JOINING THE VILLAGE
It takes a village to raise a child, but what about when it seems like the villagers have formed an angry mob?
I took Elsa to a pediatric chiropractor for adjustment when we ran into some issues with nursing (it really helped!). The chiropractor was kind and accommodating when I made a last minute appointment. They were patient as I changed the diaper of my two month old and got poop everywhere as I felt sweat pouring out of my stressed out body. Our introduction before adjustment from the chiropractor was a kind salutation followed by a firm declaration: "You should know I do not believe in vaccinations." A brief monologue of the dangers and effects of them followed.
Elsa and I looked at each other like, "Um, what..."
I slow blinked at her and said, "Oh okay ME NEITHER" because I panic sometimes and turn into a lemming when strong opinions are thrown at me and I've really got to stop doing that. I made a mental note to better research vaccinations when I got home. She'd already had some shots, and I suddenly felt awful about them. Like I'd done irreversible damage to my baby. Bryan returned from work that night, asking if I'd like to go for a nice evening stroll. I greeted him with:
"WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VACCINATIONS? THEY MIGHT BE BAD. THERE IS NO ANSWER YOU HAVE TO DECIDE OURSELVES BUT GOOGLE IS BIASED ON BOTH SIDES SO THERE IS NO ANSWERS."
"So...you don't want to go for a walk?"
"WHAT ABOUT VACCINATIONS"
This is not a discussion about vaccinations.
It's just an observation of what it means to become a mother in the time of the Internet when everyone has a voice, everyone has a soapbox, and we are all safe behind our screens as people shout passionately and it can sometimes be hurtful. Sometimes it feels loud, and noisy. I definitely wasn't prepared for it. I went into pregnancy and motherhood blissfully unaware of all of the contention within the realm of motherhood. Doctor or midwife. Epidural or natural. Breastfeeding versus formula. To vaccinate or to not vaccinate.
I read Babywise, and then I read The Happpiest Baby on the Block, and they are totally opposite. I got the crazed vaccination look in my eye when I asked Bryan again, "WHAT DO WE DO THESE BOOKS DO NOT AGREE WITH EACH OTHER. WHAT IF SHE NEVER SLEEPS." Bryan stared back at me, with Elsa sleeping on his chest and wondered whether he should respond or let me ride it out. (Though, let's all agree that this is the most accurate depiction of advice on sleep training).
Amy Poehler's book had a whole chapter devoted to "Good for you, not for me." She talked about loving her epidural and the hospital, and how her friend Maya Rudolph liked having her babies naturally in her own home. I loved the simplicity of it, and the reminder that it's possible to celebrate another person's decision in what works for their family and know that it's okay if yours is different. It's also really comforting to think that our children will not meet someone in college and introduce themselves as, "I'm Elsa. I was breastfed until I was 14 months. What about you?"
I am thankful for the village, I think I just didn't take into account that it was diverse and there are lots of tribes. Some grow corn and maybe like wearing husks, and some are really into hunting and wearing animal hides. What am I saying? I'm saying that I have to remember to love the village of real mothers that have gone before me and not get lost in the village of Google. I don't want to numb my own maternal instinct by constantly checking the internet instead of trusting in the wisdom God gives me, and His sovereignty. I want to remember to look at all of the women around me that are calm in reminding me that babies are vulnerable, but resilient - and that people have been doing this for a really long time, long before the internet.
Becoming a mom has only confirmed that I know nothing and that I have no control. I think that is one of my favorite parts of being a mother so far, as weird as that sounds. It's really liberating to just say, "I really don't know anything, and I'm figuring this out as I go. We are all alive and tired and it's good and exhilarating and exhausting and a privilege."
I hope that my place in the village is one that is of sharing hopeful words with other women. That if you want to have your baby naturally - you can, and it will be good. That if you want to get the epidural, you can and it will be good. Feed your baby, and love your baby. Know that you are not alone, and everyone will not agree, but it can be good for you and not for me and it can all still be good. It's possible to be passionate without denigration. I'm cheering for you and your babies, and I hope you can hear it.
Take solace in knowing that we can all agree that letting your baby drink red bull or chew on glass will never be a good idea. Cheers!