Saturday, January 23, 2010

Confessions of a Failed Babywiser

By Alexandra Bush 



This essay is written both as catharsis and restitution. I regret that I encouraged many parents to use the Ezzo materials and feel compelled to warn against it. I also want to share how level-headed parents can be allured by this program.

There are many other resources online that outline the medical, Biblical and character problems associated with Gary Ezzo and his parenting programs. With this, I hope to offer a personal view of how these materials can negatively effect a family.

I cradled my six month old son in my arms. J* was peacefully sleeping. Tears were streaming down my face, and anxious thoughts raced through my mind. For the first time since he was born, I was watching the video my sister had taken of his birth. I was reliving the joy of a new life coming into this world. But at the same time I was so fearful this miracle would be taken from me. Something was wrong with my baby. I cried more. The doctor had not yet determined if it was something that could be treated easily, or if my precious first born was facing a terminal illness.

That morning I had taken J* in for a routine six-month well-baby visit. My pediatrician asked at each visit, "And are you still breastfeeding? Good job, Mom!" I glowed at her praise each time we were in the office. Of course I was breastfeeding-my Mom had modeled it for me when she nursed my younger siblings and I just assumed that's what was done. Only later did I realize there was any "controversy" over breastfeeding or formula feeding. From birth, J* nursed like a champ. We teasingly called him "Baby Sumo" and could count the chubby wrinkles on his legs. At a well-baby appointment at 3 ½ months he weighed a hefty 16 lbs--the 95% percentile on the baby charts.

That is why the drastic drop to 14 lb 2 oz, caused red flags to go up at the pediatrician's office. I could see the concern on our doctor's face throughout the visit, but she remained calm as she talked to me. Before we left the office, the doctor had scheduled an appointment for us with a specialist in Tampa for the following Monday. We had firm instructions to call her immediately if J* had certain symptoms before then.

Waiting through that weekend for our appointment was agony. They were some of the longest days of my life. Waiting, worrying, not knowing--scared I was going to lose my baby, my firstborn.

On Monday my husband took off work so we could go see the specialist together. We drove the two hours to All Children's Hospital in Tampa. The specialist was laid back and tried to calm our fears. He reviewed the very serious possibilities we were facing. Likely suspects included a gastrointestinal birth defect, missing enzymes needed for metabolism, and other possibilities that ranged from the more minor to life-threatening. Our doctor recommended we take a conservative diagnostic approach, rather than bombard our son with tests right away. The first step in finding the root of the problem was to measure the calories he was taking in, observe him, and do weight checks. I saw the doctor notate on the medical forms that the diagnosis was Failure to Thrive.

The doctor suggested that I could pump my breastmilk and notate the amount the baby ate through the bottle, and follow up with super-concentrated formula. Whenever I had tried pumping before, I couldn't get more than an ounce. I was so worried about knowing the exact amount my son was eating that we decided that I would just stop nursing cold-turkey. My baby had his very first bottle of formula on the way home from Tampa. I kept a journal and wrote down exactly how much he ate and when.

J* was weighed every other day that first week, and then once a week for several months. Follow up appointments with my pediatrician and phone consultations with the specialist led us to forgo further testing. It was determined that J*'s FTT was due to insufficient caloric intake.

I had starved my baby.

"Whatever happened to common sense?"

Often people defend Gary Ezzo's parenting materials with "The materials are great! As long as you use common sense and don't follow the books legalistically. . ." The assumption is that there is no inherent problem with Babywise -- just in parents not using common sense.

All I wanted to be when I grew up was a wife and mother. I remember telling people, in part truthfully and in part for shock value, "I want six boys!" From the time I was in high school, I read everything I could get my hands on about educational theories, child development, pregnancy and childbirth, and parenting. In college I volunteered at a Pregnancy Care Center. I read all I could about reproduction, birth, child care. I checked out nursing texts from the library to read the sections related to this, and even considered getting a specialized degree in reproductive studies. Much of it was from libraries, with dated collections of books from the '70s and hippies-flavored natural parenting. I planned on home birthing of course--my mother had home birthed and so would I. Breastfeeding, homeschooling, healthy eating--all of these things might be considered part of 'Attachment Parenting' today, but at the time had no real name. It seemed right. It was in line with what my mother had modeled for me and it was full of love.

So how did a well-educated, widely-read woman disregard previous information in favor of Ezzo's parenting books?! How did the 30+ documented medical misstatements in Babywise fail to raise yellow flags for me?!

