Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In which we visit the library and Mommy gets angry over a book

I finally realized, now that I'm not working 7:30-4 every day, that I can go to the library!! I don't know why I didn't think of this before- I practically lived at the library growing up. Of course, it was a 5 minute walk from my house, and now it's a 25 minute drive, and this library is about 1/4 the size of the small library I grew up with, but this is still worth it. So, I packed Hannah up and went to get us a card!

Here she is, enjoying the fruit of community-sponsored literacy:

Now, to be fair, I didn't actually open the books for her, because she is currently obsessed with crinkling and trying to eat paper. All things in good time. She does have books at home that she can eat with abandon. I hope this is the beginning of a long an very fun tradition.

For me, I checked out the third "Hunger Games" book, praying that they'll find the second one and call me to come get it before this one is due. I also perused the parenting section, and decided to check out On Becoming Babywise, since I've had several people recommend it to me. I intentionally hadn't read it yet, because I knew it was about scheduling and leaving your baby to cry themselves to sleep, neither of which I was comfortable doing. Now that Hannah's 6 months old and I feel confident that we're doing well together, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

It's hard for me to say this knowing that it might alienate some other moms, and I want to preface my opinion with the caveat that I harbor no judgement towards those who find that some of the things in Babywise work well for their families. I firmly believe that every baby is different, and if yours is hungry every 3 hours and you have the breast storage capacity and milk supply to feed that far apart, great! If your baby sleeps best without you, who am I to say that you should teach them to sleep with you? (Actually, Hannah won't sleep with me, or even go to sleep if I am holding her. It makes me kind of sad, but I do understand how nice and easy it is that I can lay her down and go do something else for her nap time.)

That being said- I HATED the book. I couldn't find anything good in it. I can't even say that I "took the good and left the bad." The whole thing reeks of superiority based on absolutely no expertise whatsoever, and flies in the face of everything we know about lacation, parent/child bonding, and infant psychological development. Let me say that there is NO evidence that I'm aware of even that it's best to "eat-play-sleep." Who decides that it's bad for babies to have a nice, full tummy and the comfort of a parent's arms to feel comfortable enough to sleep? Gary Ezzo? With a degree in.... theology, and a wife whose couple of years as a practicing nurse in a hospital (not even a primary care clinic) can't be confirmed to have had anything to do with pediatrics? Don't even get me started on the doctor who got so brainwashed as to ignore all of his medical training and add his name to this book because he wrote the forward.

If you haven't read it, be prepared to be guilted and threatened the whole way through. If you have read it, try reading it with new eyes, because the whole thing is about insulting others' intelligence and puffing yourself up with pride at doing things the "right" way and reaping the formulaic child. Notice the fictional babies that drive the story- you know, the ones where the babywise baby is perfect, and the other one is a selfish, living terror who grows up with no friends because of her anti-social personality disorder? This is a "straw man fallacy", and the rest of the book that attacks anybody who chooses any different path as stupid or emotionally unstable, or living in chaos, is a "black-or-white" fallacy.

That's just the reasonable/ think-it-through logically side of me reacting to propoganda presenting itself as good reasoning and research. The other side of me that reacts violently is the nurse, because unlike Mrs. Ezzo, I really do have a background in pediatrics, and have seen multiple cases of failure to thrive, and have spent a lot of time doing one-on-one teaching and observing mother-baby couples in primary care clinics as they grow. This book is dangerous. Maybe you or your friend didn't have a poor outcome, for a variety of reasons, but the ideas can cause serious damage physically, emotionally, and developmentally. I find it best not to play with fire, myself.

Many, many babies need to eat more often than every 2 1/2 hours (Ezzo's minimum), and not just during growth spurts. It's not appropriate to ignore a baby's cry for 45 minutes at a time, because it's "sleep time" and they shouldn't eat before bed. And it is definitely harmful for a book to tell you to ignore the advice of the certified lactation consultant who tells you differently, and to demonize her and warn your other Babywise friends (who are also struggling to maintain their milk supply) to stay away too. Babies are also known to have no sense of "others," and that's something they grow into, not something they have to be taught. They don't even know that mom is a separate person for the first few months. It's not fair to a helpless infant to be "taught" that they're not the center of the universe, because it's a lesson they're not capable of learning. All they learn is that communicating a need doesn't result in that need being met, and that it's easier to just give up than to continue to let everyone know that they're lonely/hungry/bored.

Ignoring babies to get them on a schedule and spacing feedings for the same reason is a recipe for Failure to Thrive. Based on my training and experience, I knew this as soon as I heard the idea, and became more convinced of it as I read the book. Then I found the site http://www.ezzo.info/, which made me sick to my stomach, because it contains multiple stories of just that scenario. Look it up. Read the "Voices of Experience." They're not crazy or uneducated people. They're not people who did it wrong. They're the evidence of rotten fruit produced by a system that can't deliver on its promises.

I was going to outline some things I do believe are good about parenting styles, but this post is already too long. If you want to believe that I am that fearful, exhausted, uneducated mom slaving away to her child's every whim in order to repair the trauma of childbirth... that's a good sign that you've taken most of your parenting advise from the non-expertise of Gary Ezzo and his supporters. In the meantime, I am going to return the book to the library since I don't really have the funds to pay the fine I'd get for burning it, but I'm going to include a "warning" bookmark for the next person who checks it out. May their baby not be the next one admitted to the hospital for FTT because of the mis-guided endorsement of friends who didn't know that's where following the book's advice could lead them.

1 comment:

  1. I just stumbled upon your blog and have to say a huge amen! My friend used babywise to get her baby boy disciplined, she even had phone consults about how to enforce the principles of the book better... that is until he was diagnosed with Autism. She has now been berated by the babywise followers for using that diagnosis as a cop-out.