As I’ve had the privilege of spending 4 days recently to help my cousin with her newborn little girl, I had quite a bit of time to think back to what it was like with my own little guy as a newborn.
I remember hearing SO much about what you should and shouldn’t do with a newborn and how frustrated I was because I really wanted to figure it out for myself. I always said that when I was “on the other side” of the scenario I would never try to give advice to a new mom unless I was asked specifically and I’m so relieved I have remembered to do this! I do look back and realize how different I will do certain things with my next baby and started thinking more about why it’s so different the second time around.
There are certain things that you only learn once you live through them and I just feel like it’s plain wrong to try and tell a new mom otherwise. For instance, try telling a new mom “don’t hold your baby so much – they won’t sleep on their own”. You really can’t spoil a newborn but I do believe that you have to be mindful of “starting as you mean to go on”. It’s something “seasoned mothers” know because they’ve lived through it and quite honestly you’re just not as terrified the second time around! When you’ve lived through having a baby you’re no longer scared about burping your baby too hard, nipple confusion or leaving them in their car seat if they’re sleeping happily! Having a newborn has such a learning curve that I would never dream of trying to tell a new mom my own personal triumphs. The advice we try to give to a new mom doesn’t really apply because we’re telling them what worked for us after having gone through it and we can’t expect them to be in the same place as we are after already experiencing that learning curve.
Honestly….they just have to figure it out on their own. So what’s our role as “seasoned mothers”? Be supportive. Be there to listen and encourage them to do it their own way. (Even though your intention is to help…usually it doesn’t!) I remember talking to Jennie about some sleep issues when Cody was a few months old. She was asking me “What do you think I should do?” I remember sitting there thinking, “Uhhh….?!?!?! I’m not qualified to give this kind of advice!!” She had heard a lot of what other mothers told her to do, read a lot of books telling her what to do but it’s all so confusing because each child is SO different from another. In the end I asked her what her comfort level was and to come up with a plan implementing a few different techniques based on her comfort level. Some parents want to co-sleep, some parents want to use a crib, some parents want to nurse longer than others, some not at all. We all have a comfort level that’s different from another and it’s important respect each others differences and be supportive. Jennie ended up doing her own thing and it worked out perfectly for Cody. We only know what works for our own kids, and there’s no “one size fits all” kind of parenting. Only you know what’s right for your kids and I don’t think we’re “qualified” to give that sort of advice to other moms. The challenge is to help
new moms find their own way (and not in a “oh, you’ll regret that!” kind of way).
I also feel like the same rule should apply for “seasoned mothers” who have already experienced the transition from one child to multiple children. There are many things a mom of one child may do that moms of multiples love to “laugh” at…maybe it’s just reminiscing BUT I do still think it’s one of those learning curves that you have to learn from experience and it’s important to be supportive and encouraging none the less. It’s really disappointing to me when I hear people say “you won’t be able to do that when you have more than one kid” or “that will no longer be as important to you when you have multiples”. Yes, I’m sure there will be a transition and that our world will once again be turned upside down when it finally does happen but I still wonder…where’s the love among mothers (I can hear the Black Eyed Peas playing in the background!) and why do we love to push our lessons learned on others so much? Are we really trying to help or are we giving in to that competitive mom gene that kicks in during play dates and/or when more than 2 moms get together in the same room?