Why I stopped reading parenting blogs

Why I Stopped Reading Parenting Blogs

Before the Bug was born in January 2015, I did a lot of reading.

Chico and I both got the Baby Center weekly emails, telling us just how pregnant I was and comparing the foetus to different fruit and vegetables (for size, I mean). It was exciting to follow his development week by week, and know how he was growing.

It wasn’t until after the Bug was born, though, that I really delved into the online world of parenting blogs and forums.

And it wasn’t long before I realized I simply had to stop.

Parenting bloggers are not always experts.

I’m someone who likes to seek advice from perceived experts. Most bloggers describe themselves as normal parents and share tips that have helped them (I’ve done it myself!). But when it comes to a specific concern, they are rarely qualified experts.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, of course. But when you’re in the totally normal state of near-panic when you first get home with your child, you’re often looking desperately for immediate answers. Answers which most bloggers and forum posters are not qualified to give.

Parenting blogs don’t describe your situation.

You’ll never find a forum post or blog article that perfectly describes your situation, or your child’s.

You’ll be thinking, “That *sounds* like what’s happening, except for this, that and the other thing.” So the solutions or suggestions they make never seem quite right, because you’re not sure their situation is the same as yours in the first place.

Then there are the blogs and books (I’m thinking of the “What to Expect” series in particular here) that make things sound so categorical. Reading these can make you feel even MORE insecure, especially when what they’re saying goes against what’s happening at home.

You can’t get immediate, accurate answers.

Online advice never comes fast enough. When you’re a panicked new parent, wondering if what your child is doing is normal, you want answers NOW.

Most people can’t call up their paediatrician and ask every single question whenever they want. If you go searching for info online, you have to wade through your search results first, then see if they apply to your situation. If you post on a forum, you never know how quickly someone with any experience is going to answer you.

You’re craving advice, information, or perhaps just comfort immediately, but you cannot get it.

When advice comes in, there can be too much.

Sometimes, when a question I had was responded to, it brought on even more confusion.

There are so many rights and wrongs, so many ways of doing things that are dictated by our family practices, our cultures and our backgrounds. Sometimes it can just be overwhelming thinking of all the possible solutions to a problem.

Often, by the time I got around to trying any of the suggestions I had received, whatever it was was no longer a problem.

Getting into a vicious cycle.

For a couple months after the Bug was born, I had some books I looked to frequently (“What to Expect the First Year,” and others), and I was frequently on Baby Center forums. I started listening to a parenting podcast called “The Longest Shortest Time.” I became a member of a couple of Facebook parenting groups. I downloaded an app for timing nursing sessions, measuring the baby’s weight, and knowing how long he slept.

While each of these resources was helpful in its way, and none of them was negative or toxic, I became overwhelmed.

Seeking answers or advice, I would turn to one or any of these resources, and would inevitably come back with more questions than answers. That brought on anxiety, as I then tried to find answers to the new questions that had sprung up.

I even wrote a couple of articles myself, hoping that by putting things down in words, I would clear up my own confusion, and thus make things easier.

Finally, I decided that spending my time with all these things was breaking down my confidence, rather than building it up.

So I threw it all out the window.

Not literally. I didn’t throw a book out the window.

I cut myself off. I deleted the app, shelved the books, stopped listening to the podcasts and removed myself from the forums and Facebook groups. I also cut off contact with a couple of people in my life who had proven to be toxic.

I decided to trust my instincts–to trust my husband’s instincts. I decided that the only “experts'” opinions I wanted or needed were our family and our doctor’s. I did hold on to the Quebec “From Tiny Tots to Toddlers” book, which healthcare providers in Quebec often refer to as “the Bible.” But that was the one resource I retained.

And do you know what?

I found myself so much more relaxed, more confident, more delighted with our baby, and happier.

Suddenly, motherhood became joyful rather than fearful.

Rather than over-thinking things, and worrying about how I was going to be a parent, I found the confidence to enjoy every single day.

I realized that it’s not about how *I* am going to parent, but how *our son* needs to be raised. Taking the focus off of me and putting it back onto our son actually helped me make more time for myself.

It may sound contradictory, but there you go. Deciding to be confident and to trust my instincts, allowed me to use the time I had spent worrying to do other things. I made new friends. I got back into my crafting.

