Scary stories from a lovely place
Since I wrote the post ‘Stupid Pregnant Woman’ on May 11 I have tried to be less prickly, and all in all a nicer, needier pregnant woman. 13 days have lapsed, leaving me 8 days from my due date. I’ve been taking people’s advice, letting them fetch me outdoor, padded chairs to sit on and have even allowed myself to be a passenger rather than the perpetual driver. I have appreciated everyone’s efforts to care for me despite the ragey independence I was touting a couple of weeks ago. But I am still struggling to appreciate all the heavily-experience-based-advice-dressed-up-as-gospel that keeps coming my way.
I know that we like to justify any decisions we make about life, I know I feel tempted to do it, even though we shouldn’t have to. Pregnancy and parenting are ripe fields for this. Maybe this is because pregnancy and parenting have become so politicised with all the different theories and methods and books available for consumption and adherence. And people have certainly been judged both privately and publically on many of these issues. The one solid thing I have learnt about pregnancy so far is that there is no consistency, there is no one way for it to happen. We talk in a similar subjective way about babies. I’ve heard lots of “it will depend on what sort of baby you have” which suggests that the temperament of the baby is pre-determined and any decisions I make will be a secondary (but still important) factor in forming the personality of the kid. But the advice keeps coming.
The scariest pregnancy/parenting minefields are as follows….
Cloth nappies v Disposable nappies – This is one of the biggest. I am going to try and use cloth nappies. I have researched the different options. I have looked at the financial and environmental benefits and they outweigh the apparent invonceniences. Stephen made the foolish mistake of telling his workmates that we were hoping to use cloth nappies. Since then he has had repeated many times the same stories of cloth nappy woes; having to boil them in pots for hours and preventing the baby from learning how to walk. When I hear a litany of all the reasons someone chose to use disposables over cloth nappies I leave that conversation with the strong sense they are feeling guilty and trying to justify their decision to use disposables. I don’t mind what you do. I’m not judging.
Breastfeeding v Formula – This is also pretty huge, and obviously highly politicised in social history. I want to breastfeed for as long as I can, as exclusively as I can. I know I will be up all hours and needed by my child, and I’m okay with that. But I’m not pinning my life on it, if it doesn’t work I’ll make a plan. I can see the benefits – financial, emotional, convenience – of breastfeeding but I don’t judge mothers who don’t. I know it’s hard and it doesn’t work for everyone.
Preparing the room – I haven’t painted. I haven’t wall-friezed. I haven’t even bought a sleigh cot. This makes me feel like a bad mother when people keep asking me how I’ve prepared it. It’s clean and semi-organised. But the baby is going to sleep in my room for the time being anyway, and it doesn’t know what a wall frieze is.
Sleeping decisions – This one is also pretty explosive. Co-sleeping. Cry it out. Same room, different bed. Different rooms. Again, my decisions are somewhat based on research but also on selfish, pragmatic decisions. My house is freezing at night. Reaching next to me or fetching the baby from its bed in my room sounds much more appealing than trekking down the hallway. But I must admit I find the cry it out thing pretty strange. Maybe this will mean that I end up with a high maintenance kid. But maybe not. It all seems relative anyway.
At least I have a little while until I make decisions like private or public school, day care or staying at home because they also seem very fiery. It’s sad that there is so much judgement and guilt associated with the personal decisions we make regarding our children. Maybe we could just support each other’s choices?
My mum sent me an email this morning and she had this good advice on the subject. “It is amazing how adamant people can be about things that we all have a right to decide for ourselves, not to mention that we all face different circumstances. Just nod and thank them.” What a wise woman she is. That is advice I will take.