Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Things I Said I'd Never Do - Parent Edition

So now that I'm a little over a year into this parenting thing, I thought it would be fun to confess things I've done in the last year that I never thought I'd do.  I'm not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination at all.  I think I'm a good parent, but I'm not perfect.  I also don't judge anyone who did or didn't do any of the following, these are merely things that surprised me that I did or I guess maybe didn't do that surprised me.

1. Give birth naturally - early on in my pregnancy I was like, oh yeah, epidural all the way.  But after our first childbirth prep class Nate and I had a talk and decided we'd give it a go without meds.  Then we settled on water birth and so my resolve was strong to try to do without because they wouldn't let you do a water birth if you had an epidural.  I'm not trying to brag, but I succeeded.  There are a few key reasons I believe - we were extra prepared, we took a bunch of classes and read a ton of books. We toured the room that we'd be delivering in so there'd be no surprises on the actual day.  When I was in labor we stayed at home for as long as we could which kept me more comfortable and relaxed being in a familiar environment and we used a doula - she not only supported me, she helped Nate be able to support me.  A lot of my friends tried to tell me that once I was going through it I'd change my tune when I said I was going to try it naturally, so in the end I was pretty surprised that we made it without!  Then again, maybe it helped that I was only in labor for 7 hours!

2. Have Ollie sleep in our room for more than the first couple of months - I'm not against co-sleeping and I don't judge anyone that does it, but I was more or less planning that we'd transition Ollie to his own room by the time I went back to work.  Instead he stayed in our room until he was six months old and even then I only relented to moving him because he outgrew his co-sleeper bassinet. I ended up really liking having him close at night, not just because it was easier for night waking, but I just loved having him near me at night.  I liked being able to roll over and see him snuggled up in his swaddle.  I liked being able to know instantly that he was ok.  So, I don't regret that we went almost four months longer than I planned having him sleep in our room.  I am glad he sleeps in his own room at this point of course and I think we all sleep better because of it, but I will admit to miss having him next to me sometimes at night!

3. Use the cry it out method - We sort of ended up doing the Ferber style sleep training, but we used a very gentle approach to it.  I was very against letting him cry for any amount of time.  We did some research though and realized that cry it out doesn't always mean you let them cry for hours or never comfort them at all.  And we were to a point that it was taking up to an hour to put Oliver to bed at night, between rocking, bopping, singing and shushing him and finding he would still sometimes cry and fuss even with us holding him.  So we decided to just try the sleep training and were pleasantly surprised that it worked.  We had him putting himself down to sleep within just a few days.  This was when he was around five months old.  Has he gone to bed perfectly every night since then?  Nope. Every kid has trouble at different times.  But nine times out of ten he goes down very well and is asleep within five minutes of laying down.  Nate has a co-worker with a three year old that she still has to rock for hours and even lay in bed with to get him to fall asleep.  She often tells Nate she's jealous we get Ollie down so well and wishes she would have sleep trained when her son was younger.  Again, no judgement on how you do bedtime, but it worked for us and I'm thankful he can put himself to sleep at night and down for naps.  Even with his night waking, after I get up to comfort him when I lay him back down he goes right back to sleep on his own.

4. Let him watch TV before age two - This was really something Nate was more concerned with than I was, but even he's pretty much let this one go.  This is not to say that we let Ollie watch TV 24/7. Even if we were to do so, he isn't actually that interested in it.  But as I've previously mentioned we've found he enjoys Curious George, he likes The Cat In the Hat and Sesame Street and he also likes some shows on the Food Network and our local morning news.  And sometimes it's a crappy day outside or he's having a cranky day and sometimes you do what you have to do to get through the day.  So he gets TV time.  He still loves books, he plays quite a bit and I think he'd choose to be outside if he had the choice.  So, I don't think we're damaging him by letting him have a little screen time.

5. Breastfeed past his first birthday - I honestly didn't expect to even make past six months with breastfeeding.  That was my loose goal, to get to six months.  One year was the ultimate goal, but six months was the easy A.  Fortunately, Ollie took to nursing really well from day one.  As time went on, it just really became easy.  I even got pretty adept at pumping.  So six months breezed by and I knew we'd get to one year with no problem.  The closer we got to one year I realized Ollie wasn't really showing any signs of weaning yet and after the cow's milk allergy diagnosis and the week he was really sick and only tolerated breast milk, I realized there was just no reason to cut him off yet. He's doing great with his almond milk, but if he wants to have breastmilk a couple of times a day still, I'll let him keep going.  I have no idea when we'll stop yet, we're just not going to rush it.  He's still getting benefits from it and it gives us an incredible bond, so I'm in no hurry!  I am super glad to be done pumping though!

6. Give him any store bought baby foods - Oh you guys.  We were totally going to be uber crunchy and make all of his food and never let him have anything that we didn't prepare and you know what?  We were so silly.  We do make 90 percent of his food, but you know what?  Sometimes those squeezy pouches of veggies and fruit are just SO convenient!  And then we realized there was no way he'd eat plain oatmeal, so we started buying the canned baby fruit to add to that.  And then we discovered puffs and well.  Yeah.  We want him to have a wide pallate and we offer him pretty much all the same things we eat at this point, but store bought food is not always the devil.  Sometimes you just have to give in for the sake of it being easier!

7. Still be working full time - I did a "No shop summer" last summer with hopes that by this fall I could cut my hours to part time and be able to spend more time with Ollie.  Sadly, even with doing that, it's just not realistically possible for us right now.  So, I just try to be thankful I have a flexible job with lots of time off and that I work so close to my parents that I get my lunch hours with him - more than a lot of working parents get really.  I'm back to trying to budget better again to see if we can still work the part time thing out - maybe even just for the summer.  We'll see how it shakes out.

8. Be able to handle kind of gross things like well, puke - I do not do well with people when they throw up.  I can handle blood just fine, but vomit?  Nope.  I had no trouble with Ollie's spit up, but I don't consider that the same thing.  I can handle dirty diapers.  I feared the first time he got a stomach bug though like nobody's business.  When it happened last month I surprised myself by not even flinching and just dealing with it.  I guess that is just part of being a mom, you just show up and do it.

9. Still pretty much do all of our favorite things - I'm really not that surprised by this one I guess.  We had hopes that we'd be able to still do a lot of things we loved before, going out to eat, going exploring in our city, etc.  We've managed to do a lot of that with our little guy in tow.  Yeah, our nights are earlier and we tend to do a lot more during the day on weekends, but the important thing is we're still getting out and doing them.  So I guess I put this on the list to tell any future parents, you can still live your life once you have kids!

10. Hardly remembering life before him - Of course we had a wonderful life before Oliver, and I know it's cliche, but I am bowled over sometimes by how much I love him and how much I can't remember my life before him.  I love being his mom so much.  I don't regret it for one second.  This is what I was meant to do and I wouldn't have it any other way!

In the end of course, what matters most to me is that we have a healthy, happy, thriving little boy, which we do.  And I don't judge anyone else for things they do as long as they have healthy happy kids too! Fellow parents - did you ever find yourself doing or not doing things that you weren't expecting once you had kids?

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