Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Advice Guru ...

When I first announced that we were expecting a baby last fall, my good friend Eva told me the best advice I got throughout the pregnancy: Opinions are like buttholes, everyone has one. At the time I though, "Wow, that was weird." But since attempting to raise a baby myself, I've come to understand exactly what she meant.

For some reason, from the moment find out you're expecting everyone feels the need to offer up advice, solicited or not. Unfortunately, this continues when the resulting child arrives. Even more unfortunately, is that this "advice" comes from strangers and family alike.

Here are a few topics I seem to get the most help on:

1- Birthing methods: Before the whole debacle of our birthing experience happened, Casey and I were proud students of The Bradley Method, or husband-coached childbirth. We were even strongly considering a home birth. Yep, as in, born-in-the-living-room-into-our-own-hands, home birth. Of course, we never told anyone this because, frankly, we didn't care to hear all the fear-based opinions of doing so. Telling people that we were planning a "natural" birth (where natural means un-medicated; not just delivered 'traditionally') was enough to hit the advice limit in itself. My favorite has to be the lady that once told me, "I'm sure you'll eventually want drugs. I know I would have been fully sedated if it had been offered". Of course, we all know what happened and how I politely abruptly told the anesthesiologist to shove off with his 80s-porn-star-stache.

2- Parenting methods: From the very minute Beatrice Kate was born, we started receiving advice. Everyone wanted to tell us how to raise our new baby. I'll never forget people saying things like, "You guys could go on a vacation while Bea is in the hospital." That just blew my mind. She wasn't in a daycare. She was in the hospital. As in, fighting for her life hospitalization. It nearly killed me to walk down the hall to get lunch during the day. There were no umbrella drinks in our future for the next eighteen years a while.

When she got home, she cried a. lot. in the early days and I was quickly becoming a shell of my former self. I was told that "Crying makes a baby grow" and the variation of this, "Crying makes a baby stronger." This of course is not true- not even for a healthy, robust eight pounder, especially not for my tiny travel-size baby. When I rushed to her side at every whimper or noise, I heard that I would "spoil her".

I am a firm believer that you cannot spoil a baby, especially a newborn (which Beatrice Kate was for a full 3 months). Of course, I am starting to think that Bea is using this fact to her advantage nowadays, but still. If my child cries, I will respond to her. We do not practice the "cry it out" method in this house. We barely practice the "cry for 20 seconds" method, much to my husbands chagrin.

3- Feeding strategy: Trust me, I know that the whole formula versus breastmilk is a hot topic issue and I do not intend on starting an internet war over it on our blog today. But I will say that breastmilk and exclusively  breastfeeding Beatrice Kate since she was born has contributed  a large part of the reason that she is currently a healthy, normal 11 month old (wow, 11 months, really?). I absolutely believe that breastmilk saved her life when she was in the NICU and was facing a potential NEC diagnosis. I absolutely believe that it will someday pay off with a higher IQ and a decreased risk for childhood obesity and has helped partially protect her from SIDS.

Has breastfeeding a former preemie been easy? No. Not in the least. It's been one of the hardest challenges of my life. From trying to nurse an infant with a mouth the size of a quarter, to fighting reflux discomfort, to dealing with a stupid nipple shield and a stubborn baby who will only nurse in one spot in our house (on my bed, in the dark, with no distractions- Uh, how am I supposed to catch that Law and Order: SVU Marathon now?). Breastfeeding is hard. You hear that? It's very, very hard. Someday, I'll do a post about all the challenges and successes we've had with it because there have been a lot.

However, for our family, breast is indeed best. Now, here's where the 'advice' comes into play. I fully intend to nurse Beatrice Kate as long as she and I both are willing and able to do so. If that means she weans herself at a year, fine. If she's still nursing once or twice a day when she's 2- then that's OK for me, too. Why is it that folks, other than my husband, feel the need to insert their opinion in on this? I'm not feeding you or your child, so what does it matter to you how long I nurse mine? I've had everyone from a stranger in a Weight Watchers meeting to a Raleigh Police Officer (yep!) to even my own family, harass me about nursing a baby who isn't a newborn. Sometimes I think about just shouting "Boobie" at them just for spite...

Maybe someday I will. Then I'm sure I'll be on the front page of the N&O as the crazy, granola-hippie-mom who shouts at cops for her breastfeeding rights. That'll make my parent's proud, I'm sure.

Anyway, the bottom line is this: Do with your kids what you think is best for them and I'll do the same for mine. I don't plan to discuss or judge your parenting decisions for them with you. So, to all the crazy people out there (and it's well-established that you will eventually find your way to me) don't give me grief about how I raise my baby. Whether I want to feed her organic prune puree with truffle oil or a McDonald's double cheeseburger with a milkshake to wash it down, she's my baby, dammit and I'll feed her what I think is best. (Also, just know, I would never feed Beatrice Kate a McDonald's burger or milkshake... her father would divorce me I think.)

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree!! I wish i had been able to pump longer for the girls, but it apparently wasn't in the cards for us, and I try hard, VERY hard in some instances, to not judge others for their views on raising kids. I agree with Eva, everyone is different. And I appreciate my family that has helped out and kept my wishes or at least asked if it was all right to do something different. It's great to have a good support system like that!!