Montell Jordan’s “This is how we dooooo it!” song rings in my mind as I think about this topic of advice. From the moment you announce you’re pregnant, the advice & opinions come flooding in to a level where it can feel drowning. You may also have some unnecessary emotions as a result.
“I don’t want to seem unappreciative.” Here is my take, you are appreciative or you wouldn’t be questioning yourself.
“What if I don’t agree? How do I respond without hurting her feelings?” Guess what? You won’t be rude because you’re already being so considerate thinking about NOT hurting her feelings. Kindly say “Thanks so much for your advice! I’ll definitely think about that.” She will never know if you took her advice or not. If she asks, just politely tell her it didn’t quite work but you finally found something that did. And thank her for being so helpful. Just because you don’t agree with her advice, or it didn’t work, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong. If that person makes a big deal about it or challenges you, you can politely say, “Thanks again for being concerned. I’m just happy we figured out something that worked.” No drawn out answers or explanations are needed. The more words that come out of your mouth, the deeper you fall into that hole.
“OMG, her response was so harsh! She’s making me feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. Or that what I believe in is wrong. Wait, is she right?” This emotion goes right with my love/hate with mommy Facebook groups. I’ve loved them for many reasons and the connections I’ve found through them. There’s been some awesome advice that has worked for me along with brilliant mothers who kindly share tips that have worked for them. The key here is the FILTER that you need to bring in your backpack when it comes to all the advice you’ll receive. I don’t necessarily agree with banning or leaving social media in its entirety. You don’t have to do that if the truth in you is you really don’t want to leave it. If you decide to stay, dabble, and enjoy the positives of social media, then you must create your own unique filter. Recognize the realities of mommy Facebook groups or comments you may receive from a post you put on your personal page. Realize that comments and opinions come from their own story, challenges, and what has happened in their life to react the way they did. Remember that they don’t know you in any way where their response has nothing to do with you as a mother. In my experience, my true friends on social media were never the problem with social media. However, I wasn’t being 100% honest on my personal page. Most of my questions about mommyhood and what confused me about Brooklyn were within the walls of closed mommy Facebook groups. And there my friends, is where it can be a wild jungle. The big girl pants need to be put on, the shield is raised, and women prep their defense strategies. When you’re a newbie to this, it can be surprisingly harsh and unbelievable. How grown women can all be in this big boat of motherhood but so quick to throw someone off the ship. Words can be judgmental, responses can get off subject, side arguments can be created, and you as a mother, the person asking for help, can walk away feeling more defeated than confident. On the other side of the coin, I have had pretty awesome advice from women in that same thread that I still treasure, and share, today. I had to delete the comments that were out of line or that created negative energy inside me. Notifications on posts I gave advice on were turned off after I finished my comment to the mother asking for help. It’s so easy to scroll and consume information on social media. A mommy Facebook group can be addictive scrolling and suck you into the dramatic responses that are attached to the post from a mom just asking for some TLC. I also ended up leaving many of the groups and focused on a couple that were positive for me and were a great resource of help, not “one ups”, competitive responses, or “know it all” moments.
Outside of your social media accounts, your computer also holds the power of Google. I can’t tell you how many late nights I had with a crying baby, leaking boobs, spraying boobs, weird poop, odd noises coming from her, when to feed her, how many times she should pee, poop, is she spitting up too much, why does she have this odd rash, what’s that smell, when to introduce solids, how to get her to sleep, why is she crying, why am I CRYING, and on and on and on. Yes, her doctor told me many things. My lactation consultant at the hospital told me things. My breastfeeding class told me. The books I read before she was born told me. But I forgot. You see, when I’m in survival mode, I panic. When I panic, I forget. That pairs well with my just over-analyzing things as well. Two waves that cause me to question everything and deflate my confidence as a mother. I also had Brooklyn during the waves of baby apps. Recently I deleted some of the apps and ended up looking at some of the data they recorded for me. What kind of data you ask? Well what else does a baby do but poop, pee, eat, and sleep? Yes, they also cry and mine cried a LOT those first few months. I never did find an app to collect crying data, which is a blessing. What I didn’t realize, or pay attention to, is Brooklyn was a baby in an unpredictable time. I couldn’t control when she was going to pee, poo, sleep or be hungry and that drove me crazy to not be in control. Instead of just letting her be a baby, realize many things were out of my control, and allowing my brain to open up to the signs she gave me… I studied, analyzed, researched, asked, questioned, logged, obsessed and it put me in this beast mode. Don’t get me wrong, doing your own research is important along with that mommy compass. But what I was missing was creating quality research, in less time, and how I used that research. I just kept collecting information. Thinking if I do another search or read another article, that some magic fairy would come out and say “THIS is the advice that will work for you!”
There are also loved ones around you that will tell you “how it’s done”. A new mom is treated as if she is clueless, too sleep deprived to realize, and needs saving. I also believe there are people out there that simply just love to tell you what to do. Prove what they know. I’m an open-armed mama with advice from friends & family but I just need the message to be right for me to allow it inside me. Perhaps a “You will figure out what’s best for you. When I had (baby), I tried X and Y where X just seemed to work best for him. Know I’m here if you want to bounce ideas off of me.” I get that most new moms won’t go out and actively ask for help, I’m guilty of being that mom. Where friends and family just want to help and give you something to put on the bookshelf. Take it and put it on the bookshelf. It’s like reading a book. There are pages of words. Thousands of sentences. Pieces of the book that will speak to you and some that you aren’t quite a fan of. You still read the entire book. Yes, some skimming may be involved but you still consume it. It’s OK if you aren’t a raving fan of it but you can always learn from what you’ve read.
This goes with any information that you hear or read the moment you find out you’re pregnant until the end of time. Listen to it. You never know if you’ll pick out a gem from that big rock. No piece of advice or information is ever a waste of time. If anything it also helps you figure out what DOESN’T resonate or work for you as well as what may. There will be a lot of people that want to tell you “This is how WE do it” and I had to figure out a way to not be consumed or overwhelmed with all the options. I needed to find out on my own that I didn’t need to read EVERY baby book, join EVERY mommy Facebook group, use 65 different search words to find an answer on Google, listen to 45 different mommy podcasts, or ask every friend and family member for advice. I not only had to condense the resources and use only a few, but I also had to trust that inner voice on what spoke to me. Many times I truly knew what to do, I was just clouded with noise. I didn’t know how to politely say “Thanks so much for your advice” and know that person will never know if it worked for me or not. I stopped worrying about hurting someone’s feelings just because I didn’t agree with what they were telling me. I had to gain confidence in myself and find the strong connections that my heart told me to reach out to when I needed help. This takes time; it’s not an instant thing. Hopefully what I am telling you will at least get you started.