From day one of my pregnancy, I had every Tom, Dick and Harry enthusiastically pouring their heartfelt advice my way. I was told what to eat, what to wear, what to supplement, how my body was going to change, how to feel…what NOT to call my baby: the list was endless. Although I was utterly grateful for the advice being practically thrown my way, a part of me felt like I was starting to live their lives, not my own. No wonder I never really felt like the pregnancy was real, or when my little girl arrived that she was actually mine. It still feels so surreal, I can’t believe she is a part of me.
I had hoped that the advice during pregnancy would have prepared me for the months following the birth, however it really didn’t. Once she was born, the advice just intensified; left, right and centre. The advice I appreciated the most were the words from my midwives. They deal with this day in and day out, so when they told me something, I was right onto it, jotting it down in my notebook for safe keeping. It didn’t stop once I came home from hospital, however.
I honestly don’t really mind when someone gives me a helpful tip or suggestion. I believe in freedom of speech and that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But that is just it. If I can sit there and listen to someone’s opinion, the advice giver should have the decency to respect mine too. I am, after all, the mother of my little girl. Just like you are or will be the mother of your children…when it all boils down to it, your instinct is what really matters. If you believe what YOU want to do is what is BEST for your child, then do it! People will always wish to pass on their advice in good faith… it doesn’t mean you have to actually follow through with it.
I am positive that there are some women and men out there that thrive on advice. I, however, prefer to be given advice when I seek it. At least that way the advice given is relevant, and I am more likely to take it on board when I seek it out myself. This is why I love Baby Hints and Tips so much…it allows me to ask for help and even if it is embarrassing I can ask anonymously. A lot easier than asking judgmental friends from a mothers group!
For the past two months (or eleven, if you are counting the pregnancy), I have handled any advice passed along pretty well. Considering my birth experience and her daddy leaving, I admit I needed all the help I could get! Up until then, any advice given to me was pretty much one at a time. But my eyes were really opened recently when I had an abundance of recommendations pretty much screamed at me all at once.
I am currently living with my parents. On this particular weekend, my grandmother was staying with us, my auntie was down for a night with her golden retriever and my cousin also stayed for a night with her granddaughter. Pretty much a full house.
Now, I don’t mean to brag but my little girl has been an angel of a baby. On the odd occasion, however, she does have her moments (she is a baby after all), when everyone came to stay she naturally decided to have one.
If it hadn’t been my child, I probably would have been right in there, offering my help with thoughtful advice and sharing from my own experiences. I do understand that we all do that, especially when a mum is struggling. But this particular wekend was a nightmare! Not only did I have my mother and father giving their advice (whom I listen to the most and trust implicitly) but I also had the rest of my extended family throwing their suggestions my way about anything and everything.
Now, my daughter is teething, she has all the signs. I know, because I am an avid Google searcher…when something’s up, I don’t call Ghostbusters: I go to Google! That and BHT. That is, I ask for advice… I ASK for it.
Once I had worked out she was teething, I explained to my family that she will be fine, she is just unsettled as a result. My mother believes she is also teething, but the others were not quite convinced. I am not doubting there mothering abilities, after all they do have children of their own, but no two children are alike. I mentioned that I was going to go get an amber necklace, and then the awkwardness began. I was told that what I believed would actually work for my child and what was going on with her was nonsense, to not believe in what people use or do today because it’s obviously not worth my time. At this point I felt like the only person not judging or forcing their beliefs on me was the golden retriever!
I didn’t listen to them, none of them. Not only did I feel like a bad mother with a teething, crying baby; but I felt like I had let my family down. Not because I didn’t have faith in them, but because I was upset that they didn’t seem to have faith in me as a mother.
To top off the weekend, my cousin’s granddaughter also decided to pass on some advice of her own. According to this 7 year old I was feeding my baby all wrong, and I was at risk of dropping my child when I had her securely placed in my lap with my arm wrapped around her. This was after it took me three times to explain to her that Tessa was my baby.
The best advice I received when I was pregnant was to take it all in one ear, smile, nod and then let it flow out the other. The wise woman who shared this with me is my mother and out of everyone, I trust her instinct the most when it comes to my little Tessa (beside my own, of course).
The question that sits dormant on my lips is, when will the advice cease? The honest reality is that it will be never ending. We will always have a constant stream of ‘helpful’ advice thrown our way and we might as well begin to accept it. I have started to accept it, even appreciate some of it. But I realise that, in the end, I need to do what I feel is best and to follow my own instinct.