I met my husband back in 2013 and I can confidently say I was an entirely different person back then. In 2014 we were married and were also introduced to essential oils (it was a great year😉). Essential oils were really the catalyst that got me looking at the world differently. Over time I started to realize that I felt much better, in mind and body, when I took care of myself naturally. This lead me on a journey that included finding yoga, chiropractic care, and meditation. I started looking to heal the root causes of my issues instead of relying on quick fixes. I really learned to tune in to my own body.
I watched my sister become a mom. I watched her co-sleep. I watched her do extended breastfeeding. I didn’t understand why she’d chosen to do things that way and said I would do things differently.
Not long after, we decided it was time to start our family. As it turned out, that was not as easy for us as we had hoped. It took an entire year of trying and a lot of healing in order to finally get our positive pregnancy test, but when we did we were thrilled!
Throughout my pregnancy I really tried to be aware of the stress I was allowing myself to feel, minimize any disagreements between my husband and I, and give our little peanut the best environment I could while he was growing and waiting to be born. The more I fell in love with this little person growing inside of me and the more I learned to listen to my own personal mother’s intuition, the more I realized I probably wouldn’t be doing this parenting thing the way I’d always “planned”.
I had always thought I was going to get my baby on a strict sleep schedule, ASAP, no questions asked. Our kids would never sleep in our bed because we weren’t going to start any bad habits, they would be in their own room starting at 3 months old and forever after. I knew I did want to breastfeed, but I wasn’t sure for how long, though certainly not once they were old enough to ask for it. Everything I envisioned was a very methodical, no questions asked sort of approach. I couldn’t grasp why anyone would do it any other way.
Then, our son was born. I chose to have an unmedicated hospital birth that turned out truly beautiful. I really had to lean into the inherent wisdom within my own body in order to trust myself and give birth the way I wanted to. It was such a powerful experience that changed me forever. As soon as I laid eyes on our little man, I knew I would do everything in my power to raise him in a way that he felt unconditionally loved and safe and that it would require me following my intuition to do so.
Through my own experience in motherhood, watching those around me learn and become mothers, and knowing how myself and those around me were raised, I do know that there is not a one size fits all answer for any parenting questions. Each child is different and requires a new approach and different parenting that’s suited just to them. What I found with our son was that the way I had always planned to do things was not the way he needed to be parented.
When he was brand new, we did the cradle in our room and it worked for us. When he got a bit older, we had him in a crib in his room with a baby monitor, and for a time, that worked for us. I then got to a point where I let outside influences get in my head, telling me he should be sleeping through the night, he shouldn’t be nursed to sleep, he should fall asleep independently, etc. and felt I had to do things differently. I was even told by our pediatrician (who outside of this particular bit of advice, I do love) that crying it out was the best option and babies won’t cry for more than an hour if you just leave them to “self soothe”. Guess what? That was not true, not even a little bit. Ben would cry and cry and my heart would break. The longer he was alone, the harder he would cry and it definitely did not stop after an hour. It took about three days before my husband and I ultimately agreed that it wasn’t working and it wasn’t good for any of our mental or emotional health to keep at it. Unfortunately, this failed attempt to sleep train our little guy gave us a big setback in the sleep department and I was no longer getting any amount of quality sleep at night unless we were sleeping together. I had to eat my words about never co-sleeping. At this point in time, it was all that worked and made sense for us, so we just had to be open and roll with it. My mom-gut (and my husband’s dad-gut) knew sleep training was not what was right for our son. Will we do this forever? No. Will we do it until something else feels right and makes more sense? Yes.
It’s been that way for a lot of things. There are so damn many opinions out there about the “right” way to parent and the “best” way to do things and it’s all a bunch of boloney. What works amazingly for one person is not guaranteed to work for anyone else. That doesn’t mean we don’t all try a few of those suggestions before we find what works, but it does mean we should let go of the guilt associated with the “shoulds” of parenting. The only things I know to be true 100% of the time is that no one is better at knowing what your baby needs than you, so the best thing you can do as a mother is to learn to look to your baby for clues on what they need and to listen to and follow yor own intuition. It won’t lead you astray.
I’m so glad I was able to open my heart and mind to the idea that I didn’t have everything figured out. It’s a lesson that is helping me now and I know is going to help me A LOT in the years to come. It has helped me to make connections with other moms as I let go of any judgements I had before when I thought I knew better. It has given me added compassion for all parents, because no matter what choices you’re making, parenting is not an easy journey. It has also allowed me to let go of any mom guilt and fear of judgement I once had as I sit confidently in my decisions knowing they’re what’s best for me and my baby and maybe not anyone else, and that’s okay.