17 May

Book Club: Our Babies, Ourselves

Posted by Jenna, Under book club

I’ve recently decided to alter the way That Wife Book Club works a little bit, as I’m having a hard time keeping up with the 1 book/month goal and I know some of you are as well. And thus, Book Club will become a place for you to talk back and forth with me as I read through… whatever it is that I’m currently working on. Jenna Cole, That Wife, homemaking, and the baby keep me busy enough that I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like, and I would like to put this a little farther down my to-do list, at least for now.

And so, the Book Club link in my sidebar that you see to the right will now take you to a post like this one, where you will be able to see what I’m currently working through. You can join me if you’d like, and if you comment on the book I’ll certainly write back and share my thoughts as well.

Right now I’m working through Our Babies, Ourselves. Please share your thoughts below if you’ve read it as well!

7 Comments


  1. I finished reading this book a month or two ago. I liked it, but it’s a bit dry and academic. The one thing I took away from it is how much our culture determines what’s “normal” or “best” – rather than real science or evidence. This is a good thing to keep in mind when reading more mainstream parenting books that all claim to know the best way to raise a child. For example, I loved how she talked about the African women who think it sounds horribly cruel to leave a tiny baby alone to sleep in a dark, quiet room. I agree! Also, I’ve always thought of co-sleeping as a bit crunchy-granola, but she presents several arguments that suggest that human babies likely evolved to sleep with their parents. All in all, the book makes some interesting points if you’re willing to stick with it.

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  2. I found that the parenting methods that make the most biological and evolutionary sense according to her research are the ones I turn to intuitively for my baby. (We’re only a month in, but so happy so far!) I makes sense to wear baby, and sleep together, and feed him when he’s hungry.

    One major theme of the book seemed to be that we should be turning more to older generations for wisdom and advice rather than looking to experts to fill in the blanks for us. That seemed so sweet and “the way it should be” when I finished the book a month before my baby was born. Now, having heard repeated suggestions from my family, my husband’s family and random elderly people in stores at church etc, I realize that the older generations can be just as full of crap as the rest of us. Just because someone with great grandchildren thinks you should give babies bottles of water, spank them for crying too much after the first couple months, tape a coin over their belly button, give them a little bourbon, doesn’t mean it’s sound advice morally, biologically, or any other way.

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    Jenna Reply:

    Haha, so true. I remember my first big fight with my mom, over a pacifier. I was not interested, and I’m glad I held my ground, but it made me realize that being a mom doesn’t necessarily mean you know everything. Just that you know what you did, and what you liked best.

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  3. First off- Hi Jenna! I’ve been a mega-lurker but this book club idea totally brought me out of the woodwork! : ) I’m new to the blogging stuff so I will try to be more social from now on! PS, you rock!!

    Secondly, thank you SO much for recommending this book. I am so glad I read it! I’m not a mama, but have been married for a year, so parenting is sort of lingering there in the near future and I wanted to get a head start on some reading material. When I learned what complex little creatures newborns actually are, I was glad I started now!!!! : )

    I agree with Jenn that the beginning was a little academic-y and dry, but when it got started with the actual baby stuff I thought it was fascinating. I guess this is obvious when you think about it, but the main take-away that I’ll remember is how despite the creation of a bazillion cultures around the world, humans are biologically identical to our ancestors from a million years ago. Ergo, babies are the rawest form of that.

    Up until reading this I never really thought twice about sticking a baby in a swing, or stroller, or in a nursery. Now I definitely have a better perspective and am sold on baby closeness!

    The one thing I am still struggling with is the co-sleeping idea. Can any actual moms weigh in on this? I totally get the reasons behind it now, (aside from the convenience thing), but I STILL have this fear that I would roll over and smoosh the baby, push them off bed, or any number of other disaster scenarios. Help?

    Oh, also I have to say this book sort of freaked me out and planted the seeds for total mom guilt. If you have a baby that is fussy all the time, it’s apparently because they are unhappy with their “caretaking package”? Ha! Yikes!!

    Anyway, not sure how insightful this was. Sorry. Looking forward to the next assignment!! : )

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    Jenna Reply:

    Sarah,

    We didn’t really co-sleep the way she is suggesting, but I think that happened because I wasn’t breastfeeding. If I had been, I definitely would have had him next to me. In the beginning, you are only sleeping in 2 hour or less intervals anyway, so you’re not really ever going into a deep sleep, you know? And there is something that happens when you have a kid, you’re just so aware of them.

