If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a mom, it’s that moms are judgey. (Dads can be judgey too, but they’re more likely to go with the flow, I think.) Admit it––once you become a mom, you look around and silently evaluate other moms for the choices they’re making with their children. I don’t think this is automatically “bad,” and honestly, it’s probably just human nature. When you’re trying to get your bearings as a new parent, it can be just as helpful to decide what you DON’T want to do as what you DO want to do. As long as we all keep in mind that, barring cases of abuse or neglect, ALL parents do what they feel is best for their kids. What works for their kids won’t necessarily work for yours, and vice versa.
I figure I might as well confess to all the potentially controversial things I do as a parent––hey, assuming I keep this blog up, you’d find out about this stuff anyway.
In no particular order, here’s my list of parenting choices I’ve made:
1. Using IVF to become pregnant
I never, ever imagined that I would need IVF. I come from a long line of very fertile women. But as luck would have it, after trying for over a year to get pregnant on our own, we discovered that IVF would be pretty much the only way we could conceive. Thankfully, the issue was not with my plumbing, but with Cap’n Daddy’s. I say “thankfully” because our FANTASTIC fertility doc told us that our chances of having success via IVF was much higher when the woman’s reproductive system was functioning normally. And this apparently was the case––we got pregnant on our first try. I’ve heard the arguments against IVF––that it’s selfish, that it’s immoral, that people should just adopt––but let me tell you, it’s not a decision that ANYONE takes lightly. And if you have a problem with it, keep your opinions to yourself. Because no one who has experienced the crazy amounts of medications, countless shots in the stomach, endless blood draws, the emotional roller coaster of each cycle, and footed the significant financial cost of going through all of that wants to hear what YOU think. Trust me on that.
One of these blastocysts is Bucko. We transferred both but only one stuck. And we couldn’t be more thrilled with him!
2. Taking medication during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Everyone––and I do mean everyone––does better when Mommy takes her meds. Yes, I’ve done my research. And yes, the benefits definitely outweighed the risks.
3. Natural birth…in a hospital
OK, it wasn’t totally natural, and it didn’t go exactly according to my birth plan. That’s okay, though, because I viewed my birth plan as more of a birth guide. Anyway, I quickly realized after getting to the hospital that my Hypnobirthing recordings were annoying rather than helpful. I had 1.5 doses of Nubain fairly early in my labor because I was dilating REALLY fast and it effin’ HURT. I also had to get IV antibiotics because I tested positive for Group B Strep. I labored mostly on the hospital bed. My midwife ruptured my membranes when I was around 10 cm, so they didn’t break on their own. I agreed to a minimal dose of Pitocin when my labor stalled around 8-10cm. I ended up with a medically-necessary episiotomy.
But I did not have my labor induced. I did not have an epidural and I did not have a c-section (even though I was begging for both roughly a hour and a half before Bucko was born). I tried laboring in the in-room whirlpool tub, but after a while, I wanted to get back on the bed. I also tried laboring in the hands-and-knees position and in a squatting position, but kept coming back to sitting semi-reclined on the bed. It was totally my choice. Per my wishes, the umbilical cord wasn’t cut until it had stopped pulsating, so Bucko could get all of that rich cord blood. He spent the first hour or so of his life lying skin-to-skin on my chest. The nurses patted him with a towel but left most of the vernix on his skin as I had requested. A wonderful lactation consultant helped me to nurse him as soon as he was ready. Many things went “right,” and as for the things that deviated from our birth plan, it was okay because we had educated ourselves about those variables and we made informed decisions.
Laboring is hard work
But the end result is worth it!
4. No circumcision
I was against circumcising Bucko since the moment we discovered Bucko was a boy. I could not imagine handing my precious newborn baby over to someone who would cut off part of his body for no good reason. And to me, doing it for alleged (unproven) hygienic reasons or to ensure he would “fit in” with other penises were not good reasons. Believe me, I researched this topic a LOT. It took a while to convince Cap’n Daddy, but ultimately, after extensively researching the pros and cons, we both decided that Bucko would remain uncircumcised. Now, if you have a son and you opted for circumcision, okay. I’m much more concerned about people making uninformed decisions than what their decisions ultimately are.
