Now when I was pregnant I had all good intentions on reading up on methods, and styles, and ways of parenting. I bought Gina Ford and Baby Whisperer. But they’re both still gathering dust on the shelf, never opened. I personally ended up doing a ‘wing it’ approach, coupled with what words of wisdom I picked up on from my twitter buddies and blogs I read. So, three months on, and I think I have done pretty darn good really. Considering all the issues I had with breastfeeding initially, and coming to terms with the realisation that Bubba’s birth did not measure up to my expectations, I have somehow made it through the wilderness to quote Madonna in a completely inappropriately named song.
I meet Bubs’ needs the only way I know: I think outside of the box, I remain calm, I use my noodle. I guess some people will say I use my instinct. But to tell you the truth I don’t think my instincts kicked in for a long while. I used my survival skills – got through it, although I am not sure how. I feel quite proud of myself really for having got this far, and things feel like they are falling into place a bit really. I like nothing more than snuggling and cuddling Bubs, seeing her smiling face, and making her laugh. She seems to be doing really well. If I have a question or think about something, I may ask someone I know, or look online. However this can be the cause of great anxiety or anger and frustration. Seeing things on the news, and issues highlighted in various forums I am a member of, it made me think about what I was doing. What parenting style I adopt. What way I was bringing my baby up. Was I doing it right or wrong? Was I following best practice, like I would within my job?
In the news this week there has been some new about bedsharing. Now I don’t co-sleep or bedshare now, but when Bubs was first born, the very first night in hospital even, the only way I could get to sleep (and get her to sleep) was to sleep with her on my chest. When we eventually got home, after being up and down all night, I eventually caved in, fed Bubs in my bed, and we fell asleep together. Now when I say sleep, I say a half way point between sleep and awake, as I was so terrified I’d roll on her, suffocate her with the duvet, or something like that. We did it a few more times when she was younger, but I was so anxious about it that we stopped, she got used to her Moses basket, and we all slept better for it. But it seems to me this piece of news is yet another way of criticising us. I did what I did, as it was the only way I could get some sleep. Others may do it because of ease, or because it’s what they want to do. What we forget due to the media is that research undertaken is about probability, about chance, and how much of a chance we have of something happening. It is not saying for certain, because nothing ever can, although there are methods of undertaking research which are seen as gold standards and are seen as most reliable. Any variation from this gold standard increases the doubt and reliability of the research.
Research is something that I am familiar with as I am completing my degree, and within my profession you have to look at evidence based practice and keep up to date with research. I’ve even been involved in research. So, whenever anything health related comes up on-screen, or in the news, I try to ascertain what information is fact, and what is fiction. Newspapers will take research and make it into what they want it to say – easy to do as results can be easily manipulated one way or another. Until you read the research yourself you can’t really ascertain what it is saying. I find it funny how we can believe research such as car seats, seat belts, use of paracetamol, or effects of smoking for example but then dispute other research because it doesn’t fit with what we want it to say. Some bits of research we take for granted within our lives and don’t even realise that we are doing things a certain way because research has been so well implemented within our lives. But still it is down to probability, chance, or are we the 1 in 100 people, for example. It is our choice whether or not to do what the research says.
Now I said I haven’t really followed much advice, I haven’t read books, I haven’t even really looked at what is considered best practice in parenting. A few things though I realise I do: I put my baby on her back to sleep, and she sleeps in our room, because research tells me this is the best. I give my baby breast milk as that is considered best (although she does have formula milk too, due to our feeding issues), I put her in a rear facing car seat because this is considered best. However other than that, I am not sure. I pick her up when she cries, because I don’t want her to be upset, and I think you can’t spoil a baby with cuddles and kisses. I play with her, talk and sing to her. I have to leave her to cry sometimes because that’s just the way it is. I give her a dummy as she finds comfort in it. I rock her to sleep because she likes this, and it works. She goes to sleep when she is ready to, she feeds when she is hungry. I bathe her every other day. She wears a melange of clothing which others may consider girl or boy clothes. She doesn’t wear a coat when we go outside as she doesn’t like it. I could go on. But what I mean is, I don’t always think about best practice. I think about what I think and feel is right for her. I don’t know whether I am more attachment parenting or gentle parenting, or whatever else someone has written a book about. I don’t know if there is research out there about the long-term effects of bathing every other day. But it is how I feel, and what I think is right. I feel attached to her, and I think she feels attached to me. In that we smile, we laugh, and we generally have more good days than bad.
I respect every Mum out there as we are all figuring it all out, in our own way. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I just think people who comment and try to say you’re doing it wrong, well you’re not. Because its horses for courses, it’s what works for one may not work for another. We are all united as Mothers yet all our experiences will be totally different, because we are all different people, living in different places, living different lives. We have to take information (if we are looking for it) and decide for ourselves whether we believe it or not, based on what it written down. Newspapers are full of scaremongering, forums are full of people waiting to tell others they are wrong. The only person you should believe in is yourself. It is about having information to make informed choices, not being told what to do or feeling bad for doing something different to others.