Guest Post: How Did I Become Such a Worried Mom?

Hi Readers — Here’s a great post from Amy Wilson, whose book, “When Did I Get Like This? The Screamer, The Worrier, The Dinosaur-Chicken-Nugget-Buyer, And Other Moms I Swore I’d Never Be” just came out this week. Congrats, Amy! You can follow her on Twitter (amywlsn), visit her blog, check her out on Facebook, or order her book. And in meantime: You can enjoy her article right now!


How Did This Happen? By Amy Wilson

I did not think that I would be a worrying mother.

I thought motherhood would be when I finally relaxed.

As the oldest of six kids– and one of 25 grandchildren — I started changing diapers and loading dishwashers before I could write my name in script. So I was pretty sure that motherhood would be second nature for me. And it was—or should I say, it could have been.

It was only when I listened too carefully to the “experts” that I lost my way.

I listened to the experts who told me that the doctors and nurses at the hospital were the enemy, out to sabotage my “better” childbirth unless I educated them on how to provide superior care.

I listened to the experts who told me that if I let anyone give my newborn a bottle, EVEN ONCE, I was doomed to fail as a nursing mother.

I listened to the experts who told me that gaining more than 35 pounds while pregnant was both risky and lazy, that my child should be walking by 12 months or else a specialist should be summoned, and that any television before two was dooming my toddler to a lifetime of pudding-brains.

I found every such absolute thrust upon today’s mothers impossible to achieve, and therefore spent a unreasonable portion of my early years as a mother feeling bad about myself, and worrying about how my children might suffer thanks to my sub-par parenting choices. I was a sucker for all the messages of self-doubt that mothers receive from every corner: advertising, the Internet, scary news stories, other mothers with a chip on their shoulders and something to prove.

Seven years and three children later, I know better. (Most of the time.)   Now I get mad when I see something out there designed to make mothers hysterical, only so our society can then make fun of those same mothers because they are hysterical. The New York Times printed a story two weeks ago saying that fat babies are on a “obesity trajectory that is hard to alter by the time they’re in kindergarten.” Nowhere in the article was there a voice of reason, saying that by “fat babies” they of course did not mean the typically delicious thigh rolls of an eight-month old.  Next month, however, there will probably be another article, snorting with derision at the crazy and destructive mothers who are rationing their perfectly healthy babies’ rice cereal so they won’t be fat.

I think mothers have to stand up to this fearmongering when we see it. We need to be honest with one another about the realities of our lives, and about how far they are from these silly standards.  Sometimes I think that laid-back mothering can only be earned by experience, and not learned. But if the more Free-Range among us can call out the scare tactics for the nonsense that they are, we might save some other mothers out there a whole lot of worrying—and help them have more fun along the way. — A.W.

52 Responses

  1. Love this post. I am currently in de-guilting mode, trying so hard not to let all that advice drag me down — getting better at rolling my eyes at most of it. My first child just turned one, and I’m expecting my second. All the stuff I read before my first was born just wore me down and made me feel terrible. I’m still working on letting go of the dire warnings out there on everything from my baby’s nutrition to diapering (because, you know, I’m bad for not going cloth after I swore I wouldn’t let a disposable touch my precious babe’s bottom) to development of every kind. I don’t know that there is any way to help an expecting mom or new mom “ignore” this stuff, though. Even when I would read something from a more experienced mom who said, “You know that no-TV-before-two thing? That’s hogwash,” I would just automatically disregard that voice, because it didn’t go with what the experts KNOW is right for my baby! That “experienced” mom must just be lazy and overwhelmed — *I* would certainly never let such overwhelm bring ME down (I used to think). Now, I have a TON more love for those experienced mamas — and I can listen to them. I no longer judge them so harshly. My girl watches a little bit of TV, she plays with (gasp) plastic toys, wears Pampers, eats processed Gerber snacks, and had a real birthday cake for her birthday (yeah, there are warnings out there about how you shouldn’t let your one-year-old indulge in real cake on his or her first birthday). And she’ll be riding her bike down to the corner store when she’s 8 years old, too.

