Many moms ask me why I stopped going to playgroup. After all, it is a great place to socialize and learn tips and tricks about being a mom, and it’s a safe place for babies to learn and to play with each other…right?
Maybe that was the problem for me – The socializing. See, I am a mom to a beautiful micropreemie. Peyton graced us with her presence 3 months early, at the grand-spanking age of 27 weeks, weighing a blistering 1 lb 9 oz.
Maybe I am too sensitive, or maybe I analyze things too much, which would not be the first time I have come to this realization. However, here’s my problem: I find socializing with the other moms extremely difficult. I feel like every mom is constantly trying to “outdo” each other with their brags and stories about how hard-done by they were during the birth of their baby.
Now, just to be clear, I don’t, and have never, advertised the fact that Peyton was a micropreemie. However, you can take one look at her, and I state her age, the eyebrows start to rise. And I don’t even feel like I’m being punched every time I hear “Oh wow, she is so small for her age”, or the “My sister has an 8 month old, and she is so much bigger!” Sure, the conversation always starts harmless: the basic questions are “So, how old is your baby? How much did she weigh at birth?”, and then these questions slowly escalate to “Is your baby crawling yet? Walking? Eating solids?” I’m sure any of you moms know the kind of conversation I’m talking about, that ends up turning into a debate of whether meats or veggies should be first to start, which eventually leads to whether you breastfed or not, sometimes even ending with whether or not you have decided to vaxx your children, and how you are poisoning them and will be the cause of their death.
Not that I don’t like a good, healthy debate… and honestly, I don’t mind the looks I get when I explain some of our lifestyle choices. I didn’t even slap the woman who had the nerve to tell me that everytime I co-sleep with Peyton (which has been since the first day she came home), it is the same as letting her sleep with a knife in her crib. Sure, tell me I’m a horrible mother by vaccinating my child, and in doing so, protecting all of the other children and adults around her from not being a carrier. Sure, tell me I’m a lazy mother for not being able to breastfeed due to the super-early birth and death-scare we were all faced with, and then the 84-day NICU experience afterward.
The part of the conversation that really hurts me the most, is when other moms tell me that they know exactly how I feel. And it hurts even more when they go on to tell me that their baby was 10 days early, and they had to spend 3 nights at the hospital while their baby was monitored. I’m sorry… I realize that every NICU experience can be traumatic, but please, don’t compare a perfect, 10-day early baby to a 1 lb 9 oz, 84-day NICU stay with that. Don’t refer to your child as a “preemie”, when they were a bouncing 8 lbs 7 oz, and were able to fit snugly inside a newborn sleeper. I had to purchase the micropreemie size (1-3 lbs), the preemie A size (3-5 lbs), and the preemie B size (5-7 lbs) before we could even TRY to fit her into a newborn outfit (7-10 lbs).
Sometimes, moms don’t even have the respect to ask for facts before making judgement. I have had some moms ask me why I don’t feed my child enough, because she is so lean and fat-less. I have also had moms flat out accuse me of malnutrition for my baby because I don’t breastfeed, and “that would have been the best thing for her, and she would not have ended up like this” had I “gotten off my lazy ass and tried harder”.
I know I’m not a perfect mom, and that I do some things that are less “conventional” now-a-days, including having a baby bumper in her crib for afternoon naps, co-sleeping at night, exclusively-formula feed, no crying-it-out… but I am happy with the choices I have made, and continue to make. My little girl is happy and healthy, and I know what her needs are. Not that I have to justify it, but I feel that after the first 84 days of not sleeping with me, and the first 11 days of not even being able to touch her, I will be catching up on cuddles, kisses, naps, and sleeps for the rest of her childhood.