Sunday, September 18, 2011

On Being a New Parent

One of the toughest parts of being a new mom besides just the normal adjustments is the input you get from others. Some of it is welcome but not all of it. If you think religion or politics is divisive, try talking about issues like breastfeeding or getting your baby to sleep through the night!

To avoid hurting anyone's feelings I'm not going to go into detail about specific things people have said that makes me crazy. I'm working on getting some of it out of my mind. Also, I know that I'm more emotional, protective and tired than my usual self, so I can take things harder than I usually would.

There's rarely something so personal yet so public as having a baby. As soon as you start to show, people start to comment on how much weight you gained or didn't gain. They comment on your baby bump (I actually liked this attention and strange enough, it never bothered me when people touched my stomach). Then when the baby comes there are comments about your recovery, the baby's size and appearance, etc. I like connecting with other parents and talking about these things that are on my mind. It's just tough to draw the line. 

My mom likes to point out how much advice about having babies changes over time (she had 6 kids). These include things like the timing of introducing solid foods, if you put baby on her back or stomach to sleep and what products to use. Then there are the issues of how many kids to have/spacing/age of mom, if/when to return to work and other sometimes loaded topics.

What is apparent is that each baby is different. If I'd only had Bjorn I'd think breastfeeding is pretty easy. I even questioned why they had or you would need a lactation consultant. Now with Alexis I'm facing issues I didn't have with him. I want advice but I'm afraid of getting innundated with opinions when all I need is practical advice and support. For example, I'm scared to call Le Leche league because I'm afraid of getting judged for my style (I carry my baby in a sling sometimes, bottle and breastfeed and do not believe in cosleeping at all).

I don't remember sobbing over this with Bjorn, but I have with Alexis. I can see how these issues cut at your self worth sometimes, wondering why you can't solve the problems easily. It's tough when others make it sound easy. Compared to a lot of moms this is going well, but I get frustrated.

With Bjorn I was a Babywise mom and I'm thinking of starting it with Alexis. It's tough on me because I'm bad with routine, but I'm motivated by the end result which is a good sleeper. I'm a terrible mom when chronically exhausted.

I like how Babywise emphasizes the importance of a strong marriage as a secure foundation for kids. I didn't have that with my first marriage and it was hugely stressful. He still thinks I'm a bad mom (I'm not fond of him as a dad but try to focus on the positive as much as possible). One important role of a dad is to screen other people's well-intentioned comments and criticism of his wife. In other words, stand up for her and protect her during this time.

Stephen is a great new dad but most importantly, a great husband. Alexis will learn by watching him and how he treats me. It will set the stage for the type of men she will be attracted to some day.

I remind myself that no matter what I do my child will probably grow up and be fine. I don't believe any "mistakes" my parents made still affect me as an adult. If they do it's now my responsibility to address them (forgive, etc). There's really no way to avoid some damages, it's all part of life.

The pregnancy and newborn/baby phase doesn't last forever. Some day we'll be carting Alexis off to dance and preschool. I really cherish this time despite the intense emotions it brings or the unwelcome opinions. I feel it a pleasure to serve Alexis. I'm so bonded that I'm in tears if I leave her. In the meantime we're doing what most parents of a newborn are doing - our best.

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