My baby immediately slept through the night and 4 other shitty remarks you’ll want to keep to yourself when talking to a new mom
I was surprised how from the moment you are showing, it gives people the impression they are expected to share just about anything about their pregnancies, deliveries and babies with you. I have to say, I am quite a sucker for baby talk – as this blog confirms – so most of the time I enjoyed these talks. But bloody reports about last-minute c-sections, tears (“front to back would you believe!”) or urine loss I could easily have gone without.
What really winds me up though are moms who kick other moms when they are down: “Oh, you haven’t slept in months? How peculiar, our little one slept through the night from the day we took her home with us.” Remarks like these contributed absolutely nothing to my situation. They made me insecure and made me feel like an incapable mom!
I must admit though, that since I’ve become a mom myself, I often have to suppress the urge to share my own experiences. Seeing a newborn takes me back to those awesome first weeks of being a mom and I have to keep myself from launching into a series of personal experiences and tips and tricks. When a baby talk presents itself however, I will always keep in mind that the goal of this talk is to listen to the other mom’s story. She’s not asking for my advice just because she is sharing. I try to go back to those first months of being a mom and being flooded with good advice,…
These are the remarks that really bugged me when I just had Elliot (with Amelia I didn’t let them get to me quite as easily).
You are spoiling your baby
People from my grandparents’ generation would often tell me to not spoil Elliot and later Amelia with too much attention, loving, holding,… “Put him in the playpen, he has to learn to entertain himself.” I am convinced that a little baby needs to be held close, cuddled and I find it sad to put away a baby when there is no need. In situations like these I can’t help but think about how our ancestors raised their newborns. I bet they didn’t put them somewhere a few feet away from them! (On the other hand I’m sure there must be some things they did I would now frown upon). Obviously, age is an important factor here, and I did let my babies practice having some ͞alone time in the playpen. But mostly I would cuddle them in the carrier, those first months. I’ll never forget my gynaecologist warning me to consider the first three months of a baby’s life as a continuation of the pregnancy. She said it is only natural for at least those three months to keep your baby close. The real world can wait.
So how did I repond to these remarks? Not very well in the beginning but later I would just nod and shake it off. Other times I learned to honestly say that it made me feel anxious to leave my baby anywhere but by my side but that this was a phase and a short one at that so I wanted to enjoy every minute of it.
Isn’t he sleeping through the night yet?
Elliot was born with his eyes open and kept that alertness. Many people remarked on how active and observant he was even as a little newborn. However, he was a terrible sleeper from the start. Because of all the worrisome feedback we got about our interrupted nights, Bart and I thought something was wrong with Elliot as early as six weeks. We were reassured by our midwife that it really was more the norm for a baby to not sleep through the night for the first six months than the other way around but then those six months passed and friends and family urged us to seek help. We did but nothing much came of it. Finally we were sat down by a pediatrician who told us there was nothing we weren’t doing anything wrong, and there was nothing we could be doing differently. He explained to us that human babies are born “unfinished” and just as they don’t have teeth yet or don’t walk yet, their digestive system has to ripen. Some babies experience more discomfort than others. Also some babies, especially the alert kind (aha!) are extra sensitive to stimuli they get during the day and they process them at night. A wave of relief washed over me, I felt like I was on top of my game again.
This really is a story to get into some other time but,... from the very start people insisted to let Elliot cry it out and our problems would be gone.
I, however, really didn’t feel comfortable letting him cry- at all! Eventually we tried it a few times and I sat there crying with Elliot. The first year it never worked for us - Elliot really went crazy! He was the most intense crier. (We still laugh when we hear other babies “cry hard”. We wore earplugs when consoling him, to keep calm.)
So, for us at least, this is age sensitive again but I would never tell another mom to let her baby cry or comment on what is a so-called normal night. I just listen and acknowledge how hard it must be. Then I pass on the tips we got, I tell her that some of them seemed to work but most didn’t and that this too shall pass.
You should switch to bottles
Both times, when I opened up about our difficult nights, people immediately turned on me breastfeeding. The bottle, especially a thick emulsion before bedtime, would do the trick. Why was I making things so hard for myself? I am anything but a breastfeeding maniac but I can honestly say- don’t believe it! Our pediatrician told us, and our two little case studies confirmed it: bottles do not make a difference (at least not when they were breastfed in the beginning). What it can do is help to share the load a bit. However, I find that bottles bring along a whole load of other work that needs to be done so I think it evens out.
I stopped breastfeeding because of my own health. This sounds dramatic but when I’m breastfeeding I lose a lot of weight and really can’t seem to eat or DRINK enough to keep myself going. Both times I found it emotional to stop but I finally felt like my pregnancy was only really over and my body was mine again once I had stopped. Moreover it creates some distance between me and the baby which after months of not being able to do anything by myself without leaving an inconsolable baby behind was much needed.
Didn’t he just eat?
Besides some ups and downs, overall breastfeeding was a success for me. But I didn’t have a clear cut feeding schedule to fall back on. My babies inherited my constantly hangry gene and so I was feeding them a lot and everywhere. Also they didn’t have a pacifier so when we were at a social event and they were a bit anxious, there I would be- popping my blouse open.
And all the time... a friend or family member would join me with the comment: “didn’t he/she just eat?” Very annoying. So I always refrain from commenting on anything like that.
I took my newborn home from hospital in skinny jeans
Good for you! But keep it to yourself, especially if it clearly isn’t the case for the mom you are talking to. For me I was so lucky when I had Elliot because I really did go home in regular pants. With Amelia however, my body took a bit longer to bounce back and I was hypersensitive to comments about my figure.
What were things you really hated getting advice on? Let’s continue the conversation on instagram! Mommoiselle_com