I arrived a bit late; our chief scientist had already started giving his speech. So I just walked towards them, pulled a chair, and sat. Then everyone started to notice Daiyan. And being Daiyan, he started smiling to everyone. Everyone was just surprised that he seemed very happy. A few people came to me and said "He is such a happy baby. You must be a good mother." "Thanks," I replied.
So I wonder, is a happy baby a sign of good parenting?
Probably. I am not sure myself. The truth is, I don't know why Daiyan is so happy around people. I always thought that it's just who he is. I am not doing anything extraordinary at home. But alhamdulillah, I think he is quite a content baby--whether or not it's because of our parenting--he smiles and laughs a lot (although he protests a lot too), and I can easily leave him by himself/with other people when I go to social events (dinner party etc).
I remember the early days when Daiyan came into our lives..lots of people told us (me, especially) not to hold him too much as he would grow up wanting to always being held, not to nurse him to sleep lying down as he would be accustomed to it, to give him pacifier and formula milk as I am a working mom and it would be hard for the care taker (and me) if Daiyan wouldn't take pacifier or formula milk. But the weird thing was, people also told me no to give him the pacifier as it might be hard for him to wean off it when he is older.
As a new mother, I tried following the advices (except the formula milk..as I know I want to exclusively breastfeed him). I tried to put Daiyan down as much as possible, tried to rock him to sleep instead of nursing him, tried to give him the pacifier..but none of this felt right to me. Daiyan loved to be held a lot when he was a newborn, and he loved to breastfeed every 2 hours, one-hour long every session (which means I only have at most, 1 hour break), so putting him down and rocking him to sleep would usually result in him crying. Daiyan also hated pacifier--he would spit it out, usually as soon as I put it into his mouth--so the pacifier basically ended up not being used. In the end, I held him as much as he needed, brought him to sleep in our bed and nurse him to sleep, and let him suck on my breasts for as long as he needed. This way, he turned out not crying as much, and kept all of us happy.
I remember at one point I wanted to train Daiyan to sleep in his cot because as much as I love him, I also wanted to maintain the relationship with my husband, and I thought having the bed to ourselves is important(so far he only has slept in his cot once..in the hospital, in the first night. He woke up at 2:30 am, along with other babies, and did not go back to sleep). I also read that babies would develop their own way of self-soothing (and go to sleep on their own) when they reach about 2 months of age. However, it was quite a nightmare. Daiyan hated his cot and just kept on crying, which of course, eventually made me stressed. I ended up bringing him back in bed with us. After that night, I found an article about co-sleeping vs. cot sleeping in Dr. Sear's website, and the article points out that co-sleeping has been found to help regulates the child's breathing and that SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) are less likely to affect babies who are co-sleeping with their mothers. After reading the article, I felt relieved and decided to let Daiyan sleeps with us for as long as he needs.
So now, after 5+ months of becoming a mother and taking care of Daiyan, I came up with a conclusion about parenting: Do what feels right and natural, and what works for you. Of course people can say do this and that, but eventually we are the parents and the baby is living with us, so whatever we do/n't do to our babies mostly affects us, not them. As for my husband and I, free access to my breasts/breastmilk, co-sleeping, and baby-wearing (when needed) work miraculously; Daiyan doesn't cry as much, and he seems happy and content. Although the house gets messy quite easily as it's quite hard to do housework while carrying Daiyan or when Daiyan is sleeping (plus my husband and I are not that particular anyway), I think it does not really matter as Daiyan comes first, not the house.
I remember reading an article about why African babies don't cry (forgot the website huhu) and what Dr. Sears wrote in his website. Both point out that we should read our baby and give him what he needs, instead of enforcing something that the baby doesn't want (scheduled feeding, cry-to-sleep, starting solids too early etc). I also remember reading an article about why babies nowadays do not seem happy, and the article points out that probably the reason these babies don't seem happy is because the parents do not give them what they need. I happen to agree with all three articles.
I think the best way of parenting is by imagining ourselves in a cave, with no one else but our baby and husband. Only by imagining that we would start taking care of our babies like what nature intends us to, using our instinct as a mother.
My two men <3