There are many different ways to parent. There are some definite do’s and don’ts that go across the board on all philosophy’s. For example, DO shower your baby with love and affection, DO give your child a warm place to sleep and plenty of food to eat, and please, DO change their dirty diapers. DON’T leave your baby locked in the car alone, DON’T ask some random stranger if they would watch your child while you run a few errands, and DON’T throw your infant against the wall to get them to stop crying. These are some obvious things.
But what about all those things in between? Do you cloth diaper or use disposables? Do you use formula or breastfeed? Will you co-sleep or put your baby in another room right away? And what about bedtime routines, or napping? And if you’re a first time mom, you know everyone has their opinion, and their opinion is the right one.
When I was pregnant with Judah, I decided that I wanted to breastfeed him, use cloth diapers, and my baby was never, ever, sleeping in my bed. Well, I stuck to these decisions…most days.
I am still nursing Judah, but it’s definitely not as easy as I assumed. Honestly, I thought formula was strictly for the working mom and had no business being given to a baby of someone who could nurse. To all those formula feeding moms out there, I want to sincerely apologize for this naïve judgment.
I took a class about breastfeeding late in my pregnancy and was reassured of my decision to nurse when I heard the presenter describe all the benefits of breast milk, the bond it brings for you and baby, and how once you mastered a good latch, it’s painless. Yeah right. Nursing hurts, and not just on the first day. It hurts for a while, good latch or bad latch, it makes no difference. Sorry to be frank, but when you’ve got a baby sucking on your teat every 30 minutes, it gets a little uncomfortable. Yes, eventually you get used to it and the pain goes away, but sometimes, nursing is just plain inconvenient. I didn’t realize how demanding it is. When you hear that a newborn eats every hour to two hours, you think, okay, that’s not so bad. Correction…an infant eats every hour or two hours from the time they start eating, so you might get a half hour break in there if you’re lucky. Some days, nursing honestly just makes me feel like one giant boob. Plus, Judah is all boy. He wiggles and squirms, and doesn’t like to be covered up. This makes nursing in public a bit of a challenge. It makes me stressed and nervous, which makes him nervous and even more wiggly, which means, my business becomes everyone’s business. Some people don’t mind that, but I’m a bit self-conscious of this so, after lots of trial and error, Judah gets a bottle when we go out.
I have several friends who decided to nurse their babies as well, and were very distraught and self-conscious when their milk supply ran out and they had to start formula feeding their little ones. Truth be told, there were times when I was, and am jealous of this. Nursing is wonderful, but again, very demanding. It’s hard when you are your baby’s soul source of food. It makes going out almost impossible, and when you do get the chance, your time is extremely limited. There are certain foods you have to avoid, drinking a glass of wine must be timed appropriately, and those late night wake up calls, those are all on you. And when your baby is fussy, it’s just plain frustrating. I’m happy that I stuck it out with nursing, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I am counting down the days until Judah gets started on solids.
The second thing I sort of stuck with was cloth diapering. I use Fuzzibunz and really like them. They are easy to use, have awesome colors, and are a great fit. However, they are a lot of work in the laundry department. Some days, I just can’t keep up, so disposables it is. And, some days I just don’t feel like getting poop and pee on my hands when I take the liners out, so again, I opt for the disposables. And hey, it works, so I’m okay with that.
The other thing I was dead set against was letting my baby sleep in my bed. Ever. Well, he certainly doesn’t sleep there at night, but I can’t say we don’t enjoy a good snuggly nap together about five times a week. There are some decisions you make when you’re pregnant and have no idea how irresistible that sweet little sleeping baby can be.
The reason I bring these examples up is not to tell you what I do so you can compare it to what you do. In fact, the point is the exact opposite. Many times, I, as a mother, find myself comparing what I do to what other mothers are doing with their babes and I second guess myself. And chances are, the mom I’m judging myself against is doing that exact same thing with me. It’s silly really. Mammas out there, you know your baby better than anyone else. You know what works for you and your little one better than any techniques offered in some best selling parenting book. And, though other mothers love to offer their opinions, they don’t live with your baby 24/7. Each baby is different, they are little individuals and definitely don’t come with an operating manual. If you want to sleep every night in the same bed as your baby, and that works for you, that’s your call. If you want to formula feed, breastfeed, both – go for it! If you decide there’s no way you would ever put a cloth diaper on your baby, that’s wonderful!
This has been one of the hardest, but most important mothering lessons I’ve learned so far, and am still learning. Stop comparing, and just do what works. As long as you’re doing the best you can and you love that baby like nobody’s business, you’re doing just fine.