5. Disposable diapers
OK, I really wanted to use cloth diapers. Really, I did. It just didn’t work out. Disposable diapers are so easy. And I know cloth diapering aficionados would protest that cloth diapers are just as easy, and I KNOW. But I
can barely keep up can’t keep up with our laundry as is. Throwing diapers into that mix would be disastrous. Perhaps it would be different if our washer and dryer weren’t in the basement (in the cold, damp, haunted-house-esque basement of our 150-year-old house, down a flight of steep, rickety wooden steps). If our laundry “room” was on the main floor, then yeah, maybe it would work. But for our circumstances right now, it didn’t make sense. So we’re using disposable diapers. Mostly these, because I still care about the environment and exposure to chemicals and things like that.
6. Exclusively breastfeeding
Cap’n Daddy and I decided long before Bucko arrived that Bucko would be exclusively breastfed. Why? Obviously the health benefits were a major consideration, since breastmilk is made precisely to nourish babies. Plus I’d be in a good position to do it, since I would be staying at home with him. And, um, it’s free. (Even after buying a double-electric pump and bottles and things like that, it’s still a helluva lot cheaper than buying formula.) And it fits in perfectly with my lazy-mom approach to parenting––no formula to mix up, no heating up bottles, no sterilizing stuff, just stuffing a boob in the baby’s face. Honestly, there are a zillion reasons why we chose to exclusively breastfeed, and it’s too much to go into here. But if you chose formula, or if you attempted breastfeeding but it didn’t work out for some reason, okay. Exclusively breastfeeding worked for us. We had our reasons. I assume you have yours. Don’t judge my decision to breastfeed, and I won’t judge your decision to formula-feed. 🙂
7. Being a SAHM
I have two bachelor’s degrees, one from Ohio State in English and one from Kansas State in Secondary Education. I am a licensed teacher (English 7-12, English 5-8, and Music K-12). I have done graduate work at New York University in English Education. But right now, I’m a stay-at-home mom. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. I realize that I am very lucky to be able to stay at home with Bucko. I love watching him grow every day and being there to witness each new development. I don’t necessarily plan to stay at home forever––once the kids (Bucko + future siblings) are in school, it’ll probably be a different story. But right now, this is my choice and I’m (mostly) lovin’ it. I really respect mothers who work outside the home, so please (as with most of these choices) don’t assume that if you chose something different that I disapprove.
8. Practicing (intermittent) babywearing
I feel sorry for babies who stay in their car seats everywhere they go. Maybe this is just me, though, because Bucko NEVER tolerated staying in his car seat if the car wasn’t in motion. (And even if it WAS in motion, going under 55mph was unacceptable. He was born a speed demon.) Nope, no hauling around the infant car seat wherever we went––Bucko demanded to be held. Nothing less would do. So we acquiesced. I tried a few carriers before I shelled out $130 for a Beco Gemini (totally worth the money). This was the only way I could go grocery shopping or do other errands with Bucko. Plus, it was actually really nice to have my baby snuggled against me all the time. He certainly loved it. I loved being able to kiss the top of his head whenever I wanted (which was/is almost all the time). Once he got big enough for an umbrella stroller, that became our preferred method of travel, because he enjoyed looking out from a new vantage point. But we still use the Beco Gemini sometimes. (Hey, it’s good until he weighs over 35 lbs!)
