Meta Mommy Advice

Look, we’ve all done it. We are pleasantly chatting with another Mommy about our children and then before we can reach out and pull them back in, those ‘words of wisdom’ come out.

“Just wait until you have another baby! (you’ll never carry around that much stuff anymore.)”

“We never let Junior have anything that isn’t organic. (because we don’t want him to be fat and sick like your kid.)”

“We don’t believe in spanking (because we don’t want him to be a violent hate monger like your child.)

“Better get sleep while you are pregnant! (because as soon as baby get’s here, you won’t sleep again because BABIES NEVER SLEEP.)”

I am sure everyone could add a few more to this.

While being offended when other mothers give me some of this unsolicited advice, I am ashamed to say that I occasionally dish some of it out myself.

And so I had to ask myself why? Why do I do the very thing that I find so annoying/rage-inducing about other moms? Is it revenge? Indifference? sadism?

But my answer was much less nefarious. I do it because parenting is intrinsically a loner sport. And that gets really lonely.

It is the one solitary thing you do in your life that no one can relate to. No one.Yeah, everybody has kids, but no one has your kids.

You are a beautifully complicated snowflake just like your child is a beautifully complicated snowflake. Furthermore, without a rule book, you are both teaching to and learning from each other, and it all happens in a very ephemeral and visceral way.

So you scored a big parenting win today? Don’t get to excited, because tomorrow it all resets back to 0.

Basically, we are predisposed for failure. No one is going to get a 100 on this test, we can only hope for a passing grade.

I think I second guess myself at least 10 times a day when it comes to my parenting. Should I feed them that? Are they getting too much/too little sleep? Is my disciplining technique effective, or am I just making things worse?

That is why they say being a parent is the hardest job. It is, because it is constantly changing, and no one can tell you how to do it right.

But still we search for a way to connect with other parents. We reach out to ask for advice, find a shoulder to cry on, or share in our triumphs.

Then we are P.O.ed when a parent shares their experience with us. It’s a vicious cycle. But we need to connect with each other, we need to find common ground. It’s important because no one can do this solitary, highly specialized job alone. We all need some support.

I guess if I think about it, the support and the camaraderie are so much more important to me than sheltering myself from the ‘advice’.

My advice on giving advice? Don’t do it.  Most people just want you to listen. occasionally someone will ask you how to change a baby’s diaper or is it ok to leave them alone with the dog for a few hours, which you should have quick and direct answers for. But what kind of formula do you use? Keep it simple. Using Brand B instead of Brand A is not going to compromise the health of their child, but ticking them off will jeopardize your friendship.

And when you inevitably get advice back don’t be offended. Save that for political discussions with your family.

 

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10 things no one tells you about breastfeeding

1. It’s hard – anyone that says differently is a liar, a man, or both. Those first few weeks are like putting the ultimate 3D jigsaw puzzle together.

2. It’s painful – even if your baby doesn’t squeeze your nipples and somehow latches on perfectly, they will still crack, bleed and peel – the first week. But you know what fixes that?

3. Breast milk will heal cracked nipples – I did everything until a nurse said ‘just express a little milk and rub it on them’. They were better the next day!

3. Your nipples go numb – which is awesome, because then you can start to truly enjoy breastfeeding and focus on making baby comfortable. And you, which is important if you are going to stick it out for the long haul.

4. THEN it gets easy – it’s like a right of passage; if you can stick it out those first few weeks, it eventually gets easier and pain-free. That’s good, because then…..

5. You will worry about making enough milk, always – those first few weeks and months you make a ton of it (freeze it! You will need it!) but then your amazing body will regulate and make exactly what baby needs. Which will freak you out. Don’t worry. If your pediatrician says baby is a healthy weight, you are doing just fine. Put down all those herbs and just stick with water and a healthy diet.

6. You may gain weight – seriously. Nursing burns 200-300 calories, sometimes more, but you will also be starving! And if you are like me and slow to heel, your body will hold on to all that fat regardless of how many calories you cut. Panda is 5 months and the scale is just now moving.

7. Get the good pump – you will use it, a lot. It will help with milk production the first few weeks and allow you to untether from baby occasionally in later months. Get the hands free bra and the double pump, and you can get the job done in under 10 minutes while sending emails/pinning to Pinterest. Call your insurance carrier and they will hook you up with a free pump. Mine was $300 retail. How much did I pay? $0. Thanks ACA.

