Never say never

Okay, lets be honest. What do the majority of first-time pregnant Moms spend most of their time doing? Reading, right? Researching, in fact. Eating up every morsel of internet and book learning they can on how they are going to raise their little monkey(s). When you are pregnant, all of a sudden you start paying attention to every parent and child interaction you see. You ask every Mom how old her baby is and put them on the developmental scale in your head so you can try to imagine your baby at every stage. Hoping to gleam some kind of idea for just what you are in for, because you are, in truth, excited but terrified.

And in the process of this 8 month (give or take) binge of information, you find a little voice whispering into your ear, ‘I will never do that….’ It is quiet at first, but it grows louder with each book and web page you read. The bigger your belly gets the more convictions you have. But they all exist in the abstract, because you really have no freaking clue what you are talking about. (I can’t be the only one who said about 1 week in, “Wow, I had no idea this was this hard/much work/overwhelming/all-in-compassing.”)

But, at some point, most (if not all) Mom’s face a moment where the reality hits them and the ‘I will never do that’ wall begins to crack.

Side Note: I am not advocating throwing all your convictions out the door at the first sign of struggle. Nor that you should not engage in this pre-baby research-fest if you so choose. There are a lot of complicated decisions we make as parents and it is good to have some opinions going in, cause you won’t have time to discuss it over dinner with your partner/friends/family once baby arrives. What I am saying is that some convictions you hold more strongly then others, and those you hold less strongly… well, sometimes they go out the window. Usually, we feel at least some guilt over these decisions, but we shouldn’t. Being a Mom/Parent is hard and we need to give ourselves a breaks. We should also forgive ourselves, because 1) we are human and 2) those decisions were made before we had any freakin’ clue what we were talking about.

So I thought I would share with you just a few of our (husband and I are pretty good about deciding most things together) ‘nevers’ that went right out the window once reality struck. Don’t take this as advice that anyone else should follow suit on any one of these things– do what works for you. But for those of you that also have a path of shattered ‘nevers’ behind you- you are not alone!

I am willing to bet that for a good number of Mom’s the first moment of challenge to our pre-baby beliefs is labour. I was certainly in the camp of really wanting to have a 100%, no drugs, no interventions natural childbirth. This is a very popular stance to take. As my friend Cheryl said in her comments to one of my posts “Some Mom’s wear their non-epidural birth like a badge on their sleeve.” There are also lots of Mom’s who decide they want drugs or interventions- that’s fine too. No one likes the idea of being in pain and we all deal with it differently. But, there are lots of good reasons to strive for a natural birth. (Do you think I have sufficiently covered my butt so no one thinks I am judging…? Gee, you’d think I have had a lawyer look over this post.)

Luckily though, I had the good sense to say to my husband when we were taking our pre-natal class “Yes, I want a natural birth. But I also want all the information on my other options, because I don’t think it makes sense to rule out anything when faced with an experience I have never had before.” Good thing I had already given myself an ‘out’, because after 4 hours of sitting in a waiting room in labour, I was told I wasn’t far enough along to be admitted and I would need to go home. In retrospect, it was more the emotional anxiety of not feeling like a had any ‘medical’ support (I had support aplenty from husband and mother) then it was the pain. But at the time, when they said, ‘would you like a shot of morphine before we send you home?’ I said, in a small voice, ‘yes.’

Conviction: 0,  Never: 1

Not sure I would do that one again as the morphine made me pretty sick, but it worked to calm me down… so I am fine with it.

The next one, I am pretty sure, (although my memory is pretty fuzzy from about March to September of 2009) was the pacifier.  A tricky topic for most. Said to cause problems with breastfeeding, especially if introduced too early. Also accused of interfering with babies ability to learn to self-sooth and for babies getting too attached to. There is also the reality that if they can’t sleep without it guess who has to be the one to keep picking it up and sticking it back in their mouth when they spit it our or throw it out of the crib? (hint: it starts with a ‘Y’ and ends with a ‘ou’.)

I can’t remember what was our exact reason for why we vowed to not give the monkey a pacifier. It was probably breastfeeding, but at the point we caved and gave her a soother breastfeeding had already gone very very off course. I am pretty sure it was later then the recommended 8 weeks, but I really don’t remember.

What I do remember is the darn thing works. Sure, we still have our limits we try to stick to, I guess to avoid her getting too addicted. Her soother is for bed, or when she hurts herself and is really upset, or if she is in the car and freaking out, or if she is teething really bad. It’s flexible, but we try to keep it away for most of the day. It works. Especially for falling asleep.

Well we are on the topic of pacifiers, I should also tell you that I was in a store one day with monkey happily in the front carrier.. when I spotted a small stuffed animal with a pacifier on the back of its head. And I said, outloud, “Who needs a stuffed animal with a soother on its head??” To which the sales lady said, “Well, a lot of Mom’s love them because it is easier for baby to hold and harder to throw it across the room.” And then I thought…. “I need a stuffed toy with a pacifier stuck to its head.” Now, the little monkey, has two. One with the pacifier now removed and an other stuffed animal with a loop to attach a soother to. She sleeps with both. For every nap and every bedtime.