Life got good again.

No, life got better. Because now it includes a wonderful little person I am lucky enough to call our son.

 

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Mamas: Stop Talking About Your Babies

It’s only natural; you’ve just had a baby. What else is there to talk about? Poopy diapers, how he sleeps, nursing, and just how ADORABLE he is when he smiles!

But mamas, you really need to stop talking about your babies. Here’s why:

Your babies are people whose privacy should be respected.

What? Not what you were expecting, right?? You thought I was going to tell you that you’re boring everyone, and no one wants to hear you talk about your baby, right? Well, perhaps. But there’s more to it.

Pot Calling the Kettle Black

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE talking about my baby. I will talk about my baby with anyone who shows even a remote interest. My Bug (who really is no longer much of a bug) is, to me, the most amazing little person in the world, and given half the chance, I will talk your ear off about how awesome he is.

But the thing is, aside from that being kind of obnoxious for my listeners, it’s also kind of obnoxious for my child.

Here’s an example. A few months back, I kept commenting to acquaintances that my little guy wouldn’t nap during the day. It became my main kvetch: I couldn’t get anything done because he wouldn’t nap.

A few weeks later, when all that had changed completely (because, let’s face it, everything in babyland is a phase and is over quickly), I was out with a group of ladies (sans babies) and someone made a comment that struck me.

She said, following on a conversation about someone else’s baby, “Well, at least your kid sleeps during the day, unlike Jane’s baby, who is always awake and crying.”

My first instinct was to protest the falsehood of this statement, and defend my child. But then I realized that the only person who had given this woman that impression of my child, was me.

It was an unfair representation of my Bug (who is perfect in every way, obviously), and I had no one but myself to blame.

A Reformed Big Mouth

So what is the point? The point is that our babies are our family, and our family deserve our complete loyalty. And I would argue that loyalty includes discretion; not talking about our family members willy-nilly, or spilling all their secrets.

Remember, that even though your baby is currently a little blob of a person, unable to express him or herself articulately, he or she is still a person. Just like we know we shouldn’t bad-mouth our spouses to others, we shouldn’t discuss our babies’ every concern with all and sundry.

Your Discretion Will Earn Their Trust

Now I’m not saying you can’t share anecdotes or concerns, or perhaps swap advice or strategies with other parents. I’m just saying that after that experience, and a couple others like it, I’m going to try to be more discrete about what I say about my kiddo. I now ask myself, “Would I want someone sharing this information about me?” If the answer is no, then I zip up.

So mamas, remember: there is such a thing as over-sharing, but the concern isn’t so much boring your audience, but mortifying the person you’re sharing about. Some things should be kept private, and if we get into the habit now of guarding our family’s secrets and being discrete, our kids will grow up knowing that they can trust us to listen and not spill our beans to everyone.

And isn’t our kids’ trust worth everything?

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Surviving the First Weeks of Motherhood

 

Suriving_First_Weeks_Motherhood

Hello! I’m back!

Lots of things happened recently. The holidays happened, then my web hosting provider informed me that I had exceeded my database limit for my website (whaaaaaat?), so I couldn’t log in, then I had a baby, and then I got a little busy.

A baby? Yes! I had a baby! My last post was about the agony of waiting around for a baby to be born. This post is about surviving the first weeks of motherhood after that baby finally arrives.

HOORAY! We finally get to meet him!

…Now what?

You’ll get lots of contradictory advice.

Even if you’ve read all the baby books, you’ll still be totally clueless when your first kid arrives. Why? Because no book in the world can tell you about YOUR child. Now it’s time to get to know him!

If you’re in a hospital setting, you’ll get lots of advice from nurses and doctors. Sometimes, that advice might even seem contradictory. Once you’re on the post-natal ward, the confusion starts.

Our morning nurse told us categorically to NEVER swaddle our baby, and to ONLY treat sore nipples with breast milk.

Our evening nurse, on the other hand, gave us a lesson in swaddling the Bug, and even set up a little nest for him in the bed next to me (which horrified the morning nurse when she came in the next day). She also recommended lanolin cream for sore nipples.

The afternoon nurse said Bug was latching on perfectly, while the morning nurse said he had a tongue-tie (turns out he does) and we should use a pacifier.

