A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Listen to Your Heart

By Eve Burns

Buddy (my 18 month old) woke up at 2 am the other night, which is unusual since he usually sleeps all night. (I almost said he’s been sleeping through the night, but did you know that the medical definition of sleeping through the night is five hours? I know, right?) He was doing that really mournful stop-and-start cry. So I waited about two minutes to see if he’d just go right back to sleep. No dice. So I went to him, gave him some boob and he went peacefully back to sleep.

He went peacefully back to sleep.

I could have just let him cry and he’d eventually drift off. No, not drift off. He’d cry and cry until he gave up and fell asleep. He’d just give up. His little brain would send the signal that no one was coming for him, and it would be part of the self-esteem equation that begins at birth.

I still feel guilty about the times I let Bunny cry it out when she was younger. Hell, I feel guilty about a lot with Bunny. I ignored my instinct too often. I knew what felt right, but I did something else for a lot of reasons that I’ll eventually write about. Some things just felt wrong to me, and I did them anyway.

We all know when it feels wrong.

I find myself looking for validation online too often. I need to stop finding people who agree with me and just make sure that I agree with me. I’m putting the books down (this is still difficult sometimes, since I’m a born researcher) and just listening to my instinct. I’m trusting the bond that exists between me and my kids, even if I’m not feeling particularly bonded that day. To quote Roxette, listen to your heart. (Yep, that song is now stuck in my head, too.)

There’s a reason that I have that tug on my heart when Buddy cries. It’s telling me to go to my child because he’s distressed or uncomfortable and he needs my help.

So why wouldn’t I go to him? If I heard my husband crying in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t just ignore it and wait for him to stop and fall asleep. I’d try to comfort and soothe him. Wouldn’t you do the same? I hope your answer is yes. If not, I believe you need more hugs to make up for a past hug deficit. But that’s another post.

Love and purple to you all.

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Comments

  1. Ellen Powell says

    I hear you. I remember those nights and they were hellish. Sometimes, even after getting boobie, Pumpkin wouldn’t let me be and just wanted to keep me close. I was the only one who could soothe her; Daddy just wouldn’t do. Interestingly, even saying goodnight to her now (as a TEN year old), is still the same! She keeps calling, “Mommy, wait, I want to tell you something…” Funny how their personalities as babies are similar to how they are as children.

    • Bear and I always wonder what the kids will be like in the future, and we always share the hope that they will be very similar to they way they are now, or at least have the same traits. So thank you for taking the time to comment, because it makes me happy to think of them holding on to a lot of the same qualities. And I’m glad you’re (hopefully) getting more sleep now!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this. Recently my pediatrician told me not to nurse my daughter when she wakes up at night as it will just reinforce her to wake up and not sleep thru the night. I understood what the doc was saying, but it just felt wrong. When she cried I knew what to do, but somehow I felt like I needed someone else, someone that was a professional in the field to validate what I knew was right. It was nice to know other moms feel this way especially since I am a first timer. Thanks

    • Oh, I’m so happy to hear that you know in your heart what is right for your child! Every family is different, and I eagerly await the day that parents have the confidence to follow their parenting instinct and no one else’s. Thank you for taking the time to comment, and happy nursing!

  3. Yes, Yes, and YES!!!! I fought an internal battle as I listened to my first baby cry, trying to let her fall asleep on her own. The books said this was best for her. But I wondered how that could be! I eventually listened to my heart and my child. Now, as we welcome baby #3 into our family, I’m a very different mother. I’m confident in how I nurture my children, knowing it’s best for them and for me.
    Thank you for sharing your experience with me!

    • Megan, thank you! It makes me SO very happy to know that I’ve got a mama tribe out there. And I love love love that you have that awesome confidence. Thank you for being a beacon for other mamas who are still trying to figure things out. Congratulations on #3, and thanks for commenting!

  4. Thank you for posting. My doc said let him cry. Well I didnt! My little one wakes to nurse once a night…I am tired but he needs it, he wouldn’t eat if he wasnt hungry. I do feel like the oddball still nursing around other friends with babies but I am commited! Great to hear stories of other moms doing their best too!

    • Kendall, I love that you have the confidence to listen to your inner mama voice! Yay! I’m so happy to see more and more moms like you who listen to your child and your instinct. Trust me, you’re not an oddball as far as I’m concerned! I’m still nursing my 20 month old with no end in sight. Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  5. As a 1st time mum its hard to know what to believe, but I am trusting my instincts and enjoying the nighttime feeds and soothes, especially when I go back to work I know I will really appreciate that time and its such a short time in mine and my daughter’s journey together that I will miss when she no longer wakes up in the night.

    • Bev, I apologize for the delay. I totally agree with you! In the general scheme of things, the sleep deprivation is worth the bonding. More so, it gives my kids the clear message that I am there for them day and night. That is so crucial for their self-worth journey. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  6. Loved reading this. Thank you, people keep telling me I’m spoiling my baby, we co-sleep which means no sleepless nights yet! Hes 4 months on Sunday 😉 I wear him in a sling everyday and tend to his every cry which isn’t very often I just can’t bare to let him ‘cry it out’ as they say! Xx

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