Within just a few months of marriage, I found out I was pregnant with our first child. From the beginning I had a feeling it was a boy. I tried to be careful what I ate, a la Dr. Brewer and his emphasis on good nutrition in pregnancy. I wanted to do everything right. I contacted a midwife as soon as I could, and began reviewing the books I had collected along the way about pregnancy. It wasn't just something in books anymore! Here I was living it for real.

Then I received a couple of books in the mail from a dear friend of mine. I had been her mother's helper when she was working at home and had two small boys. One of those books was Gary Ezzo's "Babywise." It was interesting, a bit strange--nothing like the other books I had read about infant parenting. But the way in which it was written was persuasive and I found myself skimming over it again.

When another friend, a nurse who had worked in NICU units, called me to congratulate me on my pregnancy, she raved about a parenting program she took at her church. We had known each other during our college activism days. "I'll send you the philosophy section of Preparation for Parenting," she promised. When I read the photocopies she sent comparing the Biblical worldview as it relates to parenting vs. the secular humanist philosophers, I was convinced that I needed to look into this more. After all, I was a Christian. I knew I wanted to do the right thing for our child--no humanistic philosophies for us.

So I read the turquoise-colored Babywise book carefully before my son was born. Right before he was due, I discovered that Ezzo's Preparation for Parenting classes were being sponsored by our church! We began taking them the week after he was born.

In his Preparation for Parenting books and videos Gary Ezzo characterizes attachment parenting as in line with the philosophies of Secular Humanism and extreme permissiveness. He then asserts that his parenting ideas are derived from Biblical principles. With our society filled moral ambiguity and relativism, I wanted to teach my children right from wrong and help them develop the character to make good choices in life. The desire to give my children the best start made me willing to accept what Ezzo taught.

"It seemed to work great! I was well rested. My baby slept well."

I remember my husband and I looking at what Ezzo was teaching, and looking at the Bible. We could see the principles, but just didn't see how they connected to the Bible. It raised yellow flags, but we didn't look too closely at the time because everything "worked" and seemed to make sense.

And so my pre-parenting theories made a 180 degree turn--from natural parenting ideas to Babywise schedules. Every family we knew at our church was in a Prep or Growing Kids God's Way class.

Everything seemed to be working great! J* fell into a schedule, for the most part. He latched on right after he was born, and nursed like a champ from the beginning. I was thrilled with the program and encouraged everyone I knew to read the book or go to the class. I would even hand out our church's name and phone number to pregnant women I met at the grocery store! I was a confident mother, as Gary Ezzo said I would be. I was well rested. My baby slept well. We were doing the right thing and I felt so sorry for all the frazzled mothers out there who didn't have their babies on a Babywise schedule.

A whole video session in the Prep class was devoted to breastfeeding. I still remember Anne Marie using a teddy bear to illustrate how a baby should be correctly aligned, stomach to stomach, when breastfeeding. Breastfeeding was covered just enough with just enough facts thrown in to make it all seem accurate. And yet, much of the information is faulty, especially in the context of Ezzo's eat-wake-sleep cycle.

One of the things that influenced me was their explanation of the "demand/supply cycle" of breastfeeding. They emphasized that it was a combination of frequency/duration/intensity of the nursing sessions. Thus, the less frequent feedings that result from an Ezzo schedule seem reasonable because of course the babies would be eating more at that time. Babies "snacking" at the breast was belittled and the emphasis was on encouraging babies to eat full meals at each nursing session. All of this information seemed reasonable, and enough seemed accurate that the things that were contrary to what I had read before in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding seemed to make them all fit together okay.

However, Ezzo neglected to give a thorough explanation of the physiology of breastfeeding. He neglected to factor in that each mother's capacity for milk storage varies, as does babies' stomach sizes. Those things in conjunction can make for breastfeeding problems.

Add into this that the friend who endorsed Prep was a NICU nurse with children slightly older than mine. With her endorsement and experience, I never imagined that it wouldn't be medically sound. Also, this was mid-1996 when the outrage over Ezzo's teachings were still in their infancy. I was not aware of any legitimate problems with Ezzo's teachings-I was under the impression that the only ones who would oppose what he taught were those with a "humanistic" philosophy of life.

So here I was, still sold on the Ezzo materials even after my firstborn was diagnosed FTT. I quit breastfeeding cold-turkey when the doctor recommend switching to a calorie-dense formula. My fertility returned and our second child was soon on his way. We moved to another state. There were no churches in our area offering Prep classes, so we approached the pastor of the the church we were attending and told him how great the materials were. It was a "seeker" church and wanted to offer more resources to the community, and so was willing for us to facilitate the Prep classes.

