But we can't just sit back and say,"Ok God, show up and show us what to do." No, we have to seek His will for our family, listen, sometimes quietly, and stop life all together to regroup, restart, and try again. Because I value being organized and educated, you better believe I am reading Christian Parenting literature as well.:) Power of a Praying Parent and Shepherding a Child's Heart, anyone?:)

I have been around a lot of babies! I knew perfectly well going into parenting that thoughts and plans can go out the window in heart beat based on the personality of the child you are given. I realize that what we have done with Ellie Faith may not be what we do with our other kids. One because, bless her heart, she is our guinea pig. We are learning on her - sorry, sweet girl! Two, we will have matured as parents and individuals. And three, most importantly, our other kids will probably have different personalities and needs.

Here is how parenting has played out for us, so far.

Ellie came out wanting to eat for 30 minutes every three hours. My child wanted a schedule so much, she created it herself. I never did feedings on demand/cry because she never needed it. We have had very set feeding times from day one. This makes both of us happy and productive. I have tried to decrease the amount of time she nurses on many occasions. Many of my friends feed their kids for 5-15 minutes at a time. Not my daughter, if we go less then 25 minutes, she cries like her heart is broken, and is hungry again in no time. 30 minute feedings it is then. She can now go 3.5 hours between feedings now that she is 3 month, but the length of time has not decreased.

I have always been against co-sleeping. Maybe its the educated nurse in me, I don't know. Our original plan was for Ellie to start out in her crib, in her nursery. I didn't buy a bassinet or co-sleeper. When she was born so early, I knew we couldn't put her in her crib in her own room, so we set up her pack and play at the foot of our bed. She hated it. I fought her on it for a while (as in a few hours the first night we were home.) I was a big believer in "Start out the way you can/want to hold out." Luckily, the realization of," You idiot, she is only days old and supposed to be inside you for another month, you have plenty of time to teach her structure and healthy independence," combined with sleep deprivation, whacked me up side the head, and brought some rational thought back. I made a little cocoon for her in bed next to me. She should have been hearing my heart beat from inside me for a few more weeks. Instead, we would let her hear it from the outside. Both of us slept great! After about 3 weeks, we had gradually made the transition to independently sleeping on her own in her pack-and-play.

For feedings, we never set an alarm to get up and feed her - she gladly woke me up, every three hours to the minute to nurse. Between 4-6 weeks, she started dropping a night time feed. Eventually, we were putting her to bed around 10 pm, nursing again at 2pm, nursing again between 6-8am. Not bad, but dang those 2-3 am feedings are killers for me! By eight weeks, thanks to some scheduling changes, and yes, some crying-it-out, she was consistently sleeping from 9pm-5 or 6am. At 2.5 months we moved her to her own crib, in her own room (tears!). The first night was rough for both of us, the second night, somewhat better, the third night she slept from 9pm-7:30am, and its only gotten better since then!

Crying-it-out, or CIO, is a very heated subject on the mom-webs. My two-cents worth is this: know what healthy/recommend (as in pediatrician and child developmental psychologist recommended) CIO is for different ages. Healthy CIO is not letting your 3 week old scream for 30 minutes in bed, uncomforted. Healthy CIO lasts minutes, and gradually increases those minutes as the child gets older. Most importantly though, you have to know your child. Ellie is not an anxious baby. She can handle a little bit of cry time. She was able to self soothe at a very young age. And remember some crying is developmentally good for all babies. Know your child's cries. Ellie had clear and distinct cries by 2 weeks - tired, hungry, just making noise, and my favorite one - I want/need my mommy NOW!:)

For the first 4 weeks, she ate every 3 hours and pretty much was sleep in between feeds, anywhere in the house. At 5 weeks, while still eating for 30 minutes every 3 hours, we started doing "play" time for about 15-30 minutes (however long she could tolerate) then nap for 2 hours in either her room or ours. As she gets older, the awake and play times are gradually increasing, but she is still happiest with at least 2 hours naps. We are also practicing some independent play time, either on her play mat, swing, bouncy seat, boppy, etc... Somedays  are better then others.

I still like to alternate where she sleeps, to keep her used to sleeping in different room environments. Her room as black out curtains, so its dark even in the middle of the day. Our room is extremely bright. I like her to get used to sleeping in both.

Sleeping on the go is also essential for our family. Early on, I purposefully scheduled errands during the middle of her nap times, so she learned to sleep at her set times, not matter where we were. This really paid off when we went to Nationals!