“Wake the baby up to feed him every two hours!”

“Never wake a sleeping baby!”

“Put mitts over his hands so he doesn’t scratch himself.”

“Don’t cover his hands with mitts or he won’t be able to comfort himself.”

It’s enough to make you go mad!

What is right and what is wrong?

While there can very definitely be a wrong when it comes to taking care of your baby (i.e. neglecting the poor thing), there is no one right way of doing things.

“Right” is going to depend on what works for you and your baby.

Take any advice you get into consideration (or totally disregard it, especially when it is unsolicited and obnoxious), and decide for yourself what works for you. You may have never thought of one technique that someone suggests, and it could prove helpful to try it out. Just try things on for size. You’ll soon learn what works and what doesn’t.

Also, take any categorial advice (the NEVERs and the ALWAYSs and the YOU MUSTs) with a grain of salt. Excepting, of course, the big ones like, “Never shake a baby,” and, “You must feed your baby.”

We were told, for instance, to always wait an hour after feeding before giving the Bug a bath. But just after his meal is when he’s most amenable to bathing! So to heck with that one hour wait. Our Bug eats and then bathes, and he loves it.

The first night home is terrifying.

Though the advice and instructions you get at the hospital can sometimes be confusing, at least you’re in the care of professionals, right?

Well, when you get home, it’s just you two and your baby. Holy. Crap. It’s scary.

Suddenly, you realize that you guys are on your own and that you’re responsible for this tiny little human being. And what’s more, you have NO IDEA WHAT TO DO.

Do what I did: Call a friend in tears and ask for advice.

This is when it’s super helpful/important to have friends or family who have been through this and can listen to you and comfort you.

If you don’t know someone who’s been in your situation you can call, look up a local mommy group. Chico and I took our Bug to a breastfeeding meet-up when he was just one week old. That really helped me, especially to encounter other mothers in the same boat as me.

And if you’re freaking out about anything, just remember:

There is no normal.

Well, let me rephrase: There is such a wide range of what makes a baby “normal” that nothing seems normal.

We were told to feed our Bug at least 8 to 12 times a day. Well, he usually eats 6 to 8 times a day (occasionally he’ll have a big day where he eats 9 times).

For three weeks, this fact stressed me out. I constantly checked the time to figure out how long it had been since his last feed, and I continued to wake him up to feed him.

That is, until we realized he was gaining almost 50g per day (they aim for a 20-30g/day average weight gain). Apparently, our Bug doesn’t eat very frequently, but when he does he gets the job done effectively!

Again, this is a question of figuring out what works for you. If your baby is having issues gaining weight, that’s another story. You should discuss with your pediatrician.

But if your baby is gaining weight, peeing, pooping and eating well, then relax. You’re doing just fine.

Breastfeeding is hard.

The videos they show you in the prenatal classes make it look sooooooo easy, right? Baby will obligingly open his mouth wide and latch on well and OM NOM NOM NOM NOM.

I hate to break it to you, but that doesn’t always happen.

It can be for any number of reasons. Our Bug has a posterior tongue tie that makes his latch less than optimal. That’s made for some pretty sore nipples on my part, and a fair number of tearful feedings. (We’ve decided to cut his tongue tie on Monday. I will probably weep.)

But even if your baby doesn’t have a specific problem making breastfeeding tricky, it’s still a skill that both mother and baby need to learn, and it takes practice.

My only advice is this:

Be patient. Both with yourself, and with your baby.

If you really want to breastfeed, seek help from a lactation consultant, or a breastfeeding “godmother.” They’ll be able to give you advice and techniques to help you succeed.

If it doesn’t work, though, don’t think of it as a failure. Give it a go for as long as you can stand, but if you and your baby aren’t bonding over feeding time, then it’s time to consider a new option.

I’m still working on this one, so I’ll keep you posted as things progress.

That’s all for now.

I’ve touched on a lot of stuff in this post, and I think I’ll write more on each individual topic in other articles (especially the breastfeeding).

I thought it might help other new parents to know that tears, frustration and fears are perfectly normal. But so are joy, delight, and an almost overwhelming love for this new little person.

Our Bug is the light of our lives, and though we’ve had ups and downs, we wouldn’t go back or change anything for the world.

Despite all his little imperfections, he is absolutely perfect.

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