So before you read any further, let me be the first to say that parenting is hard fucking work and it doesn’t hurt to pat ourselves on our own backs from time to time. So this post is that for me.
Not long after I gave birth to Cami someone told me “If baby is fed and happy you’re doing a great job.” Now while I know that parenting takes a helluva lot more work than just feeding and entertaining a baby, I realize that the gist is true. It should be painfully obvious that no parent is perfect. Perfect parenting just isn’t a thing. I survived my parents parenting and I’m sure Camille will also fare well. Aside from that, there are some parenting “sins” that Joachim & I have committed. Just to clarify, these “sins” are in the eyes of others, not us lol. Whatever, baby is fed and happy.
Sin #1: Totally Letting Camille Cry it Out
In the first few months I would rush to Camille if she cried. She was a really good sleeper, we had her on a pretty consistent feeding schedule and she didn’t fuss too much when she needed to be changed, so I assumed that something was really wrong if she was crying.
From the first month on, once Camille was asleep, she was down for hours. I used to fret because she would sleep through feedings, so I’d wake her to eat.
And then the four-month sleep regression kicked in.
My child would not sleep without a battle! I was genuinely confused as to what happened to my amazing sleeper! There were many, many weeks where I had to rock her to sleep in my arms (which was so sweet, but also exhausting after a full day of work.) At some point we decided that we should try with fidelity to sleep train her.
When she would cry heart felt like it was breaking, but my co-workers swore by sleep training so we were going to try it. They said that the first few nights would be the roughest, but the crying would taper off. We’d check in with her every 10-15 minutes, but it was so hard to hear the little one on the monitor crying. But I tell you – it was an investment!
Over the summer my in-laws visited us in New York and they babysat one night. They text me saying that they could tell that Camille was tired, but they were clueless as to what her nighttime routine was. I called and said “Put her in the crib, turn off the light and say ‘goodnight’.” They were highly skeptical that my advice would work, but they did it and afterwards they mentioned how impressed they were that she went to sleep without so much as a peep.
Sin #2: Neglecting the baby book & forgetting how many months she is
I had so many intentions with photographing CC for the first year. Jo even purchased a new Nikon for me so that I could take photos of her. I also had four different baby books to keep track of. I was really good at managing all that parenting stuff, but life happened.
I’d frequently forget to take monthly photos and I would take photos a couple of weeks after she’d turn a new month. To preserve my mommy image I’d frequently label it as the previous month. Hey! Mommy shaming is a thing!
Jo and I took over 20,000 photos of Camille in year one, so we certainly have lots of images to reflect upon.
After CC turned one I completely stopped counting the subsequent months and when some one would ask me how old she was I’d say “One and some change.” Why do people count the months after year one anyway??? It seems really unnecessary to me. Jo on the other hand could tell you without hesitation how many months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds Camille has been around. It’s cute that he knows that info., but I’d totally have to count the months to give someone an accurate total.
Sin #3: “Evil” Tech Time
On two different occasions my maternal grandmother referred to computers and TVs as “one-eyed monsters.” Maybe she was onto something??
Jo and I would not allow Camille to watch television at all for the first year. She had a pretty noticeable shift in development and she needed more stimulation than our energy would allow for. Entertaining an only child who does not go to daycare requires a LOT of energy & creativity!
It all started with French baby apps. We tried to integrate speaking French as much as possible into our daily lives and we decided to start letting her listen to traditional French nursery rhymes on the iPad.
We limited it a lot. But then one evening I was trying to do her hair and she was super squirmy. I decided to get the iPad to deter her from squirming while I was detangling her hair. OMG it worked like a charm. She wasn’t squirming at all and I was able to finish her hair in record time!
A few weeks later Jo and I were both really tired and we wanted nothing more than to sleep in; so we gave Camille the iPad again. Over time this became a habit.
Although we aimed for a tech-lite parenting approach, Camille does use her iPad, but very sparingly. She does not spend hours a day aimlessly watching TV or playing with her iPad. To be perfectly transparent, often time Camille doesn’t even care to watch anything on TV or play with her iPad. She rather opt for her wooden dump truck instead.
Sin #4: Giving Camille Formula
Before you give me the side-eye and judge me, let me explain…
The vision was that I would breastfeed Camille until she wanted to wean, but that was not the case at all. I had a breast reduction years before getting pregnant (due to health issues), and I was unsure of if I was able to breastfeed at all. I spent a lot of my pregnancy researching how to increase the probability of producing breast milk after a reduction. It was really hard to remain positive because I was really uncertain of what would happen.
There I was, baby in arms attempting to nurse as soon as possible. A teeny tiny bit of milk came out and it was enough to really encourage me to pursue breastfeeding. I had a very low milk supply and I pumped at least six times a day for over an hour each time. After spending so much time pumping the most that I was able to produce was 7 ounces per session. Baby couldn’t latch properly on one breast and the entire experience wasn’t very successful. I tried relentlessly to increase my milk production. I tried any and every homeopathic method I could find to no avail.
We began to supplement with formula because we were concerned about Camille receiving the necessary nutrients that she needed. I remember feeling as if my body was a major failure and it was really hard on me. By the time Camille was five months old I was back at work and the stress led to an even lower milk supply.
At some point I wasn’t able to produce any milk at all.
By that time Camille was solely on formula and I just couldn’t contain my emotions. Baby was happy and fed, but it felt like shit for me. We were very intentional when choosing a formula that was most aligned to breast milk, but it did not compare at all.
I remember reading a forum on mommy guilt and formula and a commenter said “All of my children drank cold formula so they’d probably be able to survive a zombie apocalypse.” Aside from making me chortle, it help to also put everything into perspective – that baby gets fed and everything is going to be alright.