I Am The Expert
One of the hardest things I am having to cope with in new motherhood is input from too many people on how to care for my son, the worst of the lot being those that believe in very different methods of raising children and want to impose it on me. I respect everyone's opinion and I welcome advice very much but I also expect my own opinion to be respected.
On many occasions these past few weeks, people have tried to make me feel bad about my choices or impose their own philosophy on me. Let me share my mothering philosophy with you real quick. Before becoming a mom, I had the privilege to see other women around me care for their babies. As a Nigerian, this is not strange as we are constantly surrounded by family. I picked up a lot from my own mother caring for my youngest brother. So the basis for my philosophy is in what I grew up seeing. You all already know I breastfeed from my previous post on breastfeeding my baby. I believe in carrying/wearing my baby which includes backing and carrying him in any kind of baby carrier. I also co-sleep i.e. share my bed with baby. I absolutely do not believe in leaving a baby to cry it out and self-soothe [especially if the baby is under 9 months] because the idea disgusts me and I do not believe that babies cry for absolutely no reason. I firmly believe in holding my baby as much as possible. I guess you could say I am practicing Attachment Parenting.
Now, there are many mothers that would rather formula feed for whatever reason. I have nothing against that. I am pro-choice afterall. But when someone comes to me and tries to tell me what formula or follow on milk I MUST give my baby before even finding out whether or not I would prefer to breastfeed or formula feed, I get really irritated. More than a few people have done this to me and I find it unacceptable. Why not ask me how I choose to feed baby first and applaud my choice [or not, that is their problem not mine]? It has taken extreme mental strength not to shut these people down, nod my head but do whatever I see fit for my baby anyway.
Onto the subject of baby carrying. When I was younger, I found a soft, velvet navy blue mei-tei baby carrier among my mother's belongings and upon asking her, she told me it was what she used to carry me. I was intrigued. This and the fact that I hate buggies informed my choice to baby-wear. I love having my baby close to my body and so does my husband. That is baby's favourite place to be. I enjoy carrying, hugging, cuddling and showering him with kisses. I pick him up when he cries and I try to solve the problem which is hardly ever more than five things: hunger, fatigue, wet nappy, too hot or cold or simply wanting to feel secure. To some people, this kind of attention I give to him is spoiling him and they never miss the opportunity to let me know. "Don't pick him up every time", "Let him cry a bit", "You feed him on demand? Nooo make a schedule". And the line I hate most? "Oh no! You have spoilt your baby" all because he cries and I pick him up and try to attend to his needs. I never complained did I? It is a pleasure for me to carry him. Again it has taken all my strength not to bitch-slap these people. I should not really have to explain my choices every time.
My first ever child rearing argument happened with my mother. She felt the room had to be 30 degrees Celsius for baby to be comfortable and that he always needed to wear a hat indoors. I disagreed with her on that and we argued about it until the health visitor came and told us that hats were not necessary indoors and that a temperature of 18-20 Degrees was just right so that baby does not overheat. I have noticed that when it is family, it is even harder to have my choice respected and for me to be assertive about what I want.
I have learnt so much to exercise restraint in these first few weeks of motherhood than I have ever done my whole life. I have also learnt that no matter what anyone else says or thinks, mothering this little boy is on me. I will never forget what the Health Visitor said to me the day she visited:
"You will discover in the next few weeks that no matter what anyone claims to know about your baby, YOU are the expert!"
PS: Hope you guys had a Happy Easter!