Before Seth was born I read SO, SO, SO many mommy blogs. From funny and cute day to day posts, to helpful tips on breastfeeding, sleep training and how to comfort your little one on those dreaded vaccination days. I read horror stories of parents (desperately) trying to justify letting their babies ‘cry it out’.
I read baby books and articles written by baby specialists and doctors. My goal was to gather as much information as I could and decide whether to use it or not. I think that’s a very normal thing to do when you first find out you are expecting – to school yourself on the vital topics to keep your child safe and healthy.
I was so grateful to all the moms who had taken time out of their busy day to share their stories… and I rolled my eyes at a few moms who I felt were wasting my time by ranting about something just for the sake of views.
All in all though, I felt well prepared by the mommy community. Their collective knowledge helped me deal with what to expect during labour and delivery. It also helped in the early days because I had a ‘bag of tricks’ to try when my baby didn’t want to do x, y or z. Things were rosy.
Until they weren’t.
Slowly but surely things started to change and Seth was no longer fitting in the (very vast) range of “normal”.
Weird things were starting to happen but no one believed me. I raised concerns about my son’s behaviour with my midwife, health visitor and GP but it was all met with the blasé “you are new at this / just do as you are told / you are overreacting” bullshit.
Going against my gut, I reckoned they must know what they are talking about and I decided to just deal with my “difficult” baby. I read some more articles and opted to try things recommended by my fellow moms, because if there’s anyone who can relate and help, it’s going to be them, right? I was so desperate, and so, completely, wrong.
Out of desperation I tried all sorts of things to try to make my baby conform to some sort of normal. Seemingly innocent things, like trying to sleep train him, ultimately affected his health is a VERY negative way. In the end, after the most trying time of my life, it was found that Seth had major health problems that they missed on initial screening.
When I got that very weird, very vague phone call from one of the biggest hospitals in England, every fibre of my being knew EXACTLY what was wrong with my child. Legally they are not allowed to disclose such information over the phone but I was correct when they confirmed it in person.
I was so mad at myself. I was furious at the NHS. I had known something was up but as usual the people who were supposed to have his back (me included) just brushed it off. I had sworn before I had my kid that I would always, always trust my gut, yet I fucked up royally.
One could argue that the extreme exhaustion mixed with the self-doubt I experienced when literally everyone around me was saying “it’s all in your head” or “you are not doing it right” justifies it but I’m too hard on myself to let myself off the hook so easily.
My very long winded point is, is that there are going to be times when you doubt yourself as a mother and you are going to look to others for help and sometimes, it could be the worst thing you could ever do for your child. It may not be a life threatening one, but it will happen.
You’ll put your gut aside to take someone else’s (who you assume knows better) advice and I’m just trying to remind you that you shouldn’t. Gather all the information and then YOU decide. At the end of the day, no one will know your kid better than you.
Remain teachable, but remain steadfast in what you are feeling.
My gut has never, ever been wrong. Every time I didn’t listen to it though, things have gone horribly wrong.
For this very reason, I won’t be ‘mommy blogging’ about things that relate to a child’s health or fundamental development. I cannot in good conscience share such things. I do understand that sharing our experiences is important but I am not qualified and after I got burnt, I don’t want a mom at her wits end to use what I’ve written. Deep down, she already knows what’s up.
PS: I’ll still be doing toy hauls, new born essentials and age updates but I won’t weigh in on when and how long your child should be sleeping, what routine you ‘should’ be following, or even whether or not you should vaccinate your child.
I have my own opinions about all of the above but your child is not my child and my normal is not your normal.