Us vs. Them vs. Me

It’s a funny thing, this whole preparing to be a parent. There are aspects of the whole process that make me very glad I no longer live in the U.S., home of the Mommy Wars.

When I found out we were going to be doing IVF, I started reading blogs by other infertiles. When I found out we were going to do IUI, I started reading blogs by parents of multiples (you laugh, but it’s true). And when we found ourselves in the ridiculously lucky position of pregnancy, I started reading up on those things I might need to know about. Breastfeeding. New motherhood. Working from home. Etc.

If I thought the divide between childless-by-choice and infertility bloggers was wide, it’s nothing to the downright animosity that often marks the debates between the mommies. Working mom vs. SAHM vs. WAHM. Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding. Planned c-sections vs. natural birth. Attachment parenting vs. cry it out.

I’m struggling to find a niche. I’ve always felt that I had a little cubby hole in the blogosphere. I was one of the religious female bloggers struggling with male factor infertility. I had a role to play in the production.

But it’s a dicey game out there with parenting plans. Although I’m reluctant to post some crazy manifesto steeped in the naivete of someone who is not yet having to parent an infant 24/7, I have an idea of how I would like things to go.

I want to breastfeed. Not because I think it leads to higher SAT scores. Not because I think bottle feeding is bad for children or mommies. Frankly, I don’t believe most of the hype. I want to breastfeed because it will save money and mean fewer new baby things to wash and sterilize. But yeah, I already own bottles. Because I know that even if breastfeeding works out perfectly, I will likely start pumping when I go back to work. And I’d like the hubby to be able to handle some of the night feedings, too.

I also hope to use cloth diapers. I don’t know for how long. We bought them. They are cute, but then again, they are also currently unused. I assume they are less cute when they are full of dookie. Again, not because I’m all crunchy granola (’cause yeah, I’m not) and want to save the environment, but because they save money.*

But to choose the two options above and find support comes with the doctrinaire approach to platforms seen only in U.S. politics. If you are pro-breastfeeding and pro-cloth diapering, you must also be pro-attachment parenting.

Which is where this whole neat plan derails. I may live to go against some of these proclamations, but…

I’m not sharing my bed with a baby. I already share it with a husband, a dog and two cats. There is no more room at the inn. This is why man created cribs, pack and plays, etc. We bought a very nice pack and play. We plan on buying a very nice crib. She should sleep in them. If she doesn’t want to, she can sleep somewhere else. But not in my bed.

I will reluctantly share my bedroom with an infant for a few weeks while we get the hang of breastfeeding. Hence the pack and play.

I am not wearing my child on me in a sling. I already have enough back pains from having D-cup breasts as a freshman in high school (I weighed 90 pounds – you do the math). I can occasionally see carrying her in the Baby Bjorn we have when I’m too damn lazy to shlep a stroller, but I don’t do the whole “baby against my chest like a papoose” deal. I have absolutely nothing against anyone who does – indeed, the whole point of this post is that folks should be able to choose parenting techniques a la carte. But I don’t care how much she likes it. As Bushie senior said, “Not goin do it.”

Which brings me to my next point of misunderstanding. When I postulate about how I would like, in the utopia I dream of when the baby isn’t kicking my bladder and I’m doped up on Benadryl, to parent, I get the same response.

“You’ll have to see what the baby wants when she gets here.”

Which boggles my mind a bit. I think of parenting techniques a bit like I think of consensual sex. It takes two. And when one party just ain’t having it, neither is the other. At the risk of sounding like a cold-hearted bitch, I’m not willing to kowtow to what the baby wants if it’s a parenting technique I can’t live with.

So. Where does that leave me? So confused and annoyed that I’m reluctant to register for birthing classes. Because those, too, are marked in their approaches. Far be it for me to tell anyone how to have their baby, but I can tell you right now that regardless of how much pain I am in, I’m not going to get much comfort out of Lamaze. I think it takes the right kind of person, much the same way that enjoying a yoga class means being able to focus on things other than the size of your own butt when you’re in downward dog. It just isn’t me.

I did have classes scheduled. I canceled them when I was told there would be weekly breathing exercises for my husband and I to practice. Unless the breathing exercises will more adequately help me to enunciate in Hebrew (say it with me now! Ani rotzah epidural akshav!), I’m not really interested. Now if we can talk about what in the hell you’re supposed to do with a baby after you come home from the hospital, I’m all ears.

As long as you don’t try to put her in my bed. šŸ™‚

* I make it sound like we’re very poor and can’t afford this baby, don’t I? That’s not really the case, as the ridiculously large amount of brand spanking new baby gear that is due to arrive motzei Shabbat can attest to. But I still don’t like spending money for convenience. I think there’s a balancing act to it that I’ll just have to get used to when she gets here.

