Monday, June 20, 2005

The post in which I most likely will offend

Disclaimer: My intention is not to offend anyone but more to get my thoughts out on where I stand with different parenting methods. And while I'm sure I may offend some of you out there with my blatant naiveté and lack of experience to back up any "theories" I have, just a reminder this is about me...not you (that's what personal blogs are all about, right!) And I mean all of this in the most loving way. I know that parenting is a very personal matter and what works for some parents won't work for others and even within the same family, what works for some babies won't work for the next one. This I understand and this is why the following is in no way a personal attack on anyone and their choice of parenting despite me constantly using my sister as an example. I do hope every parent can keep an open mind including myself.

I'm really just curious and anxious to find out exactly how this parenting thing works. I have my ideas on what I want to do, I have my theories on what I think it will be like and what will work best. What I should do and what I should not do. But most of all I'm really curious to find out just how hypocritical I'll end up after all this is said and done. Can I really practice what I preach? Although I try to only preach to myself (and my poor husband) so hopefully any hypocrisy won't be too obvious to outside parties. But I often find myself biting my tongue when talking to other parent's and some of their thoughts and practices (i.e. my sister) and I am sure plenty of people bite their tongues when I talk.

1. Breast Feeding - Yes I feel it's best, yes I want to do it, yes I will give it all I have and not give up after only trying for a week (assuming no special circumstances arise). I know it's something that takes work and patience. But no I will not feel bad or like a failure if it doesn't work out for whatever reason. And I never feel it's my place to say to any non-breast feeding mom that they should do it. I don't know thier personal situation. Although it was REALLY hard not to say anything to my sister when she looked at me and said "Are you SURE you want to breast feed I heard it hurts." In that instance I was very tempted to fire back about she should have tried or at least given it some thought. But that would have been more for retaliation purposes so I refrained.

I admit I was completely clueless about breastfeeding before I started to read about it and learn, despite what breast feeding mom's told me. I assumed because it is such a natural process, that all you had to do was stick a boob in the baby's mouth. Oh how I've learned. And honestly I didn't even realize the ENTIRE thing had to be in their mouth, I thought it was just the nipple part. Oh how I've learned again. I heard a lot about mom's not making enough milk and all the tips and wives tales on how to increase it so that was a fear of mine. "I won't drink enough water so I won't have any milk. I'll have to drink a beer a day to stimulate milk supply" - which would be torture for me- I've learned that MOST of the time it's typically not that the mom doesn't make enough, it's usually other factors like improper latch, insufficient suckling, not being able to relax or just not doing it enough to build up your supply. So that calmed my nerves a bit. I thought it was kind of luck of the draw, either you make enough or not. Oh how I've learned.

2. Attachment Parenting - I really like the theories behind this method. But there are a few things that I don't necessarily feel comfortable with so I think this will be a basic guideline for me but not a strict set of rules. I do feel there are a lot of misconceptions about what it is and I feel it will be difficult to get some family members to see the way or at least get them to shut about it if they disagree. I first heard about it through a friend and while it took me a while to really get what she was saying, it made me curious to learn about it and I'm glad I did.

3. Baby Wearing - I am not sure why but I already feel very strongly about this. It just seems right to me. I've heard of some babies just not liking the sling but I hope that isn't our case. Not only will I wish I could constantly hold my child close but I think Bryan would give me a hard time about all the money I've spent on various baby carrying devices if they go unused! I tried to get my sister into this because early on she complained how she had to hold her son for him to be content yet she couldn't because it wasn't practical. So without hesitation I suggested the hands free baby wearing. But despite my encouragement she never gave it a try and probably not even a second thought. I really feel slings make more sense than strollers. Now I definitely feel there are times when a stroller is best but all I know when her and I were trying to push her big honkin' stroller through the mall at Christmas time it was one of the most stressful things and the baby could not have enjoyed that anymore than we did. I think she just assumes babies = strollers.

4. Co-sleeping - all for it. I will say however that if my baby is willing to sleep in his crib, then halleluiah. Now we have the mini co-sleeper because as of right now I don't necessarily feel comfortable having our son directly in the bed with us. Mainly because I know what kind of sleepers we are and don't feel it's the safest bet. Bryan and I used to get in fist fights during our sleep (maybe there was some deeper psychological reason for this but we'd laugh it off the next day) and I already feel the bed is too small for us 2. Maybe this will change but for now I think the Co-sleeper fits our needs. (Yet another thing I suggested to my sister when she went for weeks without sleeping since her son wanted to be in bed with her yet she was too scared to have him there).

