Mixed blessings

By Kirstin Buick
13 August 2013

Our parenting blogger Meg Faure talks about the many tough decisions parents need to make

I wish there was a parenting decision that I can think of that has no down side. Almost every choice you make in the journey of parenting needs to be weighed up – the pros and cons.

Choosing to stay at home – I stayed at home for 7 years after my first baby was born and was a real stay-at-home mom to James and Alex. I wrote my books at night but essentially I was 100 per cent mom. I can tell you this may sound like a blessing but wow did it have its moments! There were intervals in my day when the mundane tasks were overwhelming. There were times when I craved adult company and if my husband walked through the door 15 minutes late in the evening, he would get it in the neck. And then there was the confidence thing – spend enough time with a toddler and you will wonder if you can ever muster up the courage to return to work.

Choosing a dummy – All babies need to suck – I mean, not just at feed times but also to settle themselves – we call this non-nutritive sucking. It is an essential part of the key to a calm newborn. I would go so far as to say that sucking is not a choice. The choice is what will your baby suck? There are three possible alternatives:

Your baby can suck on the breast or bottle (whatever his form of nutrition is) and some of that sucking will not be fully-fledged feed sucking but gentle little flutters of the tongue to self-sooth.

Or your baby can suck his thumb – this is a great option as your little one will self-sooth way earlier than other babies BUT try getting rid of a thumb! My Emily aged eight still sucks her thumb and boy am I anxious about what it may do to her teeth.

Then of course there is the dummy – great because it can be thrown away conveniently at three years old BUT you will probably end up doing dummy patrol (getting up seven times a night to pop it back in) at some stage in the first year.

Yup all of them mixed blessings.

Choosing to vaccinate In my opinion, this isn’t really a choice you make – it is a life-protecting essential for all babies, but you will hear the horror stories (mostly unfounded) and your baby will be a little miserable from the pain of the needle and even a bit unsettled for a few hours afterwards – like I said – mixed blessing – in the long run a blessing but at the time not so much.

Choosing to lull your baby to sleep – I love that feeling of a baby falling asleep in my arms, fluttery little breathes on my neck and drifting off to dream world with my most precious in my arms. But lulling your baby to sleep at night may seem like a romantic moment but at 2 am it’s not so sweet. The sad part about this mixed blessing is that your baby can’t tell the difference so what happens at 6 pm will be expected at 2 am. Luckily your baby’s memory and sleep expectations only really kick in after 4 months so it’s around that time that the blessing becomes mixed.

It’s mixed blessings wherever you look and each parent weighs them up and makes up their own mind. And that’s why parenting is so personal! And as parents we take the good with the bad.

Looking back, I have thought of one decision we took as parents that wasn’t a mixed blessing: the choice to have our three special kids.  There is not a day that goes by that I don’t marvel at their amazing energy and the beautiful people they are – no mixed blessings there!

-          Meg Faure

Meg Faure, an occupational therapist with a special interest in treating fussy babies and those with sleep problems which brought the Baby Sense brand to life in 2005. She is also the owner of the Baby Sense Company which develops innovative baby products. She co-authored the bestsellers Baby Sense and Sleep Sense with Sister Ann Richardson, Feeding Sense with dietician Kath Megaw and Dr Simon Strachan and Your Sensory Baby.



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