When I learned I was pregnant, I was determined to do everything right. After reading every parenting guide I could get my hands on, I decided to follow Gary Ezzo's Babywise. Perhaps you've heard of it.

I loved the notion of a schedule. I wanted to know what to expect and how to plan accordingly. And I was determined that I would be in charge, not my child.

Are you snickering yet?

What a naive and impressionable young mom I was. I actually believed it was possible to have a baby and not be inconvenienced in the least.

From the moment my firstborn entered the world two weeks ahead of schedule, I was utterly enchanted. When we got home from the hospital, in spite of my mother's misgivings, I immediately implemented the trusty Babywise plan.

If you aren't familiar with the book, there are two basic concepts: The baby is on a 3-hour eat/wake/sleep cycle. And the baby should always be put to sleep awake to learn the skill of falling asleep on his own.

The 3-hour eat/wake/sleep cycle worked like a charm. My baby was a compliant little guy who fell into the schedule easily. But the put him down awake part? Not so much.

In a nutshell, he cried. He didn't usually cry for a long time -- maybe 10 to 30 minutes -- but letting my baby cry tortured this new mama's heart. According to the book, if I was consistent, he would soon learn to put himself to sleep with minimal crying. But this never happened for us.

Even though his crying tugged on my heartstrings and went against my maternal instincts, I quelled the inner voice that wondered if there was a better way. I told myself that I was teaching him the valuable skill of falling asleep on his own. I thought I was making life easier for him and myself.

Although I spent a lot of time holding and cherishing him, the memories of those cry it out sessions tend to overshadow the enjoyment of my baby.

When my firstborn was two years old, I discovered I was pregnant with another child. I couldn't bear the thought of listening to her cry it out. I was nervous about bucking the system, but I allowed my instincts to take over. I tried to do the 3-hour eat/wake/sleep routine without the cry it out part, and it worked pretty well. Eventually, I gave up on the eat/wake/sleep cycle altogether and started nursing my baby to sleep. I treasure those memories.

With my second-born, I did everything wrong by Babywise standards, but the more I followed my instincts, the happier we all were. I worried that I might be creating problems down the road, but as I discovered that there was no monster in the making, I learned to relax and enjoy the experience of having a baby. My husband also saw the merits of going with the flow, and he was a great support to me as we traveled the parenting road together.

By the time my third child came along, I had all but given up on the notion of doing it "right". I felt confident in my mother's intuition. I just did whatever came naturally and what worked best for my baby and our family. They say the third time's a charm, and it certainly holds true in my experience.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not bashing the Babywise* method of parenting, as I have several friends for whom Babywise worked beautifully. What I advocate is trusting those mommy instincts. Every baby and every family is different, and while One Size Fits All may work for gloves, it's a misnomer for parenting.

Whatever you do, enjoy your baby. Because one day in the not-too-distant future, you will wake up and find a sassy 8-year-old in his place. Trust me, I know. It happened to me.

*If you are considering the Babywise approach, it is important to be informed about the risks of scheduling a baby's feedings too strictly. A Google search is a good place to start.