For All You Moms Out There

23 Oct

Just had to share this fab post by Emily at Mommin It Up with all the mommies out there…

Information Overload

November 9th, 2007 · Posted By: emily

You know, it takes a lot of time and effort to be an informed parent these days. And by parent, I really mean mother, because something tells me that I could count the fathers who scour the internet for the five-point-harness carseat with the highest weight limit on my fingers. But think about it – how often do you make a parenting decision without copious background information? If you’re like me, the answer is “approximately never.”

It’s something we hardly think about anymore. It seems perfectly normal to sit down with our morning coffee, open our “favorites” and click on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to see what toys we’re going to have to wrestle away from Junior that day… and then we continue on down the list of parenting websites that have become daily must-visits. By the time our kids are toddlers, it’s become a way of life.

The insanity starts about 10 minutes after you pee on a stick. Actually, make that three minutes, because before you’ve even pulled up your pants you’re running to the internet, comparing your urine-soaked specimin to that of the samples on www.peeonastick.com to make sure that a line, no matter how faint, is indeed a line.

Actually, though, unless this pregnancy is a complete surprise, you’ve probably already spent months online talking to perfect strangers about things like ovulation test kits and cervical mucus.

Once you’ve calculated your due date using WebMD, you head right over to iVillage or BabyCenter to find groups of women who are due the same month. You might join right in the fun, or if you’re like me, become a habitual lurker. Or, if you’re somewhat brave and particularly sadistic, you might even venture over to Urban Baby. Regardless, you spend crazy amounts of time reading about other people who are having the same twinges and pains, fears and hopes, nausea and vomitting as you’re experiencing. After all, you’ve got to make sure you’re normal.

As your pregnancy progresses, you really start preparing for the baby. You want only the best of everything, so you memorize Baby Bargains before heading out to complete your gift registry.

Even the process of naming the baby is nuts. Really, did your parents decided what to name you by contacting the social security administration to figure out how many babies had the same name? I don’t think so, Jennifer.

When you start thinking about the parenting styles you’re going to adopt… well, this is where the fun really begins. Will you breastfeed or formula feed? Go back to work or stay home? Practice attachment parenting or not? Co-sleep or put the baby in a crib? Regardless of what you decide on any of these topics, you’ll find many people who have staked their ground on either side of the fence and won’t hesitate to tell you why everything you have decided is completely, utterly wrong. Not only wrong, but your choice is probably going to damage your baby for life. But, hey, if you can live with that…

If anything, the hysteria only increases when the baby’s actually born. You’re at the computer in the middle of the night ordering Happiest Baby on the Block from Amazon because everyone in your MSN Group swears Dr. Karp’s methods will help you soothe your baby and let you both get some precious sleep (which they do, by the way). Kellymom.com is your own personal lactation consultant and Baby 411 has replaced your Bible (or Oprah bookclub book) on your nightstand. You can’t take the baby outside without checking both weather.com and the messageboard of your choice to see what the weather is and what other babies are wearing before you strap the kid into your top-of-the-line magical stroller that pushes itself and doubles as a cappucino maker.

It doesn’t get any better as the baby gets older, either. You have to figure out which sleep guru you’re going to follow, so you look up opinions on Weissbluth and Ferber. Then, just for fun and because it doesn’t take much to amuse you, you start up a good old fashion Babywise debate.

Honestly, I’m not knocking this. I am definintely as guilty (and likely more guilty) as anyone. I have learned a LOT during the weeks/months/years I’ve spent online reading about everything parenting. The advice and knowledge I’ve gained online has helped me decide everything from what kind of baby monitor to buy to how to deal with night terrors. And how else would I have known about the importance of soft-soled shoes?? The vast array of information available at my fingertips has also allowed me to make my own decisions. My favorite example of this was the first time Kate had a stomach bug. The doctor told us not to give her any dairy products, including breastmilk. I then handed him a print-out from Kellymom that said “Breastmilk is NOT considered a dairy or milk product (mom is not a cow!)” and went on nursing my baby.

That said, this information-overload phenomenon has left me with the complete inability to buy so much as a toothbrush without reading user reviews online. And I’m not exaggerating. So my challenge to myself, and to all of you, is to research, research, research. Figure out what’s best for your baby. Read expert opinions and the opinions of moms who have BTDT (been there, done that, for those of you without a complete mom-cabulary of acronyms). By all means, read mom blogs. But let’s not forget to listen to ourselves, as well, to our motherly intuition. Because when it comes down to it, only we know what’s best for our babies.

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