Looking back, I wonder how my husband and I had the gall to lead a parenting class! Our oldest child was barely a year and a half old-definitely not the voices of experience! But we were thrilled with our experience with Ezzo (we thought) and wanted to help other young parents.

Modifying the schedule as needed?

But because of J*'s FTT, we did caution during the two classes we led that it was VERY important to continue to use the "healthy baby growth charts" and to modify the schedule as needed. With our second, we decided to stick to a 2 ½-3 hour schedule religiously-and not go longer than three hours between feedings during the day. I didn't want to have the milk supply problems I had before, and thought this would help.

It was during this time that I was first hearing of objections to the Ezzo materials. I dismissed them pretty easily--they just don't understand the materials, I thought. They must be permissive parents feeling defensive about their parenting. Even though we experienced major problems ourselves, we were blind to the fact that the fault lay with the philosophy of the materials. We thought the problems we had with the materials were because of us, not the basic ideas Ezzo taught.

I thought T*, our second child, had started sleeping through the night early--as Babywise promised and as J* had done. It was only because my sister was staying with us for a few months that I found out I had become immune to his nighttime cries. I just didn't hear and register them--she occasionally woke me up to take care of the baby or would ask "Didn't you hear him crying last night?"

Preparation for the Toddler Years (Babywise II)

Meanwhile, with J* we began implementing the "Preparation for the Toddler Years" program. In essence, it led to me controlling his actions and activities throughout the day. While child development experts agree that routine and rhythm is healthy for young children, the Ezzo material schedule tends to be rooted in control. My parenting at this point was influenced not only by the Ezzo printed materials, but by contact moms both in real life and on the internet. Room time, playpen time, highchair time, blanket time. . . These were to teach the child self-control, but were really a way for me as a parent to control my child. I remember teaching "Come to Mommy" as suggested by Ezzo mothers, and "chastising" him (Ezzo-speak for spanking) when he didn't. My sister was watching and I remember her flinching. Looking back, I see I set up false conflict to teach him this through spanking. We could have taught that same concept in another way, a way that was not setting my child and me up to be adversaries.

Many things were taught this way, and all of it it was me, as a parent, controlling my child in a way that set up an antagonistic relationship.

Still it didn't "click" that something was wrong with Ezzo's programs.

Low supply & early weaning in spite of a modified schedule

T* didn't have the weight gain problems J* had, but my breast milk supply was always precarious. Getting the flu led to my sister giving him a few bottles, less nursing, and again and early return of fertility. When I becamed pregnant, it further affected my milk supply and T* was not satisfied while nursing. I remember him latching on and then crying because he wasn't getting much. Except for those few bottles while I was sick, he hadn't had any formula or solids-we were trying to exclusively breastfeed. When I found out I was pregnant and that was influencing my supply, I began supplementing with formula. He soon completely weaned. He was only 7 1/2 months old.

Still, I thought a schedule was good. With this third baby, though, I was determined to breastfeed successfully. I was (and still am) convinced that our bodies are designed to breastfeed. If what I had been doing with the schedule was undermining that, then it must not really be what we are intended to do. That was the first chink in the armor of my closed mind. For R*, I thought I would try a eat-wake-eat-sleep cycle. With a move and an extended vacation with relatives, the cycle became less defined.

I felt guilty about not being "on schedule" and still didn't subscribe to cue-feeding. I was worried that I was feeding "on demand" and that would lead to a demanding child. I was afraid I wouldn't get good sleep, that the baby wouldn't get good sleep, and that that would be bad for us. All of these things were fears planted in my mind by Ezzo's false dichotomy set up by his manufactured "biblical" philosophy of parenting vs. the "secular mystics" of parenting.

Ezzo vs. Science, Ezzo vs. Doctrine of Grace

So what made me see the light?

Online resources, primarily. I read articles that explained more fully the physiology of breastfeeding, including researching on La Leche League's website about hormones and breastmilk production. Funny, in a way, that it was the dry and scientific that helped me cut through the philosophical bullcrap of Ezzo. Also the Evidence for Cue-Feeding article.

I visited the Parent's Place Ezzo Debate Board as a closet Ezzo supporter. I realized that the critics of Ezzo were intelligent Christian mothers and fathers--not the permissive parents of whiny children Ezzo portrayed them to be. I read the theological concerns on Rebecca Prewett's page, and that made a big impression on me.

