I am a different parent the second time around. The first time I was nervous, worried about what people would think & what society said I was supposed to do, and more insecure & unsure of my decisions as a parent. The second time my child and I almost didn’t make it, which in turn made me realize the little things didn’t matter nearly as much as I’d thought they did, and I didn’t give a flying flip what anyone thought or what current parenting trends said I should do. My first child was an amazing gift, and she’s a beautiful, vibrant, one-of-a-kind little person, but the first time parent jitters caused our start to be a wee bit more difficult. Our family is not typical, my kids are individuals, and as long as we are a happy & healthy little family, it’s alllllll good! If someone thinks my second child method of parenting isn’t up to par, I’ll listen, smile, and generally continue with life as usual.
Sleep is a big issue for parents of small children. My baby right now is two, and he still comes calling for Mommy at some point in the night over half the time. First time around I was blessed with a baby girl who inherited her mommy’s wonderfully interrupted sleep problems and tendency toward insomnia. Not only that, I tried to fight to sleep train her, because everyone said that would make it all better. HA!!!! We moved her from the bassinet by our bed to her crib in her own room at six weeks old. Attempted to let her cry it out, insisted on her staying in her own crib regardless of how many times she got me up and other conventional methods of sleep training, none of which ever worked. The result? We were exhausted, grumpy and loopy, and I spent most nights for the first two years and beyond in an insanely frustrated attempt to make her sleep like a “normal” child.
My second child was born premature with undeveloped lungs, and spent time in the NICU before we could bring him home. I was scared he would stop breathing at night for a long time. He spent many night sleeping on my chest while I was propped up, since it seemed to be the easiest position for him to breathe in. He also stayed in the bassinet by our bed (propped at an angle until his breathing troubles lessened dramatically) until he outgrew it around six months old. Once we did move him out, he slept okay in his crib for a few months before he started thrashing around and whacking his head and arms on the rails. I moved him to the futon in the living room because he napped so well there, and I lay there with him when he doesn’t sleep well at night so my husband can get some rest before having to head in for a 24 to 48 hour shift at the fire department. The result of this more relaxed approach? We are all better rested and less cranky. This method has extended to my daughter, in a compromise now that she’s older and more reasonable. She is allowed to come snuggle in Mommy’s bed after daylight, and if she sleeps through the night without waking me until then, she gets a sticker on her sleep chart. Once she gets five stickers, she gets a small prize (we started with three stickers). Guess what? We all sleep better than when I was fighting it out trying to follow normal expectations. Relaxing works, y’all! ;)
Breastfeeding in public.
Most first time breastfeeding moms are self conscious. My husband was more self conscious than I was. I don’t know that he had ever seen a woman breastfeed before our daughter was born, covered or not. It’s not that common to breastfeed for any extended period of time in our area. I was nursed, and always knew that’s how my babies would be nourished, but he was even more self conscious about people seeing it than I was, in spite of being extremely supportive and proud of my choice to breastfeed. When we were attending church, I never made it through a service without having to go to a back room to cover and breastfeed our little girl. I had to nurse her in the back seat in parking lots, back rooms everywhere and all sorts of things. At work with my dad, though, I just did my work as I fed her, with a covering, as when we were visiting with other family. Otherwise, breastfeeding made me feel very isolated, but I still happily breastfed for 17 bonding months with her.
Our second child could not stand to have anything over his head or face, maybe as a result of his time covered with tubes and contraptions in the NICU. My give a *bleep* had busted on all things ridiculous by this point, and my husband was completely comfortable and on board with whatever kept his wife and babies healthy & happy, so if my munchkin didn’t want covered, I sure as tootin’ wasn’t covering him. I used strategically placed toys and carefully draped blankies to prevent embarrassing nipple flashes, and if anyone had a problem with knowing that my baby was eating as God intended him to…well, let’s just hope they weren’t crazy enough to say something about it. ;) We had an openly happy nursing experience for 21 months.
As first time parents, we were more likely to fret about all the little booboos and bug bites. Honestly, my husband couldn’t imagine a bug biting his little princess’ tender skin, and would get mad about it. My response generally being something along the lines of a drippingly sarcastic “Yes, honey, I should’ve told that mean ol’ skeeter that it didn’t have permission to bite your little darlin’.” LOL By the time our son was born, we’d both calmed down a lot about it, and realized that bruises, bumps and bites just happen, and they’re okay.
This one was all me. Hubby never minded our daughter getting dirty, but I was not too keen on her smearing mud in her curls or messing up her pretty outfits. I’d allow it, but I’d cringe at the thought of the mess. After nearly not being here to enjoy my little piggies wallowing in the mud, I am able to focus more on their happy grins than on the big whoppin’ disaster they’ve made of themselves. Well, unless they decide to take off running through the muck in their Sunday best, because then manic mommy is coming out to play! ;) As you can see from the picture, they find plenty of dirt around these parts. I didn’t even have to suggest a bath, though. From the adorably horrified expression on his little face, can you tell that right after the shot he took off running to the house hollering “Yuck!! Bath! BATH!!!!”? I’m so glad I didn’t freak out, because that, my friends, was priceless!!! :)
The point of all this? It’s normal to be a bit uptight and insecure and worried about what other people think. We all do it sometimes. Don’t let it get so out of control that you can’t just let loose and have fun and enjoy childhood with your munchkins. You won’t regret having to wash that laundry, kiss that booboo, hide that nipple, or let that kid sleep in a weird place that makes him feel comfortable. You will regret it if you miss that dirty grin, the joy of running freely outside with a giggling child, snuggling up to that nursing child or just letting them be little. Embrace the crazy! Don’t be afraid to adapt to your own unique family situation and each child’s different needs. If people judge you, that’s their problem. Don’t waste energy worrying on it, as long as your life is truly working for you. Childhood goes by so quickly, but the moments can be so long at times. Don’t get so caught up in those frustrating details that you miss the magic of life with your kids!
I’m glad I got the chance to relax by the second time around. :)