As of Friday all I knew was that some lady named Maria C Mason had shared a screen shot of my comment to a HuffPost Parents article about C-sections vs. Vaginal birth.
I often browse Facebook at night in search of controversial articles. I find feeding the trolls to be therapeutic. It's like feeding the birds at the park. They're kind of stupid and take the bait easily.
But this particular post had me wondering why on earth anyone cares what did or did not come out of my vagina. We as mothers can do everything by the book and still get our asses handed to us. I basically just put that into a sputter of sentences, and the comments came rolling in. But it wasn't hate or discord. It was just moms saying "Omg yes! My life is a shit storm sometimes. Thanks for admitting yours is too."
I've gotten so much feedback since Maria sent my comment on to viral stardom. And 99.9% has been totally positive. Faith in humanity restored.
But for those few darling lambs who don't speak sarcasm, I will translate a few tidbits from my post.
First let's clear up what I meant by "exclusively breastfed" because I know there was some concern from a few mothers that I was putting my toddlers on a liquid diet trying to help them get swole. The term "exclusively breastfed" is about as fluid as "sleeping through the night." Some think sleeping through the night means a child lies down before the sun sets and rises only after it appears once again in the sky. Others think it means getting 4 straight hours at any point during the day.
But for me exclusively breastfeeding means that for two plus years each, my nurslings had no milk other than my own. It doesn't mean I was restricting my 18 month old to nothing but boob juice. I introduced "real" food to each of my kids around 6 months. With my first it was a mish mash of pureed fruits and veggies. With my second it was chunks of whatever was in the fridge. It is what it is. Different strokes for different folks. But don't FREAK out ladies. They did in fact have more than my milkshake during those two years of boobies.
Next let's revisit "sleeping." If your child does this, that's cool. Mine don't. Well let me rephrase. They do, but they're amateurs. My youngest was the magical child I could leave in her crib when she was sleepy, and she would drift blissfully off to sleep for several hours until I came in and nursed her. I'd put her back and she'd give me another stretch. This was until my husband got a new job that moved us so quick we didn't have time to find housing and we found ourselves living in a "rustic" camper while we house hunted. We couldn't very well leave our 10 month old to roll off the couch, especially because that's where the 3-year-old was "sleeping." So she was in bed with me until we moved into our new house several months later.
Well wouldn't you know it. This child, when given the chance to snuggle up next to the source of her favorite midnight snack, decided that sleeping next to the milk bar was what she'd been missing her whole life. So we've been working to gradually wean her back to her own quarters. Especially since she's off the boob juice now. One year sober this June.
Don't get me started on sleep with Sunshine, my oldest. Sunshine is what we call Karma's Sweet Sweet Revenge. You see before I was a parent, I had a doctorate in all things child related. One of my areas of expertise was co-sleeping, also known as "The thing I'd never do." So when Sunshine was only a day old, and SCREAMING bloody murder in the hospital any time I laid her in the bassinet I asked for some Arby's sauce to dip my words in. I pulled a Lady and the Tramp right then and pulled her into my bed "just for tonight."
When we brought her home, my husband "did me a favor" and took her to her crib once she'd nursed. She was fed. She was dry. She was snuggled and swaddled. There was no need for fussing. She needed to "learn" to self soothe. At 4 days old. That seemed sketchy even in my sleep deprived post partum head. Luckily my mom had the sense to pick up my crying newborn and gently tell us to fck off.
Oh we tried "sleep training" later. That was adorable. I especially loved the part where Sunshine would cry so hard she would vomit in her crib. Even with the suggested intervals of shushing and reassurance. Basically those intervals equated to me being an ass hole and going in her room to let my infant know "Yes yes dear. Mommy knows you're sad and afraid. I just came in here to rub it in that I know how to walk and talk and can leave this lonely place any time I like...which is now. Bye Felicia."
Pair that with the fact that she had mad reflux and serious tummy pain from an undiagnosed dairy allergy (which I was told was just me being a first time mommy). That was pure child abuse. Fast forward 5 years to the day I find out my Sunshine also has Sensory Processing Disorder.
Which brings me to my favorite bit. The eating.
Yes. I know that whole fruits and vegetables that are locally sourced and organically raised are the optimal food for my child. (I should go ahead and admit that my post was a bit of false advertising because Sweet Pea loves fruits and veggies. But I'd already listed all my other accolades so I was trying to make a point without continuing my list of accomplishments.)
I also realize that some parents go with the "eat what I give you or starve" mantra. And that's totally fine. If that works for them and their child I am 100 percent happy with that.
However, something to understand about sensory processing kids (and really even kids just labeled as picky eaters) is that you can physically force a food down their throat, but that ain't no guarantee it won't come back up. Ask my OT friends. Chessa, Lora...amiright? My little Sunshine was desperate to find foods that weren't "yucky". She would bravely stick broccoli in her mouth and pretend to like it until her gag reflex betrayed her and she lost every bit of food in her stomach on my rug.
So instead of the "eat it bitch" approach, we opted for another. We serve her a small portion of whatever we're eating. And YES Sanctimommies I do try to model good eating habits. (But if you haven't enjoyed the food porn that is a Choco Taco, then you ain't livin'.) However, she is not bribed, coerced or forced into eating anything AT ALL. She is offered what we have. If she wants to try it, she is positively encouraged. If she wants to spit it out, that is perfectly fine. If she wants to roll it around in her fingers and smush it into her plate. Fine. That's why we have napkins.
If someone tried to force you to eat fish heads and crocodile butt holes you'd be pretty offended. And truth be told that must be close to what broccoli tastes like to my Sunshine because she has literally barfed her guts just from willingly trying one piece.
If after we've all finished our food, she still can't stomach what we served then she does have a set menu of items I will then fix for her. Sorry. I'm not letting her starve. There's something of value in chicken nuggets and fish sticks I'm sure of it. She hasn't wasted away yet, so I'm guessing it's ok to run with it for a season.
And it's taken a few years, but our Sunshine is slowly but surely adding items to her menu. She's even got a few fruits and veggies in her tool box that she actually enjoys eating. So don't take my post about Pringles and boogers so seriously. It was mainly to prove a point that no matter what you do as a parent you're going to get thrown some curveballs that you have to decide how to deal with. Those are your battles, and yours alone. No one else can fight them for you, so you do you.
In the end we're all playing the same game, we just get dealt different cards.
Which leads me to my last clarification. I know that my original post said to just love them and keep them alive. That's really our basic job. HOWEVER that is not to say that if your child doesn't make it out alive that you've failed. The fact is that none of us make it out alive. Your job as a parent is to first love the shit out of them, and second do your best to keep them alive.
I'm no stranger to loss. I've not only failed at keeping my twins alive, but I've failed at keeping my surro bean alive as well. But I did number one like a boss. I loved the hell out of those kids for as long as I had them. And that's really all I meant. Keeping them alive just means meet their basic needs to the best of your ability. Losing a child is so awful and gut wrenching that I wrongly assumed people knew I wouldn't throw a jab at any parent who has EVER lost a child. But in case I wasn't clear let me lay this out.
If you lose a child you have not failed. You got dealt a card that no one can deal with, and quite frankly there's no damn rhyme or reason to it. You have my utmost respect for even getting out of bed in the morning. And I'm so sorry for any pain that part of my comment may have caused. I think people who are missing an actual piece of their physical heart can deal with life better than I could if I lost the two babies I have left. So unless you straight Andrea Yates-ed your child, YOU DID NOT FAIL.
My real point is that if you do number one and just love those babies with all you have, then all your parenting choices will come from a place of love.
And THAT is how you become the perfect parent for YOUR child.