Thursday, 13 November 2014

Why I Don't......

I've now been playing the role of "First Time Mum" for a whole 19 months...and there's a new one coming!

It seem's a good time to reflect.

You find yourself having to decide upon your parenting style and approach, which is difficult enough in itself...but on top of that, you find yourself having to explain your choices to those around you and face the constant questioning on why you made the choices you did.

I think the first year helps you to find your feet as a parent, and come out the other side feeling much more confident in your approach to this Mummy business.

When I first had Tyne, if I was asked (as I so often was!) why I had chosen to formula feed over breast feed for example...I would find myself mumbling an excuse, I found the whole thing quite uneasy to talk about - and now I know that's because I didn't yet have any confidence in my choices because I had yet to see how they would work for us.

Well now I can say that I feel confident in all of the choices we made as parents, and now I'd like to take the opportunity to answer - once and for all - those niggling "Why don't you....." questions that have come our way over the past 19 months.

These opinions are all my own and are not intended to offend, you may not agree with them but please respect my right to have them.

Why I Don't.....Breastfeed

Well let's just jump in straight off the deep end! The $64,000 question!

When I was first asked this question as a brand new mum, my answer was always that I was on medication which meant I wasn't allowed to breast feed...this is absolutely true (and is the reason why it annoys me so much to hear the constant " Breast Is Best" slogan banded around everywhere....think people! It is not always best! Mine would have most likely killed my baby!).

There is also the fact that I actually didn't produce any milk at all - I kept waiting for my boobs to swell up and to leak - nothing ever happened, it didn't ever seem to come in.

But truth be told, even if I HAD been allowed to breast feed and even if I HAD produced milk - I had never wanted to breast feed anyway and would more than likely still have chosen to formula feed.

Breast feeding is something that, quite simply, has just never appealed to me.

Some see it as the most natural and beautiful thing in the world....
most insist that is the ONLY healthy start to a childs life...

Personally, I do not like the idea of having a baby feeding from me. The thought makes me physically shudder, infact I could actually cry thinking about it.

It sits very uncomfortably with me.

This week I had to have a breast exam after finding a lump in my arm pit, and I found myself very uncomfortable and almost in tears in the doctors office as they examined me.

For reasons unknown to me, I find anything to do with my breasts very uncomfortable - I don't like any focus on them at all.

I found it MUCH less of an issue for me to have smear tests, internal examinations etc than to have a simple breast examination.

Of course I am aware that the fact that the very idea of having a child suckling from my nipple will no doubt anger people - but stop and think about it - why should it?

 It's MY body and so surely it should be MY choice?

I respect women's right to choose what happens to their bodies in EVERY sense - breast feeding included - if a woman wants to breastfeed, I fully support that! I would NEVER tell someone that I don't like it, ask them to stop, or anything like that.

What other women choose to do is entirely their decision. Seeing other women breast feeding has no effect on me.

So why can't the same consideration be given to me? I don't like the idea of it, I don't want to do it - shouldn't that be reason enough?!

It bothers me immensely that celebrities such as Jamelia recently declared that breastfeeding should be enforced by law...

And where exactly does that leave my human rights?

If a woman is raped or molested there is outrage (rightly so) that her body has been used in a way that she did not consent why would it be ok for my body to be used in a way that I don't consent to purely because other people believe that my breast milk is better for my baby?

Unless other alternatives will physically harm him in a significant way (And my strong, rarely ill, healthy child proves this is not the case....) then that cannot be morally right.

I realise that my thoughts on breastfeeding will not make sense to a lot of people because, after all, this is the primary purpose of women having nipples - but it doesn't alter the fact that I the thought of it makes me very uncomfortable.

I have complete faith in formula - myself and my sister were both raised on it (In fact out of the two of us, I was the only one briefly breastfed and I have some health problems - my sister is the exclusively formula fed baby and has no medical concerns to speak of) - You can throw all the supposed statistics that you like at me but I do not personally believe that there is likely to be a great deal of difference in the health of a child raised on breast milk and a child raised on formula.

Why I Don't....Babywear

This was something we tried, that I thought I might actually enjoy.

I was wrong.

I found it very awkward no matter what style of sling or carrier I tried, I never fully trusted them to safely hold the baby (I know they ARE perfectly safe, but my paranoid mind would never fully relax when I was using one), I constantly worried about falling forward while wearing the baby, and I found that every single one I tried hurt my back if I wore it for longer than 10 minutes.

I found it much much easier personally to just carry the baby in my arms and felt much more relaxed this way.

I doubt that I held him this way for any less time than most people spend babywearing, I was always cuddling him....which leads me to my next question....

Why I Don't...Follow the "No Cuddles" approach

I heard a LOT about bloody Gina Ford and her contented little baby books in the months leading up to giving birth, and had it constantly drummed in to me by various friends and family members that you should never cuddle a new baby too much because they'll get too used to it and will become clingy.

Once Tyne was born, I was often told by the same friends and family members that I cuddled him too much and I'd "be sorry"...

Well I didn't listen.....why?

Because I'm sorry but babies are made to be cuddled!!

Why would you ever want to leave something so adorable and snuggly in its cot by itself?

I gave Tyne as many cuddles as both of us wanted, and I have yet to regret a single cuddle.

Why I Don't....Ban baby from the bed

In a similar vein to the above I suppose, I was also warned to NEVER under any circumstances allow Tyne to sleep in our bed with us.

Now for safety reasons he has never actually slept IN the bed, but ever since he was a few weeks old he has slept on top of the bed with us and has always settled there so well.

