Today I completely broke down dropping Julia off at school. I was talking to her Audiologist in the hallway, and she was asking me how she’s doing, and it just all came flooding out.
This parenting thing is so hard. And somehow I’m relying mainly on intuition and winging the rest of it. I tried reading books when Julia was a baby, but they just made me feel judged and that I was doing a horrible job. So I gave up on them 6 and a half years ago and haven’t read one since.
I do ask for advice and closely observe parents I respect as they love their kids. I read some “mommy blogs,” but only the really honest ones. The ones full of advice and words of wisdom, with no corresponding honesty about their mistakes and heartache just discourage me and make me feel inadequate again.
Julia was our first baby, and had more challenges than most (to put it ever so mildly). Of course, we didn’t realize this wasn’t normal at first because it was all we knew. But I was sure that babies were supposed to eat when they were hungry and not cry all the time. I had even heard tell that some of them slept a lot, which I could only dream of. She didn’t eat, she didn’t sleep, but she did cry. ALL THE TIME.
We went to the ER at one month when she hadn’t eaten anything for 12 hours. They said she had reflux. We gave her zantac, prilosec, held her upright, had her sleep on a wedge at a 45 degree angle. None of it worked.
Just a few days later she was diagnosed with hearing loss and we tried desperately to find our bearings. We were so afraid she wouldn’t eat, and now we learned she couldn’t hear.
We reeled in the aftermath of her diagnosis, wondering if our baby would ever hear us tell her we loved her. I wondered if she had even heard all of the songs I had tried to sing her to sleep with, the words I had used to attempt to calm her. Was this all tied together somehow?
Again, we faced more advice, but also support.
We began to find people to help us and support us on our journey that had only words of encouragement and not of judgement. I learned to walk away from the advice and judging, and politely find my support with people that spoke words of comfort and peace.
We found Listen and Talk, and our now dear friend Star came to my house every week and taught my baby how to listen to the world around her and share her own thoughts with us.
We also found a therapist at Children’s that told us Julia had oral-motor issues and couldn’t suck from a breast or bottle. She showed us some simple tips, and soon Julia was eating and growing. She met with me every week for months until Julia was eating solid food and was “thriving” for the first time.
She helped me teach Julia to walk as well. And worked for months with me on finding a way to help her sleep. It took me months, maybe years, to get over the thought that she had been crying constantly because my poor baby was just so hungry. And probably tired.
She also was the first one to diagnose her with Sensory Processing Disorder, and helped me begin to deal with that diagnosis and therapy.
All of this to say… Our first year being parents was a tough one. It has gotten easier. But, this whole raising a person and being completely responsible for them thing is HARD! I don’t know what I’m doing. Nothing qualifies me for this. I’m just trying to love them well, be sure they are 100% sure they are loved and important. I try to remember that that is my main goal. All the other stuff- food, sleep, respect, manners, hygiene, school, friends, etc. is important too. But I’ve got to take one step at a time. She knows she is loved. She can’t turn out too messed up, right?
If you read this blog often, you may wonder why I write more about my boys, and less about my daughter. This is why. I still fear judgement and advice. I want to protect her and our family. And often I just feel lost. Unsure of what to do and how to help her. I am not yet ready to let strangers into this part of our lives.
I know there are many of you with similar struggles and heartaches. You also have felt judged and inadequate. Let me say to you that you are the very best parents that your child could have hoped for. Your baby knows you love them. They know they are safe with you. Sometimes, that is enough. I pray you will find hope, support, and friendship in this journey. Continue to fight this good fight!
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