I should’ve known when I left my 5 page laminated birth plan sitting on the counter in the rush to get to the hospital that my excessive pre-planning for what I expected to do as a mother went out the door. I planned, typed, laminated, and prepped Jamari with this far fetched birth plan that included; no medication (HA!), meditation music, positive low voice mantras, warm showers and essential oils. We rolled into the hospital parking lot with me grasping the edge of the seat, demanding the medication in the parking lot, in a growl I didn’t know my voice was capable of. Needless to say, I learned quickly to be flexible with expectations.
Breast is best, right? *eye roll* Mom and baby being healthy is best. Sure, it’s super fantastic, beneficial, and you deserve some kind of medal if you can breastfeed your child but…it is not for everyone and that is fine. Nothing gets me more riled up than judgement from other moms, but that is for another post. I was determined to breastfeed Audrey because all the research led me to believe that my child would fail to thrive without me doing so. I struggled in the hospital, I had multiple lactation consultant visits, hired a private lactation consultant to do home visits, had Audrey’s lip-tie reversed, and would “latch” for 16 plus hours a day. I was miserable because Audrey was miserable. I developed painful thrush and mastitis, my diet was causing issues as Audrey is lactose sensitive and she’d scream for hours on end, and PPD and breastfeeding were a difficult mix. Reluctantly I tried formula, and she no longer screamed in agony. I felt like a failure until Jamari was able to let me sleep through a feeding and he could feed her. #formulaisamazing. My point is it doesn’t matter if you formula feed, breast feed, pump, or receive milk donations, if baby is fed and healthy and mama is healthy that is all that matter.
I was so positive that I wasn’t going to give Audrey a pacifier I didn’t purchase one before she was born and refused them in the hospital. Why would I put a plastic, artificial nipple in her mouth? I was going to breastfeed on demand! When she was demanding to feed for hours and hours at a time and I was emotionally and physically drained I caved and gave a pacifier. I was not going to think about trying to wean her off when she was a toddler during those moments. Sure, she is addicted to it now but I don’t really care. In parenting, you cross one bridge at a time and pacifiers aren’t a battle I am ready to conquer yet.
No Screen Time
“Parents who hand their kids electronics are so lazy”- Pre-Parent Maureen.
“Audrey, do you want to watch Baby Einstein?” Post Audrey Maureen.
While I still believe that children shouldn’t stare at screens all day there is a time and place for all things. When Jamari was working overseas and it was just Audrey and I, it became survival mode and I learned that I could get one chore done if I turned on a nursery rhyme show for her. Before Audrey, our TV was always on in our house and that hasn’t change because of her arrival. Most of the time she doesn’t even look at it and she is pretty convinced that the iPad is only for video chatting and her Baby Einstein show. She doesn’t play games yet or ask to use the iPad, but honestly if she did, I wouldn’t feel a need to defend that. In 2018 things are different, screens are how children learn in schools. While I am adamant about reading to Audrey daily and have over 50 books in her growing mini library, I do believe that screen time is beneficial with limits. So, my pre-parent self where I would totally eye roll a mom in Panera allowing her kid to watch a show on her phone…I am sorry, you eat that panini in peace sweetie.
I tried. Then, I realized it was completely ridiculous to think I could ninja jump across the room to intercept snacks that she may receive at birthday parties, church nursery, and everyday life. When I was pregnant with Audrey, I was such a nut-case that I cringed at clothing that wasn’t organic cotton, because no child has ever survived not wearing pure organic cotton pajamas, amIright? I didn’t want plastic toys, only wooden. No silicone teethers, only wooden. Organic foods, organic bedding, organic diapers, organic lotions and washes. (Thanks for putting up with me and not laughing in my face, friends.) I quickly realized I would have no friends and neither would Audrey if I kept up this craziness. Also, It isn’t realistic when living in a real world. While I am still a bit of a loon when it comes to her mattress being organic (I have no reasoning other than it sounds better), she wears organic diapers,T and uses organic soap, I have loosened up greatly about everything else. While I try to limit her exposure to chemicals and keep her world as natural as possible, I wasn’t completely committed to an organic lifestyle before her so it’s a bit difficult for me to make that commitment now.
Baby Led Schedule
I read many articles while pregnant that baby led schedules are more healthy for development than rigid time line schedules. It allows you to take cues from your child on what they need, whether that be eating, sleeping, or cuddles. I have a lot of friends that use this method and it is super successful and their children thrive. Mine, did not. Audrey has a strong personality and has from the moment she was born. She needs structure…WE need structure with her. My life was a chaotic and emotional mess when I was trying to understand cues while dealing with PPD. That is where my schedule came into effect. I received advice from a seasoned dad in the early days with Audrey who told me, “children depend on consistency.” Those words rattled in my head day after day when I was trying to interpret what she wanted/needed and changing her routine each day. Once I implemented a strict schedule, our days became easier because we both knew what to expect.
I was going to be involved in errthang mommy related! Mommy and me yoga, stroller strides (HA! That’s working out), Moms Club, coffee clubs; sign me up! Nope. No, thank you! I do not have the personality for that. In fact, I was “uninvited” to a Moms Club because they felt I wasn’t a good fit after having a disagreement at the meeting when I was told that I was feeding my baby poison by giving her formula. Their loss, because I make awesome pre-made Trader Joe’s cinnamon buns I planned to bring to the next meeting. I did find happiness within Gymboree and have a great group of mamas from there that I am grateful for, but as for the anticipated signing up for all things mom related, it didn’t happen. I am not sure if it is the California culture or if it is too many ‘pre-parent Maureen’ moms that join these kind of groups, but it isn’t for me. If I can find a Moms Club that condones allowing their children to play freely on the playground, while our hair is a mess, and talk about crime shows then I am willing to be the president; until then, I will continue to hang out with my small circle of normal mamas I have found here, where I am accepted for never wearing makeup, having my hair done, or wearing real clothes( totally a pariah in So. Cal.). They understand my love for Starbucks and Audrey’s love for Chik-Fil-A fries, and we encourage wine drinking with outings with the local wineries.
What I want to really focus on is every parenting technique is individual, there is no manual to raising little humans, and it is truly trial and error. What works for one family, may not work for another and that is totally fine. Pre-parenting Maureen was so judgmental of other parents. I would make snide comments about other people’s way of doing things and have conversations with myself saying, “I would never…”. It all changes when you become a parent. What I have learned in 14 short months is that you have no idea what is happening in someone else’s world. That Mom who is letting her child play with her phone while she sips on a latte, that might be all that is holding her together in that moment. That 5 minutes of serenity might be allowing her to regroup herself. That mom who is bottle feeding, might have tried for hours on end and suffered multiple infections attempting to feed her baby, then cried endlessly when it all failed and she doesn’t need any judgement. Pre-parenting Maureen had all the answers and absolutely no experience. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world and the best advice I can give now is be flexible. Instead of judging I now smile at parents like a comradery, we are all in this together.