Day 12: What Not To ExpectPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

When you get that notion, put your backfield in motion

Officially a Mom

Putting that Backfield in Motion since 2003

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Experience preferred required

Since having children, my stance on many parenting issues has changed drastically. It makes perfect sense, right? It is so easy to say what we would do in a situation when have never experienced that situation. Especially when aforementioned situation may involve things we couldn’t possibly understand until we experience them: months of sleep deprivation, cracked nipples, third degree tears, colic, spirited/high needs behavior, post partum depression, being responsible for a teeny, tiny, helpless human being, and did I mention sleep deprivation?

There is a long distance between books on parenting and the reality of parenting. Of course, I don’t know why society makes parenting out to be the stuff Hallmark cards are made out of. My only guess is to insure the survival of the human race because let’s be honest, if we knew how horrible some parenting moments can be- especially those first days and weeks with the first baby- would we really even have the first kid?

I know people tried to warn me that new mothering was not the warm fuzzy scene you see on television and in advertisements. Bringing home an infant does not suddenly create a warm, gauzy glow in your home where you walk around in total bliss wearing a long, white, flowing gown with a teeny, peaches and cream infant who- between nursing perfectly for 15 minutes on each side every 3 hours- sleeps deeply on its back in a crib in its own room while you catnap throughout the day because not only does your home have a warm, gauzy glow, it is also self cleaning. I know I realized the mothering would be difficult. I knew that babies cried and breastfeeding could be hard and I would definitely be lacking in the sleep department but I never realized how overwhelming- physically and mentally- new motherhood could be. I had no idea that this newfound responsibility would weigh so heavily on my chest that there were moments I thought I was taking my last breath. I never knew something so wonderful could hurt so bad.

I think another mechanism for the survival of the human race is that by the time our first baby reaches toddlerhood and the Zoloft has kicked in and our nipples and hoo hahs have completely healed, we begin to forget about those traumatic first days and months. I know I did. I remember sobbing when Gavin was about 5 weeks old and when Lloyd asked me what was wrong I told him “I always wanted two children and this is so hard that I don’t think I can have anymore!!!!”. By the time Gavin was11 months old I was pregnant again and while I was shocked, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately I miscarried that baby at 12 weeks but fortunately, I got pregnant with Goosers three months later.

So how have my views changed?

Before having kids I was anti-pacifier. Ugh. I hated the way they looked and I thought they were used to plug up the kid’s piehole so the parents didn’t have to hear them or deal with them. I had no idea that kids could have such a strong need to suck and that pacifiers may be totally necessary. It only took 2 weeks for me to learn how very wrong I was and to start shoving soothie after soothie into Gavin’s mouth just so I could take a pee break without him losing his freaking mind.

I also used to give the big fat eye roll to parents who gave their kids snacks as they shopped or even worse, opened a bag of snacks before purchasing them to ward off the impending middle of the story meltdown with the salty, cheesy goodness that is the goldfish cracker. Now? I'd give my kid a line of coke to be able to buy tampons and milk without dragging their screaming, writhing bodies down the grocery store aisles for all the world to give me big, fat eyerolls for having uncontrollable children.

Cosleeping. I always thought parents who coslept were out of their minds and now that I have coslept with two children, I STILL think that parents who cosleep are out of their minds. Or at the very least enjoy insomnia and the resultng crippling dementia that comes with it. I coslept because it made night time nursing easier and both of my kids wanted to cosleep. They slept much better snuggled next to me while I wept over sore nipples and aching hips from remaining in one position all night. There were a few moments of bliss when were snuggled sweetly together in the wee hours of the morning while I smelled their sweet baby smell and just knew that somewhere out there another mom was doing this very same thing with her baby and all the world was right. Those moments were fleeting and could have very well occurred during the day after I got a full nights rest while sleeping in any position I damn well pleased.

Something I have always been passionate about is breastfeeding. Obviously nutrition is my thang- pediatric nutrition even moreso- so it makes sense that it wouldn’t take having kids for me to know that breastfeeding was where it’s at when it comes to feeding our babes. I grew up knowing that breasts were for breastfeeding (I come from a long like of A-cup women… what else could they be for?) and part of my education involved community nutrition and promoting breastfeeding via WIC.

