Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top Ten Things That Annoyed Me as a New Mom

It's pretty much a given that at least once a week, I'll stumble across an article on my Facebook news feed (usually from Huffington Post) about what you shouldn't say to a working mom or stay at home mom, why play dates with 3-year olds suck, why moms need a break at the end of the day, etc. While some (okay, few) of them are spot-on, most of the time I find myself rolling my eyes thinking, "okay, clearly the person who wrote this has never been up all night with a sick kid. Or had to deal with a 3-year old teaching a kid on the playground to say 'butt jam.' Or spent the majority of the day doing laundry after massive poop explosions." Seeing as how I've been on this merry-go-round twice thus far, and I have a few friends who are going to give birth veryveryvery soon, I thought I would compile my own list of advice I received as a new mom that annoyed the crud out of me.
About 30 minutes after Tony was born. Clearly, I had it all figured out. 

1. "Sleep when the baby sleeps!"

Sigh. In theory, this is a great idea. In actuality...no. Just no. After Tony was born, I was up with him for a considerable amount of time at night, but please don't think that meant he slept during the day. He would take a *few* naps, but they were few and far between. And sleep? Don't make me laugh. First, by the time I actually got him down, I would be so wired and stressed out, the thought of laying down in bed and falling into a coma-like sleep sounded so far beyond the realm of possibility, I didn't even bother. Not to mention, I usually smelled (newborns spitting up on you multiple times a day will do that), and I desperately wanted to shower. And as much as I would have loved to snap my fingers and have the forest creatures from Disney movies appear to cook and clean my apartment, even I wasn't sleep deprived enough to think that was going to happen.

2. "If you just give him formula and/or rice cereal in the bottle, he'll sleep for you!"

This has nothing to do with the breastfeeding/formula debate. As far as I'm concerned, there shouldn't even BE a debate. You have to do what's right for you and your baby. But as a breastfeeding mother who had a newborn permanently attached to my chest (or so it seemed), and who was able to BF without any issues, I didn't want to hear that I should just throw in the towel and give my baby formula. Not to mention, that whole rice cereal thing? Total myth. I have plenty of friends who formula-fed their babies from day one, and tried the rice cereal thing after a few months, and honey, I can promise you those babies weren't sleeping any better than mine.

3. "She's still not sleeping through the night???"

This one is another touchy subject, because I can truly say everyone who talked to me about Alessandra's sleep issues was worried about me and just wanted to give me advice that worked for them. I get it. My daughter is 11 months old, and she has yet to sleep through the night. At one point I was so out of my mind with sleep deprivation, I started crying in the bathroom at Target. But I promise you...we tried EVERYTHING (short of letting her scream hysterically in the crib). We had the normal bedtime routine with a bath, nursing and rocking session, the white noise machine, the swing, the bassinet, co-sleeping (which we really couldn't do, as Will is a crazy heavy sleeper), the shushing and rocking in my arms...you name it. We've been through it all. Know what? None of it worked. Alessandra just did not want to sleep for the first, oh, I don't know, 8 months of her life. She's just now down to one nursing session a night, and I want to sob in relief. So I understand that everyone who offered me advice was truly worried about me, and wanted to give me some kind of reprieve. But the fact of the matter is, every baby is going to have different sleep patterns, and when you tell a massively-sleep deprived parent that "you HAVE to try this, it's the only thing that will work!" not only is that incorrect, but it made me want to go completely postal. Just because it worked for your baby does not mean it's going to work for mine.

4. "You absolutely have to use our pediatrician! He's the best!"

Sure, it would be worth checking out, but just because everyone brings their kid to Dr. Magna Cum Laude Harvard Medical School doesn't mean he or she will mesh with you and your child. There's so much that goes into choosing a pediatrician for your child (are they going to discuss other parenting topics besides medicine? are you okay with that? will they prescribe an antibiotic every time your baby has the sniffles, or take a more "wait and see" approach? do they have weekend and evening hours? do they have a nurse practitioner you can speak to on the phone, if you're not sure you have to bring your baby in?), and just because one person has had a good experience with a pediatrician, it doesn't mean that's the do-all end-all. When we moved to Shreveport, I interviewed a few pedis before I found one I really liked. I'm so glad I did the extra legwork; their doctor was truly a gem.

