Every Direction

I use Instagram for three things: keeping up with all of you (& my non-blog friends), inspiration for my Animal Crossing island (#nerdalert), and parenting information.

Let’s hone in on that last one.

Recently I started following some new (child) sleep experts and questioning every single thing I’ve done for M and her sleep habits. (Fear not- I question my parenting every hour of every day. All parents do…) It got me thinking… when it comes to parenting, advice and research is thrown at you from every direction.

Let’s think about a generic law. You show up to a store at 6:17pm and try the handle, only to find it locked. You notice that they closed at 6pm. What do the laws of the land dictate? You shrug your shoulders, turn around, and try another day. Breaking in would be wrong.

Ok… same situation, but apply the rules of parenting. Door is locked.
Well… some experts would suggest you jiggle the handle. Try tickling or stroking the keyhole to inducing unlocking.
Or you might try talking to the door about why it’s locked and whether or not it thinks that’s a good idea. If you’re more hands on, you might spank the door or shatter its glass to teach the door a lesson in defying you.
Try putting the door in time out and return 2 minutes later to see if anything has changed.
Maybe you don’t believe in locked doors. While locked doors might protect the herd, it’s not good for you and your family. You prefer open doors and plenty of sunshine.
**And there are no true consequences for any approach you take.**

That is a silly example, but it’s how it feels to read conflicting parenting advice on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

“You can’t co-sleep with your kid, you’ll crush them.” // “You put your child in a crib at 4 weeks?? Do you WANT them to die from SIDS?!”

“French fries will poison your toddler.” // “You know they make jar baby food, right? You don’t have to puree like a hippie.”

“Don’t give your child peanut butter(/eggs/fish/etc.) until they’re a year old.” // “Give you baby peanut butter before 6 months to reduce allergic reacts.”

“Breast is best.” // “Fed is best.” // “Goat milk is best.” // “Formula is full of sugar.”

“You must adhere to a strict and early vaccine schedule.” // “Make sure you talk to your doctor about spreading out shots and eliminating unnecessary ones.”

You get it.

It’s exhausting. (Arbitrary rules exist in more than parenthood, but this is trench I’m stationed in right now.) Like… give me a tried and true manual and I will follow the rules. Don’t give me this “Some experts say…” bullshittery.

Also… is fussing the same as crying it out? Because I would argue no but please don’t call the baby sleep police on me.

So what do you do? I don’t know. This isn’t an advice article. I’m just as clueless as the rest of ya.

A while back Kristen commented that she goes by, “Eat the fish, spit out the bones.” I can get on board with that. So here’s my not-tested, nonexpert-approved parenting advice:

Learn who your kid is. It’s tough because babies are potatoes but as they grow and their personalities emerge, change some of your routines and activities to foster their growth (and energy and sleepy cues and hunger pangs).

That’s the best I’ve got. Also- watch out for sleep regression and one-year-molars; they’re a true b*tch. I’ve heard the two-year-molars are just as gnarly. Will report back.

Best of luck, guys.

Baby Talk: What I’ve Learned

Being a mom is both nothing like I thought it’d be and everything I expected. I’ve always been introspective but motherhood really brings it out in me. What else am I supposed to do while rocking a fussy baby alone in the dark at 3am…?

Here are some truths I’ve learned over the past +13 months.

These are the good ol’ days.

Yesterday, today, two weeks from now. There is some “good ol” in every day. The newborn stage wasn’t for me, but looking back we had lovely days just lounging around together (because I was too exhausted to move). M is a freaking monkey and I am dead tired by the end of the day, but when I ask for “snuggs” and she wraps her arms around me and bite-kisses me, I know I have it good. And there are so many good ol’ days to look forward to with her.

You trade one mess for another.

As I hang Moo’s clothes in her closet she sits under my feet and unpacks the bins of bows and hats. While I wash dishes in the sink she squirms in her highchair and rubs spaghetti sauce in her hair. It’s chaos and the only way through it is understanding that if you want to get anything done, you simply trade one mess in for another.

There is no good & bad- just baby.

We were so proud of ourselves for training M to sleep in her own bed. But at 4am when she just wants to be held you know what I can’t do? I can’t bring her to our bed because she thinks it’s playtime. I love that we have a super little eater but you know what she does when I have ANYTHING edible in my hand? She fusses and cries because she wants a bite. She knows where her nose is but sticks her finger in it if you ask about it. She loves the dogs but sometimes won’t leave them alone. There’s no good and bad… there’s just a baby figuring it all out.

