As soon as DS was born, he was crying in distress, possibly wanting to bond with his mom. Given that she was still being worked on by the surgeons, with a lot of IV tubes going into her, I had to take care of him until she was ready to go skin on skin. So, I started our first aware baby practice – I held him firmly supporting his entire body so that he could cry. And cry he did, for nearly the next two hours!!
With the milk coming in by day 8 for mom and the weight loss of DS meanwhile, to practice the crying out part of aware parenting, there was a lot of opposition from both mom and grandmom. Mom was feeling guilty since she interpreted DS’s cry to be one for milk always and Grandmom was completely alien to the idea of aware parenting. Despite repeated sessions with her to get the message across, she would not accept the idea at all.
Every time DS cried it was interpreted to be due to hunger and hence, every time he cried, he got a lot of supplement. So, by the end of week 2, he regained his birth weight and by week 3 and 5days he had gained 2 more pounds!!
This is when it became clear to me that there was indeed a control pattern well established – every time DS was uncomfortable with anything, he would cry and immediately, mom and/or grandmom would rush in with a bottle (had to really insist on this one and change it to a finger feeder instead of a bottle for the fear of DS developing nipple confusion – this is another story by itself), all along thinking that he was hungry and needed more.
No amount of reading out the relevant pages from the aware baby book was convincing to mom as she was getting influenced by the guilt of what she thought was her low milk production/supply. On top of this, with grand mom insisting that allowing the baby to cry, even though in our loving arms, was inhumane, the opportunity to practice aware parenting was beginning to be lost.
And then, one fine evening, DS started one of his hard cries – a long one that lasted about an hour. This time, I swooped in and held him in arms allowing him to cry out comfortably while talking with him and letting him know that it was okay to cry and everything would be fine for him. Mom was getting impatient at my letting him cry and wanted to nurse him and somehow, debating with her that this was an emotional cry and not a hunger cry, I kept DS all along with me, while she was getting pushed to her edge. And then, finally, as she could no longer take any of it, I had to give up. Now, with DS in her custody, mom began to nurse – and it took all of 3-4 min. – DS went into deep sleep!!
This was the turning point – she could now accept that this cry may not have been for hunger, but rather for pacification. After a lot of deliberation and me reading through the relevant chapters of the aware baby book again, mom signs up for the aware baby experiment.
We decide, anytime, DS cries within two hours of a feeding session, it is more likely an emotional distress cry and we would hold him compassionately as he cries himself out. The closer it is to 2 hours, we would be more open to him being fed again.
For the past week, the DS has been crying for about 2 hours a day on average and interestingly enough, many a times, we are beginning to see when he cries to get pacification. All this while, he had developed a pattern – at the slightest amount of discomfort, there would be a cry and immediately he would get pacified with food. A lot of emotional eating so to speak….
Now, with both of us committed to rooting this out, we let him cry in our arms a lot of times for about 5-10 min and he slowly re leaves his distress. And then, there are one or two hard cries.
The aware baby experiment has been going on fine – in the one week since we started it, DS has gained 70z – from 9 12 lbs to 10 3 lbs. Grandmom has apologised for not allowing us to practice this and shuts herself off in her room when DS cries to avoid getting emotional. The amount of formula supplementation has come down from atleast 480 ml/day, to 240 ml/day, together with a healthy weight gain.
Time will tell if we got this one right………