5. "Stop buying/registering for all this stuff! Babies don't need all of this junk!"

On one hand, this is true. I'm convinced Babies 'R Us exists simply to make new parents feel like utter crap if they don't buy every possible gadget out there for their newborn. It can get overwhelming quickly, and I certainly agree you don't need to buy out the entire store for your new baby. When you get right down to it, all you really need is a good car seat, diapers, clothes, if you're going to formula feed, bottles and formula, and a crib/bassinet if you're not comfortable with co-sleeping. But let's be honest-I knew I was going to need a break every now and then. For both of my babies, that Fisher Price swing was an absolute godsend. Tony grew bored with it after about four months, but Alessandra LOVED that thing. And you know what? So did I, especially since it was the only way I could get her to sleep for the first six months of her life. So please don't smile smugly at me and say you were able to survive the newborn/infant stage with the bare minimum. Hey, fantastic. Hats off to you. But I couldn't, and I'm not less of a mother simply because I enjoyed my 21st century baby gear.

6. "Your baby isn't crawling/walking/talking/eating solid foods yet? Because mine did the day after birth!"

(This is usually accompanied by a raised eyebrow and faux inquisitive look). Don't. Just don't. Or if you do, please understand that you will most likely be the recipient of a PMS look and snarky response. I really don't care if your baby was quoting Shakespeare sonnets at the age of three months. My baby's development is between me and our pediatrician.

7. "I totally support breastfeeding mothers, BUT..." (insert any of the following: you should do it in the privacy of your own home, you shouldn't nurse without a cover, just give your baby a bottle when you're out in public, etc).

Either you support a breastfeeding mother or you don't. When we lived in Boston (and I realize now how incredibly awesome this was), no one batted an eye if I nursed Tony in public. I was always able to nurse quite modestly, either with or without a cover, and people either didn't notice at all, or if they did, they never said anything to me. Nursing Alessandra in the South? That was a completely different story. Whenever we would be out and about, and I nursed her under the cover (which she absolutely hated, by the way), people would either look at me with raised eyebrows or give me the stink eye. It didn't faze me at all-I held their gaze until they looked away, and I hope I made them feel as uncomfortable as they made me. Having a brand new baby, recovering from birth, and possibly dealing with feeding issues is stressful enough to begin with. Don't make a mother feel even worse for nursing in public. If it really freaking offends you that much...just look away. It's not that difficult.

8. "Have you heard about the dangers of x, y, and z? Here's all the 'research' I did, and I'm going to share it with you so you can make the right decision for your baby!"

(In case you're wondering, yes, someone actually said that to me). This is what I like to refer to as "a big pile of NOPE." And that's all I have to say about that.

9. To a working mom: "So do you actually get to see your baby at all before you put him/her to bed?"
    To a stay at home mom: "So what exactly do you DO all day?"

As a SAHM, I received the latter question at one point. One of my friends, who is a working mom, received the former. It is perfectly acceptable to respond to either question with a pissy answer.

10. "You should be SO grateful your husband helps you!" "Wow, your husband plays with the kids/changes diapers/takes them to the playground? He must be a saint!" and so on.

At first, this didn't annoy me. I was so relieved that Will was so willing (hahaha) to jump in and give me a hand with the middle-of-the-night wakefuls, the diaper changes, a break as soon as he came home from work, that all I could do was smile happily and acknowledge that yes, I was incredibly fortunate that my husband was such an involved father. After a while, though, it started to grate on both Will and I. It bothered me because while yes, of course I realized I was lucky, it got old hearing over and over and over how ah-MAY-zing it was that Will played with his babies. Or changed diapers. Or-gasp!-took them with him on an errand. I mean, didn't both of us have something to do with bringing these children into the world? Why in the world wouldn't he do any of those things that mothers are expected to do on a day-to-day basis, from the second the new baby is placed in their arms? It annoyed Will, because if there's one thing he hates, it's the stereotypical "doofus dad" who doesn't even know how to dress a baby, let alone leave the house with one. I'll never forget the day when he took Tony to Target, and Tony had a full-on meltdown. Will was trying to deal with him, and an elderly lady came up, patted Will on the arm, and said, "honey, you must be a saint!" At that point, Will had had enough, and he politely said, "ma'am, thank you for the compliment, but I'm not a saint. I'm a father, and I'm only doing what every father should do. Furthermore, no one calls my wife a saint when she's out in public with a baby having a meltdown." I was duly impressed when he came home and relayed the story to me.