8. It can get messy – my baby gets too much in her mouth and dribbles it out of the side of her mouth onto by bra, shirt, and everything. I have found that putting the burping cloth under her in the crevice between the two of us helps.

9. Pumping at work is super hard, but doable – I had to pump in the bathroom with no sink or outlet the first few months back. It was miserable, but I kept telling myself it would get better, and it did. I got a battery pack and washed all the parts in the community kitchen. I got into a groove with my nursing schedule and it just became part of my day.

10. Baby will love it, and you will too BUT it really is ok if you don’t – if you can make it work and push through the hard stuff, it’s a wonderful bonding experience for you and baby on top of all the health benefits. But it’s also not the end of the world if you can’t. Baby will get plenty of nutrition from formula and you will still bond. I’m breastfeeding Panda, but couldn’t with Squishy Bug. Squishy Bug and I are just as close, though.

It’s not really about the breast milk or organic baby food or baby wearing, it’s about nurturing. So Relax Mamma Bear, and just love your baby. The rest will work itself out.

Baby Fat

Panda was four months at her check up last week. That means it has been four months since I was pregnant and could get away with eating sleeves of chocolate chip cookies for dinner.

I didn’t actually do that, but I did develop a raging sweet tooth with this last pregnancy. 

And how come no one told me that breastfeeding makes you crazy hungry all the time?

I mean, my husband will eat dinner and be full, and I’m digging through the refrigerator thirty minutes later. 

Which is probably why I am not losing the weight. I am also not exercising, because I use my lunch hour every day to look for jobs. That is the only time I have all day to work out. 

It’s weird though, because I drink copious amounts of water. I am so nervous that my milk supply will dwindle that I am terrified to be away from my giant 32 oz. water container. I must drink at least three a day. Any more and I will be waterlogged. 

I also don’t eat bad either. My meals are mostly salads, snacks during the day our fruit. 90% of the time we have a lean protein and veggies for dinner. I do indulge in sweets, though. Ice cream, usually. But last night I didn’t, so I am going to gradually reduce the sugar intake and see what happens. 

But I am seriously afraid that I am not going to lose any weight until I stop breastfeeding. I have even gained 3 lbs.! How does that happen? I mean, I may be eating ice cream and avoiding my usual 2 mile run, but chasing a toddler and constantly changing and nursing an infant have to burn something, right?

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll revisit this topic in a few months and see where we are at. Hopefully not any fatter. I don’t want to have to buy a size larger in my maternity pants that I am still wearing. 

Potty Training Update

It is finally Friday again, thank the stars! I can’t wait to spend the whole weekend with my sweet babies. We might even go to the pool! That’s if I can get 700 things together first. I am imagine it will be like going on a road trip. I’ll pack too much, and everyone will be tired and miserable by the time we get there. Hooray for summer!

But what I wanted to say today was that after I lamented our potty training progress a few days ago Squishy Bug started going!

The key, it turns out, is using the BIG potty. That would be my husband and I’s bathroom. So I just ask him ‘do you want to go use the BIG potty?’ and it just trots in there. He did numbers 1 AND 2 this week!

It was a miracle!

And also I think he might be a genius.

Working Mom Dilemmas

So I’ve been taking my postpartum work situation day by day, but it is finally starting to come to an apex of sorts. I am going to have to take action very soon.

The main issue is child care.

The daycare our children attend is mostly wonderful, but because it is affiliated with the School District, most of the children are home with their teacher parents during the summer.

What does that mean for my kiddos? It means they get shuffled around to centers they have never been before, with care givers they don’t know, and children they have never played with.

Now Squishy Bug is very social and has already embraced making new friends. But he has his limits, and I don’t want to push them. It’s just not fair.

Panda’s situation is even more dire because she is so very tiny still. Her schedule is already off and I am getting up with her two and three times a night.

So all of that is making me very depressed.

And very very tired.

Because I still have to drag my butt to work each morning.

At work, I am still feeling some prickliness from coworkers, who to be fair, probably see that I am trying to change jobs. Are they justified in being mean? No, and I would never do that to one of them. But I understand wanting to move on with someone else eager to fill the position.

I am also having a hard time pumping at work, even though I did finally get my own office (Hooray!). I have to work in the field some and there is always a meeting to attend, so sometimes I am not getting to pump three times a day.

And lastly, there is the sadness.

I am sitting here at a desk while my sweet babies grow up with strangers. I can barely talk about it these days without crying.

So I am going to take some drastic measures soon. Exactly what, I am not sure, but something has to be done or I am going to have some major regret on my hands.