My husband has told me the reason he left politics to work in the ministry is that one day he woke up and realized that even if he elected all the godly officials he supported, and they passed the most wonderful legislation, and the citizens of the land all obeyed the laws, his work would have only created better behaved pagans. That is a lot of what I see in Ezzo's materials. In the name of Christianity, parents are taught to have better behaved children. But only God changes the heart.

Concurrent with this, was some spiritual struggles of my own, especially in the area of truly understanding God's grace. I like legalism, I like following the rules and being a good girl. Yet, there is sin in my life that rears its ugly head on a daily basis. How does God deal with me and the sin in my life? I realized that I was not relating to my children the way that God relates to me. I was expecting my children to "Obey, right away, all the way with a happy heart!" I realized that I do not do that. I procrastinate. I complain. I do jobs halfway. I argue with God. Are these good things? No--and I want better for my children. Yet God has dealt with me, an adult, with more understanding and gentleness than I have with my children. God is often described as being "Slow to anger, abounding in love, full of compassion..."

When I tried to make my children obey the Ezzo way, I wasn't responding the way I see God respond to me. Of course I loved my children! And some days I was slow to anger. But I wasn't full of compassion and often anger was just under the surface. God allowed me to starkly see my sin, my disobedience, my need for Jesus every day, my need for His grace--and that was really the key for me to see that what Gary Ezzo teaches is not what I see as being in line with Biblical parenting.

Cue-feeding brings breastfeeding success at last

So where am I now?

My third I began to cuddle and nurse in the morning. We cue-fed and I was able to breastfeed him until he was about 19 months old. At that point, I was pretty "touched out" and expecting #4, and we were in the middle of another move.

With our fourth, from the beginning I wanted to focus more on nurturing and less on controlling. He has been cue fed. I got a wonderful mayawrap pouch and dh and I jokingly referred to myself as a "marsupial mom." That title was derisively applied by Gary Ezzo to mothers who use slings frequently, but now it's a badge of honor. I haven't struggled with my milk supply at all and he's still nursing strong at 26 months. He does wake to nurse at night or I rouse him before I go to bed. I am not losing any sleep with it. We co slept-with him in a pack 'n' play in our room or cuddling in our bed until he was about a year. Now he sleeps in his brothers' room.

Our boys co-sleep--piled together like puppies. Some of them come to crawl in bed with me in the middle of the night, and sometimes I welcome that and sometimes I groggily tell them to make a bed on the floor. I'm still wary of the label "Attachment Parenting" because of the negative connotations it was given by Gary Ezzo. It's hard to change those early impressions. But if you were to look at how I parent now it would probably look like "Attachment Parenting."

God has been working in my life in many areas, and I am still not the mother I want to be. Yet I am thankful for His grace and that He has used my mistakes and failures in parenting to teach me more about Himself. I trust that even my failures with my children He will use to make them who He wants them to be.