Let's hear it-what annoyed YOU as a new mom? Any new gems to add to this list? I would love to hear them!

11 comments:

  1. I hated it when people told me my baby is tiny! In those first few weeks of breastfeeding when you aren't sure whether your baby is gaining weight properly it is just not what you want to hear!! Call him cute instead ;)

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    1. Oooh, good one! lol I got the opposite-Tony was 16lbs at his 4-month appointment. I had the raised eyebrows and, "does he really need to nurse again?" comments. Sigh.

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  2. Neither of my boys consistently slept through the night till Scott was 2ish and Eddie was over 3. I was up at least once a nite for more years than i deem acceptable. I am still catching up on lost sleep... lol.
    You're a great mom, never a doubt, you are raising my favorite niece and nephew, i would never give that job to anyone else! But have you tried dipping your boob in rice cereal and then letting her nurse? She'll sleep more! Hahahahahaha! Kidding!

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    1. Seriously??? Oh man...I think we're in for a rough ride, in that case! *hugs* You're a great mama as well, and I feel like I learned a lot from you. I'm totally going to have to take you up on that whole dipping the boob in rice cereal thing. ;)

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  4. I had my daughter when I was still in high school, so my personal favorite was when people would glare at me/tell me how much they pitied my daughter/tell me that God would never forgive me, etc. Only once was I so tired that I actually yelled, "I made the choice to be responsible for the consequences of my actions and now my every action revolves around making sure she has the best life she possibly can. Do you really want to judge that?" But I certainly had the thought every time someone condemned me with looks and words. Now that I'm a 31-year-old attorney and she is a 13-year-old sweet, beautiful, charming brainiac, no one bats an eye. Even though we are still the same number of years apart that we were when she was born.

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    1. Kass, that upsets me to no end that people said such horrible things to you. You made an incredibly courageous decision to raise your daughter as a young single mom, AND you went to college, AND you went to law school. That's pretty freaking amazing in my book.

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  5. Woman, you saucy! I *wish* I had the nerve to stare down b-feeding stink eyes and give some clever answer that shut down the sleeping discussions. Sleeping through the night doesn't determine which babies are good and which aren't, yeah? And way to go, Tony for being such a good man =)

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    1. I definitely have my saucy moments! ;) And nope, sleeping/not sleeping through the night doesn't determine anything, except for how much caffeine you'll need the next day!

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  6. ARGH -- the rice cereal one... which is often linked to the sleeping through the night one. I keep getting it, because I'm exhausted with babies waking me up at night. But starting solids didn't help #1 and I doubt it's going to help #2.

    I like Will's response to the elderly lady. My husband almost chucked a Health Visitor out of our flat when she asked if he could cook or do anything else around the house that was useful.

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  7. I read this when you first posted it, but revisited it today. I just love how confident you are - like staring people down who glare at you during breastfeeding. So good!! I try really hard to give strangers the benefit of the doubt and not get riled up, but it's true that there are those *little* comments you hear over and over that start to really grate on you. Realistically, I try very hard to keep my cool and brush off whatever people say because I am confident that my baby is perfectly healthy and that I'm a good mom...but every once in awhile I secretly wish I could bust out a snarky response. :) I echo the first commentor - because although G is tall, he is thin (which is perfectly normal in my family!). People act all surprised when I tell them his age sometimes and follow up their dubious looks with, "he's so tiny!" Perhaps some people mean it as a compliment or think it's cute, but to a mom who is trying to make sure her baby is healthy and well-fed (especially because even though he was a champ at breastfeeding we had some struggles getting him to eat solids for a long time) it can easily be misinterpreted as "you're not doing a good job feeding him." I think lots of people try to help or be complimentary, but they end up sticking their feet in their mouths. I wish people would just stick to a basic "he's so precious" or "he's so adorable" or "congratulations! what a fun time in your life." I'm pretty sure every mom is her worst critic and doesn't need to hear anything else from the people around her; she probably has it covered and has already thought about it. And if not, she'll probably ask for help or advice. Thank you for sharing this!

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