On Feeling Supported… And Then Not

When I was still in hospital after Finn was born, my mum made a point of telling me what a great job I was doing. She said it was absolutely amazing watching her child become a parent, and that it was so obvious that being a mum myself was something that I was just meant to do. This, of course, brought me to tears. Not only did this help to silence the tiny psycho in my head that kept telling me I was going to suck at parenthood, getting that kind of reinforcement from someone that I respect so much as a parent herself was incredible.

The rest of my family pretty much followed suit. My grandma kept telling my mum (and eventually me) how natural and relaxed I was with Finn. She said this was obviously what I was meant to do, and that he was a very lucky little boy to have such great parents. Both my grandma and grandpa have remarked on how Shawn is such a natural father, and how he’s taking to his role just like my dad did, and that is a huge compliment.

Both my aunts said close to the same thing. One aunt, who lives in Camrose, compared me to a neighbours kids who had just had a baby. Apparently they had a spaz when she out him up over her shoulder because they hadn’t held him that way yet. She said they just seemed very tense and nervous about everything, unlike me. Apparently, I have been schooled in the art of zen parenting. Who knew?

A large part of my relaxed attitude probably comes from this not being my first exposure to babies. Sure, it’s my first baby, and that’s a lot different from looking after someone else’s, but it’s still not my “first”. I have changed diapers, done bottle feedings, taken care of nap times. I’ve even dealt with spitting up before. Babies and the a are of them is not foreign territory for me.

Shawn’s family, perhaps not realizing this or perhaps just thinking that being a first time mum turns you into a moron, has been pretty much the opposite of my family. They haven’t told either of us that we’re doing a good job as parents. In fact, a lot of the comments have made me feel like they are expecting me to screw up. Whether that is the intended result or not, I’m not enjoying it.

During a FaceTime call with Shawn’s nana, she said (to the baby), “Your mom sure is holding you real good!” Aside from the appalling structure of that sentence, what was she expecting? Was she thinking I would be completely unaware of how to hold a child? I know it’s difficult to grasp, but I do know that you don’t hold infants upside down by the leg. Thing that boggled me even more is that she has seen me hold the baby before, so the fact that I know what I’m doing shouldn’t have been a fresh revelation.

Upon seeing Finn spit up some formula, again on the much hated FaceTime, my mother in law said, “Oh, you’re giving him formula now?” It being his second, and last, serving of formula ever I calmly explained why he’d had it. Coming from someone who was exclusively formula fed, this seemed odd. I’m not a shitty parent because my son had to have formula twice, totally less than eight ounces between two feedings. He needed to eat. I wasn’t able to feed him. It’s that simple.

They also seem overly concerned with how much he spits up. My father in law thought, during that same FaceTime call, that it was the formula irritating his tummy. I said, again calmly, that the formula had nothing to do with it as he hadn’t spit up any of his first formula feeding at all. Finn is just a spitty baby. Does this concern me? Not at all, as he continues to gain weight at an astonishing pace. Currently, he’s sitting at 15.5 pounds and he’s just over eleven weeks. I’d say he’s getting more than enough breast milk, even. With the splitting up, to sustain him over the long haul.

Speaking of his weight, father in law also mentioned that perhaps we should be feeding him less. Yeah, because telling a two and a half month old baby that he can’t eat when he’s hungry will go over really well! I’m hoping this was something he meant facetiously because if he was serious, it betrays a level of ignorance that I find hard to comprehend.

(As a side note, my grandma is convinced that I’m producing cream, as that can be then only explanation for such a robust and healthy boy. Several of my mums friends an coworkers are very impressed by how well he’s gaining with just breast milk. I don’t know why that’s impressive, but there you have it.)

We also get asked on a regular basis if he’s sleeping through the night yet. No, as he’s not even three months old. I would say we’re doing fairly well with the 5-6.5 hour stretch, then not getting up again until morning. We asked, subsequently, if we were giving him any pablum, I believe my response was, “Hell no! He’s way too young for that!” Just because it’s something people used to do doesn’t mean it’s safe or healthy. I’m a stay at home mum. I will survive if I have to get up in the middle of the night.

Maybe it’s because I hate unsolicited advice that these things are getting to me so much. Maybe it’s just the stark contrast between how my family has reacted versus how Shawn’s family has. Unadulterated praise and support is completely the opposite of what I feel we’ve been getting from his family, and I don’t understand.

They were convinced his hair was going to fall out. It never did. Shawn’s mom was asking after the bald patch on the he back of his head for a while. He doesn’t have one. It’s been a huge like of assumptions and not much else, and that drives me nuts.

Do I dislike them? Of course not. Are they very different from my family? Yes, and while that’s not a bad thing, letting us know they don’t think we’re completely screwing up our son would be nice. You know, just once.

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