contact
Alexandra Bush at ezzoweek@gmail.com

~~~~

For more on Babywise, the Ezzos' methods see:

American Academy of Pediatrics Statement about Babywise

Dr. William Sears on Growing Kids God's Way/Babywise


Pediatric Nurse & Former Ezzo Parent

Adventures in Ezzoland

Ezzo Information Website


Become Wise to Babywise

The Case for Cue Feeding (rather than PDF - "parent directed feeding")

Taking Down Babywise: A Hero

List of Resources on Baby Sleep

List of Resources on Sleep Training, CIO, controlled crying

List of Resources for Breastfeeding Mothers

List of Resources on Babywearing




41 comments:

  1. http://www.aboverubies.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=470:motherhood-bliss&catid=44&Itemid=69

    Thank you for this blog!

    Here is a link to the one & only article I've ever written.
    I hope it helps someone.

    It's called Motherhood Bliss and was in Above Rubies.

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  2. ..so many new parents need to read this article.

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  3. very well written! I am so glad the author felt compelled to share her journey!

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  4. Wonderful article. I have a good friend, expecting her 5th, who is very committed to Ezzo's faulty ways. Now, if I only have the nerve to give her this article! :-)

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  5. Thank you for the positive feedback. When I was approached to see whether I'd give permission to reprint it... well, honestly, it stirred up emotions that have been pretty dormant for years. And so I was a little hesitant to click on the "comments" here. Some people have said pretty nasty things to me over the years.

    I am thankful for the gentle, loving modeling of other mothers and the suggestions and questions from my non-BW friends during that time. It was a process. So, I do think it is good to share with and encourage your friends who use BW. Even if it isn't easy.

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  6. Btw, it's been 7 years since I first wrote about our Babywise experiences. And my most BW'd baby is now a teenager! He's an amazing young man, but. . . in all honesty. . . we are -still- dealing with some of the negative stuff from the stupidity of BW and the other Ezzo ideas we used when he was a toddler and preschooler.

    My oldest and I laugh and joke about the Ezzo stuff now. And we've talked about it seriously. It really impacted my thinking and emotions in ways I didn't realize would last.

    Even after leaving that stuff behind, even though we have a wonderful and loving relationship, even though I think he's the greatest kid ever -- the impact of those early years lingers.

    Of course, talking with mothers with new little babies about the lasting impact of BW. . . well, they think I'm fanatical and very "anti-". Sigh. That's really not true. . .

    I should probably update the story of our journey at some point. . .

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  7. wow! good for her for being insightful enough to change!

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  8. What a great post. I used to be an Ezzo Contact Mom, and I have written very similar posts. I never dealt with FTT, but we have had other long-term ramifications from using the Ezzo's programs. I did a whole series on my years as a Contact Mom on my blog: http://www.chewymom.com/how-i-got-involved-with-gfi/. There are even more random posts that I wrote whenever a memory came up or a trigger that ticked me off all over again - LOL!

    Anyway, thanks for your article. The more people who are brave enough to tell about their parenting mistakes, related to Babywise/PFP, etc., the more people will be informed....

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  9. Hey, Ann! I'm from NoLa originally!

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  10. I was just thinking the other day about how I would never let Gracie, my 5 year old, nap for longer than 2 hours at a time, and wondering where that idea came from in the first place. Ever since then, if I wake her from her nap before she's ready she really lets me have it. I wonder if that's why.

    Now I have a 10 month old and I have chosen the AP route and we're all much happier.

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  11. As a lactation counselor, midwife and childbirth educator, I mention the negative aspects of the Ezzo method in my classes and am very aware of the harmful implications to breastfeeding success. Thank you for posting your story. I'm bookmarking it as a resource for parents to read who are still being swayed by this very flawed thinking and teaching.

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  12. As a first time mom with b/g twins, I got a lot of 'advice' on how to 'get them on a schedule' in order to get some sleep, and sanity. I even had people bragging how thiers slept through the night at 3 months! I was 'spoiling' them, according to most onlookers. They were 6 weeks premie, and had reflux and colic, so I wore them, held them and/or nursed them almost 24/7. They ended up being in the 95th percentile by the time they were 12 months, and being very healthy, happy babies (once the colic stopped). Others still criticize my approach, and I'm still trying to make up for the sleep deprivation, but I know in my heart I did what they needed and it has paid off. I may have been swayed had it not been for my sister- Lisa Marasco- a specialist in the breastfeeding field, who stayed with me the first week to help me develop confidence in breastfeeding twins, and continued to help me over the phone for months following. I went through a lot to have these babies, so I didn't see them as an inconvenience that I needed to control...they were a blessing that I needed to nurture.

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  13. I feel so sad when I read stories like this. I am so glad that you were able to find your philosophy as a mother. I just wish that you hadn't had to go through all the hardship and heartache to get there.

    It seems there are so many judgments being made in Christianity and in parenting. Following Babywise doesn't say anything about one's belief in Jesus nor their walk. Unfortunately, certain things have come to be associated culturally with being Christian or not Christian, and it's hard when you (or I) deviate from that cultural norm to explain to others that it hasn't compromised core beliefs. :(

