Sunday, April 11, 2010

All or Nothing Motherhood

All or nothing thinking is what a lot of teenagers subscribe to. "If I can't go to the prom with Jimmy, I WILL die!". It's also what a lot of mothers subscribe to. "My house is a DISASTER, NO ONE is allowed to step though this door!" or... "If I can't have a unmedicated home birth, my whole birth experience will be ruined!" or... "If my child doesn't have straight A's and get into harvard, I've failed as a mother!".

Okay some of those are a little insane. But that's just it. We expect SO much of ourselves and if our children or parenting experiences don't live up to what we think life SHOULD be like, we become guilty and depressed and self-pitying. OR we don't trust ourselves enough to change something that could be changed the second time around.

For instance, I really wanted a drug-free birth. I did my research, I even listened to hypnobirthing cd's (albeit, I fell asleep after 5 minutes EVERY time). When it came down to it, I thought I was prepared to handle whatever came my way. I had a very long labor with all my contractions in my back. I didn't even OPEN my hospital bag. I sat in the tub in the hospital and just tried to deal. When I got to 8 cm after 24 hours....I was obviously going through transistion and the pain just became so unbearable. Someone mentioned medication and I was like...SIGN ME UP. I hit my wall.....I didn't think I could do it anymore. I got the epidural and things were pretty easy after that. The epi did fall out after awhile (even though the nurse who was TRIPPING over my IV and epidural cord said it wasn't). So I did feel a lot of pain after 3.5 hours of pushing. but in the end, I had a HEALTHY wonderful baby boy.

My regrets....1. birthing in a place where I felt scared. I didn't feel comfortable there. I was frightened and annoyed because I couldn't have a birthing tub. The water helped me soo much and I think having a tub would have helped me through the transistion phase.
2. just letting the nurses take over after birth. they took Noah the second night to sleep in the nursery because I was so tired but I WANTED him with me...I woke up constantly in a panic because I didn't have him near me.
3. having too many people in the delivery room. Now that I look back , I should have had just me and Bryan. Having to worry about what other people were thinking/feeling just wasn't good.
4. not trusting my body. I got the epidural because I didn't think I could do it. I was afraid and tired.

Now, I beat myself up about this for a while and now have come to terms with it and I'm fine. BUT because I value natural birth and labor as a beautiful birth process, next time, I STILL want to try to have an unmedicated birth. I could be like, " I will ONLY get the epidural now....what would I have done without it?! ".

But because I don't want to subscribe to this type of thinking where it's all or nothing...or "well, that's what happened that time, surely it will happen again"... I'm going to still attempt what I feel would be a very rewarding birth experience.

At the same time, I now know that if things DON'T go as planned, THAT'S OKAY. It's give and take. We do our best for our children.

The same goes for breastfeeding. or cosleeping. or whatever else you want to analyze. If you don't even TRY to do what you think is best for your baby because you are afraid to fail, you are shortchanging yourself and your child. At the same time, if you've been doing something that you thought was best and it turns out that it just NOT working for your family, then change it! As long as your child is healthy and you are healthy/happy, things will be okay.

I think weighing our decisions based on the "what best for baby" basket and the "whats best for mommy" basket is a good way to look at things. There is also a chart that PhD in Parenting put together which illustrates this point beautifully about how to balance your childs needs versus your own.
See below. Click to enlarge.

If your need to hang out with your friends is coming before your baby's need for sleep or nursing , that's a problem. If your baby's need to go to a play group is being put over YOUR need for sleep or eating....that's also a problem.

In conclusion, motherhood is NOT all or nothing and neither is life. You do the best you can. It's up to you to educate yourself and know the facts when you become a parent. If you are making decisions without learning about WHY or just doing things because "that's how so and so did it", that's not responsible.

We must do the best we can while utilizing all the resources available to us.

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