As scheduled and planned out as all the above may sound, there are still a lot of things I wish I was doing more of with Ellie, or just doing it better. One of which is the blasted tummy time. My child hates it! Luckily, our neighbors are all single men who work during the day, otherwise I feel certain CPS would have been called by now based on the shrieks coming from our house during tummy time. I have been a softy in this area, and as much as I hate to admit it, Ellie Faith has not had tummy time the majority of her days on earth. That has changed though now that she is 3 months old. We have a new goal: 5 minutes after a feeding (her happiest time) three times a day. Once we conquer that, we will slowly increase.

In case you can't tell, I am all about gradual and incremental changes in Ellie's schedules. Maybe I am trying to compensate for my all-or-nothing everything is black or white personality tendencies.

As a nurse, I get a ton of questions about immunizations, and what we are going to do for Ellie.  I have no problem sharing our thoughts and opinions in person, as we are confident we are making the right choice for our family. However, I am a wimp when it comes to sharing those types of opinions on the inter-web.:) But here is what I recommend - do your research and have honest discussions with your pediatrician. As for research, celebrity memoirs are not what I recommend. And even though I am blogger, I don't get my medical information from mom-message boards or chat rooms. I find good, sound, evidence-based studies, from all sides, and draw my own conclusions. In addition, to this, we discussed the issues with Ellie's pediatrician. She was very open to this topic of conversation and engaged in it with us, telling us her own thoughts and opinions. If your pediatrician will not discuss certain topics with you, allow open dialogue, and especially if they can't/won't explain why she/he feels a certain why about a certain topic, you need to find another physician. There has been a lot of discussion as to the validity of Dr. Sear's vaccination research. Whatever your thoughts are, he does have a great immunization resources for parents at the end of his book, by breaking immunization concerns into essentially 3 categories of parents. If you don't know where to start in doing immunization research, its a good starting place. The CDC's site is another great place with TONS of information!

Parenting is not a one size fits all. In my organized, scheduled, scientific personality and mentality, I would love to map and plan it all out, set goals, and achieve them accordingly. It ain't gonna happen... at least I hope not. That is not fair to Ellie, or any of our future children. And while I have to be true to my own individual personality, in order to be the best mother I can be, I also have to be flexible and get to know the personality, and therefore, needs of my children, as individuals.  What works for Ellie now may not work for the next child, and I have to be ok with that. Even if it catapults me way out of my comfort zone of compartmentalized, organized, life and mentality.

Here are my deepest desires for my children.

  1. They will know the depth of the unfailing love of their Heavenly Father for them.
  2. They will never doubt the love of their dad and I for them.
  3. They will be confident in who they were created to be - in their talents, as well as challenges.
  4. They will feel celebrated as individual members of our family.
  5. They will understand what it means to respect those around them, even in their differences.
My top advise for parents or parents-to-be: know who you are, and be comfortable in your own skin. Be the type of parent you were created to be for your own kids. Don't try to achieve the level of super-parentdom from the Jones' next door. That is not what your kids want or need.... they need you, and all that you were created to offer!
sweet and sassy!


  1. Great post, Amy!

    Stella isn't on nearly the schedule that Ellie is, but I'm also trying to make her flexible in that she always gets a couple of naps a day, and she can take them anywhere (bright living room, dark bedroom, carseat in Target, etc). You definitely have to just do what works for you and your family. :)

    Oh -and the co-sleeping thing. I wasn't against it per se, but I also never saw us doing it. HA. Things change. Like I wrote in my post, we don't co-sleep 100% - some nights not at all, some nights from 4-6am, or randomly like last night, from 9-1am and not again after that. I'm always adapting and learning, just like Stella is! Parenthood is such an amazing journey....

    1. I loved my nights sleeping with Ellie - so sweet and special. I don't think either of us were ready to separated by space just yet. But once she starting sleep longer stretches, i was glad to have my bed, and sleep back. I just never was able to get into a deep sleep with her next to me. She is the NOISIEST/SNORTIEST sleeper ever! Jared calls her "his little snort!" Ha

  2. Hi- found your blog through PAIL. Your daughter is adorable! This is a great post and I can tell you are a wonderful mom. I appreciate your paragraph on immunizations- it is such a polarizing issue and I think it's important for parents to do A LOT of research (of scientifically proven data) before making such and important decision about their child's health. We are not vaccinating our son, mostly due to an underlying medical issue and the risks involved, but that decision was made after hours and hours of prayer, research and consideration.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Elizabeth, and for your sweet words! Yes, immunizations have becoming an extremely polarizing issue for parents! As a pediatric nurse I have some parents make their own decisions well, and others not. Its about researching and praying about what is right for you and your family and finding the right medical practice to support you in your decisions.

  3. I just found your blog through PAIL...great post :) We have been trying so hard to establish some sort of routine with our daughter but she's a lil diva who likes to party all day long and fights going to bed like nobodies business!!! It sounds like you've done an amazing job!