There is a newness that comes with the birth of each newborn. Each baby has his or her own temperament and personality. There is a new dynamic with the birth of each new baby. Going from no children to one, one to two, and two to three all have their own blessings and challenges. Without a doubt though, being a third-time mom makes me a veteran in a certain of ways.
I just wish I could rewind to when I was a new mom and tell myself to be strong in this one way right off the bat.
Yesterday, I had to bring myself and my newborn to the walk-in clinic. Unfortunately, my c-section incision had gotten infected. Because I exclusively breastfeed and a little someone isn’t keen on taking bottles, the baby came with me.
The lady at the desk told me it was roughly a one hour wait. So, I found the last remaining waiting room chair and prepared myself for the long haul.
One hour turned into two and then almost three.
As time passed, my relatively contented baby became not so. You see, my little guy isn’t too keen on nursing in stimulating settings. He’ll latch, nurse in an almost thrashing sort of a way, unlatch and then scream. I bounce him, calm him, and then we try again. Over the course of our time waiting, we went through this routine more and more.
Until finally, a woman crossed the room to address me.
Having been shot several loving looks and smiles since we entered, I honestly thought she was coming over to congratulate me on my baby. Or, perhaps she just wanted to tell me how cute he is. (I am definitely a proud, biased mama.)
Instead, she tapped his bum and said something to me I didn’t understand. I said I didn’t understand to her. So she repeated herself, tapping on my son once more. I couldn’t make out the language she was speaking let alone the meaning of the words she was saying to me.
We live in a very multicultural area and because of that, there ended up being three separate sets of people waiting in the clinic who did understand her. She took a step back from me, stood in the middle of the room, and promptly addressed her audience with her thoughts on me and my baby. A woman who understood her turned to me and said, “She wants you to change him.”
With that my sweet boy started to fuss more. Considering he is my priority and not the opinion of complete strangers, I took to bouncing him once more.
Then, it dawned on me. There likely was an unoccupied examination room I could nurse him in. I left my diaper bag and extras to save my chair and was brought by a into a room my son and I could use. As my heart rate started decelerating from the public spectacle I was just the subject of, I got to thinking.
Had I actually been a first-time mom, I likely would have been in tears by now.
I would have been humiliated, flustered and unsure if I had failed my crying baby. Susceptible to the opinions of others, I would have changed him. He would have continued to cry. And, I would have become increasingly self-conscious.
As a new mom, I was the recipient of way too much unsolicited parenting advice. I was chastised for not sleep training my four-month-old. And, it was suggested that I put her on a feeding schedule. The former made me feel like I was failing as a new mom. The latter actually influenced my parenting. Instead of demand feeding my little girl who had established an incredible rhythm, I tried to follow a schedule. It turned my contented baby into a very unhappy camper fast. Since then, I’ve had people suggest I should let my babies cry it out, have stricter punishment for my children and many more unwanted “pearls of wisdom.”
All this advice did was make me feel judged.
It’s taken some time. But through all of this, I’ve learnt, unequivocally, that I know my children better than anyone else. I also know what works for our family better than anyone else.
If I were to pass on anything to new moms out there, it would be just that.
I’m in the parenting trenches with my kids every single day. When they’re sick, when they’re scared, and when they’ve wet the bed, I am the one attending to my kids. I comfort them when they are hurt. And I coach them through their bad choices and outbursts. Secondly, I know my limitations too. I know what I can commit to in my parenting and what doesn’t work with my own personality too.
If I were to pass on any single piece of advice to a new mom, it would be just that. You know your children better than anyone. And as such, you should parent them unapologetically in the way only you know best.