  2. LOVE IT!

  3. This is the story of my life.

  4. This morning, I was trying to get information about swim lessons on a local pool’s website. Three different places on the page with information about lessons were comments like “Don’t let you child be a statistic!!!!” or “There were 105 drowning deaths in Texas in 2009!!!”

    My goodness, can’t I even sign my kids up for swimming lessons without being hit over the head with this stuff?!

  5. Dear Amy, I love you.

    I’m pregnant with #2 and have started going to group appointments at my doctor’s. They are fantastic. I love the midwives who lead the group, BUT I have extra-sensitive antennae for fearmongering (learned the hard way with #1, exactly how you described) and since I’m the only one who isn’t a first-timer, I’m able to add my own asterisks here & there during the meetings. Last time, one of the other participants found me after the meeting and thanked me for my honesty, that these were things she had suspected but had never heard anyone say out loud. Hooray!

  6. Precisely. I just sent this to my newly pregnant sister in law (who once told me that she was terrified to get pregnant until she saw me handle the whole process in such a relaxed manner… not to toot my horn or anything but it was nice to hear I had at least outwardly achieved my objective to be relaxed about it), along with the link to your blog Lenore.

  7. What are the qualifications to be an expert? Many times someone is considered to be an expert only because they or someone associated with them told us that they are one. To be an instant expert, just put on a suit or uniform and carry a briefcase. This applies to other fields, just ask an expert like Bernie Maddoff.

  8. Amen. I saw so many moms drive themselves nuts when my eldest was small. And they looked at me like I was crazy for NOT freaking out every time he burped, looked at me crosseyed, or refused to perform some trick on command. Maybe we should go back to the days when moms were all on Valium. At least they were relaxed, LOL.

  9. When my oldest was a baby, my pediatrician smiled at me and said, “You are the most relaxed mom!” I didn’t (and don’t ) think I was anything special — I was blessed to be surrounded by people with a common sense approach to motherhood and was just following their lead, I guess. I didn’t really understanad the comment at the time, but looking back, I imagine she was harassed by mothers who agonized and stressed over every ounce gained or not gained, minute-by-minute feeding schedules, milestone freak, and so forth. Summertime’s comment is encouraging as it shows how we can model sanity for others.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m exempt from getting the willies from the fear-mongering myself!

  10. It’s just not parents, unfortunately. Our entire society is bombarded with this nonsense very day. Every day, something is supposed to give us cancer, or cure it. Or make us fat, or thin. Or both (see trans fats). Even the most unlikely things, like Mad Cow disease, get the 72-point treatment. And things that are not that dangerous — like Swine Flu — kick off the news hour.

    Parents are just more vulnerable to the panic-mongering media because while it’s bad if something is going to ruin our lives, it’s far worse when they threaten our kids.

    Let’s call the hysterimedia out for what they are — emotional bullies. This is just a cynical way of manipulating us to drive up ratings or page views.

  11. It all boils down to the parents. Society, media, experts, etc… can say all they want. But it’s the parents that are ultimately responsible for their children. Will they be steered by the outside paranoid world? Or will they hold strong to their own simple logic and self confidence in rearing up their child for the benefit of their child. Not their own, but their children’s.

    As I’ve said before, we’ve all grown up with trials along the way. With parents that were sometimes too strict, or not strict enough. We’ve all thought about what our parents could have done better, and what the things we would never do to our own children. I think most of us grew up pretty well, and turned out to be pretty good people. Why not instill that positive energy to our children. You don’t need “experts” to tell you how to be a good human being. It’s all common sense. Which we all have.

  12. I’m thinking that the reason God makes moms exhausted when their babes are little is to force them to LET IT BE and show them that babies aren’t THAT fragile.

    For various reasons, I was wiped out when I brought my kids home, already crawling. I hadn’t had time to clean before they arrived. (Actually, our monthly maid service was supposed to come while I was on the pickup trip, but . . . .) I needed to sweep, oh my gosh! But then I got sick on top of everything . . . the kids rolled in the dust . . . and survived! In fact, my wee one’s chronic skin problems actually cleared up after meeting my house’s dirt. Woo hoo! I haven’t cleaned “for the kids” since.