I have only become more passionate about breastfeeding since having children but now I am more understanding of the barriers and obstacles to breastfeeding. I was unable to breastfeed Gavin for as long as I would have liked. I was never anti-formula but before having to formula feed, I never imagined that I would formula feed. I figured other people had their reasons for formula feeding; that they didn’t want to breastfeed. I never knew that women could want to breastfeed but be unable; whether because of physical or mental issues or lack of knowledge and support. I am more passionate now because I don’t want any woman to experience the heartbreak I experienced when I was unable to nourish and nurture my child the way I wanted.

Another issue I am much more passionate about since having children is circumcision. I am rabidly anti-routine infant circumcision. Obviously there are times when circumcision may be medically indicated or when a person’s faith dictates circumcision as necessary but routine infant circumcision? Never appropriate. I am generally the kind of a person who can see both sides of an issue but not on this one. I respect that every parent has the right to make their own decision regarding whether or not to circumcise their son but I can honestly say that there is no reason- other than religious or medical reasons- for circumcision that I agree with.

What’s ironic is that Gavin is circumcised… and I regret it with every cell in my body. It has been over three years and I don’t know how I will ever come to terms with the fact I subjected him to genital mutilation for absolutely NO reason. I did not do my homework before having Gavin and I thought circumcision was just routine- just a standard part of having a boy in America. I figured there must be some pros to circumcision or else they wouldn’t do it. Hell, I also figured they used adequate pain relief. I was totally and completely WRONG on two counts. Again, my passion not only stems from the fact that upon becoming educated I realized that circumcision is wrong but also because if I can help one person from putting their child through what Gavin went through and what we continue to go through then something good came out of something awful and that brings a little peace.

How have you changed?

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Blogger Abby said...

I drink more now. LOL.

Emma was not breastfed at all and Davis was for a year. So that changed even between kids. (four years apart, a lot changes anyway) I honestly did not think I could love my kids as much as they got older. Crazy right? I thought school aged kids would drive me batty. And while Emma does drive me batty it has nothing to do with her age. I thought the fun would be gone because little kids learn all these new things and all of that. But I learned school aged kids are just as fun, in a totally new way.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Maria P. said...

The same ways that you have mentioned. You are blind to so many realities until you have your own children.
I have friends who worked with children before having their own. While they are exquisite at handling toddlers and preschoolers there are some realities of parenting that they had admitted to not realizing until they had their own.
You don't realize how much it will change you until it does.

8:59 PM  
Blogger karrie said...

I feel so sad when you share your feelings on circing Gavin, and I'm very much against circumsicion. Yes, intellectually I can make allowances for religion, but off the record, even then the idea turns my stomach. But its also really hard for me to watch someone beat themselves up over not having information.

How have I changed?

When I was pregnant I was incredibly smug. I was going to win AP Mother of The Year, grace the cover of Mothering and of course, practice childled weaning. Mwahahahaha. You know how that turned out. I had to eat my words when Max had to eat "that disgusting artificial shit that ignorant, lazy people use."

He was going to be born via a natural waterbirth too. Hehehehehe!

I also naturally assumed that by being this calm, patient Earth Mother, that my son would be an adorable, peaceful cherub because of such superior mothering. Hahaha, hahaha, universe=good one!

I'm also a bit more understanding of working mothers and regret some of the more flip, hurtful comments I made in debating that subject. I'm thrilled (and a bit guilty) that Max is in nursery school 2x per week, but oh, do I feel so much better already.

How have I not changed?

I beat myself up for my own shortcomings. I wish I had more patience. Even though I do give a lot to Max, at the end of the day I sometimes have internal conversation s that go like this: "Aw. look at him sleeping. Why did I snap at him when he demanded Frog & Toad for the 78th time this afternoon? I'm a bad, bad mother."

