I am a planner, perfectionist, Type A… you name it, and when it came to pregnancy/baby that was no different.
When I got pregnant, I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I followed all the rules about what to eat/ not eat, etc. I wanted to do everything exactly right. So after I had the pregnancy thing nailed (yeah right), I thought I should start studying up on what to do with this little baby once it was actually here.
I figured this would be a somewhat easy task. I mean people have been having babies for millennia, and we live in an age where information is so readily available and medicine is quite advanced. So I assumed people had this whole “raising a baby” thing figured out by now and all I had to do was read a few books and I’d be set.
I started out with recommendations from friends. The first book I read was Happiest Baby on the Block. I really liked it and what he said made sense. Of course it was focusing mostly on the first four months, so I moved on to another recommendation – Babywise. Much to my shock and confusion, not only did it have a different overall philosophy, but some of its points were completely opposite!
This wasn’t how I wanted this to go. I wanted a black and white plan to raising a baby. That way I could easily tell if I was doing it right. But then as I read more material, my eyes were opened to the fact that there are two totally opposite camps on baby rearing who both have professionals, doctors and many moms in their corner. So who was I to believe??
Well this just threw everything off, and I went through several months of constantly feeling like I was failing because at least one of the philosophies was telling me I was doing it wrong. (If I nursed my baby whenever she wanted to, that was wrong because I was spoiling her. If I put her on a schedule for feeding that was wrong because I was starving her, etc. etc.)
I went through a long period of constant anxiety, frustration and feelings of failure. So looking back I wanted to write down things I want to do differently the second time. Obviously I haven’t figured it all out and although we don’t plan to have three kids, if we did, I’m sure I could also write about what I would do different the third time. (I feel like I should note here- I am NOT pregnant.)
1. Listen To Your Gut!
I hate starting new jobs. I hate feeling overwhelmed and like I don’t know anything and the uncertainty of exactly what is expected of me. But that’s how I felt when I got the job of “mom.” I felt like everyone had to know more than me because they were either doctors who had studied it for years or moms who already had kids and lived through it.
But “back in the day” they didn’t have books or articles or, in some cases, even doctors. So how did moms and babies survive then? I believe God put in each mom an instinct for caring for her baby that can’t be replaced by anyone else.
I did not like my first pediatrician at all, but since I’d never had one before, I kept going to her because I thought maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. I knew something was wrong with Avery. She cried all.the.time. I mentioned this to the doctor and she would tell me that it was normal, she’d grow out of it, etc.
Well at 6 months, when I took Avery to a new pediatrician, she was finally diagnosed with reflux and given meds, and then at a year it was confirmed she was in fact lactose intolerant.
When I was nursing, the doctors told me I probably didn’t need to give up milk. And I thought maybe I was going crazy and just thinking she was more fussy after I ate dairy. Next time I’m just buying some soy milk even if there’s no reason for it and going from there. I don’t mind the taste and I’m not going through that again.
They also made me feel crazy for putting her on a hypoallergenic formula (alimentum) which was $30 for a small can (ugh). But now I know she needed it.
Next time if I suspect reflux, I am demanding meds. I believe if I would have done that from the beginning, she wouldn’t have stopped nursing and the first six months of her life wouldn’t have been the hardest six months of mine.
Which leads me to #2
2. If you feel like your pediatrician isn’t listening to you – switch…NOW! Don’t let them make you think you don’t know anything. You’re the mom. I’m so happy I finally switched, just wish I had done it sooner.
3. Choose your schedule (or no schedule) and don’t let anyone else make you feel bad for your choice.
I think/hope that moms don’t intentionally set out to make other moms feel bad for not following their “way.” I think that certain things just work really well for certain moms. I know moms who have loved the scheduling/Babywise way and moms who have loved attachment parenting.
I think when you have your first kid and you finally figure out what works for you, you’re so excited and want to share it and assume that it will also work wonders for everyone else’s baby too.
But that’s the problem – nothing works for every baby. I had several moms just tell me to do Babywise – it was the secret. I tried and tried and constantly felt like a failure. But it wasn’t because I was doing something wrong, it was because that didn’t work for us.
Anyway I would be a complete hypocrite here if I said one way was better than the other. My whole point is that it’s not. They are all fine, it’s just all about what works for you and your baby.
So don’t let others (or Internet articles) make you feel bad for the way you’ve chosen, and when it’s your turn to give advice, don’t do the same to others.
4. It gets better.
I remember the first two weeks and waking up every 3 hours to nurse her and feeling such despair because I thought it was always going to be like this. I will always be this exhausted. Then that stage ended.
Then she refused to nap and I thought it would never change. Then it did.
Then she was teething and constantly fussy and wanting my attention and waking up at all hours of the night. I didn’t think I could make it through, then it was over.
When you’re in each stage, it feels all-consuming and like it will always be this way. But remember the old saying – “this too shall pass.”
5. Don’t get caught up in the competition.
Some moms are just competitive and it carries over into child rearing. They think their kid is the next Einstein or Michael Jordan because he hit (insert whatever milestone here) early. Also many parents find their identity and worth in how well their kid performs.
Avery has hit all of her milestones late. Not so late that it was out of the “normal” range, but on the late end of that range. At first I worried and felt like I had to compete with other moms, but not only is that bad for me – it’s bad for Avery.
She is who she is and I NEVER want to make her feel “less than” because she’s not doing what all the other kids are doing. I want her to be confident in who she is and not feel that her worth is found in how she measures up to others. (Eventually I want her to understand that her worth is found in who she is in Christ, but we’ll get there.)
I hope they don’t mind me sharing this story, but a friend of mine’s brother was going to be tested for mental retardation at 2 years old because he hadn’t talked yet. Long story short, nothing was wrong with him and he is currently in grad school at an Ivy League University.
I don’t believe on any of my college entrance exams or in any job interview anyone ever asked me at what age I walked, learned my ABC’s, learned to count to 10 etc. … Because it doesn’t matter.
I know the competition thing will only get worse as she gets older and is in school and sports, but I hope to constantly remind myself to not get caught up in it.
Well I feel like I’ve written a novel, yet only have 5 things listed. I’m sure I could go on but this post is long enough as is. If I think of anymore to add, I’ll write a new post. Hopefully this will encourage someone.