When I was pregnant, I thought I knew everything. I really believed that I had a solution to every parenting problem and that my daughter and my parenting style would be perfect. People would want me to give them advice and show them all the tips and tricks and techniques. Then I had my daughter, and reality settled in!
I swore when I was pregnant that I would not co-sleep. It’s not safe, it causes a dependency and blah blah blah. For Charlotte’s first ten weeks, the only place she would sleep was in her car seat or curled up on my chest. So every night, I would take her to bed and hold her for hours on end. I’d drift in and out of a light sleep. I would try to put her in her crib but she would wake up screaming and no matter how hard I tried, she would not go back to sleep. So finally, I tried laying her down next to me and still allowed some skin-on-skin contact. And you know what? It worked. And I was so tired that I would have slept in the driveway if it meant I could get some sleep. So we co-slept, for nearly six months. And she was SUCH a bed-hog. I was terrified at first that I would accidentally roll on her or something. Well that was impossible because she took up 80% of a queen sized bed and I had the leftovers. And she would kick, and punch, and lay on the blankets. And fart, and burp and spit up on the sheets. But despite all of this, I did get used to it and the both of us would have the most wonderful sleeps. At six months old I was finally able to get her in the crib, and she adjusted beautifully to it and sleeps there every night now. Co-sleeping worked for us.But society thinks it’s wrong and people were less than kind with their comments. “You’ll ruin her!!” Umm..what?? Ruin her? How? “She will still want to sleep with you when she’s 6.” So what. Is that really THAT bad? I kind of like snuggling up next to her and at times I really miss it. And you know what? I’ve never met an 18 year old that still needed to snuggle up next to their mom to fall asleep every night.
I also thought that I would be a breastfeeding champ. It’s the most natural thing in the world, right? I told myself that I’d be great at it and would be able to feed her while I simultaneously read books and surfed Pinterest for new recipes. It did come easy at first. In the hospital it was a breeze. Between the nurses and the lactation consultant they made me feel like a breastfeeding goddess. But after that, it got really hard. She was at me constantly and I was super exhausted. And overwhelmed. And ashamed that it wasn’t working as well as I wanted it to. I was supplementing with formula and felt a bit guilty about it. I remember laying in the bathtub one evening and sobbing because I felt like such a failure. But my older (and much wiser) sister put it all into perspective for me. “As long as your baby is being fed then who cares what the source is? Just make sure her belly is full and she is loved and she will thrive.” And she was right.
I also swore that all of Charlotte’s food would be organic. I wanted her to eat only the very best. I do try to feed Charlotte healthy and nutritious food MOST of the time, but sometimes I feed her a grilled cheese, or toast and jam, or (gasp) a piece of cake. Whatever. She gets to try a variety of different foods. More often than not, she eats what I eat. Turkey dinner, Sheppard’s Pie, Mac and Cheese, Spaghetti, or whatever else is on the go. But it’s definitely not always organic and I really don’t care because she is gaining weight at a great rate and growing like a weed (a good weed!)
And TV. Yeah, I thought she would never watch it or only watch it on a rare occasion. Honestly, if the TV shows have even a bit of an educational theme, then I am game. Sometimes she wanders away from the TV and starts to play with a toy, but I am still glued to it, curious as to where Dora is going and what obstacles she is going to face along the way! I watched tons of TV as a kid and I think I turned out pretty decent. I’m not saying that TV is the only way I will keep Charlotte entertained, but sometimes mommy needs 30 minutes to creep around on facebook!
It’s so easy to be a great mom when you aren’t actually a mom! In a way I was very naïve because my idea of parenting just wasn’t realistic. I’m sure as Charlotte grows older I will continue to get more reality checks and they will surprise me and make me question if I am doing things right. But, like the name of this blog says, she didn’t come with instructions! Most of the time I am just winging it and hoping for the best! Oh, and to all of you mommy’s out there who managed to stay true to your pre-child parenting skills: we need to talk! You are clearly a genius and I need some advice!