ZZZZzzzzz……

Sleep. It alludes me in the form of a 12 1/2 lb. baby girl.

It’s allergy season here in Central Texas. Just like our summers, allergy season lasts for about 14 months of the year. Naturally my family is plagued with them.

We actually all suffer from a variety of them with varying symptoms. I have chronic headaches, my children have runny noses and coughs, and my husband bleeds out of his ears and nose.

Not really, but he has pretty bad symptoms. One year he had a horrible mystery rash all over his neck and face. The doctor didn’t have a clue. Of course, after suffering through some allergen for most of the summer, it just went away. Bizarro. 

But my baby girl, ugh, bless her tiny heart and stuffy nose. 

She wakes up every half hour to rub her itchy nose and try to breath. I worry about that breathing part, so she sleeps in the recalled Nap Nanny between us at night. 

It’s my ‘go to’ for sick babies, because it keeps them inclined so all that junk can drain through her tiny sinuses. 

But I still worry and wake up a billion times, even if she goes right back to sleep. 

And she started waking up at 3am to itch her nose, finds she can’t breath that well, then starts crying. I use her saline drops, and that makes her ANGRY so I have no other choice but to nurse her, even though she’s not really hungry for night feedings anymore and can sleep a solid 8 hours at night. 

This always happens to my babies. I have them perfectly sleep trained, then some pesky cold or allergies comes along and derails everything. 

So I am waking up in tiny short intervals all night, then one long stretch at 3am. 

Now Mommy is delirious. 

Like, I think I’m getting sick too. And I can’t get sick, because I’m The Mommy, can I get an Amen? 

I am managing to keep my head above water at work, but just barely. I’m running on fumes, so it’s really hard to concentrate. It’s a really good thing I don’t operate heavy machinery. 

 

I Don’t Have Poop

This is what my kid says when we ask him if he needs to go to the bathroom.

He never ‘has poop’.

Oddly enough, later I find a whole lot of poop in his training pants.

I don’t know why we moved him over to those, he has yet to do business in the potty. But he is of potty training age, so I keep thinking, you know, fake it ’til you make it!

Oh boy, as I write this, I realize this may come back to haunt him one day. What if he is at an interview and just after asking him what his previous job responsibilities were, they lean over their computer for a moment, look up and say ‘now, I see that your mother wrote a blog about how you ‘don’t have poop’. Is constipation a problem for you, Mr. Squishy Bug?’

…..eh, I’ll come back and delete it later.

But can I get some help, Universe? This potty training business is just crap.

We have read the books, we have talked to other parents, but no technique, practice, bribery or voodoo is moving this process along. He just doesn’t want to do it.

Oh wait, unless he is at daycare. Oh yeah, at daycare, they don’t even ask HIM, he asks THEM. To add insult to injury, he did it in front of my mother the other day.

He just casually walked up to his teacher, tugged on her pants leg, and said, ‘Ms. Teacher, I need to go to the potty.’ Then marched into the bathroom with teacher and did his business without a single blood-curdling scream.

And you know, it’s probably because he hates me. But I expected that, that is part of parenting I assumed. But why can’t he take it out on me in some other way? Like refusing to watch TV and continuing to read or count.

My kid is glorious, like everyone else’s child. But Squishy Bug, looks like a tiny Norse God. He has even taken to acting like one. My kid has never met a stranger (note to self: Stranger Danger Talk needs to happen soon), nor is he ever at a loss for words, even when he didn’t know many. My kid is a talker. But more so, he is a commander. And we are all just here to do his bidding.

The terminology is strong-willed. I know what you are thinking: all toddlers are. Well, sure. But I am talking strong-willed like a cat over a bathtub. He has skillfully defied every training method and discipline method we have employed. He can counter any argument with baffling logic. And when argument doesn’t work, he screams and kicks. And man, that kid is strong.

And potty training is the biggest issue of contention. Our pediatrician says it likely has something to do with the new baby, and there has been a lot of Mommy clinginess going on lately, but I have my doubts that he would have gone to the throne willingly had he been the only child.

So as much as I pride myself in my ability to research my way around any problem, this one has me stumped. Or more accurately, pooped.

We are fighting the good fight, though, so I continue to keep my sleeves rolled up and ask every day ‘do you need to go potty?’ and ‘do you have poop?’ and I just know, one day, he is going to look up at me with those big beautiful penetrating eyes of his and say ‘Mom, don’t embarrass me in front of my friends!’.