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  • Writer's pictureJamie Gilbert

The call of the Mother Instinct

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I planned on following the "rules" on how to parent. These rules are given to us by society as a fear tactic in the world of instructions when it comes to taking home your child. I remember being discharged from the hospital, the nurse sitting across from me, telling me all the ways that my daughter could go wrong in the very beginning of her life. As if I was a liability to her. These rules included not bed-sharing, not nursing her to sleep, and not allowing her to sleep on her stomach. It was such a scary moment that traumatized me and ultimately affected how I raised my daughter for the first month of her life.

As new parents, we are praised by allowing our child to become independent right from the beginning of their life. We applaud the cry it out method as if it was normal and not completely traumatizing to your child who truly needs you at the beginning of their life. When we allow our child to cry it out, we are teaching them that only some emotions matter. Now, it's easy to see why this is such the norm for our society. Because your child seems happy in the moment when they wake up after they had cried it out. But, what happens to that child when they become a teenager? Or an adult? This is how I look at raising my child. I look at how she deeply she will be able to understand her emotions when she truly becomes autonomous. Will she ignore the bigger/deeper emotions because I ignored them when she was young? Because that's what society told me? No. Will she dive into screen time and technology because I would give her an iPad while a tantrum was happening instead of letting it out and expressing it?

The common narrative we hear is "you will spoil your child" because you meet their needs. They need their needs met. Each and everyone of us deserve basic security and basic trust. These are human rights that help us navigate the world for the rest of our lives. By understanding the first 6 years of life is a time of extreme emotional empowerment that comes out loudly. We need to be prepared to truly help our children understand their emotions and allow them to express it. The definition of independence in a young child is drastically different than the definition of independence within an adult. But, in our society we confuse the two.

I remember being pregnant with Sage and telling everyone I would never bed share with her. I was constantly told how dangerous it was and how negligent I would be if I even considered it. If you look at every mammal and mother in the history of time - we know that they slept with their young. The first night when she was home, in her bassinet all alone, I wanted her in bed with me. I had convinced my husband during my pregnancy that bed sharing is a "bad habit" and would ultimately be a fight later down the road to get our child in their own room. But this nudge and sadness of wanting her to be close to me kept telling me to snuggle my baby all night. Let her know that I am here and let her use her senses to find me. I carried her close to my heart for 9 months and the separation of her being in a different place felt unnatural. As sleep deprived and exhausted I was, I craved the times she would wake up and I would breastfeed her in the recliner. I needed to be close to her. Finally, when she was around 2 months old and starting to roll I knew I had to make a choice. I would have to sleep train her or move her into our bed. The thought of "training" my child was awful. My husband and I did so much research on bed sharing that we came to realize that almost every other country bed shares with their child and that the sleep industry is a multi-billion dollar area of our society. In that moment, I made that decision.

People ask me "do you really want a toddler in your bed?" My answer is yes because she is as much as a partner in my life as my husband. I am lucky that we had 8 years together before Sage but now our relationship has expanded to including her. There is no hierarchy in our household.

So yes, I nurse her to sleep every single night. She sleeps on us for most naps. I rarely let her cry. This is what my mother instinct tells me and I am so grateful to have had listened to it's call.

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