Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to deal with a Judgy McJudgerpants in your life?
I recently wrote about coping with a colicky baby as a new parent – what made it better and what didn’t. Three aspects of the situation made it harder:
- lack of support
- judgment and
- unsolicited advice.
I was exclusively breastfeeding my newborn which was important to me. The first feeding challenges had finally smoothed out and we were getting into a good breastfeeding flow. Then, around three to four weeks in the symptoms of colic began. He was healthy and gaining weight, even if colicky. We were following all of the advice of our pediatrician.
My mother-in-law was at our apartment one night watching football on the couch with her boyfriend. On that particular evening my baby was especially fussy. He was crying so much I took him into my bedroom and stayed there with him alone, rocking him in my arms as I paced around to keep him as relaxed and comfortable as I could.
With a disapproving and suspicious look on her face my mother-in-law said to me: “What’s wrong with THAT baby?”
She went on to suggest: “I think you should give him cereal in a bottle. It will help fill him up so he sleeps all night and is less fussy.” (Are you kidding me!? I thought.)
And on another occasion she added: “My babies never had colic.”
A friend also described my baby to someone in front of me like this: “He’s soooo adorable, but he basically cries all the time.”
So, how did this make me feel? Like maybe my baby and I were failing, flawed and broken. We were rejects, defective, poorly manufactured, and we should be sent back for repairs.
Judgment and unsolicited bad advice. Struggling with colic and just getting into a rhythm with breastfeeding, these were the last things I needed.
I knew my baby was healthy. I knew my breast milk was sustaining him and it was the best thing for him. Cereal in a bottle at this age was definitely not appropriate. (Cereal is a solid food and solids are introduced around 6 months of age.) I also knew we would get through this colic phase – but the above smug input was wholly unhelpful.
It got under my skin. Did I do something to bring this about? Damn colic. Why us?
These comments did not support my new-mom-confidence, that tiny bud barely beginning to push out of the soil and unfurl into the light. What does that new bud need? It needs TLC, sunlight, water, and love. It needs to be protected from those who would step on it and smash it.
If you’ve ever felt the unfriendly blow of judgment upon you, then you know how it hurts.
New parents are already hard enough on themselves, without outsiders passing judgment.
Add in the fact that I was also exhausted. I cared for my baby 24 hours a day seven days a week with little reprieve. I did all the feeding and nearly all of the holding, rocking, swaying, soothing and walking necessary to keep him happy. A colicky baby requires an enormous amount of parental attention. Breaks were few and far between.
Growing into your own as a new parent is a journey and along the way there are many challenges.
At Buddha Belly we understand the ups and downs and how hard it can be. You are learning to interpret your newborn’s cue and how to respond to them, while coping with your own self-care needs and overcoming your new-parent exhaustion. It’s a lot.
This is why the care of our birth and postpartum doulas is deliberately and purposefully unbiased and non-judgmental. We take time to find out exactly what is important to you and how we can help. Our doulas ensure that they are aware of and responsive to your needs.
We will not be an added voice in the chorus of judgment, criticism, or unsolicited advice. Our doulas will never make you feel like you are doing it wrong.
Their goal is to help build your confidence as a parent and make your life easier. They will only provide evidence-based education and information when you need and want it. Buddha Belly doulas are always on your side, cheering you on with empathy and support.