5. Spanking for discipline - don't like it, don't want to do it, get fired up when I see it. Yes I was spanked and do I really want my child to turn out like me? No fucking way. I don't want to threaten my child with the "possibility" of spanking either. My goal is not to instill any kind of fear in my child but help him learn from his behavior and understand why he shouldn't be doing something. I don't want him to not do something just because he thinks he'll get spanked. I want him to see the big picture. The last thing I want my child to feel is any kind of fear from me or Bryan. I know what it feels like to fear a parent and I clearly have yet to recover! But oh lord, please give me some more patience!

6. Labeling - I couldn't find a good link on this but this is just always something I felt strongly about. Growing up with 3 other sisters, we each had our label. And for me personally I tried to live up to the label daily...and guess what, it wasn't a very good label to be. But even positive labels "the smart one" etc just don't seem fair to me. I see them as limiting and I want my child to feel he is and can be whatever he wants to be (unless it falls in the raging psychopath category).

7. Materialism - This is one thing I really hope to steer my child away from. There are so many outside influences that regardless of how hard we try in our home to prevent this, I feel it will be a daily challenge. I'll admit I grew up very, very materialistic. It took me a long time to overcome this (like up till last month) and every now and then it still comes out. I get mad when I already hear family saying "oh we can't wait to spoil him" or "he's going to be so spoiled." To me "spoil" has a negative connotation. Anything "spoiled" is generally bad...a "spoiled" surprise, "spoiled" milk, "spoiled" brat...see what I mean? I rather hear "oh we can't wait to show him how much he's loved." Maybe it's wrong of me to assume they mean spoil him with materialistic items but when they are referring to how spoiled he's going to be at Christmas time, I can't help but think it. My child will always have what he needs and obviously things he doesn't need. I just don't want it to become expected and I want him to really appreciate everything he has and not move on to the next thing he wants 5 minutes later. I saw this in my nephew who is now almost 20 years old. There are kids who want things and then there are kids who want things and completely freak out if they don't get them, so badly that they generally end up with whatever it is they wanted. That was my nephew. I'm hoping I can teach my child that those things aren't important without him feeling deprived. I don't want to have to ban all commercials/TV in our house to accomplish this either, hopefully he'll learn this.

Well there you have it, I think those are my main "parenting" methods. That said, we'll find out how many I really stick to. I know this is all easier said than done, I'm not stupid. And I know for every reason I have for wanting to do something, someone out there has a reason why I shouldn't. And it may be just as valid. I also know that just because this is what I want to do, does not mean I feel someone who does something different is any less of a parent than I am. I know there are going to be millions of better parents out there and also tons of parents who will make me look like Mom Of The Year. I think my toughest challenge will be consistency.

My overall goal is to be open minded. I want to learn about different methods for doing something. Like with attachment parenting, I never knew about it, but once I heard about it, I was curious to know more. I didn't just chalk it up to something else I didn't know and didn't really need to learn. I don't want to be like my sister and how anything she heard just went in one ear and out the other (I know I complain about unsolicited advice but in the case with her and I it was different!) I just wish she had researched my suggestions and made decisions on her findings instead of just blowing them off saying they won't help. What it comes down to is I'm going to do what feels right for me and my family and hope for the best. That's all we can do right?!


Blogger dk said...

Your ideas seem well thought out and I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be able to pull it off!

The hardest thing I have come across in the "labeling" section is avoiding the labels put on by the well-meaning (and you will find out soon just how "well-meaning" everyone can be_) relatives.

I cringe when I hear my oldest child being referred to as "the good one" because what does that mean for my other two?

Good luck!

9:55 AM  
Blogger Elaine said...

Your list is awesome. Here's my 2 cents (before my toddler demands something else... guess she's the "needy one" HAH!)

1. Make sure you have a good LC on hand, those ladies are PRICELESS for getting your bf relationship established. Use them even if you don't think you need to and you will not fail. I know you can do it, you should KNOW this as well.

3. I would never have the use of my hands without my slings. They are freaking BRILLIANT and your baby will LOVE them.

4. Co-Sleeping is also brilliant and the best way to get enough sleep not to kill the baby. Seriously, you actually lower the risk of SIDS by co-sleeping (as long as you don't smoke, drink or do drugs).

5. Yo.

Try reading, "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk." This will help you with #6 & 7.

On a related note: Stop reading the "What to expect..." books. They are evil.

