Most of us start making plans the moment we find out we’re pregnant. We scare the snot out of our hormonal selves searching for the birth experience, sleep method and feeding philosophies that are least likely to ruin our child. Hospital vs. home birth? Breast or bottle? Attachment Parenting or Babywise? Everyone guarantees that their method is the only one that won’t turn your baby into an ax murderer who is unable to “self-soothe” and still wearing diapers while living in your basement at the age of 40. It doesn’t stop there, though. The way your child is educated, dressed and entertained in their spare time all apparently have equally devastating effects on their future contributions to society.
I’m not writing to address the validity of any one method over another. I’m not an expert in pregnancy, childbirth, or healthcare.
However, I am the the world’s leading expert in the field of MOC – My Own Children.
Through trial and error, I’ve learned what works for us as a family, and I’ve learned what works for each of my kids separately. Their pregnancies, births, etc. were so different – SO DIFFERENT – yet both are happy, healthy, secure and loved.
So, maybe you’re wondering…
Which one had an eat-anything pregnancy, and which one was a Paleo baby?
Which one had a hospital birth, and which one had a “home” birth attended by a midwife?
Which one did the breast crawl (hint :: the one born at the hospital!), and which one wasn’t put to the breast until they were over 16 hours old?
Which one had a bath soon after being born (spoiler alert :: home birth!), and which one’s stats and bath were delayed until after a few hours of skin-to-skin bonding?
Which one supplemented with formula from the beginning (and then weaned entirely at 5 months), and which one was exclusively breastfed for 2 years?
Who loved to be worn, and who did not?
Who co-slept, and who was in their crib from Day 1?
Who slept through the night at 7 weeks, and who slept through the night at 15 months?
Which one has never had an antibiotic, and which one has never had an ear infection?
Who ate homemade purees and rice cereal, and who took the Baby Led Weaning route?
Which one had a pacifier until 3 years old, and which one never showed interest?
…but if you can’t tell the difference, why should I?
Beware those who say your only choices are black or white. Beware those who view motherhood as a competition instead of a community. Beware those who do not respect your role as The World’s Foremost Expert on Your Own Children.
Mamas, you’re not going to ruin your little ones – no matter what Dr. Google and Famous Mommy Blogger tell you. The weight of the world is on your shoulders, and those sweet babies are counting on you to make important life decisions. But guess what? YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND! You can mix and match! If a “guaranteed” parenting method over-promised and under-delivered, that doesn’t mean YOU failed. Shake it off, and try something else. It’s your right and privilege to change your mind as many times as it takes to find what works. You’re the mom now.
My home-birthed/midwife-attended baby has led a more “mainstream” life in terms of food and medicine. And my “crunchy” baby began life with a picture-perfect delivery (attended by a resident I had never even met!) in the hospital. Keep what works, and ditch what doesn’t. I’ve learned to be flexible, to give and receive grace, and to embrace life in the gray areas.
You will, too. You’re going to be so good at this motherhood gig. I promise!