    I tend to be picky about long-term parenting choices – based on instinct and comprehensive research, not “what someone else thinks” – but that leaves me relatively free from worry over minute-to-minute stuff.

  13. I love this post. Such wonderful points and I’ll definitely be reading Amy’s book! Kind of a side note–that article she references in the NYT about baby fat and obesity. I see her point, but I actually found it reassuring. People love, love, love fat babies. So you know what happens when your baby is thin? And just will never ever be chubby no matter what you do? You WORRY your ass off. You try to get them to eat more, and only create horrible battles that can lead your baby to not want to eat at all. (It happens!) I loved seeing, for once, that maybe it’s not such a horrible thing for your baby to be lean. I could’ve saved myself a lot of worry had I read something like that sooner! Just sayin’.

  14. “…that my child should be walking by 12 months or else a specialist should be summoned…”

    My daughter actually did have difficulty learning to walk–she didn’t walk until 22 months. From what her pediatrician said, it doesn’t actually become unusual unless they haven’t learned to walk by 18 months. In Ari’s case, benign congenital hypotonia is a wonderful (for sarcastic values of wonderful) thing. (A little physical therapy, and she was fine.)

    “The New York Times printed a story two weeks ago saying that fat babies are on a ‘obesity trajectory that is hard to alter by the time they’re in kindergarten.'”

    That’s right up there with an article that appeared in Parents Magazine a number of years ago, that made the claim that any child with weight in the 95th percentile was considered obese. Completely ignoring height, of course. My son *was* in the 95th percentile for weight. He was also in the 98th percentile for height. (I might have those numbers backwards.) Not obese by any objective standard.

  15. I love this post too. With pretty much all of the moms around me being super protective and over-bearing, and me being pretty laid back, I am constantly getting scolded. I am starting to get tired of just rolling my eyes at them.
    But….one question…what is wrong with the Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets?

  16. Love this post.

    I just read something in Parents magazine yesterday about the dangers of toilet seats. Now the mom will not let her son use the toilet unsupervised.

    I was not going to renew my subscription but that article sealed the deal.

  17. Ok, as a woman who is 36 weeks pregnant, I get where this post was meant to go, but I don’t love the examples given.

    For instance – the 1 in 3 C-section rate that exists is huge and C-sections have MAJOR implications for your health. Telling a mom to think seriously about that and to prepare for birth in order to minimize that very real risk isn’t fear-mongering. It’s plain common sense.

    Fear-mongering is telling women not to let a single slice of cold meat pass their lips for 40 weeks because there’s a 0.0001% chance (actual Canadian public health stat) that she or her baby could die of a Listeriosis infection.

    As an aside, I find it interesting that the vast majority of pregnant women I’ve met are careful to avoid the second scenario, while never giving the first (and waaaaay more likely) scenario a second thought.

  18. When it comes to parenting, I like to remember that we’re all going to make mistakes, and most of our kids will turn out just fine anyhow.

  19. Thank you for this post! Amy is exactly right. I’ve always hated it when people who are obsessed with an arbitrary set of rules that they try impose on everyone else around them. The whole “parenting expert” industry seems to be made up of these folks.
    As a new mom who just brought home a new baby to join my 16 month old, I’m painfully aware that there are always going to be compromises when caring for my children. Its all well and good to talk about the benefits of unlimited breastfeeding time for newborns but the reality is that there will be many times like this morning when my newborn was unceremoniously ripped off mid feed and dumped on the sofa while I sprinted across the room to catch the toddler who was about to fall off the kitchen table. If I start feeling guilty about every parenting imperfection, its going to be a pretty miserable time for me.
    For now I’ll keep loving my kids and doing my best, and leave the judgements to others.

