Monday, July 13, 2009

Listening to Experience, Rather Than "Experts"

So, yesterday, I was reading this talk by Elder Ballard, and it reminded me of a story (stop me if you've heard it before...):

When #1 was born, I had just graduated (actually, she was born 6 days before I graduated) from BYU, and my major was MFHD. What is MFHD? Good question! MFHD is Marriage, Family, and Human Development. Interestingly enough, my very last two classes for my major were "Infant Development" and "Parenting."
Kind of nice for a brand new mother, eh?
Anyway, this being my major and such, I had read many things about raising a child. In fact, I was a pro at it! Complete expert!
(Stop laughing for a moment, okay?)
I knew everything there was to know about raising a child --especially an infant. Not only had I researched things for papers and exams, I had read every magazine, how-to-book, and psychological development book ever printed. Okay, maybe not every one...but suffice it to say, I had educated myself. I was ready. I knew what to do, and nobody could stop my wisdom from rocking the parenting world!

Then I had the baby.

Wanting to breast-feed (we were poor just-graduated-college-people and I heard it was good: Breast is Best!), I listened intently to all lactation specialists at prenatal classes and at the hospital. I followed their instructions to the letter! The biggest instructions:
1. Do not give your baby a bottle while you try to breast-feed.
2. Do not give your baby a binky while you try to breast-feed.
Both of the above will cause nipple confusion and your baby will STARVE!

Okay, so they weren't that crazy, but...umm...pretty much it was like that. I got the message: No binkies, no bottles. I followed this completely! I was going to be a pro at this; besides, I had read what the experts said, too --they all agreed: no binkies, no bottles.

Well, dear reader, I learned very quickly that "the experts" are idiots.

When #1 was 5 weeks old, I drove to Idaho to attend my sister's high school graduation. Both of my grandmothers were there (along with my mother, obviously), and they immediately whisked #1 away as I walked in the door to "ooh" and "ahh" over her. Then they asked me how I was doing.
I started to cry.
For 5 whole weeks, I was nursing my baby every 2 hours around the clock (sometimes every 1 1/2 hours). Every once in a while I would get a 4 hour stretch at night. When I did nurse, #1 was not satisfied with anything less than a 30-40 minute stretch. My nipples were cracked and bleeding and I was wearing breast-shields. I had gotten mastitis and thrush more than once. I was tired, I was sore, I was unhappy, I was sad...and the lactation specialists continued to tell me that I was doing everything right. I mean, #1 was eating well! She was thriving! Why she demanded to be nursed 24/7 baffled them. It baffled me! I was doing what the experts wanted me to do...wasn't I? I was following the experts!
My very-wise grandmothers and mother just smiled at me, demanded the baby, got a binky (I had one just in case), and sent me to bed.

Within one afternoon, my baby was suddenly eating every 3 hours, and sleeping 6 hours at night--all because of the binky. The cute thing just needed to suck! And since I hadn't provided a binky, she went ahead and sucked on me.

Needless to say, I never listened to another lactation specialist again. Yes, I was slightly bitter, but more than that, I decided to listen to some real experts. Namely, women who had gone through this before, and my instincts! Because if I had been really honest with myself, I would have ignored the crazy binky advice and given one to #1 first thing [I mean, think about it! Flesh with milk behind it versus plastic with nothing behind it. Babies are NOT THAT STUPID! Now, bottles? That makes sense!]. I should have listened to my gut (and my mother) from the get-go. This also proved to me that my grandmothers (and my mother) knew more about babies and children than half the books I had read. Although research could show one thing, real life was often very different --and individual circumstances had proved it. That's not to say we should ignore all advice from "the experts" --but I do take it with a grain of salt now.

Oh, and just so you know, I have never had nursing problems since this situation. All my babies take binkies, too. Guess my kiddos just like to suck! And man, I'm glad I went to Idaho when #1 was 5 weeks old. Thank goodness for grandmas!

Have you ever ended up taking advice from someone who had experienced the situation, rather than from someone who just studied the situation? What was the outcome for you?


earlfam said...

I once started reading a parenting book by someone who had only two children. I got through about 20 pages before I decided that I would never read another parenting book written by someone with fewer children than I had. The Eyres; absolutely! James Dobson; I don't care how many letters you have after your name, when you have to start using examples of disciplining your dog, I stop listening.

Never A True Aggie said...

I get stuck in the expert trap a lot, but fortunately get out of it once reality sets in. When I was having #1 and in the hospital I had wanted to have my baby with me 24/7. I heard and read all these things about bonding with your baby. It was 2AM, I was exhausted, I was rocking my baby in a rocking chair and she was crying. My nurse came in and said to me, "Honey, give her to me. You need to rest. It will be ok." Thank heaven for that nurse. She also gave her a small bottle that night. #1 nursed just fine and I think our bonding was just fine. So, with #2 and #3, I utilize that nursery and have a much better time post partum. Also with nursing, I didn't stick to a schedule. It stressed me out too much. I just nurse him when he is hungry. Sometimes it is every 2 hours, sometimes it is every 4. Whatever, he is thriving, not crying and it is great. Oh, I also was going to try and have this super supply of milk and try all these "tips" I read on the internet. Dumb. One lady was waking up at 2 AM (while her baby slept) to pump, just to keep a steady supply. I worried about this with going back to work. I didn't need to worry. Things have been fine even if I can only fit in one pumping session while I am out. #3 has been able to have about 80% breastmilk and 20% formula and he is huge. So, again...listen to your instincts and experience and not worry so much.

Sara said...

i couldn't agree more about the binky thing. I remember, in desperation, ripping open a package of new binkies in the middle of the night when Max was just a few days old ... because i'd been told the same thing by a lactation specialist and finally thought, "NO WAY does he need to eat again, let's just try that dang binky." haha!
I'm a binky believer. ;)

Alison Wonderland said...

I had pretty much this same binky experience only I got it at 5 days rather than 5 weeks (which was a good thing as I wouldn't have nipples now if I had waited 5 weeks. No, I'm not kidding.)

And after having breastfed 3 babies while working, which necessitated pumping and giving bottles, I don't believe in nipple confusion either. I do however believe in lazy babies. The first week after I go back to work I always have to work at it to get the baby to eat when I get home from work, he'll latch on, suck for a minute and then let go. Why? Because he has to work a t lot harder to get milk out of the breast than he did out of the bottle. But if you don't give him any other options, he'll give up and work for it. And after that week is out they get much more used to the back and forth. End of story.

I refuse to read parenting books.

FluffyChicky said...

Binkies = gift from God.

Parenting books = of the devil.

The end.

Anonymous said...

The experts ARE idiots. Idiots!

I too refuse to take seriously parenting advice from anyone with fewer children than I have, or whose children were spaced farther apart than mine were. They just don't know what they're talking about.

Anonymous said...

I decided long ago no one knows how to raise my children better than I do. Yes, it's a coping mechanism. Don't even try to burst my bubbles here. I mean, my bubble. Though, I guess I have all kinds of proverbial bubbles that could be bursted. I mean burst.

Cardalls said...

I was a perfect parent....before I had children (MFHD graduate as well).

I was in RS one Sunday and this woman held up her scriptures and said they were the only parenting manual she had ever used. I decided from then on to rely on revelation from the Spirit to guide me as a Mom.

(now if i would just be in tune enough to listen!)