Welcome to the June 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting:
Parenting in Theory vs. in Reality
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.
Before my first was born, I read all the parenting books. I soaked up everything like a sponge. They were they experts, right? They knew what they were talking about.
I read the natural birthing books and the attachment parenting books. Of course all babies act the same way, respond to the same stimuli, feed the same, right? Just because their babies performed, means all baby should, no?
I understood that I was supposed to breastfeed my baby, and that my baby would take to a carrier easily – since that’s how he/she loves to be carried. I was supposed to co-sleep because that’s what was best for me and baby…and so on and so on and so forth and so forth.
I finally had my baby. I had the homebirth I dreamed of…yay! I was ready for the easy part. The breastfeeding. I was geared up and ready for the nice and easy breastfeeding relationship!
Breastfeeding is natural, after all.
I believed everything would be perfect. When baby latches on, the baby would breastfeed for 5 minutes on one side, switch, and feed five minutes on the other side. Pop off. And be done feeding for 1 hour and 50 minutes (give or take) – until I had to start the process again. You start the timing at the beginning of the meal – and feed every two hours.
Just like the book said.
The first thing I learned – and I learned it pretty quickly after birth – is that all breasts aren’t created equal. I always saw women cuddling their babies tight while they feed. Their nipples in the absolute perfect position for feeding. Perky boobs…perky boobs abound! Well, when I put my son to the breast, I quickly realized that my breasts weren’t in any of the pictures.
Breastfeeding became a juggling act – literally. My breasts are not at all perky. They are heavy in fact – which I had no knowledge of. I had to support one breast with one hand, and support all the baby’s weight in the other arm. Talk about neck and back strain. Feeding in public was a joke and a disaster.
Oh yeah, and the perfect in public feeding solution – the sling – forgetaboutit! Anytime someone mentions feeding in a sling, I just double over in laughter.
Oh yeah, and did I mention the 5 minute feeding on each side? My son would suckle all day and all night – 24 hours a day. Well, I thought he was sucking because he was starving – why else would a baby want to be at the breast so much ? I think I sat in the rocker 24 hours a day for the first 6 months of my sons life.
It was horrendous. It was isolating. It was tiring. None of the books talked about this, in the books everything was glowing and beautiful. Certainly, in my mind, I was horrible and a failure for feeling this way – resenting feeding my child. I had feelings of not being good enough, not being able to adequately produce milk.
So, there I was – thinking that the baby was starving and having big doubts about my abilities. The doctor told me (very clearly – and many times) that he wasn’t starving (as he was gaining lots and lots of weight – AKA butterball) but I wouldn’t hear it. He was hungry, and that’s why he wanted to constantly suckle.
So, there went my money, hundreds of dollars (I was in graduate school) in lactation consultant after lactation consultant, trying to figure it out. Trying to find out why “it wasn’t working”. I think I must have bought $100 in pacifiers – not wanting to give him one – but felt like I had to in order to get a shower. Of course he wouldn’t take a pacifier, he would just gag.
It is quite comical when I think about it now – but it wasn’t then. I just wouldn’t listen. I was convinced – If he wasn’t doing what the books said he would do – then something was wrong.
The second time around – I was reluctant but wiser. I shelved all my parenting books. I trusted my woman wisdom. The relationship was better. I, of course still had my physical challenges, but I wasn’t in my glider 24 hours straight for 6 months either. I didn’t resent breastfeeding – just wasn’t really happy about doing it again. In the end, I was moderately happy with the experience.
Finally, I thought – I had cracked the breastfeeding code!
I was ready and raring to go for the 3rd sans parenting books!
Then my 3rd came – and oh boy. He threw me for loop and a half – in pregnancy and in the breastfeeding experience.
Let’s just say that my breastfeeding adventures never end. They seem to always turns into a debacle.
You know, I didn’t have a whole line of women in my family who breastfed. I was the first one. I would have benefited from being more “reality’ informed and less “idyllically” informed.
If only I knew then what I know now! If I would have had the reality, I don’t think the process would have been so stressful and disheartening.
I don’t regret any of my experiences – because I learned a great deal from them. I had excellent and long lasting bonding with my children – and still do today in part to breastfeeding…
Hadyn 2 years
Ava 3 years
Grayson 10 months and counting!
Despite the challenges, I think I did pretty well!
I would love to hear about your thoughts on breastfeeding before and after baby. Did you have the experience you thought you would? Or, did you run into debacle after debacle like me?
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- My little gastronomes — “I’ll never cook a separate meal for my children,” Maud at Awfully Chipper vowed before she had children; but things didn’t turn out quite as she’d imagined.