  20. I LOVE the title of your book. I think it is the best title for a mom book EVER. And yes, your article described me, too, with a few differences. I had 2 younger brothers and a family psychology degree. I thought I had parenting in the bag! Um, nope!😀

  21. “…fat babies are on an obesity trajectory that is hard to alter by the time they’re in kindergarten…”

    My daughter was in the 95th weight percentile when she was an infant and the medical establishment expressed concern about her weight. At age 11, she is currently in the 4th weight percentile and the medical establishment would express grave concern about her weight if I let them get near enough to us to express it. I tell her that society starts really, really early when it comes to prescribing a woman’s ideal weight, and that it doesn’t let up as she gets older.🙂

  22. It saddens me a bit to see this article written only for mothers. I can’t decide if this is the all-to-common belief that “only women raise children” or if only women fall into these traps. Either way it seems a bit unseemly. Fathers are parents too! We can go through all the same worries and doubts.

    Reminds me of the time I took my kid to “reading time” at our library. The children’s librarian looked out into the small crowd of parents, looked directly at me, and then addressed all the “mothers” who were there.

    I hadn’t realized it until just now, but I appreciate Lenore’s inclusion of fathers in her message.

  23. Fat – thin?? My skinny little prem is now a rather chubby teen and my chubby little 2nd is now a very thin pre-teen. So much for that theory🙂

    This always was a laid back house and always will be. That said I did read up about some stuff. Mostly allergies as both families have these in varying amounts. By the time my eldest was 1, I’d given it up as a bad job because no-one could agree to what was the best policy.

    Main point – avoid the medical stuff like the plague unless really dire emergency arises. Result – a few urgent trips for breakages and sprains and nothing else.

    Second point – avoid silly magazines and tv junk. Learn to evaluate risk for yourself and act accordingly. Result – reduced paranoia🙂

    How much of this stuff is based on sheep like behaviour. As in, you must do this or your child will be derived or stolen or infected. It pays to stop and think about what they want you to do and why.

    For example; there was a big scare campaign here about meningitis. The idea was to innoculate all children against this so called scourge. The pictures on the consent forms were hideous and really upset my son. Fear mongering at its worst. Now I know that this is a particularly nasty disease and can be fatal. The issue for me was that this innoculation was only effective against 50% of the disease out there and came with a large set of side effects. (these were carefully not mentioned in the form).

    The facts were that out of 4 million people there had been 27 people infected and 7 deaths and that almost all of these occurred in just one suburb of a city we have never been to as a family. So our risk of infection was already almost zero. Then there is the fact that it is only by sharing cups/bottles, kissing or bad hygiene that this disease can be passed on.

    I believe the company selling the drug made millions and some 200 odd children were damaged – some permanently -in the process. And, of course, the vaccine was ineffective against the strain most likely to kill here.

    Not unnaturally, I refused that vaccine but I do feel sorry for those who were bullocked into it and now have to live with the result.

    This vaccine is no longer given but has to be requested and approved now. Wonder why !

    Always assess risk for yourself from a variety of sources.

    viv in nz

  24. I’m a Mum of 3 with my eldest soon to turn 9. I spent the first 4 years as a Mum worrying myself stupid and beating myself up over how wrong I was getting everything. Last year I started work in a very low socio-economic area and I can see just how good my job actually was. Not all the parents are doing their best – drugs, alcohol and abusive relationships mean that some of these children are living a life so far from what I was providing for my kids ,when I thought I was failing. Hopefully these children I work with will be resilient enough and have enough support to overcome their hurdles.

  25. @Krista, I understand what you’re saying – there is this belief you can just order up your due date and many women (and doctors) fall into that. But the reverse is true, as well. My childbirth educator was very cool to me when she found out I had a C-section – and that was after 24 hours of hard labor and almost no dilation, at 42 weeks of pregnancy. Women are given the idea that if they don’t have this idealized version of labor and birth, they have somehow failed at their first act of motherhood. There are “experts” out there who will even tell you that a mother who has a child by C-Section are UNABLE to bond! They obviously never met me and my son.

    We need to give ourselves a break. Nothing in birth or parenthood will go just exactly how you picture it.

  26. Great post! There are so many experts out there telling us how to live, how to raise our children, how to do everything…I’ve given up listening to experts. I’m getting rid of all of my “parenting” books. No sooner does one study tell us to do one thing, then the next day another study tells us to do the opposite!

