When I was pregnant with my first, I declared that I would write my second novel whilst she slept peacefully for hours in the corner in her Moses basket. Whenever I announced this, usually in Starbucks, any mothers who happened to be 'relaxing' (because that's what stay at home mums did right?) nearby with their children snorted coffee out of their noses. Well why wouldn't my baby fit into my life like a glove? I GAVE HER LIFE after all? Surely a baby couldn't rule the roost. No, I would not be one of those mothers. I would be the boss. There would be no namby pamby parenting. This baby would be regimented into the baby army and do as it was told. The thing (one of many things, because there's oodles of 'things') about becoming a mum for the first time, is that it's unchartered territory. And there's no map (but loads of tw@t waffle books from baby trainers) But mama, I want to let you know that you have an inbuilt sat nav. It is the most superb technology out there, having been developed over ka-zillions of years. it's magnificently misunderstood and ladies who have no children who happen to have been former dog trainers or something, decide that they know how you should be a perfect mum with aplomb. Sadly one of the biggest things you should never ever allow, alongside full term breastfeeding, bed sharing, cuddling your baby for hours and BLW in a café, is for your baby to have its full needs met. All attempts by the baby to have its full needs met, is manipulation according to UK folklore. According to majority,sadly, your baby is here to show you that you are nothing but a minion, a lackey, a slave. And that is not 'asseptabul!'The little tyrant must be stopped. In addition, majority of society follow suit egged along by baby trainers, misinformed GP's and the 'it never did me any harm' brigade. This cacophony of information from books, self styled 'gurus', your mum, your nan, your neighbor, randoms on the internet, What to Expect add infinitum attempts to override your own mega in-built Sat Nav. Take heed - Your baby is normal. Wanting to love, hold, snuggle and never put your baby down is normal. Here's a check list of manipulative AKA normal child / mother dyad behavior.
1) You take your baby to the toilet because she cries / you cry if you put her down for a second. Crafty, manipulative baby feels afraid, primary source of life is gone! Your baby's evolutionary built in survival safety mechanism is working, hurrah! This is a good thing. Your baby is NOT manipulating you. It is NORMAL.
2) The Moses basket you lovingly chose together one afternoon in John Lewis collects laundry then gathers dust until you sell it on Ebay a year down the line. NORMAL (unless you have a genuine self settler)
3) This was despite being assured a simple t-shirt that smells of a day or two's leaked breastmilk and sweat should trick your baby into believing she's still snuggled on your chest. Yeah...
4) Baby is not stupid. Baby doesn't fall for the old put me on a pillow and feed me to sleep before transferring to Moses basket in a deep slumber. Nope, the jazz hands come up (another amazing evolutionary skill that once protected baby from falling out of the trees when we were monkeys) and the eyes shoot open. Your baby is NORMAL!
5) Your baby cries unless she's with you. Your baby still thinks she's a part of you until she's around 6-9 months when it starts to dawn on her that you're not a dual life force. In fact it isn't until after she's two that she feels safe enough to explore other relationships and is usually no longer super clingy to mum.
6) It's been hours and hours and hours and yet your baby is still behaving like a student in a kebab shop after a heavy night out when at the breast. Friends, family, strangers on the internet will inform you 'Your baby is manipulating you!' or maybe this gem 'Your baby is using you as a dummy!' I'm sorry, what came first? Surely it should be the other way around? Your baby is using a dummy because it wants the comfort of the nipple? I digress. Surely you can't be hungry little baby with a tiny tiny tummy filled with breastmilk which sifts through the body in around 90 minutes flat nourising every nook and cranny of babies body, I only fed you half a dozen times in four hours (which is totally normal and age appropriate behaviour for survival of the fittest) You might then feel / be told that you don't have enough milk! Kinda true - your baby is going through a growth spurt (approx 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months) Your baby will be relentlessly suckling to up your supply. My daughter's personal best was 12 hours! Nothing for it mama, order in a Pizza, get comfortable and get out the box sets! The WORST thing you can do is top up with formula. You're just prolonging the process, which is, you need more milk to satisfy baby, so keeping baby at the breast gives your body the message it needs to make more. Think of your boobs as factories, not warehouses. Your boobs do not just run out of milk! There will ALWAYS be a mitigating factor, usually a booby trapper.
7) When your baby cries in the night FOR A HUG she's not manipulating you, she's NORMAL! Yep your baby. Imagine this - cuddles and reassurance in the night? What that's a legitimate need? Whatever next! Damn babies.
You might have heard this already....especially if you have a MIL.
1) You're making a rod for your own back! *frown*
2) You'll never teach them how to be independent if you pander to her *snarky*
3) She needs to learn! Put her on the naughty step! *appease my own guilt!*
4) You'll be carrying her to University *tut*
5) What will you do when she gets teeth? Followed by a comedy boob slap 'Owch!'(
6) Your baby is manipulating you!
There you have it. If you recognize yourself / experiences in the above congratulations - Your baby is normal because the alternative is far beyond any cognitive developmental stage appropriate for a child under the age of five. Your baby is NOT manipulating you because she is NORMAL.
PS I've yet to meet a thirty year old co-sleeping breastfeeding adult with attachment issues who needed to be carried during his commute in an Ergo on his mother's back instead of the number 38 bus to Victoria. Just sayin'