In the beginning I did not have faith in my parenting.
There, I’ve said it.
I mean, I guess I knew that I was capable of keeping her alive but I had absolutely zero confidence in the decisions I made as a mother.
I remember the night when she was about 5 days old and wouldn’t stop crying. It was 2:00 a.m. and I couldn’t get her to latch. I assumed she was hungry by her blood curdling screams and our inability to console her. I didn’t know what to do and finally at 2 a.m. in a haze of sleep deprivation and tears (both hers & mine) I ripped open the box for the Medela pump rinsed out the parts (I did not even think to sterilize), hooked myself up and desperately tried to get some milk. We fed her the 2 oz. I got from pumping straight out of the Medela bottle and she was happy.
It took me a long time to get over the thought that my moment of desperation and my quickness to give her that bottle of pumped milk is what set the stage for 4.5 months of struggling to breast feed.
But this isn’t a post about breastfeeding, this is a post about having faith in your ability to make the right decisions for your child. At that moment, although I didn’t see it at the time, I was a good mom. She was hungry and for whatever reason we could not get her to latch. But we did get her food and she did fall asleep.
Over the next few months there were many of those moments. I obsessed over how I got my child to sleep. You see, Madison slept in her carseat for the first 2.5 months of her life. It started off as innocent 3 a.m. drives and just bringing the carseat in once she fell asleep. Then we found out she had some pretty wicked reflux and she was so much more comfortable sleeping at the angle of the carseat.
We finally had to give up the carseat because of her pavlik harness and at that point, she spent the next 2 months sleeping in her swing. I was constantly obsessed with how I was probably screwing my daughter up. All of these people had kids that would nap and sleep in their crib and mine wasn’t. I worried that she’d never sleep in that beautiful & expensive crib that we HAD to have. I worried that I missed my opportunity to “teach” her how to sleep the right way.
And guess what? That child that I was SO worried about? Well, she slept through the night starting at 6 weeks. So yeah, criticize all you want that my child slept in her carseat because while you were up all night, mine was sleeping for at least 10 hours per night.
And now, she goes down in her crib wide awake and falls asleep…. for naps and at bedtime.
I say this not to throw anything in your face, but simply to illustrate that there are so many ways to do this parenting gig and I hate that there is so much pressure on us to conform to the “right way.”
In the battle of newborn vs. new parents, the newborn wins almost every time. Just when you think that tiny little baby could not possibly cry any more, they surprise you with another hour of shrieking screams. It is survival mode and parenting is an instinct. Sure, are there people out there that lack that parental instinct? Yes, there are lots of them. But for the sake of this post, let’s talk about the ones that have it.
These doubts that we all have don’t stop when our children start sleeping in their crib. In fact, they never end. They continue as we wonder why our child hasn’t rolled over yet when all of the other kids their age are rolling over. They keep going when you wonder why your child isn’t saying as many things as another child. You immediately wonder, what am I doing wrong?
Truthfully… the answer is probably nothing!
I’m here to tell you that I have stopped comparing my child… not because I had some divine experience that led me to blindly trust my parenting…. It is because I HAD to, and I am so thankful for that. Because of Madison’s hips she hasn’t hit most of the developmental milestones that other children her age have. She just rolled over for the first time at almost 9 months. She is finally starting to sit unassisted. She has virtually no strength to put weight on her legs and she won’t be crawling, pulling up or walking for a long time.
Life for us was different. I couldn’t put her in an excersaucer or Johnny Jump Up. I couldn’t let her sit on the floor and play with toys. I could prop her in the corner of the couch with lots of pillows or I could put her at the chair and table that I made for her. Those were my two choices.
We couldn’t start swim lessons or even go on trips to aimlessly walk around Target because she didn’t fit into anything.
And through all of this she has remained a happy and thriving little person. Being forced to watch her be such a little trooper has made me realize that I need to have some faith in the fact that I must be doing SOMETHING right.
So in the end if you were to come over my house you would find that I keep the TV on all day long (and yes, I catch her watching it). You would see that sometimes I am on the computer when she is lying next to me on the floor playing. Sometimes she doesn’t get all 3 solid meals per day because I’m busy. And sometimes when she does get them, they are not all healthy or organic. You would have seen that we let her “cry it out” at 4 months and we put her down to sleep without a set bedtime routine.
But you would also see a kid that learns something new every day, one that loves to be tickled and pet the doggies. A headstrong little girl who knows what she wants and knows exactly what she is doing. She is thriving and I like to take a LOT of the credit for that.
I am okay with all of these things and everything else about my style of parenting because it works for us. The proof is in the pudding…. or in this case, sweet potato pancakes.