    I really believe that we are losing our instincts by listening to the experts all the time. I’m choosing to “parent by my heart” rather than “parent by an expert”. I have three sons – 9, 7, and 2 – and I am the expert on them. I just have to listen to my own heart and my common sense to know what works fo us as a family!

    Thanks, Lenore, for the great blog!

  27. Ok so I won’t get rid of ALL parenting books… there is one good book out there! (Smile)

  28. To the person who didn’t vaccinate against meningitis, please reconsider. My son was within 24 hours of death last year because of bacterial meningitis. He spent a week in the hospital and 3 weeks having IV infusions every 3 hours. Each infusion lasted an hour. He had never before been sick in his life, aside from a mild cold once in a while. Watching your 7 year old almost die is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. No, the vaccination doesn’t protect against everything, but it helps. My son had been vaccinated and now he has been re-vaccinated. Also, you are sadly mistaken about how you can contract meningitis. Sharing cups/bottles, kissing or bad hygiene? Seriously? That’s how you think it can be passed on? Sometimes it all begins with a minor ear infection that gets out of control, as was the case with my son. Anyone can get it. A kid with strep throat was sitting next to my son, and sneezed in the direction of his ear. That caused my son to have an ear infection…the strep infection that kid had was given to him, in his ear. The ear infection turned into meningitis. Wow. It amazes me how ignorant people can be sometimes. Learn the facts before posting misinformation.

  29. PS: The side effects of the meningitis vaccination are very, very mild compared to dying. I’ll take a few days of soreness and fatigue over dying any time, thank you.

  30. I find this post so odd…
    I’m an only child, with no babysitting experience, so when I had my first child, I listened to my pediatrician, obstetrician, read general childcare advice and medical recommendations. I did not encounter *any* of the hysteria this guest poster writes about.

    Could some of us be confusing ‘recommended’ with ‘must’? ‘might happen’ with ‘will happen’?
    I certainly heard/read that 35lbs gain was in the upper limit of the RECOMMENDED pregnancy weight gain, that no TV/videos is RECOMMENDED for <2yr olds, and that 12 months is when MOST children take their first steps (specialist might be called if no steps by 18 months).

    Where on Earth does this hysteria appear? I actively sought out this kind of information and never encountered the hysteria described here. If it's so pervasive, how am I so completely missing it?

  31. @ Alison, the hysteria is definitely there and is not hidden at all. You must just be lucky to have missed it. The hysteria is in the parenting books (What to Expect When You’re Expecting and their ilk), parenting magazines, and parenting websites/blogs. Even if you don’t read all those books, mags, and sites, if friends, coworkers, and family do, then they are the ones who can be liable to push that guilt in. It’s presented as more than “recommended.” The way these things are written and marketed, it’s designed to make you feel like an utter failure or the “worst mom in America” (I know, title taken) if you don’t follow the advice which, of course, is frequently conflicting.

    Take the TV thing. Yes, no TV is recommended for kids under 2. And if it stopped there, that would be fine. But if you read on, you begin to feel like your child is doomed to fail for watching the Wiggles at one and a half. The articles on this make you feel like your child, once a potential Einstein, will now be limited to working at McDonalds because Barney turned his brain to sludge before he hit pre-K.

    You are a strong, strong woman if all this stuff does not affect you. Even when you know you are doing the right thing for your particular family, when your neighbor, your coworker, and your sister all say “Really, you’re not ______” it’s hard not to feel like you’ve gone down the wrong path.

    And if someone tells me 35 lbs is the upper limit of recommended weight gain and I’ve gained 50 lbs, not many women could feel delighted over that!

  32. I know we talk mostly about safety here, but another area where there is too much hysteria is regarding things that are supposedly going to affect our chidlren’s emotional health.

    For example, parents have been successfully scared out of potty training at what was always the normal age for our species, because somebody declared that their kids will have all kinds of emotional problems, and even sexual problems in adulthood, if we dare to suggest where they should be sitting when they pee. I won’t even get into the terror that the anti-spanking “experts” have wrought.

