Friday, September 26, 2014

Parenting Babies

Parenting babies is a strangely controversial topic. I don't have a ton of experience with it except that I have four babies. My babies are my babies which means they may or may not act like other babies therefore I don't claim expertise. I am expert on my babies, but other babies can be a mystery. I think parents have wide latitude in raising their babies. Not everything that works with one baby will work with another. Not everything that works for one parent will work for another. All babies need to eat, all babies need to be held, all babies need to be changed, all babies need to be comforted. Some more than others. This is all true and yet it seems there should be some standard of morality with raising a young baby beyond just keeping the baby alive for the day.  But this minimum standard of behavior doesn't really seem to have wide acceptance.

I have many examples of behavior I just don't understand. I don't want to say I judge the people who choose to do these things because I can't even understand the thought process. Perhaps I should own that I love babies. Infanthood is one of my favorite phases. The contentment I feel holding an infant is almost unrivaled. So my lack of understanding may be based in this preference. I realize this.

The third rail of mothering is breastfeeding. There are lots of barriers to a successful nursing relationship. Supply, latch, demand. I get it. But what I don't understand is if a mother has an established breastfeeding relationship and her baby is younger than six months and everything is going well, why would you wean to formula? Why do most people think this is just fine? Isn't there a moral obligation to provide the best nutrition you can? If you have to wean because you aren't producing enough milk or the baby isn't gaining enough weigh or the latch is excruciating and not getting better or you have a psychological revulsion to nursing or you have D-MER or pumping at work is difficult to schedule or your let down doesn't respond well to the pump, no one could or should blame you for weaning. But what if your reason for weaning is "Eh, this is a drag and I'm tired of it." Isn't that wrong even if nursing isn't your favorite thing to do? And yet the general consensus is that it isn't wrong, just a personal preference. I am just perplexed. I would feel horribly guilty if my baby was denied the nutrition established especially for him just because I didn't want to bother anymore. But I like nursing so maybe my vision is colored.

Another thing I don't understand is letting babies cry. Now sometimes the baby cries and there is nothing that can be done. You have tried everything and he is not settling and crying is just what's going to happen right now. And sometimes you come to your wit's end and you just have to walk away for a few minutes because you just can't deal anymore right now. And sometimes there is something that has to happen and the baby starts to cry and you can't get there right away. And sometimes there is an intense psychological need for the parent to get uninterrupted sleep to due complications with depression or illness. This is all just life but not what I am talking about. I am talking about the premeditated decision to let a young infant scream his head off because you have arbitrarily decided his privilege to bother your sleep at night is over at 3 months old. Why is this okay? Why are more people not horrified and repulsed by this attitude? But they aren't since regular people don't feel any gumption in freely discussing it without hesitation. But I like holding babies so maybe I don't understand the desire to be free from it.

I'm rambling here, but I was disturbed by a conversation I had today. More than disagreement with certain parenting decisions, I am baffled by the choices some parents make. I guess what I am saying is that some people choose to parent in a way that I would not choose, but I don't thing they are wrong for choosing it. Then there are decisions that I don't understand how they even come to be.

Update 9-27-14

Alright I'm back on this again because I just can't stop thinking about it. It occurred to me that others might react with horror and revulsion that I have a full time job and still leave my infants. Still others might react with horror and revulsion that I usually co-sleep with those infants. So I guess my confusion is if there are aspects of parenting an infant where everyone agrees there are better choices than others and you are capable of the better choice, why wouldn't you? But lots of people don't. By capable I mean all the requirements listed above, not just the bare biological ability to produce milk.

Update 9-29-14

I have finally figured out why this topic bothers me so much. Our entire culture revolves around the idea that children have no claims if an adult decides it is inconvenient. The decision to formula feed or let a young baby cry it out, when made solely for the convenience of the adults involved, is heartbreaking to me. I am baffled when people whom I thought would put the best interests of their children first instead make their own convenience the top priority.

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