You find a focus & you obsess.

It seems like moms fixate on one or two things. “I MUST breastfed and my worth is based on my success… We WILL follow baby led weaning to the T and we will not supplement with purees… My child NEEDS to sleep X amount of hours in the morning and X amount at night to ensure perfect REM sleep”…
I’m the sleep mom. And it’s paid off, but I have been the sleep police with Moo since week 4. It’s funny how parents pick one or two areas to OBSESS over. Pay attention- because we definitely do it.

And perhaps the most bitter truth…

She will never love me as much as I love her.

It sucks having this realization. Then I realize how much my mom actually loves me. And K’s mom loves him. And really how much any half-decent mom loves their kid. And there is no possible way for that child to love their parent as much. It’s selfish to wish that she would, but dang…

And on that note…. I’m going to go scroll my phone and watch newborn videos.

What has parenthood or aunt-hood or guardian-hood taught you?

Baby Talk: Dear New Mom

Happy Thursday. This has been on my heart so I wanted to get it out.

Dear New Mom,

First of all, congratulations! Secondly, how are you? Welcome to what I would describe as the hardest month/six weeks of your life. I am 7 months and 3 weeks into this parenting thing and, admittedly, we both have a long way to go… but there’s a massive difference between where you’re at and where I’m at, so I wanted to give you some encouragement.

Let’s get this out of the way: there is nothing wrong with you.

If you want to do laundry and organize the pantry while baby sleeps, do it. If you want to hold your baby while she sleeps, do it. If you want to take a nap while he’s snoozing, do it. There isn’t a wrong way and you shouldn’t feel guilty. Listen to your body and your brain.

But also… tell your brain to can it. You’re going to feel guilt. Guilt over a dirty house. Guilt over “spoiling” your baby (<< impossible.) Guilt over wanting to hand baby off to a visitor while you do dishes/nap/shower(/cry).

Stop that. Guilt only sucks whatever energy and stamina you have left. There is no wrong way to survive the first month as long as you’re taking care of your brain and body.

But let’s talk about your body. Girlfriend… it’s straight up broken– whether you pushed baby out or underwent a cesarean. (And if you adopted you’re STILL not running at 100% because babies suck the life out of you no matter what.) I know it takes all your energy to stand or roll out of bed for the 100th time to feed a crying baby. I know you pee when you sneeze… or cough… or move. I know there are stretch marks and swelling and ouchies everywhere. I know your boobs hurt.
Not to mention your brain and your hormones and your insides…

The six week gap between birth and your first appointment is B U L L S H I T . If you need to see the doctor sooner, do it. (I went twice- once for PPD and once for an infection.) Give your body what it needs- antidepressants, sleep, Tylenol, etc. Even if you’re breastfeeding, the doctors can work with you and figure out how to help. Talk to them.

And now for the most important part: accept the help (& do so without feeling guilty!).

If you have a spouse, let them raise that baby, too. They’re not helping you or watching the kid, they’re raising their child. If you have family nearby that you trust and love, accept their help. Let them spend the night or drive you to your doctor appointment or pick up the groceries for you. If you have a trusted neighbor let them come over and rock the baby to sleep while you shower. Say YES when you need the help or want the break. I was bad about this & I regret it.

I know you’ve heard this before & I hope it’s not coming across as unsolicited advice.

Please know that sometimes these are not the golden days… Sometimes these are the make-it-or-break-it days. You’re tired and sore; it’s tough to truly enjoy anything in those moments. But the days will get better and better. Motherhood will start to feel more natural over time. Your baby will recognize you and smile at you. You will figure out how to squeeze in sleep and brushing your teeth and maybe even a shower.

It doesn’t get easier necessarily, but you get much much better at it. And you’ll realize that all things end- good or bad. The crying, the sleepless nights, the snuggles, the helplessness… it will all end eventually and you’ll come out on the other side.

For the new moms in my life, if you want to reach out I am available. You can vent, ask me to mask-up and hold your baby, or run to the grocery store with a long list.

You will get through this. Your baby will thrive. You are doing a fantastic job. ❤️