The Best Parenting Advice I Never Received

greatestparentingadviceAs soon as I became pregnant the parenting advice that friends and complete strangers at Starbucks gave started to become a bit overwhelming. And the advice never stops.

Did I hate the advice, not all of it…I was an eager sponge willing to drink up any knowledge that would prepare and make me a great parent. But you know the best parenting advice I never received was?

Don’t make rules for yourself.

When my girlfriends and I think back to our mental thought process as excited, yet anxious first time preggos it’s hilarious. My naive thoughts make me roll my eyes in laughter. I had planned not to give my first born a pacifier because I heard that it’s a horrible habit to break. I had planned to breastfeed up until I introduced cow’s milk. I had planned to remain healthy during my pregnancy, eat veggies {this one gets a hard laugh} and refrain from binging on cookie dough. I knew parenting would be difficult, but I truly had no clue. Making rules for how you will parent will only leave you mentally black and blue if you don’t reach them or break them.

I gave birth at 3 am on Wednesday and by Saturday I had my mom driving to Babies-R-Us to purchase pacifiers. Nothing like four days into parenting and having my “rules” take a gut punch.

My rule on breastfeeding until her first birthday expired when she turned 7 months. Breaking this rule almost broke my spirit as a new mother. Lily wanted to feed every hour and a half. Uncomfortable feeding in public, I felt like a slave to her feedings. That whole “you lose weight when you’re breastfeeding” was a total crock of _____. It might work for some, but for this momma constant hunger for my body to produce so much milk left me in tears. So at 7 months I called it quits and the guilt still plagues me.

The master plan to remain healthy during my pregnancy is my favorite rule. My favorite because this one has me sometimes laughing so hard I form tears. You see prior to becoming pregnant I had worked so very hard with a trainer for months to shed 14 pounds. My body had packed on the weight after a year of severe allergies that were only tamed after multiple strong steroid prescriptions and my fight against Lyme Disease. Getting back into shape was so hard and I made the vows that when I became pregnant I would work hard to stay healthy. That vow was broken before I entered the second trimester. The ‘morning’ sickness lasted all day and the thought of snacking of apples and carrots made me queasy. I did stay away from cookie dough…but it was brownie batter that I had a weakness for. I made the batter with oil and milk only, omitting the raw egg. I would waddle to the couch, prop up my swollen feet and spoon the chocolate goodness into my mouth. When I did go to the gym and try the elliptical I would get excruciating pain in my stomach. I started to get this pain even taking ten minute walks. My doctor told me I needed to take it easy….so with no exercise and brownie batter evenings I ballooned. It has taken me almost 2 years to shed that pregnancy weight. Could I have gobbled healthier foods and not buy the brownie mix??? That is impossible to answer. While pregnant the hormones and impulsive desires would have had my husband or me behind the wheel to get that brownie mix no matter what.

I had such lofty perceptions of how my pregnancy would go and how I would be as a mother. When I fell short of those perceptions or rules the guilt was unbearable. I now know that there was nothing I could have and still can do about my post partum depression. It is a chemical imbalance in my brain. All I can do is hope and pray that one day the veil of depression lifts for good. But all the guilt I felt from breaking these stupid rules I placed for myself as a mom only made the depression worse.

If I’m blessed to have another child will I make rules again? I have no clue…and that sounds silly after everything I’ve just said. I think it’s only in my OCD nature to make rules, vows or create order for my life. BUT I now know that I have a much different perception on parenting and life than I did before Lily was born. Prior to getting pregnant I was repulsed by kids with running noses. When a kid at playgroup or at a store had a drippy nose I was nervous that Lily would get it. Those thoughts quickly faded and my girlfriends and I laugh now about our early runny nose fears.

Breaking the no pacifier rule only four days after giving birth stunk. But I remember telling my mom that I felt bad for giving it to her. A big part of me was nervous what other moms would think of me if I pulled out Lily’s binky at the store to ease her cries. I had these same fears when I stopped breastfeeding. The formula vs breast is a HUGE topic and many people have strong viewpoints. I was so nervous about being judged about whipping out the formula than pulling out my boob. How horrible is that. When I finally seeked help for my post partum depression I gained more self confidence as a mother. I started to care less about the formula naysayers and started to care about what mattered. That my child was healthy and happy.

