Parenting, the best way we can

Friday, September 04, 2015tee

A few months into this parenting gig and it sure feels like a lifetime already. There are just so many ways to do things, so many voices and advices, so many contradicting opinions that it was at first overwhelming to waddle through the voices and noise! Every single topic about raising a baby and parenting has so many opinions and unsolicited advice that it was crazy to let everything in! Being a new parent, I had my own insecurities and wasn't exactly sure where we exactly stand on some things. There were just so many decisions to be made, too many sides to pick, that it felt only the major ones matter and well, "let's cross the bridge when we get there" with the others. It's so easy to be swayed into this and that, and be lost into a jumble of parenting style and tricks. It's funny to recall that a survey reports majority of parents feel embarrassed if they are rockin' an inexpensive pram. Apparently, even something as trivial as a pram is a major nerve-wracking issue. 

Sleeping arrangements, feeding, how to feed solids, cloth nappies vs. disposables, breastfeeding and the list goes on. I was a stickler for it at the beginning, drowning myself in contradicting resources and opinions and trying to do a mix of this and that. It got me so exhausted and it felt unnatural, as if the whole world was dictating and judging me if I went outside of the norm. 

One of the major things that is a bit of a soft spot is breastfeeding. Even before Jaden was born, I was prepared to breastfeed. I had taken supplements to ensure I had supply. Even after the drama with the birth and the massive blood loss and Jaden being in the NICU for a week, I woke myself up in the middle of the night to build up my supply. I had shivers and a fever when my milk supply finally came but that didn't stop me from pushing through, though scared of mastitis. With Jaden's tongue-tie and difficulty in latching, I exclusively pumped him to ensure he was getting breast milk, even from a bottle.  I always felt the need to defend myself - "hey don't give me that look - that's breastmilk inside that bottle!!!" After what seems like a million visits to lactation consultants, midwives, nurses, we just didn't click, it wasn't happening. Even the consultants would say "wow, this is one very difficult squirmy baby!"  It was a source of frustration for both of us and I didn't like what I was turning into. I was practically a zombie since I'd have to pump after he sleeps, even during the dawn. Next thing I know, 15 minutes after, he's awake - hungry again. I was grouchy, still recovering from the birth, sleep-deprived and instead of enjoying motherhood, it became a "you're hungry, not again?!" thing. Guild-ridden, I didn't want to stop pumping since I had more than enough supply. My parents and J saw my struggle reminded me what Jaden needs is a mom. I have to take care of myself in every aspect first before I can take care of him. My friend A told me I wouldn't be less of a mom and definitely not a failure if I fail to breastfeed Jaden, especially after the complications and him not being able to latch. The important thing is he is fed, growing well, and cared for. I lasted for a month before we decided it was best to go the other way. It was a hard decision to make, it was not taken lightly and it was something we considered thoroughly. I wanted to try some more, do some things differently, persevere. In the end, we knew the answer was staring us in our faces. It was just not meant to be. I still feel a bit defensive especially when meeting people who tend to judge why I am not breastfeeding. And the irony is that, most of these people are those who haven't been there themselves - dads, and single or childless friends. Friends, it's not easy as it looks. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against breastfeeding, and when or if God gives us another child, I pray to be able to try and persevere at it again, just that it's not the best option for us this time around.

It irks me to meet parents who'd ask what we've been doing only to compare notes and judge. He's already rolling over both sides this young? Boy, it really pays just to leave the child alone and not cuddle him. It was just borderline insulting and funny, I didn't know how to react. There will always be something wrong and negative to say, apparently. Putting someone down doesn't make you any better. Why do we do this to each other? As parents, we should be supportive and respectful of each other's choices. We shouldn't be high and mighty about our opinions and shouldn't be pushy into forcing our beliefs in others. Babies have a different pace in terms of milestones and different temperaments, every baby is a unique individual so we shouldn't really compare notes. True, Jaden's been a bit advanced in his developmental milestones, but that doesn't mean we are not cuddling and carrying him, and that doesn't mean he isn't loved and nurtured! He just loves playtime and tummy time! And because of that, he has lots of time to practice. Added bonus, since the beginning he had strong head control because he was in posterior position, I think. :)

There are still apparently a lot of things to have to pick a side on, some more controversial that the others - the type of nappies to use, what type of weaning to do, sleeping arrangements, sleep-training, the use of the dummy. And the list won't magically go away when they grow older, it would just morph to other items worth "debating over" again - education, childcare, etc. And I have to accept and get used to that people will stare and look and perhaps, have raised eyebrows and judgmental looks at whatever I try to do. 

It's so exhausting to try to appease and please everybody, to be wary to do something "off" that people might judge and have an opinion on. Everybody's watching, I suppose. Then I realised that I should be my own person, to shut off the voices in the background. We should be parenting Jaden the best way we know how, our own mix of this and that, our own brand.  After all, our parenting should be suited and tailored for him, not on a universal way as there is no such thing. There's no wrong or right answer, just parents loving a baby, the best way they can. You can't really please everybody, there will always be opinions. There is no perfect solution that works for everybody, parenting should be tailored for the situation, the parents, and the baby's personality and temperament. At the end of the day, we chose to be our own type of parents, and know in full confidence that this is what Jaden needs right now. In the end, it's all about him and not anybody else. Mommy-guilt is something we deal everyday, second-guessing our decisions and choices and how we are rearing our children. But I am comforted in having God's peace, knowing that I am and can never be the perfect parent and that is okay. I am bound to make mistakes, but He is over-all control of my parenting and Jaden, and that makes everything less scary.

This article is also a good read. We are not rivals, we are mothers.
This video tries to capture everything in a few seconds. No matter what our beliefs, we are parents first. :D

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