It’s scary being a new mom. I remember on our first night home from the hospital, Kerry looked at me as I was nursing Clara and said “so what do we do now?” Looking back on that moment, we can now laugh at it. But after experiencing the roller coaster of birth, dealing with jaundice, and 5 nights in a row of virtually no sleep, I was hormonal and exhausted. The first night home, Clara nursed for about 7 hours straight. Before I had learned and felt confident about side lying while nursing, I sat diligently in the chair. At one point, I nearly dropped her from falling asleep sitting up. Kerry said “you almost dropped her!” Nerves on edge, I got defensive and we had our first tense moment as parents.
“So, what do we do now?”, he says. After all, I knew exactly what to do for my birth. I wanted a natural birth and nobody’s comments, lack of confidence, or scary stories were going to stop me. I also knew I wanted to breastfeed exclusively. Again, I was so confident, there was nothing that would change my mind. My mother talked about how amazing and life changing all 4 of her natural births were and breastfed all of us at a time when it wasn’t popular. She bestowed that gift upon me and I knew I wanted to follow in her footsteps. What an amazing and strong woman.
But I didn’t know exactly what kind of parent I wanted to be. I was clueless. It didn’t even occur to me to think ahead. I was just focused on my pregnancy and birth. Before Clara was born, I had absolutely no idea how to proceed or where to even begin. I guess I assumed I would just figure it out.
There is so much conflicting advice out there that if you don’t have a strong picture about what kind of parent you want to be, how you want to handle sleeping, feeding, and crying, you can feel lost. At least that was my experience. My instincts and intuition were clouded as I doubted and questioned many things.
Before Clara was born, I had never heard of attachment parenting. As I started to learn more about it, I discovered that it is a huge movement and very different from the traditional child rearing styles in many ways. Here’s a link to an article about two extremes of parenting that are popular right now. I am very drawn to many aspects of attachment parenting and it seems to get wrapped into the whole “natural mama” phenomenon. With any style of parenting, there are going to be critics and I didn’t know anyone personally who practiced attachment parenting. I felt alone as I discovered my instincts lead me to more of the natural parenting style. Without this confidence and a community of mothers with similar ideals, my journey was not as clear in the beginning.
Now, with 16 months under my belt, I really am finding my way. I don’t identify with just one particular parenting style, but take from all of the things I learn to create my own. As I become more grounded in how I want to raise my children, I also know that my way is not the “right way”. Although I might disagree with other parenting styles or choices, I certainly don’t want to come across as judgemental or critical.
Sometimes I wish I could go back and redo things with the knowledge I have now. It can be helpful to reflect and learn from the past, but I know that looking back and having regrets is limiting. “So, what do we do now?” I can’t necessarily answer that question any better than I did at day one, but the question is no longer weighed down by anxiety.
Perhaps the best answer is, “We’re doing what we’re doing and it’s exactly what we’re supposed to be doing”.