I didn’t do a ton of reading before Ian was born. All who know me would find this shocking, as I normally research the heck out of anything I do. I read a select few books (mainly those recommended by the doctor or close friends who have children), but I largely avoided the conflicting sources of advice out there. There are a few rules that I picked up on that I thought I would enforce stringently. After spending the last five months with an infant, I’ve come to find that these “rules” are simply guidelines that worked extremely well for some people in certain situations in life. My life, however, has its own situations that make these rules completely worthless.
My first major rule violation occurred while I was still pregnant. So many well-meaning critics insisted that you have to give up riding while pregnant. While I understand that their hearts were in the right place, their lack of experience with either horses, pregnancy, or medical training encouraged me to seek the advice of those who did have experience in all of these areas. Most doctors will tell you no to pretty much anything while you’re pregnant, but people can’t live in a plastic bubble while pregnant. It’s just not feasible.
My mom explained that she rode through both of her pregnancies, and my brother and I were fine. She also pointed out that she rode her old mare, Kristy, and didn’t pursue anything crazy. Other friends who rode during their pregnancies had mixed opinions. Some rode the entire pregnancy, some only the first trimester, others didn’t ride at all. My chiropractor is the one who explained it best for me. He said that early on in your pregnancy your pelvis protects the fetus, and the more harm comes to the mother in the event of an accident. The hormones your body begins producing which encourage your pelvis to relax and begin stretching relaxes ALL of your joints, allowing all of them stretch and move. So ultimately, I rode for about 5 months to try to maintain a little bit of fitness, and finally had to stop because of the chiropractic issues. I stuck to riding the reliable mares Reggie and Gracie (MSR’s mare on loan from a good friend) after my first trimester. Am I glad that I rode as long as I could? Heck yes! It toned the muscles I needed for a ridiculously easy delivery. Two sets of pushing and Ian was out.
Another rule that I am breaking, at least according to Brinn, is avoiding Baby Einstein. I’ve heard great things about Baby Einstein, but I’ve also heard negative as well. A great video on youtube details several reasons why television for young viewers can have negative effects. My reasoning is, why does Ian need to see images of farm animals on the screen when he’s around it every day of his life?
A rule the baby trainers would hunt me down over is feeding. I had these grand ideas that we would train Ian to follow a set 4 hour schedule and we’d be able to plan every detail of our lives arround that schedule. But then I started looking at the research, especially the research that showed babies fed on demand typically developed better. And then I started using common sense and remembering myself as a kid, and other kids I know. Kids who sometimes eat like their ravenous, and then other days just pick at food. Ian has great instinct. He knows when he’s hungry, and when he’s not. By trying to encourage him to eat when he’s not hungry, I would damage his brain’s trigger that tells him when he’s full. By not feeding him soon enough when he’s hungry, I could damage his body’s production of insulin, and put him at greater chances of becoming diabetic or hypoglycemic. So bottom line, Ian eats when he wants and how much he wants.
And perhaps the biggest rule (at least in my opinion) that I am in violation of involves sleeping habits. A coworker suggested a fantastic book on getting your baby to sleep 12 hours by 12 weeks. With a two-week old newborn still waking me up every 3 to 4 hours, this sounded heavenly, but now that my life has settled in to being a working mom, I have some major issues with sleeping training. First of all, the biggest rule is to never let your baby fall asleep in your arms. He should always sleep in his bed. Secondly, your baby should never sleep with you in your bed. Again, he should sleep in his bed. I completely understand the value in these concepts, a mother who’s been home with a baby all day needs to get that child to sleep on his own so that she can get caught up with a few things around the house and have time for herself! I appreciate how she needs her baby to develop some independence.
I take issue with this sleep system for working mothers. I arrive home at 4:45 each day, and Ian falls asleep by 7:00 every evening. That gives me less than 3 hours every evening to spend with my baby. If I can’t hold him while he sleeps, I get less than 4 hours a day with my baby! So, I encourage Ian to follow asleep with me holding him, or at least laying beside me. Since Brinn works in the evenings when I get home, a lot of time he doesn’t come to bed until after 10, so frequently Ian and I lay down in my bed at 7, and Brinn puts Ian in his own bed when he comes in at 10. Would this work if Ian were a clingy, needy baby? Probably not. I’m sure I would’ve created a monster, but Ian’s not clingy or needy. He prefers his own space when he’s sleeping, and has no issues sleeping alone, which is probably why I began breaking the rules to begin with. He’s so self sufficient sometimes that I often don’t feel needed enough!
Is it important that I follow all of these rules that some other person with a very different life came up with? I think I’ll just stick with what Ian seems to like.