    I also read Babywise before having my first child. To be honest, I'm not sure why I didn't follow it. It just didn't seem to make sense (feeding every 3 hours with play and nap in between) logistically. I do thank God regularly that I didn't follow that path.

    I think the final straw for me was when I read a book that talked about teaching kids how to think vs. what to think. It was by no means instructing parents to lead their children away from the church. In fact, it strengthens my Christian convictions in explaining to my kids *why* we choose to believe what we do.

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  14. Casey,
    could you share what book it is that you mention? (About teaching kids *how* to think rather than what to think). Sounds good!

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  15. For each of my three kids, we scheduled eat-play-sleep but as newborns, that was every two hours. Then we progressed to three hours, and then four, adding in solid foods around that time. But at night I fed them on demand (breastfeeding two of the three). I knew their little tummies needed to eat more often than only once in 8 hours! It worked for me and I think that's where the common sense comes in. You have to find balance and what is going to work for you. I don't think being strict and dogmatic in either direction is what is in the baby's best interest.

    Thank you to all you ladies who posted your comments, and to you, Alexandra, for having the courage to write what was on your heart. I would very much like to hear more about your journey with your oldest son as a teenager, if you are willing to share that, too.

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  16. I love the story! Thanks so much for sharing, even though I never read the book or even knew who he was, I felt the pressures from a lot of people (I have an 18 month old) and wish I had a stronger support group during the early days, however I stuck to my guns and am so happy that I did!!

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  17. I used this method with my 6 year old. She is by far extremely high strung and cannot relax. I nursed on demand wth my other 2 and they are completely polar opposites - they are relaxed, cuddly, happy kids. I feel like I completely failed my oldest due to Ezzo's methods.

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  18. MommyOctopus, It's hard, isn't it? I do believe that a mother's love and God's grace cover a multitude of screw ups. And that these mistakes we've made DO impact our kids, but can turn into something good.

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  19. Alexandra, thanks so much for writing this story. It was very hard to read, and I can only imagine how difficult it was to write. A friend of mine suggested those books to us when my 2 year old was born. Thank goodness I was too sleep-deprived from nursing-on-demand to get around to getting the book! I was wondering recently if I should get it for my next child, but now I definitely won't! Thanks for sharing.

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  20. I am glad I never came across any "BabyWise" book until right now that I'm reading this article.

    But let me tell you something, that I don't think that I would ever taken it seriously as me and 'schedules' don't get along very well at all.

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  21. We read 'Babywise' and were determined to follow it. Thank goodness I didn't have the conviction to follow through with it. After reading this, my suspicions about that method have been confirmed.

    I'm so sorry you and your family had to go through this, but I am thankful you have posted this so we can all learn from your experience.

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  22. I think that is great that you chose to share your story and try to help other mothers that may be suffering as you have suffered. It seems like you chose your words carefully and the article is very well written. I just don't know how I feel about your husband referring to society at large as Pagans. That word has a very derogatory implication. While I value his service to his religion and think highly of his commitment, at the very least his statement sounded condescending and at the greatest as if people without his beliefs are without value unless they can be converted. Out of everything that you wrote, that statement was the most offensive. If editing your article, I would think of either cutting that comment or elaborating on it so that it doesn't seem so harsh. Hope this helps.

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  23. I only have one 19 mo. old who still breastfeeds and I was given babywise as a gift. I read most of it but my instinct kicked in and told me that this would not work for my opinionated daughter! I didn't realize what I did had a label, but I fully understand my choice to practice attachment parenting. I thank God everyday for my daughter and his gift of intuition for me to know what to do with her! Thank you for the article! well written...

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  24. I agree with Deedra in that I found the "pagan" comment quite offensive. It shows little respect, compassion or understanding of people who's beliefs are different than yours and your husbands. It certainly shows a lack of knowledge about what "pagan" means, or what they believe.

    Beyond that, I appreciate the article and your openness. I think people who are following the Baby Wise techniques or considering them are more likely to listen to you, who's been through it and now has teenagers feeling the effects than parents using the opposite techniques.

    When my daughter was just 3 months old I had lunch with an old friend from High School who recommended I read Baby Wise and swore it worked for her. I very strongly said I didn't have any interest in those techniques and that every medical professional I know told me not to, that it was dangerous. The rest of our lunch was tense, and the friendship I'd hoped would be rekindled hasn't gone much farther than that lunch.

    I've often felt bad about reacting so strongly to her suggestion, even though I stand by everything I said. After reading your article, I'm ok with my reaction. Maybe my strong reaction gave her reason to think twice about what she's doing to her kids.

    With as much research is out there discrediting this technique, I can't believe so many book stores and baby stores, like Babies R Us still carry the books. Maybe there needs to be a petition/education campaign with these companies to get them to take the book off the shelves.

    This is not just a difference in parenting techniques and philosophies. These techniques cause real emotional damage to children that often last their whole lives.

