When I was pregnant with my first baby I thought I was totally prepared for parenthood. After all, I read all the books, took all the classes and made up my mind about how it would all go down, from feeding to college. Then, nothing went as planned and I found myself exhausted, overwhelmed and often out-manned while trying to make what
seemed like the most important decisions I’d ever made. I was often going against either the medical personnel or the lactation consultants, depending on which shift was on duty at that time of day.
When the nurses wanted to give my jaundiced baby formula or even water from a bottle, I practiced all the empowered statements I was taught. I asked to nurse her more. I asked for more time. Finally, I asked that they use a dropper and not a bottle.
Honestly, I’m not sure that they honored any of my requests because they took her from the room and brought her back swaddled, clean and sleeping. Quite frankly, that was all I cared about at that moment.
What I learned over the coming weeks was that it shouldn’t matter what people think or even what I thought before the baby was born. What I learned was that the best thing for us was going to look only like the best thing for us. It may not look like it did in other people’s nurseries or on the playground or in the coffee shop. My husband and I, and often our baby had to be the only people in on the decision. We sought counsel from doctors and other “experts”, we for sure asked friends and our parents chimed in accordingly, but at the end of the day, we were all that counted.
That’s what I hope new parents learn sooner than we did. When it comes to caring for your baby, if you have armed yourself with all the information, then you will know what’s best. Yes, you will be judged. It’s a sad fact that no matter what you decide about nursing or formula, cloth diapers, nanny or daycare, someone out there is going to think you’re wrong and they will not hesitate to tell you or stare at you or whisper when you walk away. I’m sorry for that fact.
What I’ve done and what you should too (the only advice I’ll ever give) is seek out and surround myself with supporters. I’m not necessarily in a circle of like-minded people, but I am held up by a group of moms and dads that have one thing in common, their overarching opinion that we’re all just doing the best we can to raise kind, honest people and however that looks is fine by the rest of us. We don’t compare or judge. We support and honor eachother as hard-working parents. And that is the best parenting idea I’ve ever had-build a great village.
I am lucky, but it’s not impossible to find these people in your own life too. We’re mostly good. We’re mostly fine, and we’re in a playground near you.
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.