Monday, 1 December 2014

It is ok, I promise

The choices that you are making, they are ok. More than ok, if they are the choices that are working for you and your family, then they are great. Even if the choices aren't necessarily the choices you thought you'd make, that you planned to make, or even that you'd prefer to make.

Pregnancy and motherhood is the most mind-blowing, life changing thing you can do. You can read all the books in the world and nothing can prepare you for your experiences, because the people who wrote those books? They aren't you.

I feel like every pregnancy and parenting decision I have made so far puts me in the minority. I often feel I have to defend my choices and I have to quietly give myself a shake and stop myself from talking (which takes a ridiculous amount of effort, I am never quiet).

I was the one with the hyper emesis who took anti sickness medication every day. Every. single. day from week 8 to when my son was born at 38 weeks. Because without it, I might as well take up residence in the bathroom for the full 38 weeks. I still vomited, pretty much every day. Just not all day, every day.

With a 12 month old, I didn't feel like there was really a choice for me, she still needed her mummy. But being honest, I'd have taken the medication anyway, abstaining because there was a slight chance it might harm my baby just wasn't an option because of the way I was feeling. Yet there are people who judge.

I was the one who asked for an induction, because I wanted one. Both times.  I didn't "need" one, my baby wasn't at risk. But I am a control freak. A control freak who knew that I wasn't going to have much control over my life once I was a mother, and I wanted control in the areas I could, for as long as I could.

I had a date for when my baby was born, for both of my babies. We drove leisurely to the hospital discussing our hopes and dreams. We paid the hospital in advance and I wasn't doubled over having contractions. Yet there are people who judge.

I was the one who had an epidural sited before the induction even began. Who had that epidural re-sited twice, because my right knee happens to hog the epidural, leaving none for the rest of me. I did not even consider a "natural birth". I'd have panicked if I hadn't had my baby monitored for every second of my labour and delivery. The idea of a water birth made me feel faintly sick and the contractions I endured while my epidural was re-sited, twice, did not convince me that flying solo without pain medications was the way to go. Yet there are people who judge.

I was the one who didn't breastfeed. At all. I didn't even attempt it. Not once did my children even get offered the breast. I embraced my flaws and my reality and accepted that I did not want to. That breastfeeding was not the right thing for our family.

That the lack of sleep would have killed me, or at the very least ruined my relationship. I am the worst person to have to deal with when I am sleep deprived. I loved my children but I wanted my body back, and I did not want to resent them for my choice to breastfeed. And I plain didn't want to. It did not appeal and I had absolutely no desire to try.

I did all the research, read all the articles about how "breast is best", and my decision didn't change. Breast maybe best, but only if it is best for your family as a whole. Yet there are people who judge.

I am a clean eating, gluten free, paleo eating, essential oil using, crunchy mama, who did not naturally fall into a "natural" pregnancy and labour and delivery. Because it just did not suit. Yet there are people who judge.

I've seen them. On the forums I read, they are there. The most poignant post that I can remember,  was a women who posted a cry for help. Who was so exhausted with her colicky, screaming, cluster feeding baby; her cracked and bleeding nipples and her mastitis; her backache and the cramps from cosleeping (which mean't not sleeping at all for fear of crushing her precious newborn), that she asked whether it would be "so bad" to feed her baby a bottle of formula to enable her to get some sleep.

She was repeatedly told that it was a growth spurt, that she shouldn't give up, that she should pump in-between feeds (which were every hour) and drink fennel tea to get her supply up. And on and on and on the advice came, except the advice she was looking for.

It is ok to give your baby a bottle of formula if you feel it is the right thing to do for you, your baby, and your family.

That answer (which I quietly gave, three pages into the discussion on how to increase her supply), was quickly shot down by those around me, dismissed and ridiculed.

I (who had a 12 month old by then, and was considerably better rested than the poor woman who had asked the question) felt judged, berated and a little harassed. And I'm betting that is nothing to how she felt, she who had dared to ask such a provoking question.

For the record, I don't believe that everyone should request an induction (particularly as they don't work for everyone), or get an epidural, or formula feed. I do believe that people should be left alone to their choice. And people should answer the question that was asked, not use it as an excuse to push their own personal opinions.

But there are those who have taken up the natural birth, breastfeeding mantel, and have chosen to wear it as armour and march into battle. Who feel it is their prerogative to "educate" those that have chosen a different path (i.e. bully and intimidate).

It is always much more subtle in person, but you can still see it. You can see the flash in their eyes when you say "formula feeding" followed with "from birth" or when you say "requested an induction and epidural" or even "chosen to vaccinate".

I am the only person I know, who has had a baby in the past three years, who formula fed from birth. The only one. Sometimes I feel guilty, feel like I should have been better, done better, tried harder.

And then I realised that I am better, did better and tried harder. Every. single. day. I am doing the best I can, with what I have, and who I am. I work with my flaws, and my strengths, every. single. day.

I love my children, and the choices I make are always made with them in mind. The choices I made, they are ok, and so are the ones you are making. It is ok, I promise. 

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