There is no real life manual for parenting. When you purchase a car you always have the ability to pop the glove box open, thumb through a few pages and find how to program your garage opener or learn how to change that flat tire. At 3 am going on four weeks of barely any sleep, where is the flipping parenting manual on how to accurately handle a weeping baby who won’t go back to sleep and a husband who is trying to “act” like he’s sleeping 10 inches from you???

Here’s some advice that I think should be in said manual:

–       Try to relax and stay calm and know that you are NOT alone. Other moms are debating the to give or not to give formula or pacifiers just like you. Trouble breastfeeding? Struggling to lose the baby weight? You’re NOT alone so don’t beat your self up.

–       It will pass. Your kid will sleep one day. The tantrums will fade away (I’m still hoping). Kid biting or hitting? Whatever ‘it’ is…it will pass. Just try and enjoy the moment and try not to look ahead….you will miss the toddler days tantrums or no tantrums.

–       Find support. Make sure you have open communication with your husband or partner. Parenting is tough and it’s okay to ask for help. Find some other women that you can talk to. I’m so very blessed to have had some girlfriends give birth around the same time and we started a playgroup every Friday. We would lay the babies on the ground to play while we had a glass of wine, gossiped, shared our stories and sometimes cried it out. Being able to talk to another adult, friend or mom is great therapy that every mom (especially newbies) need!

–       You may think you know everything, but you don’t…and that is okay! I’m a firm believer that parenting is a never ending lesson. Just when you get the swaddling and feedings down you have to learn about real food. Then you have to figure out the toddler stage then potty training. As your kid gets older you are continuously learning your role as a parent for that particular stage. And it will never stop. You will learn on how to parent your kid that is now an adult…and then how to parent your kid that is now a parent.

So do whatever you want as a first, second or third time mom. Take advice, don’t take advice. Make rules or don’t make them. With babies/toddlers/kids/teens the days are so long, yet the years breeze by like the wind. So enjoy these precious moments as parents. Maybe the best parenting advice is to take opinions/suggestions/guidance and use it or don’t BUT just don’t make rules for how you want to be as a parent. Just don’t beat yourself up if you fail to meet society’s parenting expectations or the ones you set before you even became a parent like I did!

{Picture cred to Kimberly Photography}

 
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  1. Melissa commented:
    March 1, 2013 Reply

    Great Post Amy!!! Well said! I enjoyed reading this and everything you said is true… I always say everything is trial and error with your baby, everyday is different but just remember you are an amazing and loving mama to Lily and your doing a great job raising her!!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      March 1, 2013 Reply

      Thanks Mel!! You are so very right about the trial and error. I would like to say that we will have it down pat when a second one comes along, but some of my girlfriends who have just given birth again say that if feels like they are a first time parent all over again!! Oh I LOVE watching Makenna grow through Instagram- she is so beautiful!She is one lucky lady to have you as a mommy 😉 xo

  2. Elisa commented:
    March 1, 2013 Reply

    Amy, I love this post!!! It’s so true!!! Your an amazing momma and I’m lucky to call you a friend! This post makes me stop and take a moment to really enjoy this very crazy time in my life!! Thank you!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      March 1, 2013 Reply

      Thank you Elisa! I’m the lucky one to have you as my friend. You’re a rockstar with your littles. Oh how our little playgroup has changed!xoxoxoxo

  3. Erin commented:
    March 1, 2013 Reply

    This post is flat out awesome & so so SO true!!! I had so many planned “rules” too… You just never know until you’re there. (At least I think… It seems to still always be changing!!!)

    • Amy Romano commented:
      March 4, 2013 Reply

      You are so right Erin- you have no clue until the baby is there and your living in the moment! So glad you liked this post!I’m sure I will find this post even more hilarious when and if baby #2 comes 😉

  4. Brittany Casey commented:
    January 11, 2015 Reply

    I stumbled upon your blog while on Pinterest doing some research on baby #2, and I love it. Your words are so true. I had a list of things I planned on doing and things I would never do during pregnancy and with my baby. I failed miserably, or so I thought. I had my daughter in June of 2012, and suffered from PPD for almost 2 years. I’m so scared that I will have to go through it again with another baby that I’m struggling to make a decision. I do know that this time I will try to relax and make decisions based on what is best for me & my family- guilt free! (At least I’ll try!)

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