    I addressed the mom guilt thing below. Maybe it will help you too?

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    Katherine (a.k.a Sparkles) Reply:

    I haven’t read the book. Trying to!!!

    I am currently co-sleeping and still breastfeeding my 14 month old. Not sure what the book says but thought i would weight in on co-sleeping comment.

    1. I had no intention of co-sleeping prior to having a child and up to giving birth. Sheer exhaustion led me there.

    2. Like Jenna said- newborns sleep in 2-3 hour increments in the beginning. And breastfed babies have a tendency to have “cluster feeding” sessions where they just want to be cute adorabe little leehes sucking the milk outta ya for HOURS. (it certainly led me to new mommy shock). Look up askmoxie.org and search under cluster feeding or night nursing- read the comments from other exhausted mommas and you’ll see why some mommas just sway naturally into cosleeping/attachment parenting.

    3. After going to la leche league mtgs for some mommy breastfeeding support/peer support i learned that i wasnt the only one who coslept. And really- agreed with other mommas that naturally my baby just slept better with me. Every effort (cry it out efforts) to getting my baby in her crib utterly wrenched on my heartstrings my ears my exhaustion that the most tender thing i could do was just put her in bed with me. And like jenna said there is this insane awareness of your childs presence…. (see dr sears website on cosleeping& dr jay gordons website too). I never rolled over on her, i have never been too tired to wake for her cries. Cosleeping (&for ME) breastfeeding kinda got us into a matching biorhythm where we cycled sleep/wake in sinc at one point.

    4. Just to throw it out there- like anyone else. Its a personal choice and if it works for you great if it doesnt like jenna says there are more than one way to parent. But I adjusted how I thought i would parent to parenting for my childs needs. She cried from 10pm-2am RELIGOUSLY the first 4-6 monhs of her life. And with a husband who works night shifts/dayshifts… 80 hr work weeks i coslept for my own pure sanity. Nursing her down (breastfeeding her till she fell asleep on my boob) was the most gentelest way to get my baby to sleep. Other parents have told me they have done the same as well- which makes me feel like i am not the only one! And yes, it is so massively convenient to nurse her and not move her in bed! She turns and i nurse her she falls asleep after she is done and then, i go striaght back to sleep! No lifting her, no having to walk to and fro from rooms. She never fully wakes up to nurse never cries herself fully awake to nurse. It was heaven after all the initial months of figuring out ‘what can i do’? To decrease her nightly angst and survive the cluster feeding sessions.

    Just an aside…. After this experience… My new perspective is “if i dont sleep alone and feel decreased stress sleeping near my husband, how can i expect my newborn/infant/toddler to not feel that same sense of security by sleeping next to me?”

    When she is ready to sleep in her room great, i will be her cheeeader and be all for it. But in the meantime it works and i adjust my parenting to her psychsocial needs as she grows to be more independent. Other mommas who have coslept are guiding me in the transition times so i trying my best to ‘go with the flow’.

    But from strictly a breastfeeding/cosleeping stance. It was SUPER easy and convenient for me to nurse her at night with her near me- and i could totally tell she sleeps better in bed with us. And i got better sleep too because she never fully woke up crying (more) for nursing. Anything to decrease her crying i was all for!

    Hope that helps give you one moms perspective? Sorry for the wordiness.

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  4. I’m also going to join in as someone who walked away feeling like the book was a bit academic and dry, but I ended up liking it in the end for the way it made me feel about the parent I am and the choices I make.

    I actually had a response opposite of Sarah’s, I felt less mommy guilt after reading it and this is why I would recommend it to other mom’s. The book made me realize that most of what we think we know about parenting comes from ideas that probably don’t have a lot of study to back them up. They’re social constructs passed down from generation to generation. There are MORE WAYS THAN ONE to raise a child, and if you’re co-sleeping with your kid, there are entire nations where this is the norm and leaving them in a crib is seen as barbaric.

    I did struggle with the chapter on breastfeeding. Because I dealt with this personally, it was hard not to feel attacked, like I didn’t try hard enough and that my lack of success was all in my head. I just kind of skimmed the chapter and blamed everything on my breast reduction, which made me feel better.

    I would recommend this book to any woman who is feeling like she wants to do things a certain way, but everyone around her is telling her that is “wrong”. After you spend some time reading about the myriad of ways different cultures approach childcare, I think you’ll realize there isn’t really a right way to do it.

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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