Thursday, February 19, 2009

Our baby, our choices

A question to all the mothers out there: do you remember the time when you had been new Moms? Did you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the flow of inquiries and advice?

When we got discharged from the hospital and went home with our baby, many people were surprised we're not having any relatives to stay with us and help. To tell you the truth, after I gave birth I didn't want to see anyone but my husband (and our little darling, naturally!) for weeks. I felt I need the time and space to just be with my daughter, and learn things at my own pace.

When you are a new mother, more experienced women will almost undoubtedly comment on how you feed, change, bathe, dress and handle the baby, how your baby is growing and developing, and which improvements your parenting style could do with.

Something many older women disagree with: I feed my baby on demand. That doesn't mean I nurse every time she cries or gets fussy, because that would be every ten minutes! She might cry because she's wet, uncomfortable, or has gas in her little tummy; or simply because she needs to be held by Mom, bless her little heart - quite understandable for a one-month-old. But if she's showing obvious signs of hunger and nothing will calm her, she will eat, even if less time than usual passed since last feeding.

I keep hearing that my baby "needs" a pacifier every time she gets fussy. I'm not saying there's something inherently wrong with giving a pacifier. But I have noticed our baby usually does not cry "for no reason". She's hungry, or uncomfortable, or has colic; or sometimes she just needs to be held - and that's fine! She's a tiny baby, and she has to be secure of our presence. I want to know what she needs.

Also, I heard that the use of pacifiers might undermine breastfeeding. Not giving a pacifier is our decision, and I would expect it to be respected, especially when I've explained our reasoning numerous times.

There's nothing wrong with accepting advice. On my blog, many wonderful ladies have left me tons of valuable hints, tips and practical information. But there's this thin line between making information available to a new mother, and making her feel incompetent if she doesn't accept certain suggestions. Like a friend of mine once said to me, babies don't come with instruction manuals, and sometimes you just need to trust your instincts and figure out on your own what works for you and your baby.

64 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about wanting the time and space to develop your mothering instincts. Press on, Anna! It was challenging, but all 5 of mine were raised with demand nursing and without pacifiers.

Tracy said...

Anna!
OH, how I wish I could give you a warm embrace, and a nod of the head.

I so agree with you. I didn't have help from family after giving birth either. In fact, it amazes me when people have their parents or in-laws for a month or more. we learn by doing, and we must take care of our own babies to get good at it. Perhaps this is why babies love older women. Because they know how to hold a wee one just right, and how to make them feel secure.

What many ladies tend to forget is that they were once novices as well.

I've tried to steer clear of giving you advice for just this very reason. No sense in questioning your every move... you love your baby and God gave you motherly instincts that will prove to be all that you need.

For the record, I NEVER used a pacifier, and breastfed on demand as well. ;0)

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,
When I had my first of 5 we lived 45 miles away from all relatives. Both grandparents and all adult siblings (there are 14, not including in-laws) That was the best experience I would have to say. I learned how to be independent and there were no drop-ins so I could breast-feed without interruption. My first was also a c-section - after my bad experience at the hospital My husband and I fended for ourselves and to this day I wouldn't change a thing. Except when we moved back a year later because there was an overwhelming demand to visit literally every weekend on our part. Then we had some major issues.
You are so blessed with wisdom to trust G-d and do things your way. Believe me you won't regret it. Please try not to be overwhelmed with advice - just hearing it can make you second guess yourself.

With love & respect,
Mary M

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

I love your blog! I had to comment on this post, because I remember being a new mom six years ago, and I'm due for another child in April, yay! -- so babies are on my mind!

Yes, it was quite overwhelming to hear from everyone although thankfully I'm very hermit-like and didn't have a popular blog like you, so I'm sure I didn't hear as many voices.

From my own observations, the unasked for advice will never go away. As children grow up, people will continue to scrutinize and offer unwanted advice on discipline, education, or whatever; even if they don't have children of their own. Even simply commenting on an event in my day was taken as a complaint (when it wasn't!) by some individuals, summarily followed with "advice."

I basically have decided to respond by quietly smiling and doing what my husband and I want anyway.

I do wish I had the help of my mother at home in the beginning as some of my acquaintances did. I was so glad that she was at least present at my daughter's birth along with my husband. Her support and knowledge (from having four children of her own) was a blessing. However, I can imagine it all depends on the circumstances. Some grandmothers are extremely supportive of their children's decisions in the care of their grandchildren and some are not.

As for pacifiers, we used a pacifier for six months and then it magically disappeared. For my daughter, it did not interfere with her breastfeeding (I'm sure this could be different for other babies). I think if you can get away with not using one at all that's great (what I wanted but didn't work out for us).

It seems to me there will always be mommy debates on various topics for the rest of time :) There will always be someone who thinks you are doing it wrong.

As a new mommy I was also my own worst enemy -- I had lots of ideals that I realized cannot always be upheld, but I learned later it's really OK. My child is not ruined for the rest of her life because I didn't make my own baby food or use cloth diapers. I couldn't breastfeed for two years like my mom did, but my daughter is alright.

