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Thoughts On Becoming A Parent

April 13, 2012

This months PAIL Theme Post is on parenting. A very interesting and sensitive topic! We’re asked to write about the following:

What kind of parent am I or do I want to be? If you’re already a parent, what kinds of things work for you now? Did they always? Has your view of what kind of parent you are changed? If you’re pregnant or TTC, have you given this topic much thought? What is your style likely to be? Are you a structure sort of person? Will you or did you cry-it-out? Will you or did you try to get your baby on a schedule? Did you or will you demand feed? Did you or will you subscribe to a method like Attachment Parenting or Babywise or some other method? Do you think you can spoil a baby by holding it too much?

Since I’m lucky enough to be having this darling baby girl with a loving and supportive husband, I’m going to state for the record that for me parenting isn’t a solo act. It’s not about what kind of parent I want to be, but what kind of parents WE want to be. I know that some women might feel that it’s their way or no way, but it is absolutely vital for me that A and I present a united front in our parenting efforts, whether it’s regarding how we feed the baby, how we sleep train the baby or later on how we discipline our children. We plan on consulting each other when possible about any parenting decisions we make. I may be the one giving birth (oh God, I have to give birth!!), but we both had a part in creating this little miracle and she’s going to be parented by both of us.

It just so happens that A and I have talked a lot about the kind of parents we want to be. We’re both lucky to have been raised by strong role models in the parenting department and have similar views on how we would like to do it. Even before we got pregnant it was something we discussed.  Our general thought is that while there are certain things we’d like to do and ways we’d like to handle things, we’re not closing ourselves off to other ideas and options should our preferences not work out. Neither of us believe in following a particular method and will most likely end up picking and choosing a variety of methods and ideas that work for us and, most especially, for the baby.

Adaptation is key in parenting. I believe that if you go in with expectations of how things SHOULD be, you’ll most likely end up frustrated and upset (you and the baby both). Each stage of our little girl’s development will be different and will require us to shift and change how we handle things.

My expectation for the first few months or so is that our new family will be getting to know each other. Everything A and I think we know will be tossed out the window as we enter the world of parenting. We’ll feed, we’ll change bums, we’ll sleep, we’ll cry (me and the baby…maybe A too, who knows? Haha!). We’ll work on establishing a relationships with each other, on figuring out each others personalities and needs. I have absolutely no idea how it’s going to go down and all the planning in the world can’t prepare us for it.

All the same, here’s our game plan for the first several months:

Schedules/Routines

Establish a routine. Not a rigid schedule, but a routine of certain events happening in sequence that happen around the same time each day. Especially for bedtime, to set her up for recognizing it’s time to sleep. However, I’m not going to hermit myself in the house for the rest of my days, so we’ll take our routine on the road sometimes! Breastfeeding is handy that way (my boobs are always with me). If I’m at the mall and it’s time for a feed, then feed we will!

Sleeping

She’ll sleep in our room for the first little while (could be weeks, could be months, who knows!) as we establish our nighttime feeding routines (and so I can more easily obsess over every sound she makes), but neither A nor I believe in co-sleeping or the family bed. I’ve read all the pros as to why it can be beneficial, but to be honest it scares the crap out of me. Oh, I know there will be times when she’ll come in with us, but if we can manage to avoid it becoming a habit, then that’s what we’ll do.

Crying

In my opinion, babies cry for a reason, and when they’re really small those cries aren’t an attempt to manipulate us. They’re trying to communicate what they need. If our baby cries, we’ll do what we can to figure out what she needs, though if it’s the middle of the night and she’s fussing, I’ll wait (without letting her get too upset) and see if she settles back down.

When it comes to sleep training, neither of us are opposed to letting her cry it out. Well, I’m mildly opposed in the sense that I already hate hearing her cry and she’s not even born yet! (I sometimes even imagine that she’s crying in the womb and it breaks my heart). I’ll probably let A take the reins on that one if it comes to that. He’s already determined I’ll be the good cop and be soft. He’s probably right! But we won’t be doing CIO until she’s 9 months old or so and if we can possibly get her into a good sleep routine without letting her cry, then that’s what we’ll do. We’ve been looking into other sleep training alternatives we’ll try first.

Feeding

We’re choosing to breastfeed, with the occasional bottle so that A can feed her as well (assuming she takes it. We’ll try!). When I read the question “Will you demand feed?”, I actually had to Google it because to be honest I wasn’t aware there were any other options. Doesn’t everyone feed their baby when the baby is clearly hungry?

Apparently not. Some methods advise parents to stick to a firm schedule, to better help with sleep habits.

Huh.

I’ve observed with friends and family that have wee ones, that babies do tend to develop a loose schedule for feeding, depending on their age and weight. But I’ve also observed that the amount that they eat varies and one day they may feed like fiends, the next, not so much. They are growing after all and expending a whole lot of energy doing so!

Our plan? If our baby girl is hungry, we’re going to feed her. Period. Especially when she’s getting breast milk exclusively. This seems a bit contrary to the whole setting up a routine plan we have, but as I said, part of being a parent is about being able to adapt.

And that covers pretty much the only parenting we’ll be doing for the first little while. Remember, none of this is set in stone. No need to remind us otherwise! We both know things may not work out the way we would like.

We’ve had discussions about how we’ll parent our children when they’re older, like how to handle discipline, and the kinds of morals and values we want to teach our kids when they’re older, but for the time being, I think we’re just going to focus on the beginning, when we’re all fresh and new and finding our way.

To be continued when our daughter becomes a toddler!

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2012 1:08 pm

    It looks like you’ve put a lot of thought into this!

    I wanted to give you am unsolicited tip on the sleep training 😉 We waited until our son was 9 months old and we are struggling because he can stand up in his crib. If we had done it sooner (6-7 months), that would not have been a problem. I am not kidding you – he will stand in his crib fussing for over an hour and will not lay himself down (even though we know he can – we’ve seen him do it!). If I come in and lay him down at the right time, he will fall asleep. If it’s not the right time, he’s right back up, standing in the crib. He’s even fallen asleep twice standing up against the rails, and that scares the crap out of me. If you can start coaxing your babe to sleep before she can stand up in the crib, that would be ideal. We are going to sleep train much earlier next time because of this.

    Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy. ENJOY IT!

    • April 17, 2012 3:42 pm

      Excellent suggestion! I’m totally going to try and get her into a sleep pattern before 9 months. I think that’s just our timeline if we have to let her cry.

  2. April 18, 2012 10:08 am

    I think it’s great that you and your husband have obviously had so much conversation about this and are on the same page. That will certainly make it easier for you once baby girl makes her arrival!

  3. April 18, 2012 6:58 pm

    “Adaptation is key in parenting. I believe that if you go in with expectations of how things SHOULD be, you’ll most likely end up frustrated and upset (you and the baby both).” this is sooooooo true. it sounds like you guys have a great plan going in!

  4. April 21, 2012 9:38 pm

    Wow, you’ve really put a lot of thought into this and still given yourself room to be flexible. That’s awesome.

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