When she transitioned from that really newborn stage where you just put them down and they fall asleep, into that stage where the moment you put them down they wake up screaming, the next ‘never’ took a hit. Rocking to sleep. Debate is fierce in ‘how to get your baby to sleep realm.’ As I have mentioned in a previous post, I read that book with the lady who claims she can whisper to babies BEFORE my daughter was born. And at the time, it seemed like a good idea. If you don’t start rocking they can’t get so attached that you will be doing it when they are 2 right? What she failed to mention is that IT WORKS. So we did it until…..

Right around 4 months old she started resisting our tried and true rock to sleep method. She would scream, arch her back and refuse to let us rock her. Perplexed and unable to come up with anything ‘soothing’ to help her go to sleep, we crossed the next ‘never’ off our list.

Cry-it-out. Strikes fear in the hearts of many a parent. The idea of letting your baby cry until they fall asleep is none to appealing. But I stand by the fact that it works for some babies. (see my post on Sleep for more about what types of babies I believe it is does and does not work for) It worked for our baby. It really wasn’t that bad. Most of her crying was more like whining. And when knew when she reached a certain panicky tone that she wasn’t going to sleep and there was something she needed. Then she got an other bottle, or a new diaper or a nice cuddle. But still not something that any sleep deprived parent should attempt without a glass of wine in their hand.

I have already said enough about our breastfeeding struggles and the eventual switch to formula. It was certainly on the ‘never’ list.

Oh, and we also have the swing/bouncer. Before the girl was born, we talked about how we didn’t want to fall into the trap of too much stuff. Partial because we were living in a small apartment at the time, and partially because we felt it was a bit over the top. It was an environmental, less consumer culture, less overwhelming domination of our life kinda thing. We also felt it would be no big deal for us to always swing or bounce her. We turned down offers for jolly jumpers, swings and bouncers left, right and centre.

But at about the point where monkey was being rocked to sleep at night, but I couldn’t get her to sleep during the day, we gave in. Why? Because I was spending a good 12 hours a day with a baby in a sling or front carrier, trying to get the baby to sleep. I love being close to my baby, but my back was killing me. I needed, for my sanity, to be able to put the monkey in something that would allow me to get at least 2 feet distance once in a while. I needed to reduce baby wearing to under 8 hours, or I would have gone off the deep end. So we took up an offer on a swing. She hated it. It didn’t put her to sleep. She would not be fooled- she could tell the difference between real Momma movement and fake ‘powered by battery’ movement. Guess which she preferred?

When she was a little older and we realized how much she liked to be upright and in motion, we borrowed a bouncer from a friend. She LOVES it. A little less now that she has caught on that it is our only way to keep her in one place while we go into the kitchen to make lunch.

We also gave in on the ‘baby jail’ AKA playpen. There are times you just want to use the washroom ALONE. The playpen comes in handy.

Lastly, and most recently, we gave in on the ‘cheesy plastic toys.’ We are not huge fans of how much plastic there is in our lives. We prefer more environmentally friendly material like cloth or wooden, especially if our baby is going to be chewing on it for the better part of 2 years. But recently, we pulled out a Fisher Price play house with little people from when I was a kid (so the thing is about 27 years old) and she LOVES IT way more then all her ‘eco-friendly’ toys. We also got a Fisher Price car, with annoying sounds and lights. Oh how we hate it. But she loves it. And a happy baby makes for a happy Momma. So I am going to be less judgmental of those plastic toys. We will try to buy them used, so at least they are 1 of the 3 ‘R’s.

And just in case your wondering what my prediction for next to be crossed off the ‘never’ list? Baby leash. Yeah, I really dislike the idea of putting my child on a leash. But, you can ask anyone who has seen our daughter and they can attest that she moves more then you think is possible. She is on the brink of walking and I am scared. She is going to be able to get across that supermarket faster then you can say boo. And I am going to need some way of not losing her in 2.3 seconds. Don’t tell my husband though, he still hates the idea.

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4 responses to “Never say never

  1. Perpetua February 10, 2010 at 6:32 am

    Your nevers and mine are so similar! But a lot of our “giving in” had to do with realizing that suffering mama and suffering baby is far too much suffering when something simple, like a pacifier, will actually kill the suffering in two seconds flat.

    And as for the leash…I remember being a clueless teenager and seeing leashed kids. At the time I thought, “Why can’t they just control him?” blah blah blah. Clearly I had never spent any time with a one-year-old. I fully intend to leash when we’re anywhere near danger (i.e. walking down a busy street), or else I’m going to spend all my time in a panic over possible disasters.

    • amoment2think February 10, 2010 at 7:41 am

      I agree, it is totally about minimizing suffering. Happy Baby= Happy Momma.

      I also think, for some of my ‘nevers’ it was a process of figuring out what my parenting philosophy really was and realizing that you can’t believe everything you read. Before she was born I think I had a conception of trying to do everything ‘perfectly,’ where as once I had my daughter and push came to shove I discovered that being easy-going, flexible and focusing on what works is a better way to go. Far less stressful!

  2. Accidents February 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    You covered so much here! I want to respond to everything, but I’ll just say we gave up our convictions against the consumery-baby-stuff really early. Hank was so demanding as a newborn (yes I know that’s what newborns are, but he never slept, like, ever) I would have purchased ANYTHING that would give me five minutes without him in my arms attached to my boob. We ended up buying/acquiring a bunch of things that are now just gathering dust in our basement and began gathering that dust nearly immediately because H hated all contraptions (at least we’ve managed to find homes for a lot of things like the swing and bouncer). He even hated being worn, and we had like five different kinds of slings/carriers/etc. Sigh.

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