I guess my point is I encourage new moms to not feel like lesser than slime for not being able to do everything "perfectly" or the way everyone else thinks is perfect. (Uh-oh I think I just gave unwanted advice -- sorry!)

So here's to motherhood and respecting each other's decisions - from pacifiers to diapers or whatever :)

Take care~

A Marriage After His Heart said...

Anna,

I so agree with you. I like hearing advice from other women, but I like to have the ability to funnel that advice at my own choosing. Normally I will pray and just ask God to help me, and often times he recalls to my mind something someone has told me, I will try it and it will work.

I remember when my youngest was so colicky, and all these older women were giving me advice from get this " blowing cigarette smoke over her head" to give her a bottle with Dewee's magnesia in the milk. Finally it was my mom who told me about my eating habits while breastfeeding and the external stress I was tranferring through my body into my babies milk that was upsetting her little tummy.

I changed how I ate, learned how to be calm and feed her while being calm that helped some. I later found out I couldn't breastfeed due to an issue with my health, but I am so glad that I listened to my mom who allowed me to process her advice in my own time and trusted my instinct that something was wrong with me physically that was causing me to give off not so good milk for my baby. Both proved right.

And babies do come with an instruction manual, two as a matter of fact, mommy and God. God will always give mommy what is needed to take care of baby after all he blessed her to carry and nurture for 9months, why wouldn't he give us the instinct on how to best nurture his gift outside the womb.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

When I had my babies (5 so far) we did not want ANYONE over for the first week, and then only for day visits. We wanted to be by ourselves to just BE our family. We never had anyone stay, I would have hated that.

I also fed my babies on demand. I think putting a one month old on a schedule is akin to child abuse. But, if you were doing that I would keep my mouth shut because no-one but you and your husband can know what is best for your baby.

Good luck, but it doesn't get easier. You will continue to get comments about how to raise your children until you have been dead 15 minutes, probably a great-grandmother to dozens.

God Bless,
Mrs. Melody

Anonymous said...

We stayed with my mil after the first birth and it was a life-saver. I knew nothing about babies, and she is the most efficient home-maker and carer on the planet. I didn't need to cook, or clean, or do laundry. My first child screamed non-stop for hours at a time, and it was wonderful to have grandparents and aunts and uncles on hand to hold him and allow me to regain my sanity.


By the time you have two or three children, it's often easier to return home (although my in-laws would drop by often to take the older kids out and allow me to rest).

Of course, my mil was also VERY opinionated about how I should deal with the baby. Indeed, she still has lots of opinions concerning how to deal with older kids, too! As one poster above stated, that kind of advice never stops coming. I've learned some of it is actually useful, even invaluable, if you allow yourself to be open enough, and if you develop enough maturity to deal with the unwanted stuff elegantly and graciously.

For the record, I breastfed all 5 of mine on demand. With the first, I also decided not to use a soother/pacifier (it was not good for teeth, it would delay his speech, yada yada). He ultimately decided to use ME as his soother, and I was breastfeeding round the clock. Nothing else would calm him; it was terrible. Never again; my other four all used pacifiers. I breastfed them on demand, too, but they demanded it only when they were really hungry, not because they needed something to suck (and they were all big babies, so it's not that it disturbed their feeding).

I only got rid of the pacifier at age two or so. For me, it was indispensable!
Tammy

Laree said...

I am only half way to my due date and am already getting the bitter bite from unwanted comments. Of course mine are still "Should you be gaining that much?" (4.5kg) and "You'll never last through natural birth."
I enjoy hearing how others pregnancy and early motherhood went, right up to the point they critique mine! If God wanted clone babies he would have wired us identically.

yoshi3329 said...

so true. I don't have a child but i understand where you coming from.

http://adlynmorrison.blogspot.com/

Bethany Hudson said...

I can relate, Anna. Fortunately (or unfortunately) my husband and I live very far from our families, so we didn't have any overbearing advice givers until we took our then five-month-old to visit family for Christmas. By then, we were certainly confident enough in our ways. The one exception was my mother, who we invited to be at the birth and live with us for a month. My mom and I have a really incredible relationship. She just cooked and did laundry without ever being asked, and never gave unwanted advice, although she was always available to hold the baby if we would give her up :) My mom is incredibly considerate, but I know that lots of Grandmas can be more overbearing. I feel blessed that she is not, because I really wanted to be able to share my entry into motherhood with her. I hope I can be as wonderful for my children when they have kids of their own one day.

And about the pacifier: Don't let anyone talk you into it if you don't want to do it. We did give Sophia a pacifier occassionally for the first month of life. After that, she "discovered" that her fingers did just as good a job. I promptly removed all pacifiers, and as she didn't have much of a memory at that point, she never wanted one again. We were much happier! No rushing in to pop that darn thing back in her mouth every time it fell out during a nap; she could self-soothe. Also, we didn't have to deal with a dirty pacifier falling on the ground or the rash that babies can get from sucking on them too much. I know other parents who say their lives would be miserable without pacifiers--particularly those who bottle-feed and are not supposed to let their children drink too much formula. But, we are a breastfeeding-on-demand family, so that didn't weigh into our decision.

