October 31, 2012

Misty Watson: From illiterate to pro mom

I’m kind of surprised we’ve survived this first year.

Considering I had never so much as changed a diaper before my daughter was born, I didn’t know how to hold a baby until my daughter was laid across me moments after she was born, I didn’t know how to burp a baby, nurse a baby, bathe a baby, etc. Well, no need to go on with that list. You get the picture.

I was baby illiterate.

After a year, I feel like I’m a pro. OK. Maybe not a pro. I’m on the amateur circuit. OK. Maybe not even that advanced. Let’s go with we’re both still alive.

Sophie Grace Wheeler (If you’re wondering why we don’t have the same last name it’s because I never changed my byline to include my married name after I got married six and a half years ago) entered this world on Oct. 25, 2011 at 6:11 p.m. and I haven’t had a dull moment since. In fact, I sometimes pray for a dull moment because I miss the feeling of occasionally “being bored.”

During the past year, I’ve learned my style of parenting is what’s called “attachment parenting.” We’re those hippie moms. You know, the ones who wear their babies strapped to their chests, nurse in public, don’t give our babies food until they’re at least six months old and aren’t concerned with teaching a child to “self soothe” by letting it lay in the crib crying. (I know some of you are appalled by that sentence, and I’m OK with that because chances are, I wouldn’t agree with your parenting style.) In fact, I become outraged when I hear people, especially those in the medical profession, telling mothers their children should be sleeping through the night by a certain point and then encourage them to let their babies cry so they’ll learn to self soothe.

I’ve learned I really don’t care what others think of my parenting decisions. My husband, Chris, and I agree on what’s best for our daughter and we mostly ignore unsolicited advice from others. Well, often we roll our eyes at unsolicited advice.

I’ve learned to be humble enough to ask for help when I need it and humble enough to accept it when offered. I’ve never had any trouble accepting help from my husband or my mother. I’m not that proud. The best thing you can do for a breastfeeding mother in those early weeks is ask her, “What can I do for you? Can I bring you supper? Can I sweep your floors?” Having a neighbor help me mow my yard a few times this summer was one of the best things anyone has done for me.

I began asking other mothers for help, help with nursing, help with understanding why Sophie is sometimes clingy and sometimes not (To all mothers: buy the book “The Wonder Weeks.” It has been a lifesaver this year.), help with introducing solid foods (we chose to go with baby-led weaning over purees), help with pumping at work, help with latch problems when nursing, etc.

I’ve learned I prefer cloth diapers over disposable.

I’ve learned babies develop personalities way sooner than I ever thought. My daughter is hilarious. She wags her finger and shakes her head no before doing something she knows she’s not supposed to (like playing in the dogs’ water bowl). I imagine the cartoons where there’s an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.

I’ve learned people ask some really inappropriate questions, and I don’t mean family or friends. I mean strangers in Ingles or Dollar General in Chatsworth ask really inappropriate questions: “Was she planned?” “When are you going to have another?” “Don’t you think you miss a lot by not staying at home with her instead of working?”

For all those I have my own snarky answer, but I usually bite my tongue. (Don’t you think my daughter would miss a lot if I stayed home with her. You know? Things like the roof over her head and the cucumbers and potatoes she loves so much).

I’ve learned that no matter how hard I try to protect her, there will be times I fail.

I’ve learned I am not “SuperMom” but I will never stop trying to be her.

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