28 April 2011

Motherly intuition

A creative parenting moment, putting BB in her
bumbo in the kitchen sink while my husband
makes pancakes.
It's a mother's intuition
To make a little space
It's her quiet mission to tidy up her place
A mother's intuition is like a kangaroo's
She hops around, she mops the ground
She fusses over you

A mother
With her intuition
Will know just what to do

-- Carly Simon

When I found out I was expecting our first baby I was so excited and nervous. I wanted to be such a great mom yet I was afraid that I'd fall short many times. I have one sister 2 years younger than myself so I didn't grow up with babies in my home. We had many little cousins and I babysat a lot so I wasn't worried about the taking care of a baby part. What I was worried about was how I was going to love and nuture. There are so many ways to do everything when it comes to raising a baby. And it starts with pregnancy... You know you've either been asked most of these questions or asked them of yourself. 

*Will you find out the baby's gender? Sometimes
*Will you use an OB, go with a midwife, a homebirth, unassisted? Tried/trying it all. LOVED my OB, hated my midwife but will now be birthing at home.
Will you go natural? Will you do a water birth, hypnobirth or use a birthing stool? Always natural.
What positions do you think you'll use in labor? (You won't know until you're in it!)
*Will you refuse certain newborn tests and medicines? I tried in the hospital. From now on I can and will refuse all.
*What the h#^& is with this tongue-tied thing? I thought that wasn't really an issue. Now I have to think of snipping the frenulum and risk breastfeeding problems or leave things as is, hoping it will naturally stretch, and risk breastfeeding problems... We left it as is and faced major BF problems. It was a struggle but we made it for 11 1/2 months!
*Will you vaccinate, delay, pick and choose or skip them altogether? We do not vaccinate
*Who's the best pediatrician around? Still trying to figure that out. Momma knows best- that's all I know
*Will you use a pacifier or not? Yes. And no, it has not been the cause of any BF problems!
When is it going over-board asking family to wash hands before touching the baby? ??? If they have a cold and baby's new I appreciate the gesture
*Am I a bad mom for sucking the binki to clean it in public? Well I do it anyway. Better than not doing it.
*If the baby's a boy, will you circumcise?  Please ask privately....
*Once the baby comes, will you co-sleep, put the baby in a bassinet, crib or a little of everything? A little of everything. What baby wants, baby gets. No, this doesn't mean they're "spolied". You can't spoil a baby...
*Will you use disposables or cloth diapers? Both. Mostly cloth.
Will you breastfeed, formula feed or both? Breastfeed!!!
How will breastfeeding in public go? Just fine. I cover up if my top doesn't allow for modesty but mostly don't use my cover. If I'm in someone's home that's uncomfortable I will excuse myself, but if they're in my home sorry!
Will I babywear? Yes!
Will you let the baby "cry it out" or are you completely against that? Tricky. I don't believe in the "cry it out" method, but if you click here it may seem otherwise. It's truly what was the most loving at the time.
When will you start solid foods? Start after 6 months but if they push the food away we wait.
*When is a good time to leave your baby for the 1st time so you can go out with your spouse? I don't know!
*How often is too often to go out? Not really a problem. We date with our kids most of the time so I think we're good when we do get out.
*Should I feel guilty for going out occasionally? NO!
*Am I a bad wife if my husband wants to take me out and I'm "kicking and screaming" because I don't want to leave the baby? Yes LOL It's something I've had to work on
*When and how will you wean, if breastfeeding? A "soon-to-be" post
*What the heck about potty-training? Click here for what worked the 1st time around
*Oh my gosh, discipline?! Click here for a little insight into what continues to work for us. Sometimes "tough love" is necessary
*How will I handle temper tantrums, especially in public? I usually leave crying. I have no idea. I try to be firm but where the heck can I safely sit them in a "time-out"?!
*How will I defend my dignity as a mother to someone who's putting down my decisions? I get very worked up about this
Is too soon to want another baby when mine is only 6 months old? I did with Ruby Red and Baby Blue. RR was 10.5 months when we conceived BB
*Am I a bad Catholic if I don't feel ready for another? I don't think so. We're thrilled with little Sophie on the way although it was a shock
*What if my mom or mother-in-law disagrees with me? Will they think I'm a terrible mother? Will they be offended if I think differently? :::awkward silence::: please, no remarks either way!
The list goes on and on.
(The ones with the asterisk* were the most worrisome for me)

