Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Let the Debates Begin!

During pregnancy, women are bombarded with advice, much of it conflicting. I was told by several women (who  ironically smoke, by the way) that coffee was terrible for the baby... [it's decaf, b*tches... I'd be in a much better mood if it wasn't, thank you.].  I was told outdated fitness information by a personal trainer about how intense my workout should be, I was told to Eat This,  Not That, and it wasn't by David Zinczenko... I heard about supplements to take, supplements to avoid, you name it. I was also told that I'd need an epidural, that a midwife wouldn't provide me the best care, that being out of a hospital was dangerous- I heard it all.

In having conversations about terrible unsolicited advice, I was told, "just wait until you're a parent, it gets worse."  It does.

We did our research on vaccines, breastfeeding, pacifiers, cosleeping, attachment parenting, baby wearing, all sorts of parent-values that we were sure we had mapped out. I had successfully blocked out anyone who had opinions that conflicted with our strong values, and welcomed feedback on those things for which I did not feel I had enough understanding or knowledge... I was ready to be a parent!

...and then Addison arrived.
...and then Addison cried, and cried and cried, and my books say no pacifiers until 6 weeks.
...and my nipples got sore, and my books say no pumping for 6 weeks.
...and then our pediatrician said "pacifiers are fine!" and told us at 3 weeks that she should be introduced to a bottle before she refuses it.
...and then my LLL leader told me that's not crucial
...and then I thought about how I'd LOVE a short outing to myself but I can't leave her until I'm pumping and she's accepting a bottle.
...and then I worried about messing up my supply in week 3 because this book and that book said 6 weeks.
...and then my head was officially spinning.

Who to listen to? Who to ignore? Who to trust? Who's talking out of their... pacifier?

I have a degree in family studies, another one in psychology, another one in counseling. Addison doesn't need therapy and doesn't care about Erik Erikson or Maslow. She wants... mommy milk, all the time. We have a small library in our sunroom with a wall of bookshelves; my shelves are full of human development texts and parenting books... I went from a certified family life educator and parent education expert to an overtired, flustered, lost mommy, desperately reaching out to anyone who wants to give me a correct answer. I stare at my library wondering "where is the magic answer?! who wrote that article about that thing that makes the kid stop doing the thing with the stuff?" I fold. I surrender. I got nothin'.

and so, we're back where we started... who to listen to? what is the right answer?


  1. Aah the ultimate dilemma! In the end you have to go with what you think is best, and hope that it's right. And down the line you'll find out if it was or wasn't, or didn't matter at all. And if it was then great, and if it wasn't you apologise, and live with it because life is full of compromises and the best you can do is the best with the knowledge and resources you have. Welcome to parenting, it's a tough but wonderful world, and we've certainly made our fair share of mistakes. Kids are surprisingly forgiving though, xxx

  2. Sounds like you are being a bit of a perfectionist at the mommy thing :) I know it's something I will struggle greatly with if/when I encounter motherhood. I think very few health decisions (physical, mental, emotional, etc.) are black and white. I know I've been more physically health conscious the past few years, and there is so much information out there, a lot of it contradictory. I've been more aware of how different foods make my body feel, and so I go with what makes me feel best and don't stress about the perfect diet as long as I feel good, have energy, and am comfortable with my body. I think its a similar thing with motherhood, that there is so much advice and information out there, and the only thing you can do is try to make informed decisions that seem best in the present moment for her and your family. I think if you go with your gut and make decisions based what seems right at present for Addison and yourself (you deserve some TLC) too, she will be fine no matter what you decide (because you aren't going to make "bad" decisions whatever you choose to do being the kind of person and mom you are), and you will be much less anxiety-ridden and more comfortable. Re-adopt the motto of counseling: "It depends."

  3. You follow your gut. You won't screw her up. You can try anything you want to see if it works for you. Books are written to give people advice, the advice doesn't always work or apply. No dfferent than the people who were telling you things. You'll find your way. And you won't need a book. You'll find it because you're a mother. Have faith in yourself.

  4. My dear! No two babies are alike. Period. So, do what works for you and Addison. Of course, that means you actually have to figure out what does--in fact--work, which is the hard part. If you don't do it exactly like the books say, Addison will be OK! Don't guilt trip yourself. Period. I'll tell you what someone told me when Seraph was smaller (and I wish I had taken their advice sooner rather than later): don't sweat the small stuff. Rather, ENJOY your baby while she's a baby. Because all too soon you won't have these issues to worry over, and you'll wonder where all the precious time went.

  5. I agree with everyone and each has shared a great point! We were and for the most part still are, in the same boat as you. We don't know what we're doing! LOL!
    Being a first time parent is HARD....really hard. We've read, researched, asked Dr.s, family, friends, you name it. It's a never ending battle of trial and error. We try, try, try until something fits. Of course with disgretion, because not everything we've been told meshes with our views and beliefs. Eventually you find what works, and most of the time your intuition is spot-on.
    You're doing a great job! Keep up the good work!