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  25. I came on here to research the method because I'm so firmly against it (our old small group at one point wanted to use Gary Ezzo's "Growing Kid's God's Way" as a Bible Study. YIKES!)

    I've seen the effect of CIO, both my nephews are not normal. The oldest responded to it by becoming a people pleaser, closer with a stranger than his own family. He values things above people and is incredibly sneaky and manipulative. My younger nephew is a zombie. He just watches the world go by. He was a much needier baby and I think it just shut him down.

    I've been telling my husband and Mom for a few years now that sometime in the future we'll look back at Ferber/Ezzo, etc and recall it as child abuse. Thanks for the article.

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  26. I did not read BabyWise, but I read literature when I had my baby that followed a similar feeding schedule, so naturally I thought that was the way to do it. My son was miserable and started losing weight, and I could not figure out what I was doing wrong. One of my friends said to feed my baby every time he cried, and at LEAST 2 to 3 hours from the START of the last feeding. I thought this seemed excessive, because that wasn't at all what the literature I had gotten from the hospital had said to do (yes, this was given to me at the hospital, though I suspect the hospital may not have actually read it before handing it out, at least not thoroughly). I scheduled a meeting with a lactation consultant and she cleared everything up for me, and I felt so guilty and angry for following that other literature I had read. It's no wonder my milk supply had dropped and I ended up having to use a supplemental lactation system, borrowing breast milk from a trusted friend and using a little formula for a little while till we got back on track. Not to mention how exhausted we all were from the endless hours of crying. My son is healthy and thriving now but is also very fussy and clingy at times, and I can't help wondering if this is in some way due to how hungry he was for the first few weeks of his life. I wish I'd called an LC right away rather than waiting. I wish I'd done a lot differently. Mostly I wish I hadn't read that misinformation to begin with!

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  27. I am so glad I came across this article! This is one of the best things I've read on the subject yet, and I will be passing it along. We are Jesus-loving AP parents in a Babywise community, and often feel alone in our choices. I read Babywise when I was pregnant at the encouragement of many friends, and I could hardly get through it. It went against everything we knew to be right in how we wanted to raise our daughter. From day one she's been fed on cue, sleeps in our bed, and is often in a sling. My heart aches for all of the "training" that goes on in the fear of not raising godly children. We firmly believe He is a God who responds to our cries, full of grace and connection, and it is because of this that we choose to raise her gently. I am so thankful to come across such a well-written article, especially from a Christian perspective. Thank you!

    ps - I've written out my own thoughts on CIO and why it's not for us - physically, relationally and spiritually.

    http://her.joshandrosemary.com/blog/crying-it-out/

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  28. Thank you for posting this your honesty and openness are amazing may God bless you and your family!

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  29. I just want to thank the author for sharing this. I have so much admiration for parents that can change as needed for their children and open their hearts in this way. Congratulations to her for her breastfeeding success.

    I was wondering if she's still teaching classes or not? There are many churches that have implemented bans against Ezzo so this might be something she could look into for her church.

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  30. It took a lot of courage to write and post this. Thank you!

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  31. ust came across this article and can't tell you how encouraging it was. I too am a "Failed Babywiser". I thought I had it all figured out with our first but he just didn't fit into the mold I was crazily trying to fit him into. It made my first experience as a mom irritating, not enjoyable, depressing, and sadly, I probably missed out on so much joy all because things were not going the way I thought, and had been taught they should go. Overall, I felt like a big failure and was even angry at God because I thought I was doing things "right". Thank you for your article and for sharing your story. I especially appreciate your insight into the fact that God is the one who changes hearts, and how our example of how to parent is how God parents us....Yes with truth, but also always with grace. Thank you!

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  32. i have a close acquaintance who did babywise. I had already been through the infant stuff with my babies and it seemed so unnatural to watch the clock rather than the baby for cues. I absoutely could not stand to listen to this baby crying for hours because she was hungry or because it is nap time and she "should" be sleeping.
    The thing is that as this baby got older, she didn't make eye contact. She wanted to be independent (not in a good way).
    Now, she's 8. she's a nightmare. She completely lacks empathy for others. she has actually hurt her younger siblings on many occassions. She's sneaky and self centered.
    i blame babywise techniques for this.
    You leave a baby crying without consoling them or (changing diaper, feeding, holding) then, you're developing a human who doesn't trust you. babies take work! This program is so irrational and illogical....

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  33. Thank you for sharing such an honest personal story.

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  34. I live with someone who was left to cry a lot as a baby and wasn't cuddled much. He's now in his 50s. I consider the way he was raised to be child abuse. His parents loved him and they were quite affluent, but agree now that they knew nothing about raising kids. They were taking advice from old-fashioned, upper-class European parents who had relied on nannies to raise their kids.

