My baby did not fit the mold

I read the books and thought I was ready. But I was very wrong.

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  • I was prepared. I read the books. I took the classes at the hospital (I even made my husband come along). I knew what to expect, I knew what I was in for and I was ready.

  • Except I wasn't.

  • Not even a little bit, not at all.

  • My baby was not anything like what I read about. He wasn't anything like they told me at class. The first couple of months I was truly dismayed.

  • What was wrong with my baby?

  • Why didn't my baby fit the mold? Obviously the books and teachers wouldn't lie ....

  • The more forums and blogs I read, the better I felt. With all the books and classes out there, why would there need to be so many forums for mothers to ask questions?

  • Then it clicked.

  • Maybe my baby wasn't so different.

  • Maybe the books do lie.

  • Here are a few examples of how my baby (and maybe yours too) didn't fit the mold.

  • He needed formula supplementation the first few days

  • Oh, did I feel like failure. EVERYTHING I read about breastfeeding told me that the baby didn't need much milk the first few days. "Colostrum was all they would need." "Trust us that your baby has enough."

  • Except my baby screamed and screamed. Around. The. Clock. And he lost too much weight. And he became jaundiced. The lactation consultants told me it was all normal.

  • Three days later, his doctor told me that if I didn't feed him formula we would be checking back into the hospital. The baby had cried for three days straight. I gave him one ounce of formula and the world was quiet again.

  • The world was quiet again at least until I began crying because I'd been starving my baby. Guess what - that formula did not ruin our breastfeeding. Once my milk came in, he never had another ounce of formula.

  • He couldn't be put down ever!

  • We had the bassinet and we had the swing. We had a bouncer. None of it worked. My friends and family brought me every contraption known to man.

  • Nope. This baby would not be put down.

  • People would blame me. I'm pretty sure my husband still blames me. "You've spoiled him" they would say. But it wasn't me. I did try to put him down .... each and every day. Do you honestly think I didn't want to EVER have a minute to myself?

  • The first three months of his life were spent in my arms. I had to hire a nanny because he couldn't go to daycare.

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  • He couldn't be put down. I'm not lying to you.

  • Co-sleeping was my saving grace

  • Trust me, before I had the baby I would have preached all day long about how he was going to sleep on his own from day one. What did I know? At some point you give in because your survival instinct kicks in.

  • You must sleep. Baby must sleep. Let's sleep together. I slept. He slept. We all slept!

  • Not all babies like the car

  • Do you know how many people told me something along the lines of "all babies love the car" or something to the effect that I was in fact making up that mine did not?

  • Many people.

  • I essentially became a hermit. I dreaded outings. There was this one time I had to take him to a specialist an hour away. He screamed the entire time. He was two weeks old. I am forever scarred by the trip.

  • It never stopped. He is seven months old now and still hates the car. People still tell me I'm lying.

  • Not all babies like the car.

  • I am not lying.

  • Some babies eat all the time!

  • I read that newborns eat every 2-3 hours. My doctor told me not to feed more often than every 3 hours (4 hours at night) no matter what.

  • My baby ... well he told me something different.

  • My baby ate around the clock, often every hour. For a couple weeks I tried to stretch the time between feedings. He cried. I cried. I gave in. He was happy. Repeat.

  • And then one day (with the support of a local breastfeeding group), I asked myself why.

  • Why was I caring so much about how often he ate?

  • Hello ... if the baby is hungry, feed him!

  • Life got a lot less complicated after I came to that realization. He was happier, and I was most certainly happier. Four hours between feedings at night? Are you kidding me doctor? We were lucky to make it to two hours (hence the co-sleeping).

  • So here is the thing:

  • Some babies don't fit the mold. Mine sure didn't. I'm beginning to wonder if any do.

  • Is there a mold at all? Even if there is, I'm not sure how many babies fit into it. I don't know who is writing those books and teaching those classes. I honestly wish I hadn't wasted my time. I wish I hadn't expected my newborn baby to fit into some sort of nonexistent mold.

  • Most of all, I wish I hadn't tried to force him into that mold just so that he would be "normal." What is normal anyway?

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  • Editor's note: This article was originally published on Engineered Motherhood. It has been modified and republished here with permission.

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Melissa Ricker is a mother, a wife, a nuclear engineer and a professional freelance writer. She runs a blog aimed at helping working mothers find a balance between growing their careers and growing their families through a series of helpful hints, productivity tips and technology hacks. She wants every mother to know that she can have both a career and a family without constantly feeling torn between the two.

Website: http://www.engineeredmotherhood.com

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