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In My Own Words

Make way for more lunatic parents

Jacqueline Quillen
MSM Class of 2010

(9/2011) In the past month, Sean and I have done many things to prepare more for the baby’s arrival, expected on Sept. 16. We met with two different pediatricians in the area to get a feel for their practice. During our meeting with the first pediatrician, I made the mistake of opening my mouth to ask about vaccinations. I quickly learned that an expectant mother should never ask a pediatrician if every vaccination is necessary. Of course they believe it is necessary and they will then peg you as a lunatic mother who will not vaccinate her child.

I do intend to vaccinate our baby… I am not that crazy! I only asked about the schedule of vaccinations because I would rather not load up an infant with so many shots right away. Shots are stressful for babies! Regardless of my intentions, my comment gave them enough reason to have a bad first impression of me.

After that first meeting, I called back with a follow-up question. The receptionist had already gotten wind of my lunacy regarding vaccinations and proceeded to convince me to vaccinate my baby. She went on and on about a doctor who had claimed vaccinations can lead to autism and how that doctor was wrong and no longer practices medicine. Whoa, lady! I never even did my research about vaccinations and potential side effects (like the theory of vaccinations leading to autism). I reassured her five times over the phone that I do not believe vaccinations lead to autism and that I intend to vaccinate my baby. When I met with the next pediatrician, I worded my question a little differently and made sure to begin with, "I definitely intend to vaccinate my baby."

I am learning that parenting is one of those controversial subjects – like religion, politics and money – that we should steer clear of in conversation if we want to avoid arguments and awkwardness. Everyone has their own theories and methods of parenting that we simply have to respectfully agree or disagree with. No one wants to be pegged as a lunatic parent, but I think I should accept that it will probably happen at one point or another. It will most likely be over something I consider to be completely normal, like punishing a child for misbehaving.

Any form of punishment nowadays, even being sent to your room, could be considered child abuse by the parents who I most likely consider lunatics. When Sean was in fourth grade he wrote in his journal entry about his mother spanking him for something he did wrong. Upon reading this forbidden word, his teacher changed "spanked" to "scolded." How could she do such a thing! I’m surprised Sean did not get called into the guidance counselor’s office for them to inquire about his home situation.

I would like to thank my mother- and father-in-law for their method of parenting, even the spanks, because they raised Sean into a gentleman who will also be wonderful father. I also thank my parents for how they raised my sisters and me. Our parents are great role models for us as we begin our parenting adventures.

Sean and I also started going to childbirth class this month to prepare for labor and delivery. After every class, I learn something new and ultimately feel happy that I went. Before and during class, however, are different stories. Every Tuesday I try to think of ways to get out of going to class later because I dread going for two and half hours when I have so much to do at home. During class is I tend to feel more stressed than happy to be there.

Every class is the same process. First we spend way too much time going over the stages of labor and how painfully long it will most likely take. How is this supposed to make me feel calm about labor? The whole time I cannot stop thinking about how badly I have to pee. When the instructor announces break time, I dash for the door. This is when I start thinking up a plan to leave for the second half, but I know if I suggest we make a run for it, Sean will give me one of those disappointed looks. I hate that look! I could always pull the "I’m pregnant and don’t feel good" excuse, or the "I’m pregnant, [fill in the blank with anything imaginable]" excuse and get out of it that way, but I end up sticking it out for the next hour and a half to be a good sport. At least I can count on getting a massage during the relaxation time of class.

We spend the second half of class watching a birth video and talking about different birth experiences. This leaves me feeling anxious and nervous because I keep comparing my future labor experience to every other experience I hear about. My mental preparation for labor consists of me repeatedly telling myself that I cannot truly know what to expect for labor. Everyone is different. I can fill out a worksheet with a birthing plan all I want, but when the time actually comes, I simply have to take it as it happens and just go with the flow. I used to be the queen of "going with the flow" in college. It was my best piece of advice to people. Going with the flow is not as easy being nine months pregnant. I wish I had that same carefree mentality I had in college, but I think that requires living that carefree lifestyle again, and we all know that is never happening, especially with a baby on board.

When we toured the maternity ward of the hospital, I never felt so excited, nervous and anxious all at the same time. On the labor and delivery side of the maternity ward, we saw a familiar face from childbirth class. It was one of the expectant fathers who we sat next to. He was not in class earlier before the tour so I thought maybe he just caught up to us.

I was wrong. He was there for real… his wife was in labor… a whole month early! And this is her first child! Rumor has it that most women tend to deliver later for their first child. My first thought was how unprepared I would be if that were me because, once again, I compare my future labor to every other labor experience I hear about. I wanted to leave class immediately to go home and get things done.

We continued touring through the labor and delivery section, peeking in rooms that were empty. I was expecting to hear lots of crying, not from babies but from mothers screaming in pain. Luckily, I was wrong about that.

There was one point during the tour that I actually felt calm and relieved…

We left the labor and delivery side and went to postpartum, where mothers and babies go after delivery. This is the more bright and cheery side of the maternity ward. First we saw the nursery where two newborn babies were resting peacefully after birth. I could not help thinking how excited I am for our baby to be here. Then I saw a mother who most likely gave birth in the past day or two walking down the hallway. She looked beautiful in her pink bathrobe and had the biggest smile on her face. She had that "motherly glow" about her that just made me want to get to that point so badly. After seeing her, I felt the calmest I have felt in months. Seeing that mother so happy and peaceful was a reassuring moment that I would be there soon, too.

So I went out and bought myself a pink bathrobe to wear when I get to that point! Retail therapy is always a calming experience as well.

Read other articles by Jacqueline Quillen