~Bethany

Laura Spilde said...

Feeding on demand may save you a headache or two. Slings and attachment parenting are fashionable and saves a lot of heartache. A pacifier should be avoided if possible during the first 6 weeks or so. Avoid the common western thinking of letting baby cry-it-out. Use your own intuition. Sometimes, I know this sounds ridiculous, babies cry because they need to go "potty." If you are interested you may give Infant Potty Training a try. Over 100 years ago, babies were trained in this fashion and still are in poorer nations long before commercialization brainwashed our mothers into buying expensive items to raise children.

Co-sleeping in a safe manner can be very comforting to mother and baby.

Yes it is very disturbing if not annoying or demeaning when other mothers or "professionals" attempt to guide you in how to properly raise your child.

You can only do what you can do and God gives you the knowledge to know how to keep up with your baby's demands well before any outsiders attempt to give advice.

Keep up the good work.....

Mrs. Mordecai said...

Your words ring so true! I received oodles of advice, and if I took it all, I'd be going crazy, not to mention doing opposite things all the time.

All parents are different, and so are all children and all families. What may work for one family might not work for others.

That's why we were blessed with a brain, I guess--so we can sort through everything we read and hear and decide what is best for our families.

Megan said...

Anna- Yes, I remember being a new mom, as my daughter is only 15 months old :-). I was fortunate that all of the mothers in my life respected my decisions, and I've always tried to do the same for others unless my thoughts were asked for. I also fed on demand (actually, I can't imagine not feeding whenever she was hungry...that doesn't make the least bit of sense to me!). The only "scheduling" we did was to help her discern night from day - at a trusted nurse's advice, we woke her every 1.5 hours during daylight hours if she didn't wake on her own.

I do want to jump in and say that there is a credible amount of evidence that pacifiers DRASTICALLY reduce the chance of SIDS. I introduced one when my baby was about 6 weeks old, and we never had any trouble with latch. By the time she was a year old, she wasn't interested any more and they faded out of our lives. I would encourage you to look into using a pacifier just to reduce the chance of SIDS.

Heather said...

Dear Anna~

So many people just want to help and at times they don't realize that new moms need to figure out things on there own. I am sure that most moms have gotten advice that they didn't want and criticized at times to for this or that.

Personally I have been criticized for not breastfeeding but it wasn't an option for me(I can't...as in no milk...no matter what I tried....tried for weeks)it is amazing the moms who will come out to say "I can't believe you don't breastfeed" well they don't know my history and it really isn't anyone's business but my husbands and mine.

When I had my 1st son my mom came over a couple days a week for few hours to help me with housework and laundry. When #2 and 3 came along I was on my own until my husband came home. I am so glad that you are getting into a good rhythm. It is wonderful that you are taking the time to get to know your daughter it will be very valuable later on.

Remember that if it feels right to you then it probably is.

God Bless
Heather

Anonymous said...

Anna you are such a wise young woman i love to read your blog and I learn from it ! I am 50 , You have brought back the memories of being 38 with my first baby and being driven to tears by so much friendly advice, it just made me feel frantic . It did not feel loving although I am sure most meant it in a kind way. My in laws were the hardest for me as we have the exact opposite beliefs in raising infants, and they were just shocked I would not follow their advice ! I am grateful everyday for my dear sister who has children 8 years ahead of mine I liked the way she raised hers and I often go to her for advice on what has worked and what has'nt, such a huge help . You are doing just fine !I hope you can let all the unneeded advice go I wish I had been able to turn it off but now years later some of the most judgemental advice seems really funny!!

Di said...

I know exactly what you mean - when our first was 4 weeks old, I was told by my DH's Grandmother that the reason our baby was crying was because my milk wasn't good enough...! Nothing to do with the fact that she may have had wind, or a dirty nappy etc etc.

My doctor at our 6 week check up said that the best people to accept advice from were those around you who had just had babies recently, as time tends to give older mothers rose tinted spectacles which means they come out with useless/patronizing/annoying advice!

Anonymous said...

I don't comment often (but I do read your blog each day!) You are blessed with a lot of wisdom for one so young. Our children are grown now, but I, too, did not want anyone to stay with us after our babies were born.....I knew both my mother and MIL would have interfered greatly with our breastfeeding decision among other things and I know it was the right thing to do for us to have those first weeks alone. God bless your lovely family. Anne

Regina said...

Yes, I remember this, and it doesn't only happen with your first baby. I'm actually glad we were living far away from any relatives shen I had my first child, I'm sure I would have given up breastfeeding due to my family's comments had they been around. I never wanted people around after I came home from the hospital, but I did enlist help with housework and toddler care after the twins came since I was also recovering from c-section. But as soon as I could, I told them to hit the road, bc I needed to learn to deal and get proficient at my job: mothering. I also made it clear to all my family before the twins were born, that negative comments about breastfeeding were not welcome.

Kacie said...

