In this day and age there are so many different ways to parent and with this comes many opinions. Everything that your baby needs can be given in different ways. We as parents have lots of different choices to make. You can breastfeed your baby, you can bottle feed your baby. You can put your baby in a cot, you can co sleep. You can choose to let your baby self settle or you can choose attachment parenting. There are SO many different ways to raise your child.
With this comes debates and of course arguments. As mums we feel a huge responsibility to justify the choices we make for our children. I have spent allot of time justifying my choices for fear of being judged. Both of my babies were bottle fed despite the overwhelming desire to breastfeed. I think in hindsight I could have tried harder with Marley but I was so exhausted and in turmoil after the birth I reluctantly switched to bottle after latching issues and pain. I cried for days after I made that decision.
With Felix I was determined to breastfeed but due to his medical condition and having a 2 year old it was near on impossible. I expressed day and night to make sure I had milk for his tube feedings. I then expressed exclusively for a solid 6 weeks before deciding that the bottle would be best for him, myself and for Marley. He tried so hard to feed off me and I tried to assist him in every way possible but he was completely exhausted from his start in life and couldn't muster the energy to complete feedings from me. It was imperative that we knew how much milk he was getting and that he gained weight. So from there we started our bottle feeding journey and at the time it nearly broke me.
Felix and Marley have both been put into routines from 6 weeks old. They have both had set bedtimes and whilst I love and adore both of my boys more than anything in the world they have both been taught gentle self soothing methods. I don't co sleep with either of them (although Felix usually ends up in my bed at 4am half of the time) and we have rules and boundaries in place for Marleys behaviour.
When I had Marley I was extremely confident in the choices I was making for him. I was aware of the other choices my friends and family were making for their children and I could see they were getting it right….as was I. If someone challenged my way of parenting I would calmly and confidently defend myself and not give it a second thought. Marley was a happy, healthy, bouncy baby boy and I knew I was getting it right…..FOR HIM.
But having Felix has been allot different. Felix has always needed extra attention. I haven't been able to parent him the way I did Marley and thats ok becasue he is a different child. He needs to be with me more, he needs to be reassured more and everything with Felix needs to be more gentle.
The way he started his life has moulded the type of baby he was and still is. The way he started his life has changed the confidence I have in myself. Many of the choices I would of liked to make for Felix were taken away from me. My birth plan, my plan following his birth, the way I wanted to feed him and many of the choices I had hoped to make once we were home. I am a shell of who I was when I had Marley. The last 5 months I have battled through Post Natal Depression and Post Natal Anxiety. I have had people question my choices as a mum and at times I believed that they were right. I’m starting to learn that I’m not a terrible mum. My choices were good enough for Marley and they should be good enough now. The difference is that when you are faced with an unwell baby and you feel unwell yourself the judgement seems so much worse. People feel that they have the right to tell you what to do because you are unsure of yourself when actually they should be supporting the choices you had hoped to make initially.
If you are a good mum then there is only ONE parenting choice that you should be making. It should be the one choice that we are ALL doing the same. The choice to do the very best you can for your child/children. The choice to make sure they are fed, regardless of how. The choice to make sure they have a warm safe bed, regardless of whether thats in their own room or with you. The choice to make sure they are transported safely, regardless of whether thats close to you in a sling, or being pushed in a buggy. The choice to give them sleep, whether thats by letting them look up at twinkly stars on their ceiling or to be cuddled to sleep by you.
Our children are truly blessed to live where they live. They have homes, food, water, clothes, heating and access to medical attention. If they are cared for by loving parents that is ALL they need no matter what anyone else says.
I am proud of the choices I am making as a mum and I am proud of the different choices my friends are making for their children.
So next time you think that YOUR way is the best way please take a second to stop and look at your friends, family and people you know who are doing it all differently to you. If their child is happy and healthy then their way is just as good as yours. Everyone has a story and each one is unique just as our children are.