Monday, April 30, 2012

Free Range? Helicopter? Attachment?

What kind of parent am I?  I had the benefit of taking several child development classes in college after having children, so I was able to really apply what I was learning to my own life.  I know I am an authoritative parent with authoritarian tendencies.  On days when I haven't had enough sleep or work is completely overwhelming or something is keeping me from being rational (hormones, anyone?), I become my father.  It's not pretty.  (Freud would love that, eh?)  But generally I like to think I hold my own when it comes to being fair and reasonable most of the time.

So where are the fair and reasonable parents in the media?  It seems like every parent on TV is just nuts.  TV moms range from the Toddlers in Tiaras and Dance Moms types to Parenthood's hyper uptight Kristina Braverman.  Roseanne was fairly reasonable (albeit gruff) in the late 80s through most of the 90s.  So where are the normal moms who deal with laundry and bullies and don't wear make up every day (or any day, if you're me)?  Where are the moms who don't cut each other down or one up each other or any other stereotypically nasty TV mom pranks?  And please don't tell me that reality TV is the answer. Kate Gosselin certainly wasn't.  And as much as I respect Michelle Duggar, there has to be something magical in their well water because that woman is WAY too calm if you ask me.  (Okay, I really admire that about her and wish I had half her calm.)  And I've never watched those "Poorly Behaved Women of (insert state here)" shows, so I can't really comment on them.

Maybe the media doesn't notice us because we're boring.  We all struggle with the same basic issues:  How do I juggle all of my responsibilities and commitments and still get dinner on the table?  How do I keep up with the spotless house next door?  How do I get the kids to listen without yelling all the time?  And, to a certain extent, we all are guilty of listening to the parenting "experts" on various news shows and holding ourselves up to their standards.

What if we rewrote the standards?  What if we ignored the labels and stopped worrying so much about the neighbors?  What if we just focused on what our own standards are and what works for our own families instead of the families the experts expect us to have?

I might sleep better at night!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's a...!

David and I went to Maternal Fetal Medicine late last week.  It was definitely a mixed bag of emotions.  The last time I was there we were dealing with bleeding in the 11th week with Andrew.  At that point we left feeling much happier.  Little did we know what we'd be dealing with several weeks later.

I've spent this entire pregnancy telling myself we're having a girl.  I was afraid to wish for a boy.  I didn't want to replace Andrew or do anything to sully our brief memories of him.  I had convinced myself a third daughter would be wonderful - we'd go through the princess phase again, have tea parties, and learn about dinosaurs (because I am a feminist, after all!).  I imagined pink and tutus and the whole nine yards.  And I loved it.

But when I allowed myself to be honest, usually while lying in the dark and praying, I knew that my heart wanted to hold a baby boy.  I wanted to give G a brother and David another son.  I wanted trucks and dirt and chaos and soccer.

23 weeks.  A perfect smile.
I went into the appointment saying, "I know it's a girl.  I know I'm right".  The tech, in a rather stoic way, told me she'd do her best to tell us what she could see.  First, though, we had to measure everything.  Nearly two hours of measuring the heart and lungs and head of our baby.  When she got to the heart, I found myself in tears.  It was beating.  Strong.  Andrew's had stopped beating and the last time I saw it, it was still and quiet.  As this baby wiggled and rolled, squirmed and smiled, we got a glimpse into our future with this child.  A little mouth opened and closed, an arm raised a finger and pointed.

And at that moment, I didn't care if we were going to be team pink or team blue.  I was firmly and solidly in love with whatever God had given us.  And I was grateful.

I had almost forgotten our request to know what to expect when something flashed on the screen.  I thought I knew what it was.  David definitely knew.  The tech smiled and assured us there was no doubt about it.  This baby is a BOY.  A BOY.  There were tears... bittersweet, happy, grateful tears.

The next task was to tell the kids they were having a brother.  And I'm not one to do things without a little drama.  So I made them this:

Their reactions were priceless.  But more on that another day.

Doing it Differently... maybe?

I've started to come up with a list of things I want to at least attempt to do differently this time around.  We're in a different place financially, socially, and environmentally.  We're also a very different family than we were even a year ago.  Dynamics have shifted since we lost Andrew and - at least for me - I've redefined what I value and think of as vital when it comes to the kids.  There's no telling if I'll actually do any of these things, but I want to spend some time over the next 14 weeks giving them some serious thought.