Babywearing at the Ohio State Fair when Bucko was about 2.5 months old
Yes. We co-sleep. Bucko has not spent a night in his entire ten months apart from his mommy. Well, except for a few hours on the first night of his life––but we were both too tired to care. For the record, I never planned to co-sleep, at least not in the same bed. I had an Arm’s Reach co-sleeper set up right next to my side of the bed, and had every intention of putting him in it at night. But guess what? It never happened. I was not blessed with an easy sleeper. From his earliest days, Bucko would wail hysterically if set down by himself to sleep. But if he was next to me, he slept easily. Cap’n Daddy and I both value sleep, and we quickly realized we would get more sleep if Bucko stayed in our bed. To be fair, Cap’n Daddy wasn’t totally on board with it for a while, but he couldn’t argue with the results. I’ve done my homework regarding co-sleeping/sleep-sharing/the family bed, and I’m VERY comfortable with my decision. It can be done safely (assuming Mommy is breastfeeding). It makes breastfeeding so much easier. Mommy and baby get more sleep.
Ten months later, I’m starting to think about changing our sleeping arrangements. Co-sleeping has worked very well for us to this point, but it might be time for a change. Currently, Bucko needs me to go to bed with him in order to fall asleep and stay asleep, so I’m in bed by 8:30-9pm most nights. He nurses a few times a night, which he technically “shouldn’t” need at this point. I’d love to sleep through the night undisturbed. But I’m not desperate (yet), and I’m not sold on “sleep training.” Still undecided as to what my next steps might be. Stay tuned.
10. Breastfeeding in public
I do this all the time. I’ve nursed at Disney World, on planes, in restaurants (casual and hoity-toity), in parking lots, on a boat, at state parks, on a bus, at doctor appointments, on the floor at Once Upon A Child. That’s just a sampling. No one has ever said anything to me, which is good, because if anyone ever confronted me about feeding my child when he’s hungry, I’d probably go Mama Bear on their ass. Look, I am discreet. I don’t whip my shirt off, I don’t dangle my boobies for all to see. I keep as covered up as possible while still allowing my baby to nurse in comfort––which means not covering his head with a stupid nursing shawl. (Would YOU want to eat with a blanket over your head?) Besides, those nursing covers attract more attention than just nursing. You put one of those things on, and it’s like a giant neon sign saying “HEY GUYS GUESS WHAT’S GOING ON UNDER THIS SHEET I’VE GOT A BABY ATTACHED TO MY NIPPLE RIGHT NOW OMG CRAZY RIGHT HAHA YOU CAN’T SEE IT YOU CAN’T SEE IT.” Defeats the purpose, IMO.
11. Extended breastfeeding (planning to do this, anyway)
STOP ASKING ME IF I’M “STILL” BREASTFEEDING. STOP ASKING ME WHEN I PLAN TO WEAN. IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Besides that, breastmilk is the best food for babies. And hey, guess what, it’s still a damn good food for toddlers. I’ll wean Bucko from the breast when Bucko decides he’s ready, within reason. While I really can’t picture myself nursing him past age 2, I withhold judgment for mothers who continue nursing their preschoolers. It’s an incredibly personal decision and it is NOBODY’S BUSINESS.
12. Buying (only organic) baby food instead of making my own
Making baby food? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Well, not me, anyway. I keep intending to give it a shot, but I guess I’m too lazy. Maybe I’ll try it at some point. In the meantime, I’m quite content to pay for convenience. As for only buying organic foods––I figure Bucko has plenty of time to consume all the pesticides and antibiotics and heavy metals and other contaminants commonly found in ‘regular’ food. But if I can avoid exposing him to that bad stuff while he’s a baby, then I’m going to try.
Yes, despite the organic foods and babywearing and co-sleeping and breastfeeding and other Attachment Parenting stuff, we did choose to vaccinate Bucko per the CDC guidelines. Again, this was a thoroughly researched and informed decision.
That’s all I can think of for now. And that’s probably more than enough to infuriate most of the people who read this post. 😉 But c’est la vie! No apologies. For every mom out there, I hope you feel just as confident in your own choices. No one knows your baby’s needs better than you!
**Added later because I thought of it later 🙂