You go, mama! i wish I had put so much thought into my parenting choices before I had kids!

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Carol said...

I have to tell you that from the first day I read your blog, I have been impressed by your level of knowledge about parenting! It's not often that you come across someone who does their research *before* the baby is born. Also, there's no reason to believe that breastfeeding won't work out. Your body is making that baby, just like it's supposed to. It'll continue to do what it's supposed to :D You seem to have a firm grasp on all of the resources available to you. So, if you run into some bumps in the road, give your local LLL leader a call. Or email me (lol). We really do care!

I think your philosophies are awesome. Stick to your guns, parent from your gut and you'll do just fine. One of the hardest things about parenting is having the courage to stand up for your beliefs.

You're going to be a great mama and your little one sure is lucky!

10:23 AM  
Blogger michaela said...

i second carol here. :) in fact, i'm sure that i'll be asking you questions in a couple months! :)

and the labeling? argh! i'm already fighting that - and mia's only 9 months old!

11:26 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

Hey, I am so with you on most of these things (and your other commenters as well). Breastfeeding was agony for me with Lily mainly because I overzealously tried pumping that first week ( I wasa still working at my lab and was concerned about producing enough milk) and got a painful infection and blablabla. With Emma it was still painful but only for the first few just takes a while to get used to that kind of suction...and yes, most of our early trials was due to an improper latch. Back in my Mom's day the drs didnt push BF for all kinds of weird reasons...but I'm glad the stigma is mostly gone nowdays. Good luck to you with it, I imagine you'll be really pleased. Not to mention all the crappy money you save on formula. :) Parenting is all about planning, laying it out, trying, and then learning what needs to change. One of the hardest parts is taking a step back and realizing when something isn't working you have to change. And everyone knows, change is just plain hard. I think you've got a great attitude about the whole thing, Cara.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Pseudo-intellectual lunatic said...

great blog :) i love it

1:08 PM  
Blogger KELLI BELLY said...

It's great that you've researched so much! I knew from the start that you guys would be great parents! I love breastfeeding and cried when my kids stopped! I have no doubt that you guys will do whats best for you and your baby!BABIES one day! Next baby I'm going to try out the sling. A friend of mine let me borrow her Mei Tei and It's great too! Love you guys.;0)

1:42 PM  
Blogger moi said...

breastfeeding - indeed it takes work and prolly will be painful at first. but it is very much worth it.

cosleeping - we have a mini cosleeper also, and i feel our bed is too small for DH and me too! we constantly battled for space while I was pregnant. The first few nights at home Elaina slept in the crook of my arm in my bed because I couldn't bear to put her in the cosleeper, she would root her way all the way to the edge of it closest to me and it broke my heart. and I couldn't relax. A week or so after we got home tho I put her in the cosleeper and we both slept fine. I still put her in bed with us if she wakes every time I lay her down, cause she sleeps better next to me. I also bring her into bed after the last feeding of the night/morning so we get snuggly time at the beginnning of the day:) She sleeps in between me and the cosleeper when she's there.

babywearing - I'm trying!! I wish I'd bought more than one whilst pregnant cause the only one I got, a hotsling, 3/4 of the time I want to stomp it into the ground cause it's near impossible to get it in. I have a mei tai on the way, hope I like it better...

4:44 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Flinger said...

Oh, totally. I think open minded is 100% necessary but it's good to have an idea going in. We wanted to have LB in our room at night but it SO didn't work out. I was sad about it at first, but it didn't work for her or us. Nobody slept (she was LOUD and we woke her everytime we'd roll over). The bfeeding didn't work for me (breast reduction and uterin infection to name a few) and I wish I had realized that it was OK if it didn't work. You're still OK and so is baby.

Materialism.. GAWD, I'm RIGHT THERE WITH YOU. I do not know how to say "STOP BUYING HER SHIT." Ok, so that would be a nice start. .. except that I've actually said that...

6:02 PM  
Blogger Melinda said...

