This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.
This post will probably summarize many of my struggles withing the last 6 months. It is a post written for Hobo Momma at Natral Parents network Carnival of Natrual Parenting. For those IF folks that still follow my blog, it would be similar to Mel's ICLW.
As a mother who struggled with loss and infertility, I can honestly say parenting and what type of parents my husband and I would become, wasn't on my radar. When we decided we were ready and willing to try to get pregnant, we were caught up in the 'fun' and 'excitement' of trying. We wanted a baby. A snuggly baby to hold and to nurse. We knew that we would breast feed (or I would breast feed) and we would practice gentle discipline - we don't hit our dogs...we definitely wouldn't spank our children. However, how parenting would look and the work involved wasn't something we really thought of. As months passed with no positive pregnancy test, the fun and excitement turned to worry. We (correction I) was starting to become concerned about our lack of success and with spotting for days before Aunt Flow's arrival and Dr. Google, I realized we may be dealing with more than bad timing. I requested an appointment with a specialist and we started the road of testing. However, a year after trying, just after our consultation meeting we were blessed with our first BFP! This excitement was met with reservation as I was terrified of loosing the baby. This fear must have been mother's intuition as we found out at our 12 week ultrasound that the fetus had died at 9 weeks. Devastated we took a few months off from trying and when we were going to resume testing, we found out we were pregnant again. Only this time, the fetus didn't even form. At 6 weeks we were diagnosed with a blighted ovum and once again had to deal with the reality of loosing another baby.
When we conceived our now daughter, I was cautiously optimistic. Our fertility testing showed I was having premature ovarian failure and my egg quality was low. However, with a diet change and new supplements (didn't need to take fertility drugs) we were able to conceive on our own and at 9 weeks had a very positive ultrasound. Our pregnancy was uneventful - but I was watched like a hawk and had to go through monthly ultrasounds. During the 41 weeks I was pregnant, I was scared and anxious every step of the way. We did the things normal couples do, paint the nursery, buy furniture register for the shower - but the entire time I was jaded. I just couldn't let myself believe that this was happening. I was so focused on the pregnancy, my hubby and I didn't really take time to think about what being a parent was all about.
There were a few things that we had thought would happen that showed how naive we were. We bought a crib and an organic crib mattress thinking our baby would be spending most of his or her days in there. We had a play-pen set-up downstairs so when we were downstairs he/she would nap in the play-pen. We had a bassinet for our room and a nursing chair. I knew beast feeding was the only option for us, and we had been gifted a set of cloth diapers as we wanted to cloth diaper. Going into parenthood, we had discussed CIO - and I wasn't going to let my baby cry...but I didn't really think what the alternate would be. I was niave. I thought I would nurse my baby to sleep and she would lay down and sleep blissfully for 4 hour blocks.
I wasn't anticipating the following:
- a baby born with a spontaneous pneumothorax where we were not allowed to hold our daughter for the first 12 hours of her life and had to watch her be stabilized and go through torture in getting there
- low milk supply and needing to take medication to get a decent supply to feed my baby
- a baby with slow weight gain that made my anxieties for feeding her through the roof
- a baby who would (and almost 7 months later) LOVE to pacify / comfort nurse around the clock. At the beginning I took this behaviour or her always being hungry...
- a baby who wouldn't fall asleep nursing after 4 weeks of age. She ended up (and continues) to ONLY sleep during the day if worn in the ergo and gently bounced on an exercise ball.
- a baby who would stop sleeping large chunks at night at 4 months of age and we would resort to co-sleeping and all night nursing so that I would get any sleep.
As a first time mom, I was convinced I was screwing things up. I thought for sure I was setting my daughter up for bad habits. I cried. I was depressed. I was incredibly anxious. I started thinking we needed to sleep train her and let her cry so that she would break herself of these habits. However, the more I thought about letting her cry, the more anxious I would become. It wasn't until I started meeting other like minded moms, I realized that my baby wasn't broken - she was normal. I read the Dr Sears High Needs baby article and realized my daughter fit this description. I attended La Leche League meetings and got support and realized that CIO can lead to more problems down the road - especially for a daughter like I had.
Its funny how a few key elements shape how you parent. For us, breast feeding really paved the way to a more natural parenting road. I fundamentally believe in breast feeding and even though things started out rough, by keeping with it and understanding what mothering through breast feeding means, I became more of an advocate for other means of parenting. We will not allow our daughter to CIO. We are huge advocates for bed sharing (if you do it safely) and swear by baby-wearing. Now at 7 months, we are much more confident and comfortable in our parenting choices than we were even 2 months ago. Through living and learning and meeting our daughter's needs, she is showing us how to become parents and has forced us to throw all expectations out the window. We have lost friendships and have become distant to certain family members who do not share our same views. That's okay - we believe in what we are doing.
Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (posts will be live and updated no later than afternoon on June 11):
- My little gastronomes — "I'll never cook a separate meal for my children," Maud at Awfully Chipper vowed before she had children; but things didn't turn out quite as she'd imagined.
- Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don't. — Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy was able to settle in her parenting choices before her children arrived, but that doesn't mean she always lives up to them.
- Judgments Made Before Motherhood — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks back on her views of parents she came in contact with before she became a mother and how much her worldview of parenting has changed!
- A Bend in The Road — Lyndsay at ourfeministplayschool writes about how her visions of homeschooling her son during the elementary school years have changed drastically in the last year - because HE wants to go to school.
- I Wish Children Came with Instruction Manuals — While Dionna at Code Name: Mama loves reading about parenting, she's not found any one book that counts as an instruction manual. Every child is different, every family is different, every dynamic is different. No single parenting method or style is the be-all end-all. Still, wouldn't it be nice if parenting were like troubleshooting?
- The Mistakes I've Made — Kate at Here Now Brown Cow laments the choices she made with her first child and explains how ditching her preconceived ideas on parenting is helping her to grow a happy family.
- I Only Expected to Love... — Kellie at Our Mindful Life went into parenting expecting to not have all the answers. It turns out, she was right!
- They See Me Wearin', They Hatin' — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different contemplates putting her babywearing aspirations into practice, and discussed how she deals with "babywearing haters."
- Parenting Human Beings — Erika Gebhardt lists her parenting "mistakes," and the one concept that has revolutionized her parenting.
- Doing it right: what I knew before I had kids... — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud, guest posting at Natural Parents Network realises that the number one game in town, when it comes to parenting, is judgement about doing it right. But "doing it right" looks different to everybody.
- A synopsis of our reality as first time parents — Amanda at My Life in a Nut Shell summarizes the struggles she went through to get pregnant, and how her daughter's high needs paved the way for her and her husband to become natural parents.
- Theory to Reality? — Jorje compares her original pre-kid ideas (some from her own childhood) to her personal parenting realities on MommaJorje.com.
- The Princess Paradigm — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen had planned to raise her daughter in a sparkly, princess-free home, but in turn has found herself embracing the glitz.
- Healthy Eating With Kids: Ideal vs. Real — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs had definite ideas about what healthy eating was going to look like in her family before she had kids. Little did she realize that her kids would have something to say about it.
- How to deal with unwanted parenting advice — Tat at Mum in Search thought that dealing with unwanted parenting advice would be a breeze. It turned out to be one of her biggest challenges as a new mum.
- How I trained my 43 month old in 89 days! — Becky at Old New Legacy used to mock sticker charts, until they became her best friend in the process of potty training.
- My Double Life: Scheduling with Twins — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot was banging her head against the wall trying to keep up with the plan she made during pregnancy, until she let her babies lead the way.
- Parenting in the land of compromise — As a holistic health geek trying to take care of her health issues naturally, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama regrets that her needs sometimes get in the way of her children's needs.
- Practice Makes Good, Not Perfect — Rachael at The Variegated Life comes to see that through practice, she just might already be the parent she wants to be.
- 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering: How to Free Yourself and Your Family — Sheila Pai at A Living Family shares in theory (blog) and reality (video) how she frees herself from 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering that can damage the connection, peace and love she seeks to nurture in her relationships with family and others.
- 5 Things I Thought MY Children Would Never Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child largely laughs at herself and her previous misconceptions about things her children would or wouldn't do, or be allowed to do.
- Policing politeness — Lauren at Hobo Mama rethinks a conviction she had about modeling vs. teaching her children about courtesy.
- The Before and The After: Learning about Parenting — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work reminisces about the perspective she held as a young adult working with children (and parents) . . . before she became a mother.
- Parenting Beliefs: Becoming the Parent You Want to Be — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how we can make a mindful decision to become the parent we want to be. Decisions we make affect who we will become.
- The Great Breastfeeding Debacle — In Lisa at The Squishable Baby's mind, breastfeeding would be easy.
- What my daughter taught me about being a parent — Mrs Green asks, "Is it ever ok to lock your child in their bedroom?"
- Sensory Box Fail! — Megan at The Boho Mama discovers that thoughtful sensory activities can sometimes lead to pasta in your bra and beans up your nose.
- Montessori and My Children – Theory vs. Reality — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her experiences with Montessori parenting and describes the results she sees in her now-adult children.
- I Like The Mother I Am Now More Than The Mother I Intended To Be — Darcel at The Mahogany Way thought she would just give her kids the look and they would immediately fall in line.