Unwanted Advice

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

From the moment I conceived people have offered me advice. Usually I have taken it with gratitude, often it has been sought out, but sometimes it has made me want to scream. It still continues to this day.

During pregnancy the unwanted advice consisted of sarcasm… “You’re not the first person to get pregnant just get on with it” when mentioning sickness or tiredness. That is super helpful. Obviously I had believed I was the first woman ever to experience pregnancy. All women previously had their babies delivered via stalk. Indeed the millions of qualified midwives, and maternity nurses are qualified purely in case I decided to visit their local area. Idiot.

During the very early stages I was told from every angle what I “MUST” do for a happy, healthy baby; Co-sleep, don’t co-sleep. Breastfeed, don’t breastfeed. Feed on demand, feed on a schedule. Everyone absolutely convinced their way was the right way.

It carried on. Don’t let her cry, let her cry it out. Make her stay in her buggy when she cries, carry her so she’s not distressed.

The current favourite topic for advice is sleep.

For instance, I have been told categorically by many people that at 8 months old Miss Rose definitely does not need feeding in the night anymore. Unfortunately nobody has explained this to Miss Rose who is pretty convinced that the does indeed need feeding, cries in agony if she isn’t, and has serious full feeds when she does. “She isn’t hungry” well yes she is. “She just wants a cuddle” well as soon as she’s finished her feed she rolls away, there’s no further requirement for cuddles.

Perhaps it’s true, she doesn’t need feeding in the night, but if I refuse it will cause her a lot of distress. If she’s hungry the idea of refusing to feed her because I want more sleep feels wrong for me. For others it’s a good idea, after all if she doesn’t eat in the night she’s likely to eat more in the day.

“Put in ear plugs and just let her cry. After three or four nights she will stop trying and will sleep through” Great… except sleep studies have shown that babies left to cry it out actually don’t sleep more than those attended to in the night. They wake up just as often, but they have learned not to bother crying. They feel the same distress, the same pain, the same needs, but they know nobody will come so they lie there in silence.

For me, parenting is a 24/7 commitment. If my baby needs me in the night she will get me.

However, the advice often is the polar opposite. I will let Miss Rose cry a bit. If she won’t settle to sleep I’ll leave her crying for up to ten minutes. I pop in and out at short intervals to settle her, then gradually extend that time. If she’s truly distressed I don’t leave her, but if she’s just ranting and cross then I do. I will allow her a few minutes of crying in the night before attending to her, sometimes she resettles back down other times she needs feeding. To me this feels completely reasonable, to others this constitutes child abuse.

So what’s the difference between sought after advice and unwanted advice?

When people offer advice I consider it. If it feels like it might work for me I give it a go. If it works I continue. If it doesn’t work I stop. However, when someone insists on repeating the same advice, telling you the reason you’re having problems is because you aren’t doing it their way, and refuse to listen when you tell them that you’ve tried it and no it doesn’t work, that is when I get brain rage.

ARGH.

Not every baby is the same. What works for one won’t work for another. Equally so not every mother is the same.

Please advise me, guide me, offer me your own experiences to learn from. But respect my decisions and please assume I know my baby better than you do… afterall I made her!

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

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