1.  Cloth diapers.
     Pros:  Environmentally friendly.  Much cheaper than disposable diapers.  Supportive friends.
     Cons:  I already struggle with the insane amount of laundry we generate.  Lack of support from family.
     Compromise:  Use cloth at home and during short jaunts out.  For longer days out, use disposable.  Insist the kids continue to do all regular laundry, but I will do diaper loads.
     To Do:  Learn about the different types of diapers out there.  What detergent do people use?  Do they line dry or use the dryer?

2.  Jarred food.
     Pros:  Cheaper.  More control over preservatives, dyes, etc.  I won't ever have to buy anything from Gerber.  (That's another story... for another day.)  Kids could potentially be supportive and helpful.
     Cons:  Time (or lack thereof).  Storage.  (I'm not very good at freezing things.)
     Compromise:  Establish a list of foods that can be made in small batches (squash, banana) and supplement with organic baby foods.  Find things that we eat as a family that can easily be turned into baby food.  (Applesauce in the fall.)
     To Do:  Borrow baby food cook books or find recipes online.  Look into containers and storage methods.

3.  Babywearing
     Pros:  I did this with the girls, so I know it works.  G, however, was a wiggleworm and not only did he refuse to be "worn", he refused to be confined to a stroller.
     Cons:  It takes me forever to recover from my delivery, so wearing won't be something I do for at least 6 - 8 weeks post partum.

4.  No TV before age 2. (This includes electronic devices in general)
     Pros: Better for baby's brain development.  Keeps the noise level down during the day, reducing (my tendency toward) overstimulation issues.
     Cons:  I actually ENJOY toddler TV.  Max & Ruby, Charlie & Lola, and Little Bear were my favorites.  The fact that the kids liked them, too, was just an extra added bonus.
     Compromise:  Focus on keeping the first floor TV off as much as possible.  Keep the first floor TV tuned to only toddler safe programming (no Justice League, gory news shows, or excessive American Pickers viewing... American Pickers will be the hardest thing to tone down.  Love all of those silly shows that focus on retro stuff.)

5.  Sleeping in the crib, NOT our bed
     Pros:  We sleep better without the kids in our bed.  K has sleep issues and I believe they're related to the 2 - 3 years she spent sleeping with us.
     Cons:  It's sooooo lovely to just doze off while nursing a sleeping wee one.
     Compromise:  I fully intend to nap when the baby naps.  Housework be damned!  (For a few months, at least!)  Maybe I can get my naps in a little easier if I let him sleep with me during naps?  Or will that make the crib transition more difficult at night?

6.  Successfully mastering the bottle and breast feeding method.
    Pros:  I can run to the grocery store or to a meeting without taking the baby with me.  This is less disruptive for the baby and easier for me, therefore less stressful for everyone.  The kids will also be able to take part in the feeding process and I think they'll enjoy that.
     Cons:  I hate (HATE HATE HATE) the smell of baby formula.  I also hate how expensive it is.  So I'll have to establish a pumping schedule and I am not good at schedules.
     Compromise:  Remember that the nursing years are short and fleeting.  If the bottle feeding never takes off (never did with the younger two), remember that.  Even when it drives me nuts, remember that he's only going to be little for a very short period of time and I don't want to miss any of it.

7.  Developing a schedule for the baby despite the chaos of the older kids.
     Pros:  It's so much healthier for munchkins to have schedules.  It's also a way of forcing me to say NO occasionally.
     Cons:  Flexible kids are so much happier.  The reality is I'm going to have to deal with soccer and Scouts and the associated chaos.
     Compromise:  Focus on a daytime schedule, maybe?  The older kids leave for school at 7:30 and come home at 3:30.  That gives me 8 solid hours to establish nap and feeding schedules.  Then insist on being home by 8:00 so we can do our bedtime routine?  Maybe?

I hope that 6 - 9 months from now I revisit this and find that I've made peace with these things.  I hope I tried all of them, adjusted accordingly, and didn't allow myself to wallow in a puddle of guilt for even a second for the things I wasn't able to do.