When I was pregnant I did intense research of all the incredible things I could and would do for my new baby: cloth diapering, breastfeeding, reading, infant swim classes, sleep training, organic homemade food. I would be a progressive mama, giving my son that ‘next level ish’ at every turn.
Fast forward a year later, I’m 10 months into this parenting thing and I am just trying to survive! Essential to surviving is realizing that I simply can’t and won’t be able to do everything. So I thought it might be helpful to do an actual breakdown of the things I imagined I’d do… and the things I’ve actually done.
1. Breastfeeding — Did it, and it was awesome
Let me first say — It. is. HARD! Noah spent his first four months basically attached to my nipples. Which means work was an uphill battle — not to mention personal hygiene, sleep and socialization. I’m sure my family and friends still have nightmares of showing up to my apartment to find me, exhausted and laid out on the couch, milky dripping breasts there for all to see. Still, to me it was worth it. And not just for all the health reasons (greater brain function, protection against disease and infection, etc), but for the money it saved! I only made it to the 6 and a half month mark with breastfeeding, and now I’m shelling out $200 a month for formula! Not good! As hard and time consuming as breastfeeding is, I definitely think it’s worth the returns.
2. Reading to Noah — Nope!
I was so determined, when I was pregnant, to raise a ‘smart baby’. He would be surrounded by books and fall asleep every night to a bed time story. Noah is surrounded by books all right — books that he rips up, steps on and throws across the room. After the millionth time trying to read to Noah — only for him to lunge at the book and start slobbering all over it — I consulted my doctor, exasperated. He shared that the main objective of reading to infants is to increase their vocabulary — something that can also be accomplished through conversation. So, until Noah wants to do something with a book other than destroy it, we’ve taken to being as conversational with him as possible.
3. Infant gymnastics — Yes
Noah is an active baby and I am a work from home mom. So infant gymnastics kills two birds with one stone — it provides Noah with an outlet to be social and physical, and it provides me with a reason to leave the house (because I can literally go days without seeing anyone but my husband and son!)
4. Sleep training — Nope!
We don’t have time to read the sleep training book. We don’t have time to research it online. Noah wakes up 2 times a night. We give him a bottle and he goes right back to sleep. For now, that is good enough.
5. Infant swim classes — Yes
We were having so much fun with infant gymnastics that I signed us up for a mommy and me swim class too. Again, this has a lot to do with the fact that I’m a work from home mother and need to get out. I must admit, though, that swim class prep is annoying as hell. Getting a squirmy 10 month old into swim trunks, and then drying him off and getting him out of them 30 minutes later is tough.
6. Making homemade baby food — Nope!
I watched Food Inc. Perhaps I should know better. But my mother-in-law bought us a year’s supply of Gerber Baby food and, frankly, savings came before ideology on this one. I have done some juicing for Noah. But for now it’s the Gerber Baby food until it runs out.
7. Play Dates — Heavens YES!
I have met a few moms who aren’t into play dates. They say it seems kinda “mommy mafia-ish”, and it fosters disconnection from community (what happened to the good old days when you were friends with the kids on the block!) Well, as someone who lives in a condo high rise surrounded by yuppies and concrete, play dates have been my salvation! Especially because they happen at homes with actual yards. And are you seeing a theme here? Getting out of the house is definitely something I prioritize for me and Noah.
8. Cloth Diapering — Tried and Failed ?
My mother-in-law signed us up for a cloth diaper service as a baby shower gift. And initially we were super excited. But five shit explosions later, we were over it. This was when Noah was under 2 months old and we were in the thick of getting adjusted to breastfeeding. We were just too exhausted to take on another challenge. After reading Alicia’s article on cloth diapering, I realize that it probably had a lot to do with the type of diapers we had (we had to use old school diaper pins to pin them together!) Armed with more knowledge, I’d like to try this again.
9. Co-Sleeping — Noah Hated It
So this is one thing that I was really into. I loved the idea of cuddling up with my little munchkin every night. But apparently, he liked it a lot less than I did. After noticing that Noah slept more peacefully by himself, we moved him to his own sleep space. And I am still sad about it.
10. Baby Carrying — Yep!
All the benefits people spout about baby carrying are true — it’s a great hands-free way to carry your baby while getting things down. I have cleaned the kitchen, detangled my hair and gone on errands all with Noah peacefully strapped to my chest in a carrier. Now that Noah is more independent and doesn’t need to be held all the time, I’ve found another great benefit of baby carrying — exercise! Talking a walk with Noah strapped in the carrier is basically like walking around with a 20 pound weight.
11. Baby Sign Language — Forgot to Try
I researched it when I was pregnant… and literally just remembered two weeks ago that I had planned to try this. Oh well…
So there you have it. These are my confessions (in my Usher voice).
What about you ladies? What things have you tried? What works for you and what doesn’t?