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yep! You give up on trying to inpart your wisdom to those wide-eyed niave women!
what is also important to know regarding circumcism for those who are led by religous/medical reason is this: YES, THERE IS PAIN MEDS TO NUMB IT AND GET ANOTHER PEDIATRICIAN IF THEY GIVE YOU SOME SONG AND DANCE!!!! My son felt do I know? Bc they took him from me to do it and less than 10 minutes later he was back....sleeping and not red faced! I was adamant after seeing what happened the first go round.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

My views have changed since having my second child, especially regarding sleep. Amber was an easy baby and is pretty much an easy child. She has her moments, but they dont last long and we get through them. Sam is a different story. He doesnt sleep well, he is very determined and his cue is to scream for everything. I am constantly, even at 7.5 old, trying to figure out what he wants. The boy needs clearer signs. I am thinking that he maybe boderline HNs. I am too scared to look into it, because I might find out he truly is.

The one thing that has taught me not to judge is the sleep issue. I would be amazed when I would meet moms and they were talking about how their babies wouldnt sleep. I would roll my eyes, inside myself, and think "geez, just get a routine." Well, guess what? Karma is a bitch. I have had a routine for Sam since about 3 mos old and the little booger still has trouble sleeping. He refuses to take anything, but catnaps. So, I have decided that if asked I will tell you what I know, but I will not offer you any advice.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Karri!
i thought I was going to do the whole natural childbirth, too. RRRRight! when your labors get longer and you give birth to 10lbers and have no , I mean no are looking at a pipe dream, there! And I thought I would not yell as much either..I still beat myself up on that one.


9:21 PM  
Anonymous Amy said...

I totally felt the same way about co-sleeping before I had kids. My colleague at work would talk about her baby sleeping between her and her husband, and I was appalled!

Fast-forward a few months to when Sophia was born and started gloriously sleeping through the night at 10 weeks. I was so smug. And then, like Wendy said, Karma is a bitch and I had to go back to work and baby didn't like the new schedule. After a couple weeks of many nightly wakes ups and nursing sessions, Sophia was in our bed. She still comes to bed with us pretty often at over a year old. And yes, getting elbowed in the eye and kicked in the throat are the parts of co-sleeping nobody talks about.

Oh, and thanks for the info on circumcision. I always thought it was a bit barbaric, especially after seeing the hack-job they did on my friend's baby. But since I had a girl, I've never really researched it. So thanks for your thoughts. They will help me make an informed decision if the next little one is a boy.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Alicia said...

I am now anti-circ (with a circ'd son), pro-cosleeping, not really anti-CIO but not pro either, and the queen of not only choosing my battles but conflict avoidance.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

You just summed up exactly how I feel on circ. Guthrie was circed, Turner not. It still breaks my heart to think about.

How have I changed? My first was so different than my 2 boys. I wasn't going to co-sleep, would wean at a year. HA! I sleep between the 2 boys every night, tandem nursed a 2 year old and infant.

I think I'm less judgmental after some horrible moments I've experienced in the last year or two. I realize now that the parenting practices you see in Wal-Mart do not necessarily reflect what happens outside of that god-forsaken place. (Why do kids suddenly turn into monsters the second you walk through those doors?)

I also used to think PPD was way overdiagnosed and not such a big deal, until I experienced it. Now I wonder why more women aren't medicated! lol

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you bear the opinionated drivel of Old Sage here?? I have such a heart for young mothers and I'm touched by your angst. Mothers need support- the kind of support that women once expected and got rather routinely from their mothers and from other women. Enter the Me! Me! generation (aka baby-boomers)and voila: daughter gets pregnant, Mom moves- no forwarding address; friend gets unlisted number. Well, I wasn't a perfect Mom. Didn't breastfeed. Other failures, too. But I made the choice (all choices cost)to be there for my daughters when they had their babies bc I had had it so rough. My husband and I are bucking for sainthood in the grandparent role. I've figured out not all of my peers feel the same way. Maybe their grandkids aren't as cute as mine ... hey, maybe I need a blog...

7:59 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I've learned to judge when a woman has two different shoes on and her shirt looks from two days ago. I've learned everyone has to make their own way and what every one else thinks be damned.

I've also learned that 99% of what I worried about isn't actually as important as I thought.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Pottymomma said... have I changed. I think I like myself more in alot of ways. To see 3 little monkies that think I am the entire world...what a confidence booster. To birth them, to nourish them with my body, to help them grow into secure and happy individuals - I feel like I finally know who I am. (This is on a good day).
On a bad day I just wonder how much liquor I can legally drink and still breastfeed.

9:38 PM  

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