maternity leave 1.0

Sally is a young Southern mama whom I’ve grown to know & love through the blog world. After discovering that we lived close to each other, we had a chance to meet last year! Her fat baby and my skinny baby traded cloth diapers at a Starbucks. Sally blogs over at Exploits of a Military Mama. Her handsome soldier is home for the time being, and they’re expecting baby number two! Sally was one of the sweet ladies who agreed to write a guest post while I learn how to take care of the newly-arrived sisters… Take it away, Sally!
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There’s this funny thing about being pregnant…everyone decides that it’s the perfect time to give their opinions. Regardless of how a new mom plans to raise her baby, everyone else thinks they know better.
“Use cloth. If you don’t, you’re hurting your baby and the environment.”
“Don’t use cloth. It’s gross.”
“Breastfeed or else you’re poisoning your child with formula.”
“Ewwww, who wants a baby hanging on your nipples?”
“Your body will never look the same…and that’s not a good thing.”
“I lost all my baby weight in three weeks. It was easy.”
“You better be getting sleep now because when the baby comes, you won’t sleep for eighteen months.”
“Don’t expect to love your baby right away. It takes time.”
“You’ll fall in love immediately. I did.”
“Wow, you’re only halfway through?! You’re huge!”
“How much weight have you gained?”
“Better you than me. I HATED being pregnant.”
“Did you conceive naturally?”
“How long were you trying?”
And on and on and on. Advice. Opinions. Inappropriate questions. New moms never have a chance.
Instead of being allowed to trust our intuition, we’re faced with an onslaught of media and well-meaning (sometimes) “words of wisdom” from anyone and everyone who’s ever come in contact with a newborn. It’s exhausting, and it’s enough to make a mom-to-be question her ability to parent on her natural instincts.
I clearly remember the barrage of questions and advice I received when pregnant with my first. My husband and I were the first of our friends to be pregnant, and many people didn’t understand WHY we would chose to settle down, end the partying, and willingly chose to spend the early months of newborn raising in a foggy haze of sleep deprivation. When Sullivan was born, the advice of everyone else and every book I’d ever read flooded through my mind like a hurricane. And suddenly? I wasn’t so sure I could do this and do this right. I couldn’t please everyone. If I used cloth, people would think I was gross. If I breastfed too long, I was not in the “norm” of most of my peers. What if no one liked my childs’ name? What if I just wasn’t cut from the mom cloth and couldn’t be a good parent to this beautiful little boy? I was overwhelmed and detatched because I questioned my ability to raise a child.
And that’s not fair.
New moms deserve a chance. They deserve to learn on their own. Sure, some kind words of encouragement are great. A little advice, when asked for, can be received wonderfully. But the sarcastic remarks? The judgmental stares? The questioning looks? All because someone parents differently than you would? Unfair. Not cool. And not healthy for anyone.
As I find myself pregnant with our second, I’ve learned to tune out the unnecessary words. I know I’m a good mama. I know I’ve done the best I can for my little boy. And I trust my instincts. I know that this baby? This baby will be loved and cared for in the best way I know how. And no one can tell me what’s best for my child, myself, and my family.


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2 thoughts on “maternity leave 1.0”

  1. This was great – thanks Sally! We’re pregnant with twin girls, and these are our first, too. Humorously, I’ve found that the word “twins” kind of scares most people away from offering advice…even when I want it!

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