Monday, July 9, 2012

our "Aware Baby"

Hero just fell asleep and I feel compelled to write about our experience with her tonight. 

If you'll recall, I wrote a post shortly before Hero was born about my favorite baby/parenting books. In it, there is a series of books by Aletha Solter who advocates, among other things, letting babies cry freely while being held to release stress (after, of course, all their basic needs are met). When Chas and I read "The Aware Baby," we were both super excited about putting its principles into action with our new baby. 

So Hero came into our family and was/is basically a pretty great baby. 
She's almost never fussy and is just really content almost all the time. 
So we never had a chance to fully try out this whole "just let the baby cry in your arms" thing. 

Until tonight. 

After two whole days of what was likely over stimulation (being out and about, around lots of people) and not having consistent, good naps, the poor girl had had it. 

Starting early this evening, she began crying and crying. I was at my sister's house at the time and it took me, my sister, and my mom all trying different techniques to try to calm her down. Rocking, bouncing, binkie, shhhh-ing. Sometimes something would work. But it would only last a little while before the crying would start up again. And then we'd all try to calm her again. And something would work again. But then the crying would eventually return. It was exhausting and stressful. On the drive home from my sister's house with Chas, Hero slept in her car seat and I felt so...beat down is the best way to describe it. Beat down, tired, and feeling like a less-than-awesome mom.

By the time we got home- you guessed it- the crying had started up once again. 
Together, Chas and I tried the various ways of calming her. 
Nothing was working.
The back of my neck was tensing up with stress more and more. 

Once we knew the crying wasn't due to hunger, discomfort, needing to burp, or a diaper change, Chas and I both looked at each other knowingly and decided to finally try out what we had read about in Solter's books. 

So the three of sat together in the nursery.
Chas held Hero in the rocker and I pulled up a chair nearby.

We held her and let her cry.
And she cried. Hard. 
And we listened to her cry.
And we told her what a good job she was doing and that she could just let it all out. 

In fact, during all this, I almost cried a few times, myself. 

Watching Chas hold our daughter and lovingly listen to her cries and quietly reassure her was one of the sweetest moments of love I've ever felt in our marriage. 
One of those moments when I can't believe how lucky I am to have this guy as my husband. 

Little Hero cried freely for probably less than 10 minutes. 
And then she stopped.
And it was so interesting to see how calm, content, and fully alert she was. 
She eventually started up again but it only lasted for a very short while this time. 
And, just like before, she was calm, content, and alert when she finished her crying. 

Right before we wrapped her up and laid her in the crib to sleep, she gave us a few sleepy smiles.

There were some "unspoken" high-fives between me and Chas.

Both while she was crying and now, afterwards, instead of feeling frazzled and like a failure of a mother, I feel calm, confident, and happy.
It feels so good and gratifying to know, deep down, that this is what our daughter needed. That she just needed to have us hold her and listen to her cryings.
I loved being able to give that time and attention to her in the exact way she needed. 

Sleep tight, little girl. 


zay said...

wow this is beautiful, she only wanted to be heard and you guys did it... so sweet!

Maria said...

This is the sweetest thing in the world.

Erin said...

Ooh! This makes me so happy. You are awesome parents.

Jenna said...

This was really neat.

My daughter had really bad reflux and lactose intolerance. For the first 2 months of her life, she essentially cried night and day. While I never read Solter's book, reason dictated she just needed to cry. There was nothing else I could do but let her cry.

Today, she is a very bright but also sensitive 4-year-old. She still cries a lot. It is just how she is.

My son rarely cried as an infant and today, he's a very bright but very unemotional 2-year-old.

Heather said...

What a beautiful story and so well written! You are right, little Hero just needed to release stress/tension by crying in her parent's loving arms. I agree, and have personally experienced that rocking, jiggling, binki's, nursing, car rides, and vibrating chairs (one I tried a lot) may temporarily work at repressing the tears but it does not get to the underlying need (assuming, like you said, all other basic needs have been filled), and until that need is addressed and they are allowed an emotional release while having their parents attention and unconditional love, the crying will keep coming back. I am going to check out you other post on favorite parenting books. We are expecting another little one in two months, this was a great reminder. Thank you! I can tell you guys are fabulous parents, Hero is very lucky.

Alexis Kaye said...

wow. that's amazing. Honestly, I don't know if i would have ever thought of doing this. I'll be a mom in a few months and I will definitely remember this :)Thank you for sharing

Katie Marie said...

I love this! I don't have any kids yet, but have been worked a lot with babies throughout my career and with family (yes I know totally different) but I have felt that frazzled feeling of not being able to calm a baby down! The idea seemed strange to me at first, but makes sense as long as the baby's needs are met. If the baby senses that mom, dad, and/or (in my case) caretaker is calm, she will be too! I will have to use this someday! Thanks for sharing!

Bethany G said...

Super interesting! Thanks for sharing!

Jesseca said...

I'm so fascinated! What a beautiful moment that you were able to you'll treasure forever. Also, I'll have to keep this in mind for whenever I become a mama. :) Keep up the good work on your sweet, lovely blog.