Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Parenting Myths

I have been a parent for almost five months and in those short five months you learn a lot about what's real and what's crap. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and if you look, and not very far mind you, you will find a multitude of opinions on just about anything. Everybody knows, when you’re pregnant you get swarmed with “advice” aka people telling you what to do with your kid. These are people’s OPINIONS, most of time it’s based on what they went through or what someone they know went through and if it’s the latter it’s more than likely been exaggerated. Your kid isn’t their kid. You are not them. What worked for me may not work for my sisters, and what worked for my sisters may not work for their friends. You have to find what works for you. In my process of finding out what works for me I have discovered several myths. Just to remind everyone, I am in no way a health professional. I am a mom with my own experiences and my own opinions. None of this is intended as advice, you have to figure out what works for you.

Myth #1-If you don't nurse you won't have a strong bond with your baby. Yes, breastfeeding is best. We all know this, every doctor will tell you that, even the formula companies say that, right next to the sticker that says it’s pretty close to breast milk. It has antibodies that protect your little one and it’s easily digested which makes it more efficient for your baby. That doesn’t mean that mom’s and babies who don’t breastfeed don’t have a strong bond. My sisters and I were all formula fed and the bond we had and continue to have with our mom is unbreakable. She never nursed us at all. I have several friends who did both formula and nursing, I have some who just nursed, and some who just did formula. When you actually look at the relationships each of them have with their kids, without judgment or rose-colored glasses you can see they each have a strong bond with their kids. It didn’t come from their main food source, it came from that mom taking care of that baby. It came from that mom meeting that baby’s needs. I came from that mom taking time for that little one. And as Marina says, "It's not like you feed your kid from the end of a ten-foot pole in either case." Can nursing strengthen a bond, yes it can, but bottle feeding doesn't prevent a bond from forming or weaken a bond. Tyler gets breast milk but has not nursed since he was two months old. If you saw me with my son you couldn't possibly, logically think that we have a minimal bond or no bond at all.

Myth #2-Co-sleeping causes SIDS. Co-sleeping is quite the controversial topic right now. I will say that we never truly co-slept. Tyler was in a bassinet for about two weeks, then went to his crib and he’s been there ever since. The first two months of his life the kid wouldn’t take a nap unless someone was holding him, so there were many times we would fall asleep in the lounge chair. Tyler and Ryan take a nap mid-morning every Saturday in our bed and that gives me time to clean the house and do laundry. It’s difficult to roll over on someone in a lounge chair, not as difficult in bed so I keep an eye on Tyler when he’s sleeping with his dad. We’ve never had any issues. I have one friend who did co-sleep for the first few months. That baby is perfectly fine. Co-sleeping can be dangerous but if done properly and carefully your baby more than likely will be fine. Honestly, you know how you sleep. If you’re like a rock and sleep so hard that you don’t wake up easily, or fall asleep on one side of the bed and wake up upside down diagonally on the floor then maybe you should consider sleeping separate. Your kid, your life, your call. I can guarantee you that if something tragic does happen you’ll pay the price emotionally and mentally, and when you look at it like that you’ll think hard about the choices you make and if what you decide will truly work for you.

Myth #3-Baby sign language stunts verbal skills. Baby sign language has been pretty popular for a few years now. We were planning on signing with Tyler but he’s so verbal and tries so hard to communicate with us verbally (he’s already saying dada and hi!) we’ve been lazy with it. We talk to him and read to him, but haven’t really tried all that hard with the signing. Tyler responds better when you talk to him vs. signing to him. When you sign and talk he just looks at you all confused. I’ve heard two things-signing delays speech development, and I’ve heard that signing improves cognitive development. I know three people who consistently signed with their kids. Two of them are a little slow to talk, the other is already trying to read and she talks just fine. I have no idea if the speech “delay” (if you can even call it that) for the other two has anything to do with signing. The talker went to daycare, the other two stayed home. But I know kids who stayed at home and had no trouble with any milestones. My mom stayed home with my sister and she developed just fine. So, again we go back to the whole, if you want to sign with your kids go for it, if not, no biggie. Every kid is different and you should do what works for you.

Myth #4-Daycare kids have behavior problems, and developmentally slow. I’ll try not to stand on the soapbox too long. I have been on the receiving end of many horrendous comments about working mothers. I've probably heard it all. This is what I say, if a mom wants to stay home, that’s great. If a mom wants to go back to work, that’s great too. There is NOTHING wrong with either option. I know women who work out of necessity and I know women who work because they want to. A mom who chooses to work does not mean she is a selfish person. It doesn’t mean she is materialistic, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her kids, it doesn’t mean she wants to pawn her kids off on someone else to raise. She works for a reason and that reason is her own. You don’t live her life, so frankly you have no business making accusations about her. I know kids who stayed at home and have dealt with developmental hiccups, and I know kids who have gone to daycare and are ahead of the developmental game and vice versa. It’s not about whether your kid goes to daycare, it’s about the daycare your kid goes to. It’s OK to send your kid to daycare, just be choosy about where they go.

