Childrearing

Anonymous Mom: I’m Secretly Sleep Training My Friend’s AP Baby

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sleeping babyAnonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.

A year and a half into my college education, I discovered that after six years of using no birth control, I was pregnant. So happy! But also, I was worried about how I would finish my engineering degree.

My close friend “Willow” was working on her childhood education degree, and she was a few months pregnant also, so we had coffee and talked about the challenges we’d be facing. Her husband travels for work frequently, and mine finds deep fulfillment working at a non-profit that leaves us practically penniless. On top of that, his work schedule switches from office hours to nocturnal shifts. None of us have parents. We sipped our smoothies and got silly, giggling that we should leave our men and marry each other so we wouldn’t be “single” moms.

And then…it clicked. What about alternate college schedules so that we could watch each other’s children?

We picked a university nearby that had programs we both liked. Our husbands were able to transfer and work long distance. Perfect!

Since I’m still pregnant, I’ve been watching her baby while she has classes. We trade off on cooking, start a garden, our husbands like each other, and so far so good, right? RIGHT? No problems in sight! We’ve known each other a long time. We are like sisters.

Willow told me ahead of time how she feels about parenting, and I’ve listened avidly. I have no idea how to raise babies yet and the amount of information, books, blogs, magazine articles is overwhelming. Willow talked about meeting baby’s needs, connectivity, trust, bonding and the deep nurturing relationship between mother and child. She’s always been the nurturing friend, intuitive, warm, outgoing. Since I’m the polar opposite, this appealed to me so much. Mathematical, precise, scientific and coolly objective, I secretly wondered if I were cut out to be a mom.

Her attachment parenting sounded like a road to a close-knit family, something I’d been deprived of, and want for my own child. So I agreed I’d stick to her AP standards when I watched her son, Noah. She explained all the concepts: baby-wearing, family bed, cloth diapers, extended breastfeeding, the whole nine yards. She asked how I’d feel about cross-nursing when the time came (I told her I was going to wait before making any decisions on that one).

Willow explained to me that a baby’s cry means that he has needs which are going unmet, and this traumatizes him. If a baby cries, it wears away at the trust he has for his caregiver and the world, depleting his ability to connect and making him anxious. The love and bond built up over months of skin-to skin contact and attentive care erodes. So she asked me not to let him cry, to meet his needs the moment he expresses them.

Noah is what Willow calls a “difficult baby.” At 10 and a half months, he couldn’t be set down. He didn’t want to walk. He wanted the breast constantly and is fed on demand. He must be breastfed to sleep for each nap and at bedtime and awakened every hour to an hour and a half to be fed, cuddled, played with, and sung to sleep.

As a few weeks went on in this new arrangement, I found myself cheating from time to time. In small ways.

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