Yes, that'll be me then.
I've 3 children. I've raised them all very differently. I think a combination of winging it, life experience, copying and lessons learnt contribute towards how we raise them doesn't it? Oh and books. Lets not forget books. I will just put my hand up here though and categorically state I have NEVER owned a Gina Ford book.
With my first born I was a naive early twenty something. I learnt what i didn't know by a combination of mistakes and winging it. I read the books the health visitor gives you, but that was about it really. No Internet back in 2002. Well there probably was, but not in my house.
By the time I had Kooks in 2006 I had educated myself a bit more. I felt a lot more confident with her and felt I was a better mum for it. Maybe this was just a normal second child thing though? I was also in a much happier relationship and I'm sure this made me a better parent.
By the time it got to baby no 3 in 2012 I felt really confident in my choices. By this time I was also a midwife and much more educated. I parent Bella totally different to how I've parented the other two, again you could say this was experiences, but I felt no pressure to do what everyone else thought I should do, I did what felt natural. I felt the decisions I made were the right ones for my baby, me and were of benefit to us all.
The feeding issue is one of them. Back in 2002 I didn't want to breastfeed. It made me feel uncomfortable, sadly. In 2006 I felt I wanted to give it a go, and Miller was keen for me too as we knew it was good for the baby. She had some problems meaning feeding wasn't able to happen so I expressed for weeks, she was fed via NG tube and eventually had ebm via a bottle. I was happy with this, however when she was in hospital I found a huge amount of pressure was put on me to incorporate formula into her feeds as she was slow to gain weight. Well she was born at 34 weeks and had major abdominal surgery at less than 24 hours old! Anyway I caved in and switched to formula for prem babies in the end as it was suggested wed maybe get home quicker. Having been away for over 3 weeks and having a 3 year old I'd barely seen I jumped at this. If only I knew then what I do now…. Don't even ask me what I did on the advice of a HCP with the freezer full of EBM I had.
As mentioned before I'm a Midwife. A degree in midwifery has taught me many things and breast feeding was a huge part of our education as students. There was no doubt I'd breast feed Bella. I knew it wasn't going to be easy as I'd never done it before but I knew from expressing before I always had a good supply. She was born early so was in scbu, I requested she was only fed via cup or syringe if not from me and around 4/5 days old she managed to latch on and feed, albeit it for short feeds. There's something magical about breast feeding once you've cracked it. We had a few ups and downs along the way, namely my over supply fore milk / hind milk imbalance and over active letdown, causing her to get awful colic symptoms (thank g-o-d) for the Kellymom website. Then we had a posterior tongue tie diagnosis at 11 weeks old. In between this Bella was re admitted to the children's ward with respiratory distress caused by illness, so was unable to feed again for a few days. However the good points outweighed the bad and 6 months in we managed to ebf. It's a huge commitment when only you can feed your baby but I wouldn't change it for the world.
Another thing we've done differently is co slept. I know all about the SIDS recommendations however, I decided for us co sleeping was best, I felt she was safer in with me. When she was 10 weeks old, she seemed to like her space a little so would start off in her co sleeper crib (wish I'd have had one of these with the other 2, total genius) and then come in to feed and stay with me, sometimes she'd go back to her co sleeper with her full tummy. For her first maybe 16 weeks of life she napped on me, was carried around in her moby wrap and was such a content baby (minus the few weeks of colic). I didn't worry that she should be sleeping elsewhere, not did I worry she'd get used to being on me or with me. I'm more relaxed and we've benefited from this hugely. I have however had the odd 'rod for your own back' comments as she was always picked up, or slept with me. I find it amazing that its ok for people to say this to mums, when actually nature intends for us to do this. Think about animals, when my cat had her kittens she lay with them feeding them constantly, keeping them warm and nurturing them. Why is the human race so worried about getting babies into routines early on? Women should snuggle up and enjoy their babies forgetting about the outside world for a bit and routines and bad habits. Can you imagine if the comment about rods for your backs was reversed at the mums who parent opposite to how I've described? Exactly. Please don't get me started on Gina Ford and her recommendations for laying a baby in a dark room and letting them cry it out, not manipulating you. Grr.
I've also done baby led weaning this time around. We all love it. No worrying about the spitting out of purée, just mealtimes where the baby can grab whatever your having and amuse themselves with it whilst you eat a meal. Yay to that.
One of my biggest influences on parenting this time too is a near death experience I and with Bella when she was 22 days old and needed a lot of help to breathe as she had bronchiolitis. It's made me more protective for sure. Placing your floppy white tiny baby on a resus bed watching her be worked on is enough to do that, and more. I count myself very lucky these days.
So despite what I've written, I DO shave my armpits. I don't wear tie dye. I have regular fake tans however, love glamour and make up. Actually am a bit obsessed with MAC cosmetics and should I ever get fed up of catching babies ill re train as a MAC artist. I love reality TV.
So rambling aside, I suppose what I'm trying to say is don't judge a book by its cover. There's a saying about walking a mile in someone's shoes before passing comment. This is true. Next time you're about to be critical of someone's parenting choices just think there may (or may not) be a reason behind it.
Bella needs feeding 🙂
Here's a pic of me and my little womb fruits