It can be very overwhelming for new mom's. There is so much advice it's very easy to get caught up in all of it and think you have to do something a certain way. That's simply not true. I made the mistake of taking every piece of advice to heart. I was so afraid of messing up. Reality is, you will mess up. You're human. Forgive yourself, learn, and move on. The best advice I have ever received and will ever receive came from my sister-in-law. Jenn told me that it's good to read and research but take it with a grain of salt, not all advice will work for you. Your kid is different and you have to find out what works, She's exactly right. A lot of parenting for me has been trial and error. I think that's how it is for a lot of people. In the end whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, co-sleep, sign, or utilize daycare what matters is that you love your kids, not just with words but with your actions. It's easy to say words, anyone can say the words, it's actions that matter.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

So I Know It's Been Awhile...

I'm pretty sure that time has shrunk since I've had Tyler. My day goes something like this:
Up @5am-pump, get ready for work
Tyler up @6am-feed him, get him ready for daycare
Work is 7-4
Pick Tyler up @4:15/4:30
We go for a walk and play until about 5:30, then it's time to pump and prep dinner
Tyler's dinner is at 6pm, he gets a bottle and solids now
Then he gets his bath, we read books and he hangs out in the swing while I cook dinner, and get stuff ready for the next day.
Ryan and I eat around 7, and Tyler goes to bed between 7-8pm.
After that, I clean up the kitchen, pack my lunch and bags, pack Tyler's bags and get his next days bottles ready.
I shower, and by then it's about 9pm, so I get on FB and usually fall asleep on my laptop.

I haven't worked out consistently since I've returned to work, I just don't have time during the week. I used to hear this from other working mom's and think, "Oh please, if you wanted it bad enough, you would find time." Shame on me, I had no idea what I was talking about. They REALLY don't have time. Unless I want to sacrifice time with Tyler or time sleeping there really is no time left in the day. Time with my son is precious and it will always come first, time with my pillow is also precious and the thought of only getting 5 hours of sleep so I can fit into my size two jeans again doesn't sound appealing at all. Sure I'll be skinny but I'll also be super cranky and unbearable to deal with.

I've been reading the same book for about eight months. It's ridiculous. It's one of the books in the Outlander series, and I LOVE that series, but every time I sit down to read (usually before bed or on the weekends while the little one is napping) I fall asleep.

The holidays are approaching and this is prime baking season. I really enjoy baking, I used to spend many weekends baking pies for work, cookies for Ryan while he was deployed, goodies for my friends. I tried to make muffins for breakfast last weekend and the batter sat on the counter for about three hours before I remembered I was supposed to be baking muffins. Tyler started fussing in the living room, I went to check on him, was consoling him and we started playing, then reading books, then we took a nap in the lounge chair.

I've always been a bit of a scatterbrain. This is why I'm super meticulous with having a place for everything and sticking to a routine. If I didn't, you'd find me in the closet walking in circles completely lost and confused. Before I got pregnant I was a multi-tasking machine. As long as I stuck to a routine and put things exactly where their "place" was I never lost anything and housework was always done. Since Tyler's been born I lose my cell phone at least twice a day, I think I might have dusted twice, and I forget things all the time. I've become a scatterbrained train wreck. I asked my doc what the hell was happening to my brain, that pregnant head wasn't a good excuse anymore now that I've had the baby. She said that breastfeeding causes your hormones to be all kinds of crazy, so it's like baby brain all over again. So I guess I have boob brain?

Four and a half months have gone by since Tyler was born. Everyday I thank God for the precious gift that is my son. Everyday I thank my lucky stars that I have him. I'm so humbled that Tyler was chosen for me. He's such a happy, smiley baby. I don't know how we got so lucky. I love being a mom, I have no idea what the heck I was doing with my life before Tyler came in the picture. Everyday he discovers something new, everyday is a new adventure, and I feel so blessed that I get to experience this new life with him. I used to hear these same words from other mom's, but I didn't get it until now. I didn't understand the love between a mom and her child. You hear about, and you think you comprehend but you don't until you have a child of your own. I get it now. It's the most amazing, all-consuming love I've ever experienced. I'm so thankful that I get to have this experience.