This is something I wrote back in December of 2010 for an online motherhood group I belonged to. I decided to share it here in my blog because I think this is a situation that every parent has been on one or the other side of.
December 13, 2010:
The other day I caught myself in the act of being THAT person. You know, the mother who gives out unsolicited advice to other moms.? I almost allowed my strong opinion to get in the way of being a supportive fellow Mommy.
I work in a coffee shop. Because of the schedule Hubby and I have set up to avoid paying for childcare, I work mostly evenings. One customer of mine is a New Mommy as well. Her baby is 3 months old. She brings her daughter in most nights and the baby sleeps while Mommy drinks coffee and studies for her college courses. If the baby gets fussy, she throws her nursing cape on and feeds the baby while continuing to read her textbook. I think she seems really nice, and that her baby is super adorable.
Now, one of the things that I really had an opinion about with my own child, is that I wanted to wait to start solids for him as long as possible. Since birth he has had a lot of digestive issues, and a lot of nursing issues. I wanted to get nursing really well established, and let his digestive system fully mature before I brought other foods into the mix. I put him off as long as possible, thinking we would give him rice cereal for the first time on the day he turned 6 months old. However, Baby Boy had another plan, and began showing great interest in our food long before that. He would grab at our plates, spoons, cups…even our mouths while we were eating. I finally decided at 5 months that he was telling us he was more than ready, and when we went ahead and offered the cereal he started using the spoon to feed himself immediately. If he could have talked, he would have said: “What took you so long!?”
Another thing I have experienced with my son is marathon nursing. He would be latched onto my breast for long stretches of time. At one point, he was nursing for up to two hours before bedtime. I struggled and struggled with how to deal with this, as it kept me so tied down. I could have weaned him off my breast and onto either expressed milk or formula, but I decided that he is only going to be a tiny baby for a short time, and I wanted him to experience the closeness and bond of nursing. So I stuck with it and now he usually nurses 20-30 minutes, sometimes a bit longer at bedtime. I also now know that sometimes babies nurse for a long time, and more frequently to increase your supply, so in hindsight he may have been doing that at some of those long nursing stages.
Now, back to the coffee shop. My customer came in the other day with the baby and we got talking, as New Mommies usually do, about our little ones. I asked how her baby was doing, and Customer told me that the baby seemed to want to nurse all the time lately so she was thinking that she would start her on cereal soon. “Wow.” I said.
“I know it is early, but my mom started me at three months, so I figure it would be ok.” She told me.
And that is when I started to fall into the advice trap. I began to give my schpiel about how the baby might be increasing her supply, about how I held my son off until he was grabbing at our food, yadda yadda yadda…
In my head, as I was borderline preaching at this woman, I suddenly became aware of what I was doing. “Oh my gosh, ” I thought, “I am being one of THOSE people!” I told myself to let go of all my preconceived notions about the “right” way to raise a baby. I reminded myself of all the times other people had done this same thing to me, and that what was important was to connect with this other New Mommy and offer supportive comeradery instead of snobby opinions.
I paused my speech. I started over. “You know,” I said, “Babies are smart. They have a way of letting us know when they are ready. Good luck with the cereal.” And I handed over her latte.
Fast forward to today. Customer came in again. I greeted her, and complimented her baby’s new winter hat. “I started her on the cereal.” She told me.
“Oh, exciting! How did she like it?” I asked warmly.
“She really seems to like it, and she is a lot calmer and more satisfied after.”
“That is terrific.” I replied. And I really meant it.
Have you ever been in this situation? Have you ever followed your gut with parenting, despite the advice of others?