I'm only nine months into this whole parenting thing, and I've found myself doing things I said I would never do. Turns out, it's a heck of a lot easier to have opinions from the outside looking in, but when you're here, in the trenches of motherhood, you do what you gotta do.
“We should just put the crib in our room," my husband, who I call RM, said. “He'll be in here most of his first year anyway."
“No way," I said firmly. “I will not be one of those moms who lets her baby sleep in her bed." My sister was one of “those moms," and I vowed to be different. We would sleep train our baby as early as possible, and we wouldn't give in and pick him up when he cried.
Fast forward to now. Baby A is 10 months old and still sleeping in our bed most nights.
And you want to know something? I freaking love it. Sure, some nights are difficult, and sometimes I envy the moms that post a photo of their 6-week-old baby on Instagram with #12hoursandstillsleeping. But every morning when Baby A wakes up between RM and me, happily babbling and smiling, we soak it in.
We stay in bed, just the three of us, for an extra 15-20 minutes and sometimes longer on the weekend. It's our favorite time of day.
This is what works for us. Turns out there are some benefits to it as well. It's taken me a while to feel comfortable saying that without feeling anxious that I need to sleep train him soon or his sleep will be ruined forever or God forbid be pegged by moms in the Cry It Out Camp as being weaker.
How about none of us judge each other and we accept that we all do what we need to do to get through these early years?
2. Breastfeed in public
Early on in our relationship, RM and I were on a double date at Olive Garden (hey, I know it's not real Italian food, but those breadsticks! Am I right?!) with a guy from work and his wife. Midway through dinner, she began nursing her newborn under a cover at the table.
“You guys don't mind, right?" our friend asked.
“Of course not," RM quickly replied.
I bit my tongue. Afterward, I told RM how uncomfortable I was when she nursed her baby as she talked to me. Couldn't she feed her in the privacy of her home before dinner so she wouldn't be hungry when we were out?
RM simply said, “You'll feel differently someday when we have a baby."
Another point for RM. Again, I realize how judgy and naïve I was pre-baby.
First of all, I had no idea that newborns literally eat ALL THE FLIPPING TIME. I remember feeling like all I was doing those first several weeks was nursing Baby A. The only way to avoid having to nurse in public would be to never leave my house! And that obviously wasn't an option if I wanted to keep my sanity.
The more I nursed Baby A the more my breasts felt utilitarian and functional—not sexual or inappropriate at all. I will never stop being amazed at the human body and what it can do—growing a baby and then providing nourishment and strength through breast milk. Incredible!
I'm happy to say Baby A enjoyed nursing wherever we happened to be when he was hungry while I enjoyed a slice of humble pie.
3. Make my own baby food
This sounded way too crunchy and hippy to me. I planned to buy the pouches. When would I find the time to make baby food anyway? Fast forward a few months to when I became a stay-at-home mom and realized (A) those pouches are pricey, and (B) I actually have time to make baby food.
So I dusted off RM's food processor and started pureeing away! It's been fun to try various combinations and watch Baby A experience new foods. We still buy pouches to grab-and-go—and because sometimes I don't feel like making food even when I'm home—but I try to occasionally make our own purees to save money and do our part to help the environment. As it turns out those pouches may be organic, but they're not so eco-friendly.
I learned that making your own food isn't crunchy and hippy at all—it's just sensible.
4. Take my baby to a restaurant
How rude of people to take babies to restaurants. Can't they get a sitter? So disruptive! Why are they even going out to eat? Stay at home with your baby.
Man, I was so judgy.
As it turns out, when you have a baby, you still like to eat at restaurants. When your baby is tiny and needs to eat every few hours, it makes the most sense to just bring the baby with you. He'll probably sleep most of the time anyway!
When Baby A was only a few months old, we took him to several nice restaurants. I was always a bit nervous going because I was afraid of getting the stink eye from strangers if he disturbed them—you know, people like me who thought a restaurant was no place for a baby.
Then I decided to stop caring. I needed to get out. If for some reason he was extra fussy, I would take him out of the restaurant. Thankfully, he always quietly slept or nursed.
Now that he's a bit older and louder, we probably won't take him to quiet dinners at fancy restaurants as frequently, but you can bet we'll still be going out to dinner. Instead, you'll likely find us enjoying a basket of bottomless fries at Red Robin.