As new parents, we are all guilty of a little soapbox ranting from time to time. I, personally, had it all figured out. So, here they are: my top five hardest falls from that high horse.
1. Pregnancy diet. I couldn't wait to be pregnant and show everyone how it should be done -- strictly organic, ample servings of fruits and vegetables, refined sugar only on occasion and in small amounts. I didn't understand how someone could know they were growing a baby and still choose to eat anything but the healthiest foods.
At about six weeks pregnant, I woke up at 3 a.m. with a violent craving for cheeseburgers, French fries, milkshakes, sour candy and soda. I turned into an animal. Before I knew it, I was in the car and on my way to gather my feast. "My body wouldn't be craving this stuff if it didn't need it," I successfully convinced myself.
2. Natural childbirth. I read every single birth story I could get my hands on. Watching videos of medicated births and voluntary C-sections made my blood boil. "Our bodies are made for this!" I would proclaim to anyone who would listen. "I just can't understand how people choose to pump their systems full of drugs at this sacred time. What a shame."
After 36 hours of unmedicated labor, I was on the floor screaming. I invested the little scraps of energy I had left in figuring out how far of a walk it was to downtown, where I could rob a drug dealer for his stash. 45 minutes and an ambulance ride later, I nearly cried from the relief I felt when that magic fluid entered my spine.
3. Breastfeeding. "I've never been more confident," I would reply when asked if I was nervous about breastfeeding. I could not fathom how anyone would choose to not share this amazing experience with their child if they had the option. I spent an absurd amount of time educating myself on the topic and became a self-proclaimed expert. I learned techniques and positions, researched potential complications and solutions and watched countless videos of mothers nurturing their babies at the breast. I was so in love with the whole thing and couldn't wait for the experience.
She latched as soon as they put her on my chest. For the first two days, my baby and I were golden. Then, the pain started. For 10 weeks, I cracked, blistered and bled. I went to multiple lactation consultants who told me her latch was fine, I just had extremely delicate skin. She absolutely detested the bottle. When she cried to let me know she was hungry, I would cry. I paced the room in the middle of the night, contemplating giving up. She cluster-fed for the first two months straight, rarely going more than 30 minutes without nursing during the day. I was a milk-cow. A milk cow in pain. Once my body adjusted, the reward was immense, but I now completely understand utilizing pumping and formula-feeding.
4. Co-sleeping and sleep training. When planning out my granola-parenting journey, co-sleeping seemed like a no-brainer. I couldn't even imagine sleep training my baby. Co-sleeping would regulate her physiology as a newborn, she wouldn't cry as much, wouldn't wake as often and it would lessen the chore of nursing her at night.
From birth, she seemed to require little or no sleep. When she did, she needed to nurse almost non-stop. Shifting positions was a game of Russian Roulette. My back ached from sleeping in the awkward positions I'd freeze in when she stirred. From 4 to 10 months old, she would wake up every 45 minutes at night. I was the living dead. At 10 months, I decided to sleep-train her and I haven't looked back. After only two nights of gritting my teeth while she "adjusted," she slept five hours straight. I have no regrets. Sleep-training ended up saving my sanity.
5. Television. I was adamant that my daughter would not face a television screen until 2 years old, as per the AAP recommendation. When we visited family, I would ask them to turn the TV off, then marinate in the awkward energy I brought to the gathering. My child's elevated IQ would make it worth the inconvenience.
At 13 months, my daughter would alternate between parkour-like activities that left me with countless messes to clean and convincing me that she would cease to exist if I didn't hold her right-just-then. I was at the end of my rope one day when I gave her a snack in her high-chair and rolled that thing right up to an episode of "Sesame Street." I felt like a miracle had occurred when I looked around at my clean house a half hour later. Needless to say, I have used that life raft many times since then.
I am pretty sure that parenting is the most humbling experience I will ever have. I'm glad that my first year has taught me so much, and now I can continue my parenting adventure with some real wisdom. We all come from different backgrounds, and each of our children is unique. I have learned I am in no position to judge the decisions other parents makes for themselves and their children. As cliché as it sounds, we are all just trying to do what we feel in our heart is best for them.
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