October 2, 2015

Let's talk, no judgment

Deciding to bring a new human into the world is a big decision.  ...or maybe it's an accident. Doesn't matter. Everybody's different. I think that is the key to this whole thing. Let me repeat... everybody's different! Every baby, child, parent, adult. None of us are the same. We act, feel, love... differently.

And that's something to embrace!

For some reason when you get pregnant, the advice starts flowing (as well as the very personal questions... luckily, I didn't have a problem with my dilation status being yelled across the office). Don't get me wrong, I love talking about all things baby and most of the time advice is a good thing. Even if I don't take the advice, it's great to hear different ideas and things that have worked for others. It's often well meaning and sometimes very helpful. But if you are a parent, I'm sure you've gotten the other kind of advice... the judgmental kind.

"Why aren't you going to get an epidural? You have nothing to prove to anyone. Don't be a hero." --You're right. I don't have anything to prove, but I would still like to try to have a natural birth. This isn't about anyone else.

"You should probably bathe your baby more than once every two weeks..." -- Okay, this is probably some good advice.

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I am so lucky to have such a great supportive group around me! I haven't had much opposition to our choices. But there's always the random strangers who come up to you in the grocery store and feel the need to tell you how to take care of your baby, ask you about your labor, etc... like it's really any of their damn business! Smile, nod, ignore. At least that's what I do because I am a very non-confrontational human being.

Don't even get me started about pregnancy/parenting online forums. I read them a lot. And there are some very supportive groups out there. But some seem to be the front-lines of the mommy war. Cloth vs. disposable. Breast vs. pumping vs. formula. Med-free vs. epidural vs. c-section. Co-sleeping. Circumcision. These are all such hot-button issues. They are important issues, but much more so on an individual level. Not everyone needs to agree. How is it that someone can get so fired up about a complete stranger's choice? Why do you care that User578 chooses to push her baby in a stroller instead of wearing her?

As parents, we do the best we can. We all love our children and we do what feels right and natural for us and our families. We should celebrate that, and support each other... Commend each other on our abilities to keep our families alive and (hopefully) thriving. Not judge each other after individual life experiences brought us to different conclusions on the way to nurture our children.

I am proud of my pregnancy, my birth, and my parenting. But just because I am proud and talk about them excitedly doesn't mean I expect everyone to want to do it the same way I did or do. It doesn't mean that I think less of you because you did/do it differently. I try to be so respectful of that!

I try not to judge others, but I'm human too. I am at least pretty cognizant of it, and it stays in my head (or at most shared with my husband as a discussion on what I do not want to do in our parenting). I would never dream of admonishing a complete stranger about their parenting choices.

There are choices that I don't understand and may joke about... like the story about the woman who carried her placenta around attached to her baby for 6 days... and had to open the window because of the smell... Argh! Too extreme for me. But here's the thing... If you're my friend, and carrying that placenta around for 6 days was really an important step for you, I would support you 98% (assuming it's not unsafe). Only 1% would try to talk you out of it and the other 1% would probably be gagging. But that's the thing... what's right for you might not be right for me and vice versa. I'll respect it. I would be supportive, but definitely supportive upwind of wherever you are with that stinky placenta.

We all do our best. I do. You do.

Live and let live, baby!

So what I really want to say to all the mommies (and daddies) out there...
I am PROUD of you for the way that you brought your little human into the world, no matter what way you chose (or had to choose). No one way is better than another, as long as it was right for you and your baby. I am proud of you for loving your child and for making the choices you do every day to give them the best life you can. I hope you are proud too. It's not an easy job. I know you are making some mistakes, questioning your own judgment, and following your instincts. Above all else you are loving your little being. The decisions you make out of love for your child are the right decisions. Be proud.

Happy parenting!

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