Your head is spinning, isn't it? Most of these were questions I had and I answered as succinctly as I could. Some were no-brainers but some were more difficult. I'm a perfectionist and naturally wanted every tiny thing to be perfect. I wanted not only my husband and I to be confident in who we were as parents, but I wanted our family, friends and even strangers to recognize that we loved our children and had their best interests in mind. I wanted people to realize that for every question above I searched for answers, knew boths sides to every argument and was sifting through them for our family. It wasn't easy. I never followed either my mom or mother-in-law's way of parenting exactly. We had to figure it out on our own, although we did take all advice into careful consideration. Most family members didn't come right out and say anything but I knew they didn't always like what we did or had to say about a situation. Still, through prayer, patience and trust in each other, I truly believe that my husband and I made the right decisions for our girls. Honestly, there are only a few things I would change but even then, they were stepping stones or learning tools. No parent is perfect even if they think they are. All parent's make mistakes but I would venture to say most do what they think is best.

I have several friends who disagree with me on almost every parenting topic and yet we remain friends because we respect each other. All of our kids are turning out perfectly happy and loved so I truly do believe that as long as the end is the same, the way of getting there can be different. I will admit I think I have it down to a "perfect smoothie" of parenting but that's my opinion and it's what we've seen work for us. I know I'll still learn along the way- I'll do things amazing and I'll make mistakes.

My mother was instrumental in getting me to realize there really is something to that thing called "motherly intuition". She really never told me how she mothered my sister and I, although from little snippets I think it was mostly attachment-parenting. She was always careful to simply support me and offer advice only if I was completely frazzled or asked for it. In fact, in the 3 years of being a mother she has only intervened without my asking once and it was exactly was my husband and I needed to hear. And, it was even something she struggled with as a mother herself: putting a baby to sleep in a crib when you want to co-sleep. Seriously, I received a lot of negativity for doing this but Ruby Red hated being touched and snuggled. She would scream her little head off every night as I insisted on nursing her to sleep and then continued to tuck her in with us. My mom, visiting us while we lived in a hotel for 5 months, saw this firsthand and suggested putting her to sleep on her own. I was so sad but I gave it a try. Well....within 2 nights (no exaggeration!) she became the perfect sleeper and all-of-a-sudden loved snuggling. If only I had try that 4 months before! The poor little girl felt suffocated and wanted her space. She's a lot like her mother I'll tell ya!

RR in the moby wrap on a family trip  (BB is also in tow)
 I learned a lot from this. For instance, when Baby Blue screamed in my arms at night while my husband was out of town, I needed a different approach to putting her to sleep and was much more open, thankfully!
Each of our children is so unique that it only makes sense to "individualize" our care of them. There is no cookie cutter that fits all kids the same, or parents for that matter! You must always follow your heart. Discussing things with my husband when I wasn't so sure of the route to take was the best help I received. Respecting his advice when I would sometimes disagree and giving it a try also proved fruitful for our family.
I'm so thankful for the support, respect, and now confidence that exists in our home. I am equally thankful for our 2 precious little girls who are so sweet and happy and who make it easy to be a gentle and loving parent...most of the time!


  1. Hey hey, love it, as always.

  2. Motherly intuition is definitely the way to go! And I remember being so surprised at how well Ruby Red did on her own... but that was definitely better for all of you. She was happy, you were happy. I haven't (yet) had a baby with that "leave me alone" temperment, but if I do... it was good to have seen it work so well for R.R.!