Sweet Things 4 Life
Sharing our journey toward a more natural, simple, healthful lifestyle.
Last night as I visited my parents, my mom said, "I feel bad for you" as my daughter cried and cried and cried. She had just eaten, had a clean diaper, was a comfortable temperature and was being held, but she continued to cry. It's an interesting feeling when people feel bad for you because of your baby. It's already impossible not to feel guilt because you can't comfort your own baby, especially as a new mom. And it especially doesn't help when there are so many experts and natural parenting gurus out there saying "just do these things and you'll have a perfectly happy baby."
As soon as I found out I was pregnant I started reading everything about natural pregnancy, delivery and parenting. Everything I read seemed like commonsense and I thought, if I always meet my baby's needs, she'll be content and won't cry that much. Many things I read had the same general guidelines for a happy baby: birth the baby in a calm environment (this is one reason home-births are so popular in natural parenting philosophies), deliver naturally so your baby isn't exposed to drugs that may interfere with breastfeeding and bonding, practice skin-to-skin immediately after birth, breastfeed on demand, wear baby during the day as opposed to using cribs or swings, and co-sleep with baby to promote breastfeeding and make the baby feel safe.
With the exception of delivering at home, we adopted all of these philosophies. We delivered at a baby-friendly hospital without pain medication, practiced skin-to-skin immediately after birth and often during our hospital stay. Once home I continued to breastfeed on demand, used a carrier to wear her during the day, and co-slept with her at night. And guess what... she still cries a lot.
The hard lesson I learned is, you can do everything "right" or "natural" and your baby might still cry. There are times when I feel a great sense of guilt because I can't soothe her cries, and I feel an even greater sense of guilt when I just let her cry. I wouldn't change anything about the way she came into this world or how we've taken care of her since. Who knows, maybe if we didn't practice these things she might cry even more (which is hard for me to imagine)!
I guess what I want to tell other new moms out there, especially moms who are striving to do things as "naturally" as possible, is that you shouldn't feel guilty if your experience isn't the way you pictured it. Every new little person is different and some cry more than others. This shouldn't deter you from striving for a goal, like having an un-medicated delivery or breastfeeding for over a year, but you also shouldn't feel guilty if you can't meet those goals.
I encourage you to read about other people's experiences and envision your own ideal experience while also allowing some flexibility. Don't beat yourself up if your baby cries more than most, even though you've done everything to keep her content.
I want to share my birth story in an upcoming blog, because I think there are some topics in there that could be helpful and insightful for other expecting moms. However, this topic just felt so important to me today. It's hard to love someone so much and not always be able to make them happy, but just relax and know you're doing the best you can.
Until next time,
Katie & Mike
We want to share our journey toward living a simpler, more natural and healthy lifestyle with you. As we navigate through an increasingly complex and tech-driven life, we'll share our goals, triumphs and struggles as we attempt to return to a simpler way of living.