As a new mama myself, I know what you mean! I try hard not to dish out advice, since I know it's sometimes not well-received.

My husband and I spent the first week of my son's life alone. We wanted to have a chance to figure some things out on our own. It was a good decision!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I actually used a pacifier for all 7 of mine as well as breast fed on demand for the first 5(due to my own hormonal problems, I didn't make enough milk for the last two). I found that I had many people who were disgusted by our use of the pacifier. They would pull it out of my childs mouth and say to them,"you don't want that, its yucky" or some other such thing. I personally find it unclean for a child to suck on the fingers all of the time. And a pacifier can be taken away at 2 years and they have never developed the habit of thumb or finger sucking. I know what you mean about advise given in an unwanted or arrogant way. As the others have said, get used to it. I just try to be convinced of the reasons I do what I do and then it doesn't bother so much. I do try to see if there is anything I can glean from the advise, but always remember that the decisions are mine before God and I must answer for them. Trust yourselves to make good decisions for your child and don't worry too much about everyone elses opinion.
Carolyn

Aelwyn said...

We decided, against my family's practice, not to give our baby a pacifier. We did give it to her once, but even when we would give in against our own wishes, she would not take it. Even then, some in my family would continuously say, "She needs a pacifier!" This went on for at least two years. We tried never to retaliate in a sense of judgment against others' decisions - even when a four year old would be going around with a pacifier in his mouth.

my3sons said...

Hello,
I also read often and haven't commented. I have three sons; all were breastfed on demand,and none of them had a pacifier. I totally agree with you! There were some nights that I wondered if they would sleep longer with one, but they never had one. Also, none of them ever sucked their thumb...
I felt the same way when I got home from the hospital. I didn't want any company for a few days. We had some for an hour at a time, but not for the first few days. I think with the first you tend to want to do that more. With the others you sort of get back to routine sooner because they have activities etc. I love your style and have learned a lot from you!
Katie

Gombojav Tribe said...

You are so right! In my childbirth class we have a whole session on parenting a new baby. One thing I tell my couples is to discuss their parenting philosophy. And to be on guard for lots of advice! However, deciding your parenting philosophy first (although it can be reworked as you have some experience parenting) helps to filter all that advice!

(I loved having my mother stay with me after each birth. I always cry when she leaves!)

Breanna said...

My strategy for advice (including "in that kind of blanket your baby will smother" ?!?!?) was to smile, nod blandly, and continue to do what I thought was best anyway. Of course I listened to it to see if there was anything that seemed to make sense, but so much of it fell into the old wives' tales category--or had been proven scientifically false 20 years ago-- that I felt fine disregarding it.

We never gave our daughter a pacifier until she was 4 months old and breastfeeding was established; she lost it one day at about 9 months old and didn't miss it so we didn't replace it. It was nice to have her not constantly wanting to suck my finger (her soother of choice!) but I will delay or avoid the paci for our son that we're expecting, I think. Early use of the paci has been shown to interfere with breastfeeding in that some babies get confused by the different nipple shape, are content to suck without getting any food, etc.

Trust your heart; you're the mama and you know what's best for your baby.

Anonymous said...

My sil decided not to use pacifiers. Her daughter 'discovered' her thumb could work just as well, and it took yrs and yrs to get rid of that habit. It's much easier to ceremoniously ditch the pacifier at age one or two.
This isn't meant as unwanted advice, just that there are pros and cons to each issue.

I just want to comment about all the new parents who spent the first week or month alone. I think it's very cultural. Where I live, in Israel, families are larger on average and usually don't live that far away from one another (hey, it's a small country). Most new moms are 'blessed' with visits by family and in-laws from the day of the birth. I like to see it as a positive thing.

Personally, I know my own family and my in-laws would be deeply insulted if I told them to only visit once a week after giving birth. They'd want to see the new baby, and to see me!!
But I guess the amount of 'space' one needs or can request is very cultural.
Tammy

Mandi said...

@ Laura Spilde

"long before commercialization brainwashed our mothers"

That's not very polite.

My mother wasn't brainwashed into using diapers and neither was I. It's a choice like any other and one women are free to make without being judged.

Susan said...

Dear Anna, you would think after thirty years I would not be hearing the same thing from a new mother that I experienced. They mean well but you have to do what is right for your baby. I fed when my little one was hungry and you know what, she set her own schedule. I tried pacifiers but she preferred her thumb--was I to cut it off so she couldn't use it? after all it is her thumb! Her brother never seemed to like either one. Eve managed just fine on her own. Hugs, Susan

Tikva said...

anna,
you are doing great! don't worry about the 'loving comments' ppl really are trying to help for the most part! comfort nursing is very important! keep following your instincts.

Rhonda in Chile said...

Hi!!!
Of course you have every right to raise your sweet baby any way you and your husband deem right!
Just a thought on the pacifier issue..... My DD, now 13, used a pacifier until she was almost 3. Yes, awful I know. We decided not to make that same mistake with DS, newly born. When he was 1 month old, he had horrible colic. We took him to the peadiatrician. She examined him, and told me I was overfeeding him, and to gove him a pacifier instead of so much milk. The foremilk has a lot of lactose, which can cause gas. We started with the pacifier and all got better. I nursed him for 7 months. He is a big boy now, almost 10.

