I'm so happy to see this discussion on MDC...I'm subbing.
It sounds like a lot of us with 3-4 month olds are going through the same thought process! I definitely feel that now that my babe is past the fourth trimester--and it's obvious to me that she's a lot more comfortable with being in the world and out of the womb--that's triggering my realization that hey, maybe I don't have to jump every time she whimpers any more. Which leads to thoughts of wonderful things like showers...and even fanciful dreams of things like sleeping more than a couple of hours at a stretch.
But in our culture, it seems like there are no examples of a balanced way to care for a babe: it's jump every time she whimpers (because that's how a lot of us new moms interpret AP, especially since we've never seen it lived and have to figure it out from reading about it, which is often an idealized vision that doesn't entirely match the reality) or CIO.
For me, CIO is just not an option. And I WILL sacrifice myself to avoid it if I have to. And if I start to feel differently, I will slap myself until I remember why it's so bad. My dad was a CIO baby, and even he admits that is probably a big piece of the reason for his psychological problems now...in my opinion, he literally never got past the infant attachment stage. He never achieved an emotional realization of object permanence. Seriously. He's been married and divorced multiple times because he can't believe a woman even exists--much less that she loves him--unless he's physically in her arms. I honestly think this is because his mother so rarely held him and left him so often to cry.
But really, to get back on topic, I'm sure CIO is wrong because all my instincts scream against it when I hear my baby crying. We are designed this way for a reason, whether you believe it's by God or nature, there's a reason why it's so painful for us to hear our babies cry! We're not supposed to ignore that. I am a big believer in following my instincts as a parent.
But lately my instincts have started to tell me that my baby IS capable of being a little more flexible in allowance for MY needs as well as me responding to hers. Trouble is, I have no idea how to apply that. Like I said, it's hard to find good examples in our culture.
Yesterday I decided I was just going to make up my mind when she was going to nap. I've been following her cues, but when she gets tired keeps seeming to change, and then she won't go down after over an hour of nursing...so I just decided I'm going to set naptimes.
Elizabeth Pantley's website says good times for this age are around 8:30 or 9 to 10 or so and then again from like 12 to 1 or 2, so I'm going with that. And maybe an evening nap as well. I'm going to let her get up at 7 even though she still acts tired, and play with her even if she's fussy (because I'd been trying to get her to go back to sleep then but she WON'T and the marathon nursing attempts have been driving me CRAZY) and then take her back to bed at 8:30 or 9 and swaddle her tight and try to nurse her down. Today it worked. She fell asleep at 9 with only 20 minutes of nursing (longer than I'd like, but way better than yesterday!!) and she's still asleep an hour later...and I haven't been back in there once. Which hasn't happened in a while. (Now watch her wake up since I just said that, lol.) Anyway, if she wakes up I'm going to nurse her again and try to get her to sleep until 11...and if she doesn't go back to sleep, I'll just keep nursing her and get her to rest until 11, because that is naptime. (I HATE schedules and routines, for myself as well as for her, but like I said, she is not telling me when she needs a nap, so I'm just going to try deciding for her and see if it works!) Anyway, I certainly won't wake her up if she's still sleeping, but when she wakes after 11, I'll let her get up and we'll play. And then at 12:30 or 1 I'll do the same thing. And if she starts making it obvious that she'd really rather nap at a different time, of course I will change that. But for now I'm going to see if this works, because she is NOT getting the amount of sleep she needs with me just following her need, and it's clear to me that I need to help her.
And my mommy instincts feel good about this.