The number one thing pregnancy and parenthood has taught me? I hate Hate HATE being told what to do. Unsolicited advice is my number one pet peeve and I guess, in various states of sleep deprivation, I don’t really handle it all that well.
Let me back up. When I was pregnant with The Boy, people started giving me advice. What I should and shouldn’t eat (yes, I was aware that fast food wasn’t the best choice, but when you throw up everything else, you eat what you can eat), how I could curb my weight gain (um, aren’t you supposed to gain weight during pregnancy), why I should continue vigorous exercise (ahem, evil crotch pain. not happening)…you get the point. Everyone had a story, an experience, an opinion on my every movement. I HATED it and spent more time then I’d like to admit crying over the “advice” I was given, feeling like a failure and I hadn’t even had him yet.
Then I had The Boy. If I thought the advice was bad before, it was awful now. AWFUL. The Boy was a particularly hard baby. I’ve said it before, but he was born with an attitude that he knew better then the rest of the world (wonder where he got that from??) and there were days where he literally cried from the moment he awoke until the moment he slept, with sleep lasting less then an hour before it would start over again. That’s when the advice really started.
He needs to go to the doctor because there’s something wrong with him (there’s not). He’s allergic to milk (he’s not). He has colic or reflux or digestive issues (nope). You’re burping him wrong. You’re feeding him too much/too little. You’re not holding him right. He’s starving and needs solids (at 2 months). You need to make him sleep (this one was my favourite- how does one MAKE a brand new baby sleep). Ignore him and he’ll stop crying eventually (he didn’t).
The thing I learned is that everyone thinks you’re doing something wrong at all times. You are never a good enough or right enough parent for other people. And while I think that advice is very well intentioned and not meant to insult your intelligence/abilities, it does. It’s insulting to me that people thought I wouldn’t think of things that could be wrong with him on my own or couldn’t figure out how to look after my baby. Granted, I hadn’t even held a newborn before The Boy, but I got used to it pretty quickly. And I didn’t need to constantly be told how “awful” my newborn was (yes, people said that to me) or that I needed to be better organized or more efficient to make this newborn thing work out. I didn’t need to feel like more of a confused failure then I already did.
I was tired and slightly overwhelmed and what I really needed was advice when I asked for it and for people to shut up and tell me I was awesome when I didn’t ask. Harsh…but true.
So now I’m anywhere from 6-10 weeks from meeting my new son. I’ve managed to let some of the well-meaning advice I’ve received this pregnancy roll off my back a little better then last time. But I’m really bracing myself for the onslaught of advice that will come flowing in once I have New Baby. And preparing myself for my reaction to that advice. We all need help, I get that, but we don’t need our faults to constantly be pointed out.. Mostly, I am hoping that people back off and give me space and let me figure things out on my own…because I don’t need any help feeling like I’m completely inept at this motherhood thing- I’ve got that self-doubt covered!