He seemed to like the reassurance of us being with him and it allowed us all to sleep better - we liked the cuddles, so what was the problem?

He was always wearing his breathing monitor so had their been any safety issues we would have known straight away, and we always made sure the pillows were nowhere near him and the duvet was kept away from him, neither of us drink or smoke and we used a snuzpod.

We all slept better thanks to co-sleeping, and I would absolutely do this again with a future baby - infact next time I would invest in a cot that attaches to our bedside to make it easier still.

Why I Don't...Follow a routine

Again, this is something I have come under fire for but I quite simply do not believe that routines for young babies work well.

Sure...some of you will have experiences that argue that they do work, and that's great...for YOU.

I have found in my experience that MOST young babies do not tend to stick to a sleep schedule for a long period of time - while they are under a year old their routine is likely to change often.

For this reason, I feel that it's counter-productive for me as a parent to become reliant on a routine because the chances are its going to change from time to time - I would much rather take a flexible approach than expect to follow a routine and become stressed out when it doesn't go to plan one night.

We have found that by NOT implementing a routine, we have become very relaxed parents who very very rarely get stressed or tired or lose our tempers. We have also found that our child is very relaxed and easy going, he rarely cries and is very laidback.

Perhaps this is just his nature and he would have been that way anyway, who knows...

But I do know that not following a routine in the first year has worked well for us.

Over the last two months Tyne has started his OWN routine of going to bed at 7.30 and sleeping through until 9, he has his lunch and evening meal at the same time every day now and things have naturally fallen into place - we have followed his lead and everybody is happy with it.

But if it changes....that's fine too.

Why I Don't....Mind feeding baby from pouches/jars

Let me tell you a little story about the first day of weaning Tyne onto solid foods.

I spent approximately one hour in the kitchen - chopping and peeling carrots (a job I hate), boiling them, mashing them up and freezing them into very sweet little goldfish shaped ice trays.

I then attempted to feed the carrot to Tyne and he hated it. For the next 3 days, he hated it.

Later on that day, I noticed in our cupboards an Ella's Kitchen pouch called "Carrots, Carrots, Carrots".....with interest I turned it over to read the ingredient list....and lo and behold, there it was....

Ingredients: Carrots - 99%, Lemon juice - 1%

Well after my hour spent sweating away in the kitchen on a hot summers day, let me tell you....I was NOT too pleased to find the EXACT SAME THING sitting right there in my cupboard, just waiting for me to unscrew the cap and warm it up!

And those cute little goldfish shaped carrot ice cubes? They're still sitting in my freezer waiting for me to remember to throw them away.

There's a wasted hour of my life that I'm never getting back.

And so no....I did not exclusively feed Tyne home cooked meals.

We eat a LOT of spicy foods that would have been unsuitable for him and I'm not willing to completely alter my life because we now have a baby, so we still eat those foods.

If we eat something that is suitable for him, he has it! But if not....he has an Ella's Kitchen and I am fine with that.

So everybody else can get over it too!

Why I Don't...Ban baby from watching TV

At the toddler groups I've been to, there has often been a lot of talk about babies and children not being allowed to watch one particular group I went to, there was a TV playing some cartoons and I specifically remember a child of about 3 stopping what she was playing with to watch - I then saw her horrified mother run over and drag her away, telling her off for watching and shoving a book firmly under her nose.

All of the other children her age were watching the TV together in a group, and she was the only one sitting by herself in the corner....apart from all of the younger babies....and I just remember thinking how sad it was that by trying to do something she thought best for her child, she had excluded her from her peer group.

Not such a bad thing all the time of course, but I do think these sorts of things can be very difficult for children - my mother used to look after a little girl and boy of school age who were also not allowed to watch TV, and they were teased a LOT because they stood out as being very different.

When the other children were discussing their favourite TV characters, these children were simply unable to get involved in the conversation and inevitably this led to them being teased.

I can completely understand that parents don't want their children to become telly-bugs who sit all day glued to the TV set, not exploring the world around them and not using their imaginations or creativity...

But I feel that watching TV aimed at their age group actually teaches them things that, at this age, they wouldn't otherwise be exposed to.

Tyne hasn't seen any live wild animals yet in the flesh - but he's seen them on TV and he gets so excited when he does. I sit with him and point out the giraffes, and the elephants - sure he could look at pictures in books but how would he then understand how they move and the sounds they make?

Where we live there isn't much of an ethnic community, if it wasn't for the TV Tyne would never really have seen anybody from other ethnic backgrounds - but Baby TV often shows children and their families from all over the world, so now he's seen that not everybody looks the same as our family do. Sure he could see that from books too - but he wouldn't hear their accents or languages.

I don't agree with plonking a baby down in front of a TV all day at all, but I do think it has benefits and I love to see him enjoying what he's watching and squealing with delight when his favorite character comes on.

So shoot me.

Why I Don' second hand goods

Again, this is something that I have often been made to feel that I should feel guilty for.

Babies go through clothes so fast, they don't fit in moses baskets for long, why waste your money when you could spend it on something more important...I've heard it all before.

Quite simply - I enjoy buying things for Tyne, I like shopping and I prefer to buy new things. I don't want to buy second hand so why should I have to?!

And why, if its my choice not to, should I be made to feel guilty about it?

If its your choice to buy second hand, great! Have fun! I always take our unwanted things to charity shops for anybody who wants them.

But why should I feel like I'm being snotty for saying I don't want to buy pre-used things?

Its my money, so it's my choice surely?

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