Anonymous said...

everyone thinks they are an expert if they have gone through an experience prior to you. dont listen to the advice if it goes against your convictions. what's right for one person isnt always right for another. wait until you start homeschooling! boy will you get some major unwanted advice then! only a mother and father can know what is best for their children.

Tracey McBride said...

Dear Anna,

It is so lovely to hear how you are enjoying your new baby girl! Yes, it's true, one part of being a new mother that few people mention is learning how to tune out the well intended advice of others...when necessary. You are wise to understand that these decisions regarding your baby's upbringing belong to you and your husband.

Like you, I had no help with any of my three children when they were newborn. As well, my parenting style was very similar to yours in that I nursed on demand...held them when fussy...didn't offer a pacifier...and,in general, gave an abundance of my time and attention to meeting their needs and bonding with my children.

So many people warned me "you'll spoil that baby". Happily, the best piece of advice I received was from my father. "You cannot spoil a baby." He told me. This statement was very freeing to me, giving me permission to mentally still the voice of others who had a different perspective than I regarding child rearing. At different stages of growth and maturity, of course, I'd reassess and adjust my parenting tactics accordingly.

My oldest two children are now grown and my youngest is sixteen. I strongly believe that the time I spent with them when they were very young helped to build a foundation that allowed each of them to become strong, secure, happy adults.

Your family is blessed to have you (and you them).

Warmly,
Tracey

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
Somehow I was spared all the advice, once we left the hospital, and just figured out what worked for my son. What worked for us was pretty much nursing on demand, and a pacifier for cranky time (approx. 6 -9 pm). He had trouble with gas, especially during cranky time, and seemed to get really angry about it, and the pacifier gave him something to focus on and it soothed him while he worked it out. But at three months he discovered his own sweet fingers and forgot all about the pacifier, so no worries there. But that's my child, not yours - you know best what's best for your daughter, so stick with your gut instinct and try to let all the well-meant advice roll off your back.
Gracie

Tracy said...

I know what you mean when my children were babies it got to be too much. Hnag in there and do what is natural! I have an award for you at my blog.

Blue Castle said...

Oh yes. I remember this feeling perfectly. I had a hard time fielding well-meaning advice from a very concerned mother-in-law and other women in my life. I, too, nursed on demand, we didn't vaccinate, we had our babies sleep with us, etc. It was all very different from what a lot of people around us were doing, or had done. I learned to smile, nod my head, and change the subject. :) It was a long road, but we stuck with our convictions and did what we knew to be right for our family. And in the end, that's all that matters.

Ivy in the Kitchen said...

The term usually heard in the U.S. is "mommy wars".

I have no children yet, or husband for that matter, but I am dreading this aspect of family if children come along. Just my side of the family is ridiculously opinionated. Children do seem to be resilient, though, and will probably turn out okay even if you didn't start them on the "right" first solids or feed on the "right" schedule. :)

-Ms. H.

Kim M. said...

You sound just like me. I was the same way :-)

angela said...

Hey Anna,

Hope you're having a great day and throughly enjoying your sweetie... I just wanted to say sometimes woman really can't understand how you could WANT to do all those things. I think alot of time people and society at large want us to neglect our mothering instinct because it makes them feel guilty because you embrace it and learn to sacrifice and really just die to the old you. I hear that stuff all the time along with "me time". People just don't understand the choices we make sometimes, but that just tells me I'm doing something right!!!

angela said...

OH yeah, I was gonna so... I have 3 and only one every took a bottle or a pacifier. My first. I nursed her on a schedule and gave her a pass, but the other 2 were on demand and never would take a pass and didn't want the bottle either!!!!

Angela said...

I remember when my daughter was born, my husband asked our mothers to take turns staying with me while he worked to help out around the house. They are both usually so gracious and will do whatever is asked.

One of them came in and tried to take over my infant. She wanted to bottle feed her during the night, so I could sleep. I had to explain to her that we wanted to nurse and that I would have to get up anyway to pump if I let my daughter be bottle fed. She was determined to bottle feed her and I was young so I pumped and let her have her way. If I could go back, I would have stuck to my guns even if I offended her.

Anna,

Ignore everyone unless the advice is asked for. You are doing the right thing for your baby.

Rina said...

To be honest with you, Anna, I wish I had been more willing to accept the help and advice that older women were offering me when I had a newborn than I did. Granted, some women will be more critical than helpful, but we had a very difficult time with our first baby and in retrospect I know that much of it could have been avoided if I had only listened to the advice of older moms. Obviously, you have to make your own choices about your baby, but after having five children of my own, I place a tremendous value on the advice of mothers who have successfully raised their children (especially if they have numerous children.) That doesn't mean I'll always do what they suggest, but it ALWAYS means I'm willing to listen and consider what they have to say. There are a lot of things that you will do with your first baby that you won't do with your second, third or fourth baby (and vice versa.) The truth is that new moms have a lot of opinions about what is "right" about caring for their babies - we've all been there, done that - but NONE of our opinions as first time moms can hold a candle to the tried and tested workings of older women who have raised their children successfully. You've been a mom for two months and have one child. You're navigating a new road. I would encourage you to consider the advice that older women give - especially those who have parented many children and have Godly fruit to show for it. I understand that sometimes it can be frustrating to have everyone "telling you what to do" but in reality they're only trying to help - and you'll be surprised at how many suggestions you disagree with now, that you'll agree with after you've had three or four children.

"Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you." Deut 32:7

Jenna said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject! I have also thought that when I have a newborn, I would like to be "left alone" for a period of time -- It seems to me to be a very private time in which you need to have your own space as a family. There are so many changes occurring, things to get used to (especially breastfeeding) and so on. Every set of parents is different, as are their babies. It must be a challenge to be gracious in accepting and rejecting advice and help according to your needs! Sounds like you have handled the first month+ well. :0)

Elijah's Mommy said...

I think you're right. There's something important about a new family having time on their own to develop their own routines and figure things out. Time to bond as a growing family.

I must admit though that this last time since we already had an active almost 3 year old as well as a new born i welcomed more help. Mostly help in watching and entertaining our older son while i took care of the baby and got some sleep.

At times i felt really bad because i wasn't able to give the same amount of attention to my first son. I felt like i was giving everything to the new born baby and wasn't taking care of my oldest. But my husband was there taking care of him just fine and i know this time will pass and we'll adjust. It's been an adjustment but also a huge blessing!

BellaMama said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. I understand wanting to be left alone to enjoy your new family and learn on your own! Should God bless you with more children, you will be a pro having not had to rely on others for help, you'll figure out how to add to your family in stride!
We only had our mothers come with my firstborn because of complications, but with each of the other 5 we've had no one else to help. More because family lives 7 hrs away and we don't have any like-minded believers!
I call family after baby is born and that is starting to become a burden. I really wish they'd understand and wait for a week for the news!!
Yes, you'll hear all kinds of "advise" or just rude comments for the decisions you make. I always try to point out that these are decisions that my husband and I have made, Thank you for your thoughts and I don't wish to discuss this anymore. Changing the subject (with blog comments it doesn't really work) helps, too.
I've heard that there is a "confusion" associated with giving a baby a pacifier. I never had that problem with my children...they won't take a pacifier if they are hungry, they do know the difference. I do respect the decision you've made, but if you ever do consider it-you as a very attentive momma- would know what your baby needs and when. But you do what you think is best, always and in all things...you'll never regret your decisions no matter what anyone says!! That's what we all do, the very best that we can!!

Don't let anyone take your joy...you are the best momma to your sweet baby-forever!!

Blessings!

Jacqueline said...

Ahhh Anna,
How I understand what you mean!

With my first we were left alone oddly enough because we lived close to family then.

With my second I had a family member insist on coming for a whole week.We expressed as many ways as we could that we were fine and didn't need any help, but after it going back and forth the person said I am coming whether you want me or not.OIY!!

My husband had taken a weeks vacation and we just wanted to bond as a family.It was very difficult as the person said she did not come to cook or clean. The entire time I cooked all the meals,did all the cleaning, & laundry while this person rocked my baby.

I still feel pain over that lost time with my sweet baby girl after ten years!

Even still visits are filled with great anxiety for the person continues to overstep and take over with my now older children. Cutting my husband and I's parenting attempts off while she deals with them and sometimes very disrespectfully.

We are not people who let our childen go wild and we discipline them as they need.

If I had of gone with my instincts I would of did what was right for my family and myself and tired a little harder to make our feelings clearer.

Brandy said...

Oh I know how you feel!! Living with my in-laws, I STILL feel this way daily.

I was thankful, with our first, that we didn't have any family around. Not because I didn't love them or anything, but because I WANTED to be alone with my husband and our new daughter.
We didn't get that with our second and I missed it BIG TIME. [I do love my in-laws ... though living with them is extremely hard. Just wanted to clarify so no one thinks I don't like them]

Feeding on demand is GREAT!! It's great for you, for your baby, and for your milk supply. Good job for sticking to your guns, so to speak, on this! I've been nursing our 4 1/2 month old on demand the whole time.

Another thing people may give you a hard time about is starting baby on solids sooner than necessary. My mother-in-law would have our baby on solids right now, if she could ... and doesn't agree with me wanting to exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months, but she respects what I'm going to do at least.

As for pacifiers. Most babies don't need them. They're soothers ... generally for the parents benefit ;-)
We did a pacifier with our oldest, but she gave it up herself at 6 months of age. She only really wanted it during nap or bedtime anyway. With our youngest, she'd never take one. Ever. So I quit trying. She'd suck on my finger instead, during those times she wanted to suck, but wasn't hungry. Now she's completely stopped that.

You're doing just fine. Follow your instincts ... do what works for you, your hubby, and your baby ... and don't worry about anything else. If it works for NO ONE else but you guys, then that's totally fine!

