I was prepped and educated on a lot of helpful information before having a baby of my own, but no one could have prepared me for the beautiful yet colossal lesson in humility that it would bring. For some reason, this week especially has been a reminder for me of how little I actually knew about being a parent before I was one.
After having a living, breathing kiddo of my own I had to unlearn that…
1. A natural childbirth was the ONLY way to go. I had a birth plan that was my recipe for a natural childbirth. But then I started having actual contractions and immediately asked my husband to call in the midwife and get me “the juice”. Unfortunately (luckily?) I was already way past the point of getting an epidural by that time. I am quite glad that I experienced a “natural” (that term is so ambiguous) childbirth and I wouldn’t change a thing about our birth. But the reality was that I had no idea what childbirth was going to be like until I was actually in that situation. Every childbirth is a miracle. Period. That means that there was no need/reason to place judgement on myself for something I decided on in the moment that was different than what was in my birth plan (that I made long before I ever felt a contraction). The next go around (if there is one), I will not be walking into the hospital with a birth plan. Instead, I will trust myself, my husbands support, and my decisions considering that I now know that every birth is different.
2. Breastfeeding is easy. Boy, was I in for a doozy of a lesson on that one. I won’t go into too much detail here bc heaven knows I have already written a novel on that one. I think it goes without saying that I adore breastfeeding. It is my profession and my passion. But that being said, I definitely had to unlearn the idea that breastfeeding would always be easy and instead learn empathy, grace and healing on that one.
3. Sleep would return to normal as soon as we came home from the hospital. What in the world was I thinking? I knew that babies need to eat on demand which usually means at least every 3 hours for the first several months. And yet I somehow thought I would be getting 8 straight hours of sleep right away. Pshh. Rookie mistake, I know. The reality is that I think I have gotten 8 straight hours of sleep maybe once in the past 13 months. Yep. I know that is not “normal”, but we have struggled with sleep from the get go. Typically at this point I would spend at least 5 minutes explaining to you how our breastfeeding issues in the beginning set us up for struggles with sleep, how sleep training has been SUCH a struggle for us, etc. etc. etc. But that brings me to my next point…
4. I have to validate every struggle we go through to others. If it wasn’t already obvious, I am a recovering people pleaser. One of the biggest lessons I have learned in parenting Micah is that not everyone is going to agree with the way I/we parent… AND THAT IS OKAY. As a matter of fact, a lot of random people are going to try to persuade me on their parenting techniques that they swear up and down on are going to work for my kiddo too. And that’s fine. I can smile and nod and walk away without explaining the past 13 months to each and every person that asks me if my son is sleeping through the night. I can save those conversations for my close friends and family who know us and our situation. 🙂 So I have learned to stop explaining “why” to the random person at the checkout lane in Target who happens to ask if Micah is sleeping through the night. The answer is no, he isn’t. And that is that.
5. There is one right parenting method for everyone. Attachment parenting, Ferberizing, crying it out, never crying it out, discipline styles, spanking, never spanking, etc. Boy have I learned a LOT about the different opinions regarding these ideas and more in the past 13 months. And boy have I seen the judgement that comes along with each side that our culture can throw. Don’t believe me? Just google “Attachment Parenting” and let the games begin. Thankfully, I have friends all around me with many differing opinions and yet none of whom judge. I have the best of friends. 🙂 You know who you are. But what I have learned… every child is different. Every child’s needs are different. Maybe a book isn’t going to have all the answers for my child. Maybe it will for another child. Great. Now it’s time to throw away the judgement for those with differing opinions. I have yet to meet a mother that isn’t doing what they feel is best for their child’s needs. You?
6. Kids (if disciplined well) will never make a mess or throw a fit at a restaurant. Ha! Kids throw food on the floor. Every kid will test their parent’s limits. Yes, I do believe that a temper tantrum needs to be addressed. BUT maybe it’s dinner time and that parent is absolutely exhausted and simply needs a little grace from the bystanders. And maybe it’s ok to just ask for a broom from the restaurant staff and clean up the mess at the end of the meal. I don’t speak from experience on that one. No way, not me. I always said that would never be my child. 😉
7. Being a stay at home mom would be easy (and always fun). I currently work from home and go into the office one day a week. I remember crying during pregnancy while trying to decide whether or not to go back to work. I always knew finances would help dictate that decision, but boy was it hard to finally decide that I wanted to go into the office at least once a week. But let me tell you… I love the gig I’ve got. I am both a working momma and a stay at home momma. And I will also tell you that in my experience, the stay at home part is WAY harder than I expected. It’s 24-7. It’s cleaning up puke and changing clothes 3-10 times/day. It’s not brushing my teeth until after noon on some days. It’s playing and cuddling and kissing and rocking. It’s better than I ever imagined. It’s absolutely, hands down the best gig I’ve ever had. And it’s hard. I learned to give myself grace and that it’s okay to say that I enjoy actually blow drying my hair once a week and putting on something other than my “I-don’t-actually-do-yoga-pants” to go into the office. I’ve learned that there isn’t a “right” answer to staying at home or not, and that it is a VERY individual decision/situation for every family out there.
I’ve got about a bazillion more. But those are for another day and another time. Right now, I’ve got a cute kiddo waking up in his crib making hilarious noises to attend to.
Oh, but one thing I did get right about having a baby even before he was actually here was knowing my heart would grow like crazy. I just never could have expected how much. 🙂