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9 responses to “Us vs. Them vs. Me

  1. Breastfeeding is also soooo convenient…

    I use the Baby Bjorn sometimes when I’m out because it makes it easier to get down narrow aisles (and when babies are really little, they’re really light, so it’s not hard on your back).

    I know you’re going to be a great (and very funny) mom šŸ™‚ BTW my mom always said that the things you hate most about other people’s kids won’t happen to you because you won’t allow it. I’ve found that to be mostly true.

  2. My friends accuse me of being “crunchy”, but the truth is I’m not even close to being a hardliner when it comes to birth/parenting. I don’t hang out with the local homebirth group, though I get some interesting tips on their yahoo group, because when looking for a doula, several tried to make the birth center and the midwives I see sound evil. They actually were incredibly supportive of my hypnobirthing, and did their best to avoid a c-section. Mother Nature had other plans, though. When I got the epidural after 24 hours of labor, I could totally get why women want one. Labor is hard!

    I have no doubt that after having a c-section this week, they would be shaking their head and saying “that was unnecessary”. Quite the contrary in fact.

    I am cloth diapering and so far so good. I do care about the environment but do it mostly because being frugal lets me work less. Ditto for breastfeeding. It looks like it’s working out for us so far. The Monkey appears to enjoy his sling so far (and I bought an ergonomic one for my scoliosis that is ending up being ok for not putting pressure on my incision), but the other one I have is a no go for the next 8 weeks at least. There’s nothing wrong with picking and choosing. To each their own.

  3. Just for the record, the breathing can be actually useful! Even if you fully intend to (and do actually get) that epidural, some hospitals have annoying rules about a certain level of dilation first, and labor gets pretty painful before that point. Or worse, they send you home and tell you to come back when labor is “real,” but it already feels pretty real. Anyway, could happen, but I found reading the breathing exercise page in a pregnancy book I have (B’sh’ah Tova) to be a good enough substitute for a stupid class.

    And I only shared my bed with the baby so that I could doze and nurse, because I was too lazy to get up and get her every time, and used a sling because it was convenient for me (and easier than straight carrying or even the front carrier), not because I was the all warm fuzzy attachment-parenting type. So for what it’s worth from a total stranger, I think you can pick and choose whatever works for you.

  4. Ah. yes, I’ve always thought one of the minor advantages associated with my lot in life is that I can avoid any and all mommy wars. I stumbled into one battle and learned my lesson. They can be vicious in ways that I never expected. So now I just tune out and let them at at each other.

    BTW: if I was in the position to decide, I’d go with breastfeeding.

  5. Honestly, although my lamaze coach was wonderful, I found biting down on a Bic Round Stic more useful than lamaze breathing.

    I imagine that if I’d ever gotten my darned epidural it would have even been better.

    As for carrying around… all I can say is that I never thought I’d carry a baby around all the time, but when it was the only way to have peace and quiet… my tolerance for back pain was higher than my tolerance for noise.

  6. I could have written this post. Yet now I’m cosleeping. I was dead set against it. Completely against it. That was the one thing about which I was most adamant, parenting-wise. And here I am cosleeping. Still not crunchy. But cosleeping. Yes, it takes two to tango, but when one is willing to scream nonstop all night long, every night for weeks on end, sometimes the other one ends up dusting off their dancing shoes. We all have to pick our battles, and my child picked this one too. She won.

    I’m not saying this will happen to you. I hope that it doesn’t. I think I have a particularly stubborn baby when it comes to sleeping. When I read books about sleep, it seems that they are talking about babies of another species. Hopefully you’ll get one of those, and he/she will will have no more interest in sleeping with you than you have with her/him.

  7. I was also SOOO against sleeping with my babies in bed. But now- when I nurse one of them in the middle of the night- sometimes we both fall asleep together. It happens. I learned to kind of go with whatever works. After four months, I still feel I’m trying to figure out this whole “mommy” thing.

  8. I dig your perspective on these topics. I definitely feel that the birthing experience and raising children are very individualized situations, not only for the parents involved, but also each child’s situation can be different. What works for one may not work for the other. Do what makes you and your child feel happy. šŸ™‚

  9. Yeah, everyone pretty much said it already but it doesn’t hurt to have the breathing for the beginning of labor. Even the first pains ain’t great and if something can help you get through it it’s a good tool to have. Pick what’s right for you and your baby. I breastfeed but supplemented, used disposable diapers, and never wore a sling or baby carrier. I have a very bad back and wouldn’t even attempt it. My daughter and I bonded just fine in other ways. Also, I never slept with her in my bed – I was too scared. She slept in her swing for a good part of her first year. That was our lifesaver.

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