Blessings to you and yours!

Clamorous Voice said...

I so agree with you. I think that a mother, sister, or very close friend ALWAYS has the right to say something if they're very very worried about something a mother's doing, but that advice should only given by people if the mother knows that person loves the baby a great deal. You don't need our validation at all, but all your choices sound like great ones to me.

Jessica said...

I know how you feel about all the advice. It can be very annoying! My son is now 2 1/2 years old, and people continue to give advice on various things. A lot of people have very strong opinions about sleep, and I find this very hard to deal with. People seem to think you should leave your baby to cry itself to sleep, and that by a certain age he should be "sleeping through the night". Since I don't agree with this, I would get very upset sometimes.

My mom came from all the way from the USA to stay with us for a month after our little boy was born, and I don't know what I would have done without her. I actually needed her moral support to help me through all of the advice and worries that came from the "midwives" who feel the need to visit you up to 2 weeks after you give birth here in Australia. I think with our second baby who is due in September, I will say no, thanks to all those "health visits". :-)

Elusive Wapiti said...

"more experienced women will almost undoubtedly comment on how you feed, change, bathe, dress and handle the baby, how your baby is growing and developing, and which improvements your parenting style could do with."

Perhaps you can shed some light on why some random women on the street take it upon themselves to critique or otherwise offer their opinion about one's parenting skills?

As a guy, I found it most irritating, and even somewhat condescending, when a woman would attempt to offer her unsolicited opinion, or worse, comment about what great a dad I was or something. The implication being of course that men can't parent or something...cuz there's nothing special about me, I assure you.

sara said...

Every family is different and even every baby within that family is different. You're figuring out what works for you and your family just fine.

Karen (Canadian Soldier's Wife) said...

Keep trusting God and your mama instincts, it sounds like you're doing great :)

I just try to be polite and gracious with advice and then carry on the path we've chosen. (Mostly it works.)

Oh... I had one who took a pacifier for all of three weeks before she tired of it (although later she discovered they make great teethers), and a second who I never could convince to take one even when I begged her to so I could rest.

Dirtdartwife said...

I had my first child when we were stationed overseas and I swear it was the best thing ever. We were able to bond as a new family with no intrusive mother (mine or his) telling us what to do. And it honestly was the best thing. I learned that I knew my child best and it made it easy to ignore the "advice" of others, especially when it was intrusive.

You can't spoil a baby before the age of 6 months so enjoy the daylights out of your little one. :)

Three Sisters said...

AMEN!!! I was so excited to read your thoughts on this subject. They were right on. Wow, I really agree with you on "breastfeeding on demand" (even though it is not really on demand) and the whole pacifier issue. Babies do cry for a reason. You explained it so well.
You might think it strange that a 17 yr old would be so excited to read this sort of thing, but in the past few years I have read and learned and formed definite opinions on such things as breastfeeding, co-sleeping, natural births, etc. and your thoughts were so in line with what I think. Thanks for not giving in to pressure around you and sharing your excellent opinions. I look forward to reading more =)

~Lily

Julia said...

If you are your baby's pacifier, your body will most likely have a longer space between babies naturally. That's good a good thing because it gives your body time to heal, and it gives your baby a little more time to grow before a sibling comes along.

I'll tell you my personal experience. I breastfed my son a lot, and very often. My period did not return until he was 11 months old, and then it was sporadic and light. I conceived my daughter 6 months later. I didn't get my period again until she was 14 months old!

Where My Treasure Is said...

Anna--it's so good to know there are women out there that I can gain wisdom/ideas from. I'm due tomorrow with out first child, and I plan on breastfeeding on demand as well. I also want to try to give birth without any drugs...WOW..I've gotten a lot "advice" about that. I know my friends and family want what is best for me, but it kinda irritates me when they say things like, "oh, believe me, you'll want the drugs immediately", etc. And who knows, maybe I will. But God designed our bodies to give birth, and I believe I can do it naturally with HIS help. Anyway, thanks for all of the great advice that you give. I love reading your blog!
-Kari

colourdujour said...

Wow Mrs Anna T you sure can generate great dialogue.

I have several comments in common with previous commentators, that is, I nursed on demand: the son nursed every hour and took a half-hour to do so...do the math. No pacificer and we finished up at 19 mos. The daughter was much more efficient, and we finished up at 26 mos. no pacificer, no bottles either, or babyfood She started eating tablefood in very tiny pieces & cup drinking at 8 mos.
And I didn't like a lot of company, and if I didn't want any, I just put a note on the door/didn't answer the doorbell.

Aahh, reading yours and other baby blogs, bring back many precious memories for me. thanks.

PS unfortunately I may be in that uhem, older age 50-something bracket. LOL

Linda said...

I wish I had done the same, not having anyone over to help in the first days. Here it is 'normal' to have professional help over for the first ten days, so because everyone stressed the fact that 'we needed it', I arranged for some nurse to come over and help us.