    When I was growing up, kids got disciplined for making poor choices, and that was how they learned. Now, more often than not, some “expert” (or his/her disciple) will say “a child that age isn’t able to determine the right choice, and asking them to do so will damage their psyche.”

    I don’t know how we can have self-reliant kids if we never let them experience frustration, regret, and yes, a little temporary fear. I can’t accept the popular idea that shielding them from all emotional discomfort until they’re school-aged is beneficial or even benign.

  33. @SKL, I generally agree, although I was more than happy to just wait out the potty thing. It just didn’t seem like that big of a deal and not something to discipline. Pick your battles, as they say. It happened when it happened. After a while, it happened at night, too. I just kept him in diapers at night until he stayed dry in them. I couldn’t deal with the waking up in the middle of the night and the wet sheets.

  34. dmd, I respect your choice. What bothers me is that popular “wisdom” suggests your choice is the ONLY reasonable/realistic choice. Using the toilet (exclusively by age 1.5) doesn’t seem to have warped my kids, in case anyone out there is wondering. No word yet on whether they’ll end up with any sexual hangups.

  35. SKL, I’m not sure that children *did* toilet train earlier in earlier generations. My grandmother – who is 86 now – didn’t even believe us when we showed up at her house with a two year old and no diapers! “But… not even at NIGHT?”

    We didn’t train that kid, actually. She, uh, trained herself.

  36. Uly, I know my siblings and I were all trained within a couple months before/after age 2 (which was the norm in the 1960s), and I’ve seen it written in many places that the average kid was trained by 1.5 in the 1950s. Granted, they may have had a different definition of “trained” (nowadays they say your child isn’t ready until she can do all kinds of developmental things that actually aren’t necessary to peeing in the pot). In many countries, kids are continent and out of diapers between age 1-1.5. My grandma told me that my dad never “had to” soil himself after age 6mos (she felt 2 years was way too old, poor babies). It’s certainly not a physical / emotional impossibility. I could go on a whole rant about why people have been convinced that it is, but I don’t want to completely hijack the comments.

  37. To the soon to be mom who doesn’t see the hysteria yet… May I suggest going to a play group? I was at one a few months ago where the host mom’s kid dropped a peeled banana chunk on the floor. She promptly put it in the trash and started over. This happened several times… until another mom mentioned the 5 second rule. I piped in the heck with the 5 second rule, I have a 30 minute rule. The looks that flashed around the room were fabulous. It’s not that I encourage my kid to eat dirt, but fully believe that a few germs here and there are actually good for a budding immune system. And, my kid has recently proved me right. While my hubby and I recently endured the “plague” for a couple of days, the kiddo remained healthy, only contracting a little sniffle from a cousin.

    Never fear, the hysteria is there, you will see it, just maybe not yet.

  38. […] Guest Post: How Did I Become Such a Worried Mom? « FreeRangeKids  Mail this postSHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Used Scooters?", url: "http://themopedsandscooters.com/used-scooters/&quot; }); […]

  39. whatthehay, you are so right. I will add that if there is any food that your toddler sticks his nose up to during a meal, drop a little on the floor, and I promise he will eat it in that presentation, the next time he is playing around in the kitchen.

    Another of my personal theories about God: He makes kids without the “ick” instinct specifically because a little dirt makes them more healthy.

    Ha, maybe I should write a book too – Pro-Grunge Moms or something like that . . . .

  40. “MALe PRACTICE” is an older book by Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D. – It will scare you away from traditional medicine and empower you to stand up for yourself. This doctor ( now deceased) was ahead of his time and a severe critic of his own profession especially obstetricians. I wish he didn’t make so much sense.

    Take a look at reviews of the book at Amazon.
    http://www.amazon.com/Male-Practice-Robert-S-Mendelsohn/dp/0809259745

  41. Breebie-

    I saw that too. Accidents happen, I’m sorry to say and that one was a doozy, but it is easily solved by having the boy hold the toilet seat/lid up while he pees. No need for constant observation. I’m sure he learned his lesson.

    I was also thinking of canceling. The only things in there I like to read anymore are what the kids say in public. Those are funny.