- Know Better, Do Better. Except When I Don’t. — Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy was able to settle in her parenting choices before her children arrived, but that doesn’t mean she always lives up to them.
- Judgments Made Before Motherhood — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks back on her views of parents she came in contact with before she became a mother and how much her worldview of parenting has changed!
- A Bend in The Road — Lyndsay at ourfeministplayschool writes about how her visions of homeschooling her son during the elementary school years have changed drastically in the last year – because HE wants to go to school.
- I Wish Children Came with Instruction Manuals — While Dionna at Code Name: Mama loves reading about parenting, she’s not found any one book that counts as an instruction manual. Every child is different, every family is different, every dynamic is different. No single parenting method or style is the be-all end-all. Still, wouldn’t it be nice if parenting were like troubleshooting?
- The Mistakes I’ve Made — Kate at Here Now Brown Cow laments the choices she made with her first child and explains how ditching her preconceived ideas on parenting is helping her to grow a happy family.
- I Only Expected to Love… — Kellie at Our Mindful Life went into parenting expecting to not have all the answers. It turns out, she was right!
- They See Me Wearin’, They Hatin’ — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different contemplates putting her babywearing aspirations into practice, and discussed how she deals with “babywearing haters.”
- Parenting Human Beings — Erika Gebhardt lists her parenting “mistakes,” and the one concept that has revolutionized her parenting.
- Doing it right: what I knew before I had kids… — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud, guest posting at Natural Parents Network realises that the number one game in town, when it comes to parenting, is judgement about doing it right. But “doing it right” looks different to everybody.
- A synopsis of our reality as first time parents — Amanda at My Life in a Nut Shell summarizes the struggles she went through to get pregnant, and how her daughter’s high needs paved the way for her and her husband to become natural parents.
- Theory to Reality? — Jorje compares her original pre-kid ideas (some from her own childhood) to her personal parenting realities on MommaJorje.com.
- The Princess Paradigm — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen had planned to raise her daughter in a sparkly, princess-free home, but in turn has found herself embracing the glitz.
- Healthy Eating With Kids: Ideal vs. Real — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs had definite ideas about what healthy eating was going to look like in her family before she had kids. Little did she realize that her kids would have something to say about it.
- How to deal with unwanted parenting advice — Tat at Mum in Search thought that dealing with unwanted parenting advice would be a breeze. It turned out to be one of her biggest challenges as a new mum.
- How I trained my 43 month old in 89 days! — Becky at Old New Legacy used to mock sticker charts, until they became her best friend in the process of potty training.
- My Double Life: Scheduling with Twins — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot was banging her head against the wall trying to keep up with the plan she made during pregnancy, until she let her babies lead the way.
- Parenting in the land of compromise — As a holistic health geek trying to take care of her health issues naturally, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama regrets that her needs sometimes get in the way of her children’s needs.
- Practice Makes Good, Not Perfect — Rachael at The Variegated Life comes to see that through practice, she just might already be the parent she wants to be.
- 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering: How to Free Yourself and Your Family — Sheila Pai at A Living Family shares in theory (blog) and reality (video) how she frees herself from 3 Dangerous Myths about Parenting and Partnering that can damage the connection, peace and love she seeks to nurture in her relationships with family and others.
- 5 Things I Thought MY Children Would Never Do — Luschka at Diary of a First Child largely laughs at herself and her previous misconceptions about things her children would or wouldn’t do, or be allowed to do.
- Policing politeness — Lauren at Hobo Mama rethinks a conviction she had about modeling vs. teaching her children about courtesy.
- The Before and The After: Learning about Parenting — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work reminisces about the perspective she held as a young adult working with children (and parents) . . . before she became a mother.
- Parenting Beliefs: Becoming the Parent You Want to Be — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how we can make a mindful decision to become the parent we want to be. Decisions we make affect who we will become.
- The Great Breastfeeding Debacle — In Lisa at The Squishable Baby’s mind, breastfeeding would be easy.
- What my daughter taught me about being a parent — Mrs Green asks, “Is it ever ok to lock your child in their bedroom?”
- Sensory Box Fail! — Megan at The Boho Mama discovers that thoughtful sensory activities can sometimes lead to pasta in your bra and beans up your nose.
- Montessori and My Children – Theory vs. Reality — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares her experiences with Montessori parenting and describes the results she sees in her now-adult children.
- I Like The Mother I Am Now More Than The Mother I Intended To Be — Darcel at The Mahogany Way thought she would just give her kids the look and they would immediately fall in line.
- How I Ended Up Like My Tiger Mom With Peaceful Parenting — Theek at The Laotian Commotion somehow ended up like her Tiger Mom, even though she purposely tried for the complete opposite as a peaceful parent.