    Psychologically, he is like someone who was abused. When he is "down", he has very low self esteem, feels guilty about everything - even existing, and startles easily. He has experienced a lot of depression. He has episodes of anxiety and panic. He is working hard at overcoming this debilitating mindset. It is very hard for him, but he is making progress.

    From the point of view of a powerless infant, being left alone in a room crying feels life-threatening. It would have been life-threatening for a paleolithic baby to be left alone in a cave. Our brains have not evolved that much since then. Being hungry as a helpless infant is life-threatening too. The message that YOU don't matter and that life is full of fear gets embedded very early.

    Some people are effectively living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for their entire lives, based on how they were treated as babies.

    Perhaps some people are more sensitive than others, and therefore more adversely affected by this kind of parenting. However, I wouldn't take a chance. If the baby is crying, pick him or her up!

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  35. I have a 9 month old son. I was given Babywise before the birth, and although i was advised against reading it by an attachment parenting friend, I read it. It appealed to me as I like being in control and organised. After a difficult birth though, and a few days without being able to feed (me in ICU, baby in NICU), things didn't go as i planned. when we took himn home, he wouldn't just go to sleep unassisted as the book promised and I found myself stressed out that by giving in to him by feeding him I would create a selfish, demanding baby. Eventually at about 3 months, on the advice of my dad, i gave in. I fed at least every two hours and learnt to accept him, cosleeping and using a sling every day. He is now 9 months old and sleeps in his own room and rarely wakes (goes to show that the attachment parenting way of doing things doesn't lead to no sleep). My fertility has not returned (despite wanting a second one soon!), but so good to know that I can still breastfeed and supply enough milk for my little cherub.
    Thanks for this article. Good to know there are others out there who made the mistakes i did but learnt from them.

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  36. "Our daughter just turned 16 weeks, and the Babywise schedule has worked very well for us so far. We stick fairly close to it, but are not rigid enough to recognize the occasion/need for flexibility, be they due to circumstance or obvious hunger."

    At 16 weeks, I thought Babywise was working great, thought that I was using flexibility and common sense. Thought I saw the hunger cues. . .

    I was wrong. It wasn't working and things went downhill from 16 weeks. . .

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  37. i had a friend who was raising her child by the babywise method. at a few months she came to me from her mama because i played with her for an hour! the next time i visited, she had left her child crying for 45 minutes in her crib because she should've been sleeping, when in fact she had diarrhea in her diaper that turned into a nasty rash.

    I AP and i hear from some non AP parents how the first two years of parenting was such a nightmare... I have never felt that way with my son. we bedshare (he wouldn't sleep in a co-sleeper even), breastfeed, and babywear... it has been such a wonderful experience i want to share it with the world yet i am met with all the negative comments.

    its sad that we are being denied what parenthood can be just because of society's pressure to raise our children independent. :(

    the way my son is, you wouldn't even guess he still nurses about 3~4 times a day at 28 months.

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  38. your story really touched me. I have 2 boys and have only begun to learn the ways of "attachment parenting" I feel as though following this book led to breastfeeding failure and I deal with this constant guilt everyday. I am not quite sure how I will ever heal from it. The more I learn the more guilt I feel. The only thing that helps me is my boys are wonderful loving, crazy little monkeys. And I pray often that I will be able to get my husband to have more children I will be able to apply my new knowledge and hopefully have the nursing success I only dream of.

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  39. Our story is very, very similar to yours. Our firstborn twins were also diagnosed with FTT, because of the cut off night feedings and scheduled day feedings. My milk supply couldn't keep up at all. With each child we've grown increasingly enthusiastic about attachment parenting. Now that we're on our sixth baby, we don't even own a crib, and I have more slings than I can even use. :) I like that the baby is happy and quiet because his needs are met and he feels safe with his mama. It's much better than the baby who is quiet because he's learned no one will help him anyway.

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  40. I know this is an older article but I just had to comment that I am so glad that I found it. I am about 2 1/2 weeks away from my EDD with our first and I had an interview with a pediatrician yesterday. He asked me if I had read any parenting books and whether I was going to breastfeed (we are). I told him that my doula and Bradley Method teacher had suggested the Dr. Sears books although I hadn't had time yet to read any books on parenting. He pointed to his Ezzo books on the shelf and said that the method he subscribed to got kids on a schedule and was kind of the opposite of Dr. Sears. This pediatrician came very highly recommended to me but the friend that suggested him said that he was very religious which might turn me off as she knows I don't like pushy religious people. Kids on a schedule just sounded funny to me as everything else I've read on breastfeeding talked about learning your babies hunger cues and how attachment parenting and babywearing can help keep your milk supply up (I have to go back to work after 6 weeks). But I was still considering buying the book... Until I found this article. Again, I'm so glad I found this article. Ezzo is obviously not the way I want to go. I will probably still go with this doctor as he seemed really on board with a lot of other philosophies I subscribe to but now I realize that I need to take his opinions with a bigger grain of salt than I would have previously. Thank you for taking the time to document your experiences. Just know that you've helped many people as evidenced by the comments on the article and I'm so sorry that you had to go through it to realize that it wasn't right.

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