Every single person has an opinion about almost every single thing. This is most profoundly true when it comes to parenting. I’ve noticed people will most readily share their opinions about this topic, whether solicited or not, (and what’s funnier) whether they’re a parent or not.
Now I will say that I can’t judge because I myself had preconceived notions about parenting and the way in which I would go about doing so myself. And what’s worse, I felt that I was more prepared to do so and had a vast knowledge of children because I had taken an Early Childhood class for one semester in college and because I had been around children so often as an educator.
I took courses through the hospital, I paid for a “Twinniversity” class (that was actually pretty helpful) and followed as many baby-caregiver sites as I could on social media.
However, as soon as they help you load those newborns into the carseats and they send you packing and there are no longer sweet, angel nurses coming in and out of your room to give you an extra helping hand, well…
Screw your opinions. Screw your preconceived notions about what you thought you knew about parenting.
Because everything you researched and everything you thought you knew and every opinion you ever received from a “Karen,” will go flying out the window.
Because you’re in survival mode, people.
I swear you will do the things you said you’d “never do” as a parent just to get fifteen more minutes of sleep. You will do the unthinkable, like give your child a pacifier when they’re younger than what the CDC recommends so mommy can have a teeny second of silence, when you swore you’d wait a full three to four weeks before introducing.
So, the following are some of the things I said I’d never do as a parent (mind you, before I was a parent so, like, what the freak did I know?). Let’s laugh together.
1. “My children will be exclusively breastfed.”
I’ve said my peace about this one in my last blog post, “Breast is Best” or “Fed is Best”?
You might say you’d only breastfeed until you actually experience it. Or your baby has trouble latching. Or you find out your having two little mouths to feed.
2. “I will never co-sleep with my children.”
This is laughable. Because guess where my kids spend most of their nights? In mommy and daddy’s bed…
While I agree co-sleeping can be dangerous, I can also argue that co-sleeping is all our species did a few centuries ago. And tiny babies like to be with their mamas and daddies.
So when it’s 3 a.m. and your baby isn’t sleeping in their beautiful bassinet you hand picked just for them, and the only time they’ll settle and sleep is when they’re on you…sometimes you have to do what you said you would never do…and put that baby on your chest and go to sleep.
“Megan, how could you do that?”
My rebuttal? As a mom, I am now 100% certain that I haven’t actually hit REM sleep since I brought these guys home from the hospital. Every grunt, sigh, and repositioning these guys have done (whether in bed with me or in their bassinet) has caused me to wake up. That’s a lot of awake time for me, but a lot of opportunities to check on my babies. So yes, sleeping with them is a risk, but sometimes has been some of the only chances both mama and babies have gotten sleep. And we need sleep to function.
3. “I will not give my children pacifiers until they’re a month old (or not at all, if possible).”
This one is also really laughable. Because pacifiers are what keep the peace around this household. You can almost always catch one parent screaming, “Where’s his paci?!?!” whilst holding a screaming baby.
James was immediately given a pacifier in the NICU. I used pacifiers two days after coming home from the hospital.
Why? Because they do just what they say…they pacify. When, as a new mom, I’m learning how to breastfeed one baby (because twins are two different babies and come with their own strengths and challenges), the other that isn’t nursing is definitely hungry. Pacifiers are the one thing (besides breaking down and bottle feeding one while I breastfeed the other) that can prevent a hungry newborn meltdown.
My babies were born as “late-preemies,” so the pacifier actually helped them practice their sucking reflex which they needed in order to eat.
I used to worry about things like, “If we give them paci’s, they’ll have dental problems later,” or “They’ll get addicted and we’ll have to wean them off them and that’s a nightmare.”
Honestly…these boys can go to college with a binky in their mouth for all I care. This is survival mode…find what works and survive the newborn stage.
Plus, if NICU nurses are giving them pacifiers, who am I to take it away?
4. “I’m going to start them on a schedule as soon as possible.”
Okay…this one I’m still hoping to achieve. And I’m four months into this.
While researching schedules and reading a bunch of books is all fine and good, I can honestly say that every morning I just fly by the seat of my pants.
I’ve tried the “same wake time” and feeding them at the same time, but surprise surprise…life will, and always does, happen.
Newsflash: you can’t even sleep train until 4-6 months, anyway. (Unless God gifts you with a baby that comes into this world already sleeping through the night…and I’ve heard such unicorns exist).
Therefore, I wake them at the same time everyday. And if I feed one then I feed the other. However, most of my day is ordered by nature. You wanna sleep? I’ll rock you. You’re awake? Let’s do some tummy time. And on the rare occasion that I get both babies napping at the same time? Heck, I’ll put on a load of laundry. (Or on a very real note, I’ll take a nap with them).
As much as I’d love a concrete schedule everyday, things don’t work like that for me. I run more of a “what happens, happens” routine. The days I’ve tried rigid schedules are the days I’m most stressed out. Therefore, they feed on demand and sleep if they need it and diaper changes happen when diapers are full.
For now, that’s what works.
5. I will not forget about my needs. I’ll make sure to make time for me.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
Have I brushed my teeth today? Did I eat today? Wow, I’m really thirsty. Have a had water today? Or just coffee? Going pee? Wow, that was two minutes I had just for me.
As much as I might have said I’d make time for myself, it just doesn’t happen. Babies are always in need of something. Sometimes, they just want to be held.
So their laundry is always done. Mine is not. They’re always fed, and I may remember to make myself a bowl of oatmeal. They’re put to sleep when they’re sleepy, but I may not have slept in days. (Or in four months).
If I didn’t have Jimmy, my sweet husband who forces me to take a walk, go to Target, get a massage or just take two minutes for myself, I don’t think I would. I’m invested in the well being of my children. I’m pouring everything I’ve got into their needs and it’s natural to forget about what I need.
One day, I’ll eat when my stomach growls. I’ll drink my coffee when it’s still hot. I’ll take more than 2 minutes to get myself ready for the day.
But in this season I’m in, their needs come before my own. And this season is temporary and it’s fleeting. One day I’ll have “me-time” whenever I want it. But my time is filled with meeting their needs. And I think one day I’ll miss this.
Parenting is the easiest thing to have an opinion on, but it’s the hardest thing to do.
You may stick to your guns and all of the goals you had set for yourself as a parent.
Or you’ll have your eyes opened to how hard this is. And you’ll be like me and do the things you said you’d never do. And you know what? That’s okay. We’re doing the best we can and if we can say that, then I think we’re doing a pretty rockstar job.