My firstborn baby was spirited, to put it mildly. Nursing at least every two hours around the clock (or every 45 minutes), PASSIONATE about expressing his opinion, not needing much sleep, wanting constant touch. As a new parent hearing so many different ideas about how to parent I was drowning in uncertainty - let him cry it out, people said. Start him on solids at 4 months, the breast isn't enough. He should NEVER sleep in your bed, he'll be there until he's 10. But so much of it just felt wrong to me, and I was torn between listening to the loud voices around me and trusting my instinct that said this little boy needed more from me than any parenting tips I was hearing.
Then my big sister gave me a copy of The Fussy Baby Book. I admit the title bothered me, though it certainly fit the situation. 🙂 Then I started reading - and reading, and reading, because THIS WAS MY CHILD! But instead of saying I should discipline him or stop nursing him or let him cry it out this book was saying WEAR your baby, keep him close, nurse him when he needs it, co-sleep if that helps you feel better rested (it did!) Unlike many of the other parenting books, this wasn't being written by a doctor with maybe one or two kids - this was being written by a doctor and nurse BUT they were parents to eight kids (including some spirited kids) and that gives them WAY more credibility in my book. They had lived the exhaustion, they knew my pain! They also knew that babies need respect, deserve compassion, and keeping them close helps them feel safe and comfortable in the world so that then they WANT to go explore!
And for the record, that co-sleeping, high needs baby is now 12 years old and he hasn't slept in our bed for over a decade. 🙂 He left our bed when he (and we) were ready.
All that to say - these books changed my life. I truly thought my firstborn was going to be an only child because I thought I was a failure. I thought I was going to ruin my child, and I had no confidence in myself because what I felt was right (nursing, co-sleeping, baby wearing) I was being criticized for... their book helped me have the confidence to trust myself. That changed everything.
So then I had more babies! And as you probably know, baby #3 decided to come just a wee bit early (17 weeks early) and parenting a preemie was NOT the same as parenting a full term baby! But look - The Premature Baby Book. It should be given out to everyone parent with a preemie. Every. Single. One.
So a few more years down the road the kids got bigger and there were more of them and they were developing even stronger opinions but Sears' books to the rescue - The Discipline Book, but unlike any you have ever read. This is about helping your children learn discipline, not punishing your kids. And I know my oldest is only 12 so I can't tell you any long term results - but I am complimented on my well mannered, sweet, good conversationalist kid. He's a delight, and I know that treating him with respect has helped him show others respect - thus minimizing the need for any punishment. Discipline comes from within, and this book helped me help him learn that. (We're still working on the three and five year olds - give us time.) 🙂
We had some feeding issues as our preemie got older (in part because of his long intubation time) and our fifth baby had some severe food allergies - never fear, they've got a book for that! The Nutrition Book.
As a birth doula & childbirth educator I loan out their books to clients constantly. My husband says chapter 8 of this book should be required reading for all expectant parents - The Birth Book. I have multiple copies because I use it when teaching my childbirth class. READ IT if you are having a baby!! (I re-read it with babies 5 & 6 because it's that good.)
I couldn't ask them to sign my (three) copies of The Breastfeeding Book because I loan them all out to clients! It's my most requested breastfeeding book from my lending library.
SO, all that to say - meeting Martha & Bill Sears was the chance of a lifetime. It was wonderful to talk with her about my children, her children and grandchildren, our home birth experiences, how she's shaped my parenting journey, my preemie & his story, and then I realized there was a line of people waiting to talk with her so I stopped talking. 🙂 But I had mentioned charting (which is how we were positive about our conception dates with our preemie) and she approached Mary and me to ask us about the method we used and when I told her about the book I read (Taking Charge of Your Fertility) she had me email her the link.
I EMAILED MARTHA SEARS!!
Y'all, she is as delightful and wise in person as she is in her books. I will never forget the experience!
(Update - Martha emailed me back! Most of us in attendance at the conference this weekend were laughing at ourselves for being such fans that we were asking for photos and autographs - but these speakers really are heroic.)