Just like with everything else BF will get easier with each day you do it. And just remmeber it wont hurt forever. From my personel experience it didnt really hurt after the first few days, i guess enough time for the Nipies to get a lil tougher, lol. But i will say i didn't get thrush of the Nips or even chapping, for those women i feel for. The sling... I didnt have a sling but i had a carrier and used it ALOT until my son was about 2 months then he was just Too big and it hurt my shoulders (would put terriable painful indents in them) , but than again my second son was 9 and 1/2 pounds when he was born so by 2 months he was like 15 pounds... My first son HATED the carrier and would cry anytime he was in it, It just wouldnt position him the way he liked to be held so i became and expert of doing things with one hand. Labeling is tuff. It can be bad and good at the same time. Depending on the label! It can show off there special quality or on the downside play up a not so wonderful quality. And i didnt really have a "label" for my first son until the second one came along..Its hard very hard! But i think your right, just stay open minded and remeber what works for one kid (or mom) doesnt always work for ANOTHER and dont beat yor self up over it!

8:15 PM  
Blogger rina said...

I love your blog and agree with most of what you have to say. co-sleeping didn't work for me. I could't relax fully with my baby in the bed with me because i was afraid any tiny movement would wake him. He loves his crib, thank god, and my husband is happier when we can snuggle freely in bed.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Carol said...

Cara - you probably already know this but I feel compelled to comment *again* lol. But breastfeeding should not hurt. If it does, there's a problem that is easy enough to resolve. Don't hesitate to get help! You might have some initial uncomfortableness but there definately should not be pain.

Hope you are feeling good today!

9:22 AM  
Blogger Mama C-ta said...

Thank you everyone for your kind words and support! I wasn't sure what kind of reaction I would get and it's great hearing all the positive reinforcement.

DK - that's exactly what I mean about the labeling..even though it's not such a bad label for "the good one" what does that mean for your other 2?!

Gingerlane - I heard that book recommended several times. It really sounds helpful so I'm def. gonna pick it up!

Carol - I'm totally holding on to your contact info and won't hesitate to use it if I have any BF issues! There is going to be a LC at my hospital but I wasn't *super* impressed w/the LC that taught the BF class so not sure what I'll get in the hospital.

Michaela - Ha! I doubt I'll ever be a resource for good parenting!

Anne - I hear ya on change. I've seen parents w/the best intentions but they don't see it's just not working. I think that's going to be a big challenge for me too!

P.I.L - (sorry too long of a name to type!) Thanks and stop by anytime!

Kelli Belly - Thanks and hope you know you have been one of my most invaluable mom resources!

Angela - I almost bought a hotsling, I thought they were supposed to be pretty good! Glad to know now before I buy one. And I *think* I have a mei tai on the way as well from another B'more hip mama! I hear they are great!

Mrs. Flinger - LOL, I have to get used to saying that line "Stop buying him shit!" And I'm glad you now see that it's OK BF didn't work out for you guys. You tried and there isn't anything worse than for others to try and make you feel bad especially when it can be out of your control!

Melinda - I too, am expecting a 9 1/2 pounder so we'll see how long I can carry this big boy around! Maybe I'll get a surprise and have one more in the 8 lb range!

Rina - thanks for stopping by as well. I'll be very happy if our son loves his crib, we paid good money for that thing! :)

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Carol said...

Cara - I have a Hotsling & it's by far my most favorite sling. You can see pictures of me and Lili in it on my blog :) I found it super easy to use and to get baby in and out of (over and over and over again, lol).

The thing w/ slings is that you really have to try out a few and find one that suits you best. Don't be afraid to buy one & try it. If you hate it you can almost always get your money back out of it by selling it off on Ebay! :)

Hang in there, lady -- all of this is almost over, can you believe it?!

10:52 AM  
Blogger Candice said...

You know, with my first son I only breastfed for 4 months.He was a very hard baby, always refusing the breast. Always crying. We never had a sling, we had a carrier and we let him sleep in our bed. Alot of attatchment parenting we did was because it was what seemed right. By the time my second son came around, I was much more experienced. My second son has grown with the comforts of a sling, we still use one at 16 months. He also breastfed until 11 months. Really, we breastfed each boy as long as it seemed what was working best, what was easiest for everyone. At 11 months he started back up to feeding every hour on the hour. Both my boys now start out the night in their own beds, Cole, the youngest usually ends up in bed with me around midnight, and Jordan comes into bed about twice a week.
My summary? You will figure out what works best for you and your family. You will ALWAYS encounter fear and judgement and labels.
My father in law still calls me his crazy hippie vegetarian daughter in law. I know they can't stand some of my beliefs. For instance, they think the resolution for my eldests' latest outbursts is to smack him around a bit more! I practically told them to fuck off. Especially seeing as how they are the ones who cause the outbursts in him, by not knowing how to communicate with a 4 year old.
I've run off again. Sorry for the diarrhea of the mouth. HA!

12:49 PM  

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