It was sooooo awkward having a stranger with you in these intimite times, plus I was very vital just a day after giving birth and I really didn't need it. If I could have changed anything about that period, I would have cancelled the 'professional help' and done the whole thing with just my husband, myself and the little one ;)

Greetings from the netherlands!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Ladies, thank you all for your great, supportive comments. For the record, this post wasn't meant to be a "pacifier - pros and cons" topic. I mentioned the pacifier only as an example to how people feel compelled to press this or that issue, even when we explained why we don't think it's good for OUR baby.

For the record, I don't think my daughter does much "comfort nursing". When she's finished eating she'll forcefully push the breast out, and even if I offer it again, she'll keep her little mouth closed and won't take it until she's hungry.

Tammy is right - if we didn't live so far off, we'd have relatives practically living here. That's how things are done in Israel... which makes me SO happy we DO live far off. *giggle*. During my days at the hospital, I didn't get much rest at all because everyone felt they must visit all the time. At least during Shabbat my visits were confined to those within walking distance from the hospital!!

On the very day I gave birth to Shira, my Mom stopped by, looked at me, and said, "It seems you still have a little tummy?!?!" - HELLO!! I have had a baby 12 hours ago!!!! (I love, love, love my Mom. Please don't get the wrong idea, we're best friends.)

I think next time, I'll try to keep everyone in the dark until we're released from the hospital. Wouldn't have worked this time, because I went into active labor at my in-laws', and my waters dramatically broke over one of my m-i-l's favorite chairs just as she, my husband and I were having a last cup of tea before us going to hospital.

Anonymous said...

Just to share-things that helped one of my gassy/colicky babies was to fill about a water bottle-the type for stomachaches,etc. with very hot water and to hold my baby on a slant and she would only relax sucking so I had clean hands and she woudl suck one of my fingers slanted with her bottom in the air lying on the hot water bag-and out woudl coem her little toots!
Also look up infant massage fro the stomach where you are gently pushing their legs upa nd different motions-this helped my others to jus tpass out their gas causing upset tummy.
THe last baby didn't need this at all seems hers just coems out whenever on her own-wonderful!
God Bless

Joie said...

Sounds like you are doing a great job! Feed on demand. I wish no one had tried to tell me that was a bad idea. They were so very wrong.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,

Trust your instincts! Do it your way!

Here's the other side of the story. I have always been a very fearful person. By highschool I could see that my fears were far greater than most poeple's, and generally irrational. As a young adult, I worked at overcoming them, with some success. They all come down to a common root - I don't trust people to help me when I am in need. I was puzzled about the cause of such intense fearfulness, until I had my first child.

Then my mother told me how hard it was when I was born. She wanted to breastfeed, when everyone else was bottle feeding. She was told to put me on a rigid FOUR hour feeding schedule. Wanting to be a good mother, she followed the instructions to the letter. She said it was so very difficult to ignore the hour or two of screaming before every feeding. She vacuumed, she put me in a stroller outside, and closed the doors and windows. She left me with my Dad and went for walks...

Thirteen years later, I am still too shocked to make any response.
But I understand completely why I am so fearful and untrusting. (I'm still working on it!)

So on behalf of Shira, I tell you, "Do whatever you feel you ought to do to show your baby she is loved, and make her feel secure." I'm not sure that the damage done by listening to "experts" that run roughshod over your mothering instincts can ever be fully reversed.

Miss Rose Virginia said...

Again, I'm not even married yet, but this is why I'm kind of glad we moved in the last couple of years. We used to live in the same town as my very pushy aunt ... and if I had gotten married and started having kids anywhere near her ... o.O I would have gone nuts. I think my mom will be understanding and only come over if I ask her to (she's big on calling before you go to someone's house ... or come to our house), and I just pray that I have understanding in-laws as well.

Homemakers Cottage said...

I definitely understand how you feel! Even after giving birth to 3 children, I'm still overwhelmed with the "advice" and differing opinions offered to young mothers via friends, family, books and other media.

I nursed our girls on demand, and have done the same with our son (now 9 mos old). I also breastfeed longer than some moms think is necessary (both our girls were weaned at 16 mos)... it worked well for our babies and for me, so I try not to let comments from well meaning friends or relatives bother me.

Two of our babies took a pacifier, but I weaned them off long before they were a year old. Keith hasn't taken a pacifier for several months now. I completely agree with you: trusting your God-given maternal instincts to find what works best for you and your little one is best.

~Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage

Persuaded said...

when my oldest was a tiny infant she was terribly fussy... i still remember an older woman saying to me in a very exasperated voice, "have you tried feeding her?" well, of course i had, but her attitude made me feel so incompetent and frustrated.

as an older and experienced mother, i've found that encouraging new moms to joyfully follow their own God-given instincts is the best thing i can do for them and their little ones... much better than any tidbits of advice, no matter how well-meaning.

i have no doubt you and your dear husband are becoming wonderful parents... your little one is so blessed:)

Mrs. Anna T said...

... I simply have no idea what people are thinking when they choose a JEWISH blog as the place to express their anti-circumcision views. Sure, you're perfectly within your right to think whatever you might think, but why try to start an inflammatory debate?