Carrying out my daughter’s bedtime routine is one of my favorite parts of the day. When I started doing it, I would give her a bath, rub a little lotion on her, read her a book, give her a bottle, and check the baby message boards while rocking her to sleep. Yup, that’s right. Checking the internet for my most pressing baby questions was, until recently, part of the routine every night.
I have now officially banned myself – I had to delete the app from my phone. I realize that it was really lame of me to spend any quality baby time surfing the web, even if that was when all my questions seemed to come to mind. But also, the baby message boards make me CRAZY. There is always someone telling their totally out-there story about how their baby hiccupped and it turned out that it was a brain tumor. And then someone else telling how they taped the binkie onto their baby’s mouth and then posted a picture of it because isn’t that funny. And then you have the trolls who just hate on everyone and the sanctimommies who tell you you’re doing everything wrong. Basically, you get all the extremes and very little in the middle. It just wasn’t healthy for me to get baby advice this way!
So what other sources of information does this leave me with?
There is of course the rest of the world wide web, which is equally as messed up as the baby message boards. You all know the drill – Google something fairly benign, and your kid either has gas, is going through a growth spurt, or has some rare, incurable disease.
The pediatrician thinks everything is normal and constantly tells me that my daughter is doing whatever it is she’s doing because she hasn’t read the baby instruction manual herself. I never even get in to see him anyway, since the nurse on the on-call line always Doc blocks me. She basically laughs at me every time I call. If I get the question, “You’re a first time parent, aren’t you?” one more time, I am going to scream.
Friends and coworkers are good sources of information, though it gets kind of old and awkward if I’m constantly asking baby questions. “Hey, great meeting. By the way, how many blow-out diapers do you think are normal in a day?”
Many books on infant care seem pretty reputable – in fact, I invested in two highly rated ones from Amazon before the baby was born. Early on, I had a sleep-related question that I looked up in each, and I literally got two completely different, contradictory answers. They’ve been collecting dust ever since.
Look, I know that what I am supposed to do is gather information from a number of sources, take it all with a giant grain of salt, use common sense to weed out the crazy and unreasonable, and intelligently apply what remains to my own child. But the point is that my husband and I pretty much have to figure this out on our own, no instruction manual included.
This essentially leaves me with… Nothing. I know nothing. They say every mom is an expert on her child, and I suppose this is true. But maternal instinct doesn’t tell me what time to put her to bed, how to introduce formula, or why she constantly needs resettling at night. I have no idea what I’m doing.
So this is parenting – forging ahead, despite having no idea where I’m going. It scares me – terrifies me, actually – but I guess I have no choice but to put one foot in front of the other and just go.