We all do it. We read the books and watch our friends and somehow unintentionally internalize everything the internet has to say on everything you should/shouldn’t do as a parent (so that it sits there on our shoulder, passing comment on every tiny choice we make) and we decide who we are going to be. How we are going to parent. What we are definitely and definitely not going to do. We hold these tiny snorting babies close to us and we make promises. To them, to ourselves, to the internet. Oh, how little we know.
Of course, while a few go the distance, many of these pledges last about five seconds when faced with the actual exhausted reality of parenting. “No screen time ever” goes to “screen time in desperate situations” goes to “screen time when I need to take a shower and occasionally when I just need to sit and stare blankly for a while.”
So I have been mentally preparing a list of all the mistakes I plan to make next time. Because I figure I’ll be able to succeed in this:
I stupidly, and some might say catastrophically (I would say that), decided against using a pacifier the first time around. I had seen friends wearily hike up to their kids’ bedrooms again and again to find and reinsert the pacifier, and I thought, “This shall not be my future.” And it isn’t. Instead, I wearily hike up to the nursery and insert my boob. Then I stay in the nursery. So you could argue that our son does use a pacifier, except his pacifier has legs, a head, and a master’s degree in international relations. My next child’s pacifier is going to be a lot less educated and a lot more bought from Babies R Us.
This one’s a tad controversial, since it’s officially against the AAP’s recommendations. However the truth is that if you’re breastfeeding a newborn every two hours throughout the night, and every feed lasts 90 minutes, that means you get 30 minutes sleep every two hours, which means that at some point (or, every night) you’re going to fall asleep while nursing. Even if you watch “Friday Night Lights” from the very beginning to the bitter poorly acted end as a staying-awake strategy. So intentional, safe, co-sleeping may be the safer answer, and this tired mama will be doing it from day one.
3. Ignore lactation consultants
OK, not all of them and not everything they say, but some of the lactation consultants I met felt a little like cult leaders and seemed to have forgotten how disorienting, emotional, and difficult it is to breastfeed in the beginning. One recited, “Baby to breast, baby to breast, baby to breast” at me as if that was going to help me understand how to uninvert my nipple and get my son to latch before he starved to death. I now know that if it hurts, it does not automatically mean I’m doing it wrong, and that having a bottle early on will not mean he never learns to latch.
4. Put down to sleep awake
So this isn’t a mistake in anyone’s book but mine. This is what you’re actually supposed to do. Everyone says it. From Dr. Sears to Dr. Ferber to Dr. Brazleton (has anyone else noticed that the loudest voices in telling us how to breastfeed and mother our children are coming from older white men?). But I thought I knew better. In fact, I thought they were all insane. Fast forward to trying to teach our 1-year-old to fall asleep without nursing (see also, “pacifier”), I know this is one “mistake” I’ll be attempting to make next time.
I’m sure there will be more — oh so many more — mistakes I will make without planning them. Actual mistakes, like allowing the “Caillou” song to get stuck in my head for 24 hours (you’re welcome). But these ones above I’ve made my peace with — I’ve lived the alternative.
What “mistakes” do you plan to make next time?