  42. @ Kim

    It’s unfortunate that you, your son, and your family had to go through such an experience. However, I want to point out that since it was a bacterial infection, no vaccine would have helped.

  43. A vaccination certainly does help to prevent bacterial meningitis, but not all the time.

    Bacterial Meningitis Vaccines

    There are vaccines that will protect children and adults from most, but not all, kinds of meningococcal disease. In the United States, the two vaccines that can prevent meningococcal disease are:

    * Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4 or Menactra). Licensed in 2005, MCV4 is the newer version of the two vaccines. It can be given to people between the ages of 2 and 55.
    * Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4 or Menomune). This vaccine, around since the mid-1970s, can be used when MCV4 is not available. It is the only licensed vaccine for people over age 55.

    Each of these vaccines can prevent four kinds of meningococcal disease. They protect about 90 percent of the people who receive them. The newer vaccine, the MCV4, is thought to provide longer-lasting and better protection than the MPSV4.

  44. Prevention of Bacterial Meningitis

    As aforementioned, bacterial meningitis spreads through exchange of bodily fluids; the only way to prevent it is not sharing personal items like toothbrushes, towels or even food and drinks. Vaccination is another effective method to prevent bacterial meningitis.

  45. And even when you don’t share stuff like that, you can still get it. Not sharing stuff and vaccinations do help prevent it, but they don’t always prevent it. As I said, a sneeze in the direction of his ear caused my son’s illness. Still, though, vaccinations are good and they help immensely.

  46. It amazes me how often people think they are well informed, when, in fact, they could not be more wrong.

  47. There’s fear-mongering on any side of any parenting issue. For everyone telling you that hospitals are evil, there’s a lot more people telling you that giving birth outside of one means you don’t care about your baby and they’ll DIE.

    It sucks that we have to drag everything to such extremes (usually to grab headlines). We as parents should learn to ignore the extremists on each side, do our own research, and make informed decisions based on the actual data and what seems to work best for each of us.

    (and you’d be amazed how many common procedures, especially those involved with birth, have NO data backing up their safety or reason for use– in many cases it is precisely this baseless fear-mongering that has made their use so widespread)

  48. One thing I love about our medical group is that by and large, they seem to be sensible about things. For instance, at my initial checkup for my current (second) pregnancy, the nurse expressed horror at the weight I’d gained in the first, hoped I wouldn’t gain that much with this one, and said, “You don’t want your baby to be as big this time!” (The first was almost ten pounds.) Well, then we went to an older nurse for the paperwork, told her about the first one, and she snorted and said that only nurses who had never had kids of their own freaked out about weight gain— because they usually went “ten to fifteen pounds over the limit.”

    I should also mention that I’m tall, so gaining 40+ pounds isn’t as big a percentage as it would be for a short woman. (I *have* gained a bit less this pregnancy— I think there’s something about chasing a toddler that has something to do with it.)

    But I also remember that when one of the OBs asked why I wasn’t going to the mom prep group during my first pregnancy, she laughed when I said I didn’t want to listen to all the fear-mongering of the other moms and agreed that you’re much better off listening to the ones who have been moms for a while.

    As for the hospital/no hospital thing— just given my groups of friends, I’d suggest that you always have a hospital as a backup. My friends who wanted home births all had unfortunate complications which resulted in hospital births— all the kids are fine, but at least one felt guilty for not having her “birth plan.” Plan? Are you kidding? Births aren’t plans, they’re improv…

  49. Not that I don’t agree with the sentiment, but ridiculing some people’s decisions, is not the best way to help families decide what is reasonable.

    Just because I think the experts seem reasonable in recommending against television and I don’t approve of baby tv (even in moderation), doesn’t mean I live in fear. I ate soft cheese. I love the pacifier. But I’d rather have my baby in sitting on the floor doing nothing than watching tv.

    Plus, anyone with a serious ongoing medical condition will tell you that the patient has to be the one making the choices. My doctor didn’t tell me what to do. That’s a bad doctor. Or at least a bad beside manner.

  50. Completely agree with this. The absolute hysteria that current parenting “experts” cause is kind of funny, but mostly scary. it’s best to trust your own instincts.

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