Photo: © Roman Podvysotskiy | Dreamstime.com
Eighteen months ago, I became a first time mom. I remember laying in the hospital bed completely overwhelmed with fear, exhaustion and eagerness for this new life I was about to embark on. I had mentally prepared myself for the sleepless nights, diaper changes and round the clock care required when you have an infant. What I hadn’t prepared myself for were other people’s opinions, chatter, and presence in my new life. Here are the phrases to expect the first year, and how you can deal with it without losing your mind.
1. “How are you going to raise your baby?” You will be asked all types of questions on what type of decisions you are going to make for your baby. Most of the common ones are:
“Are you going to breast or bottle feed?”
“What about diapers? Disposable or cloth?”
”What about Vaccinations? Are you or aren’t you?”
Whatever answer you give, will never be the “right” one. Someone will find an argument with your decision.
I’m going to breast feed.
“Oh, really? It’s just that formula sits in the belly longer. Don’t you want a baby that sleeps through the night?”
I’m using disposable diapers.
“Ummm, did you know that a gazillion disposable diapers end up in landfills each year and by using them your basically destroying the planet”.
I’m getting my child vaccinated.
“My sister got her daughter vaccinated, and now she has a third eye.”
A quick comment like “Well that’s what we’ve decided is best for our baby” will usually put a stop to the debate.
2. “Has your Baby Reached her Milestones?” Expect some variation of this question on everything from rolling over to eating solids. People can’t help but compare. My 18 month old son still doesn’t sleep through the night. So even now, I get a lot of this:
“Your son doesn’t sleep through the night?!?! Really?!(practically screams this in my face while foaming from the mouth) My Matilda has been sleeping through the night since birth. A full 12 hours. Have you tried (insert obvious common way to get your child to sleep here). Oh you have? You must not be doing it right.”
Babies reach milestones at different paces. They crawl, walk, talk, sleep, eat, shit in the toilet, and wipe there asses in their own time. If you do have any concerns, talk to your doctor or a professional. Otherwise, just shrug and say something like “I heard babies that don’t sleep through the night are actually geniuses.”
3. “Let me show you how”- There was a moment when I was trying to rock my son to sleep, when a family member suggested I swaddle him a certain way. I tried to do what she explained, but it wasn’t happening. My son was miserable and getting fussier by the second. I was miserable because he was miserable. That family member threw her arms in the air and said to me in a huffy tone, “Hand him over to me, you’re not doing it right”. I remember standing there completely frozen with anger and exhaustion. It took everything in my power not to drop to floor and bawl my fucking eyeballs out.
4. “You’re a first time mom, aren’t you?”- I heard this phrase A LOT. No matter what you do, how you do it, and what questions you ask, everyone from your doctor to the cashier at the grocery store will say this to you. Some people will say it sweetly, others with an eye roll. I always retort back with “Yeah, but I was a mom to two fur babies for years. It’s practically the same thing”. And then I watch as people stare back at me blankly trying to figure out if I’m serious or not.
5. “It looks like you’re doing a great job”- As I approached my sons first birthday, I noticed more and more people were less intrigued with my parenting techniques. I wasn’t asked questions on what decisions I was making and why. People didn’t tell me what to do, or shoot glances of concern my way. I was more confident in what I was doing, and regardless of all of the above, I managed to stick to my own instincts. I even found myself throwing out an advice titbit here and there to a new mom.
It came full circle one day while I was standing in line at the grocery store with my son, who as clapping and waving to people. I leaned down to kiss his forehead and the lady in front of me looked at me in awe and asked “Is he your first?” I shook my head yes and she said back “Well he seems really happy; looks like you’re doing a great job.” It was then I was able to look at the situation from those peoples perspective. Most of them were just questioning, advising, and commenting out of love. They wanted what was best for my baby and I, and were just trying to help. Try and be patient with people in the first year. . Easier said than done when you’re running on zero sleep and zero patience, but keep in mind that you might be that person one day. Just trying to help out a fellow mom.