I had my second child about five months ago and have now returned to my life as a working mom. Once again, being the parent of a newborn is a humbling experience. It reminds me that every baby is different. It reminds me what I thought I had figured out about parenting one child has been turned upside down in trying to parent two kids. So to all the new parents out there, I get it and I agree, it’s really, really hard. You would think as a pediatrician I would have all the answers and my kids would never have tantrums and parenting would be easy. Well, I promise you, I have a lot of pediatrician parent friends and all of us agree, we are not perfect parents and we still have a lot to learn! Sure, I know what to look for to make sure my baby is developing well, and I know when they should start solid foods or remain rear-facing in a car seat, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand that it’s hard to follow what may seem like impossible recommendations sometimes.
With my second baby I realized how much more tired I was especially for my middle of the night feedings. How much I would have loved to snuggle up with my baby and not put her in her bassinet to sleep. I get it, you are sleep deprived and sometimes may feel like you are barely hanging on. Despite how much I understand your desire to want to co-sleep with your baby because you both sleep better; I just can’t tell you it’s ok. The thought of potential suffocation from co-sleeping terrifies me. I know you would never forgive yourself if something happened to your baby, and I could never forgive myself if I told you it was ok.
I told my husband I hate being a pediatrician in winter because I feel like I spend a lot of time telling families there is nothing I can do to help their child’s cough or illness. So many illnesses this time of year are viruses and there aren’t any medications that will speed up the healing process or stop their coughing. I too have had a kid with ear infections and nights where my daughter has been up several times a night coughing and puking and there is nothing I can do to help. I am in the trenches with you, I get it. Trust me, if I had a secret weapon I would give it to you!
I think the reason I wanted to write this so badly is that I know it can seem lonely as a parent, like no one is going through what you are going through. I do realize how hard it can be to follow some of the recommendations I discuss at our visits. When I discuss limiting screen time, I get it that its hard. Sometimes you need 30 minutes to take a shower or get dinner on the table or get ready for work. I too struggle with this issue. I know that it seems like your kid’s legs are scrunched up in that rear facing car seat and it’s hard to get them in and out of the car as they get bigger. I too have a hard time squishing my daughter in her car seat. I recommend these things because I truly care about your child. I take it very seriously that I do everything I can to protect your child. To protect them from preventable, potentially life threatening illnesses with vaccines; to protect them from preventable injuries by telling your kids to wear a helmet when riding a bike; to protect them from sexually transmitted diseases by discussing sexuality with them as a teen.
So while I know it may seem like whoever wrote the recommendations I give to you at every visit clearly didn’t have children, I want you to know, I do, and most of them probably do too. As pediatricians, we know parenting is hard, we know there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and it may not be possible to follow every recommendation perfectly. We know parenting is a struggle. This is not to say it doesn’t have a lot of amazing times as well, but when you are a sleep deprived parent of a newborn, or sitting through an epic temper tantrum, or dealing with a teenager who is too cool for their parents, just know we get it, and we are with you.