Monday, 5 March 2018

You shouldn't do that

For the first month after River was born I was forever fretting about his weight. There's no measurements on these jugs to let me know how much milk he guzzles, so the pounds and ounces he was putting on were my only gauge. I took him to the clinic at a few weeks old; they weighed him and told me he hadn't put any weight on since a couple of weeks before. I was absolutely mortified and hurried myself along with dressing him so that I could leave the building and cry about how shit I clearly was at feeding my child. As I was doing so, the health visitor looked down at the dummy I had in my hand and proceeded to tell me that it was "probably because of all the calories that get burned from sucking a dummy. You shouldn't really be giving him that". By this point I wanted to grab her and rub her smug face in Riv's dirty nappy, so maybe she would grasp the concept of how much shit she was talking. I made a quick exit and amongst my rage and despair, I hadn't thought to check his red book until I got home. Turns out she was wrong and had misread the previous number. River had actually put on 10 ounces.
Human error I could overlook. But openly attacking my choices as a mum was inexcusable. That day made me sceptical about any advice that people throw your way once you have a baby.

The first week or so of his life, I had River sleep on my chest at night. Another thing that health professionals had sworn me against; DONT LET YOUR BABY SLEEP WITH YOU BECAUSE THEY’LL DIE. I had seriously limited sleep for that week because they had put the fear of god into me. It was the only way Riv would settle and considering he wanted milk almost every hour, it was pretty convenient to just lay him on me in bed. I made Jason stay up and watch me while I slept most nights, propped up and positioned with every pillow we had,  just in case I rolled over and squished Riv into a pancake baby (I imagine Pierre was on hand, salivating with the lemon and sugar at the ready.) Co-sleeping is a massive debate that everyone likes to chime in on. Particularly people that have never done it I've found. I only did it for that short time at the beginning and looking back, it was lovely and I did it completely safely. Plus I had nine months of being a beached whale that could barely move in bed anyway, except for rolling myself out to wee. I was well practiced at staying still. 

I quite often find myself searching the internet with baby related queries. I've lost count of the times I've googled 'why does my baby have so many disgusting bogies in his nose?’ or 'How do I cut my baby's nails without a massacre?' and every time I do I get lost in a message board that's completely unrelated. There is both a beauty and an ugliness to mum forums; you can find a lot of great support and advice online, but you can also find a lot of condescending assholes who think they taught Supernanny everything she knows. Giving River a dummy happened at week 3 for us and I was almost embarrassed to have done it because so many people had described it as an easy way out. So I had, in turn, developed a weird snobbery about it. Any parent who says their baby doesn't need some sort of sensory comfort is a liar - without that dummy, River was sucking on sleeves, his fingers, his bibs, his muslins, the dog. He's a sucky baby (fairly certain thats the technical term) and I knew he needed it. For every mum who supports a choice and offers you reassurance, theres 100 others who will say 'well, you shouldn't because..." and tell a fabricated horror story that will fill you with so much mum guilt you'll feel you could explode. They'll tell you you'll never get that dummy out of your baby's mouth again; like a lot of mum advice, it's inaccurate and its boring. My mum gave me a dummy as a baby and now I only need it at bedtimes so THERE. 

Too many people are quick to dictate what you shouldn't do with your baby when what they should be encouraging is trusting your instinct as a mother. I'll be the one to know when River is ready for things. Don't get me wrong, I welcome any genuine advice and I think it's useful for other mums to pass on their wisdom. But I knew River even before I knew him. So I know what's right for my baby and if anyone wants to judge any choices I make, I advise they stick their "advice" up their arse and see how many calories that burns.

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