I remember sitting in the NICU, holding my daughter when she was 5 days old (our third day knowing her), being told by the hospital staff that if I didn't choose a pediatrician they couldn't discharge my daughter. I was so overwhelmed in general at that time, so that one decision paralyzed me. Little did I know, it was far from one of the toughest decisions I'd make as a mom before my daughter even turned 2!
When I had finally chosen a pediatrician (thank goodness for the helpful hospital social worker who saw the panic on my face), the nurses started asking about vaccines and whether I wanted my daughter to have the Hep B vaccine immediately. I had no idea and, with my husband in work at the time, it felt like too big a decision to make. I'm so glad I asked for more time to make the decision and, in the end, it took us a month to feel comfortable giving it to her.
Those first tiny decisions were only the tip of the iceberg when it came to the decisions I've made as a mom in my daughter's first year and a half of life. We swiftly moved on to sleep training and childcare and even what school lists to put her on. Of course, in theory the difficult decisions we've made early on will pave the way for making even more decisions about her in the future (and hopefully with a little less stress and anxiety). Or at least that's what I'm going to tell myself as we plow ahead!
How To Feed Your Baby
Maybe how you feed your baby is something that was decided for you, but it's something most women think about quite a lot before their baby is born and once they're out in this world. The debate over formula versus breastfeeding has made this decision even more difficult than it otherwise would be.
Still, there's one thing that's helpful to remember when you wrestle with this decision: fed is best. Do what's right for you and your family and your baby, and feel zero guilt about your decision.
Who's Going To Stay Home
Deciding who is going to care for your baby can be a really difficult decision for some couples, and some couples don't have the luxury of even deciding, as the decision is made by finances or even job restrictions. However, if you do have the luxury to decide who can stay home, it can be a tough decision to make if both people are advanced in their career.
Oh, sleep training. Not something I want to think about as a mom ever again, yet it's something you have to revisit occasionally as your child grows (and if you bring another child into the mix). Deciding how to help your child learn to sleep — so that you can also get some rest ever — can be so hard, especially if you and your partner have different views on how it should go.
I've never been an anti-vaxxer, but there have been moments when my daughter struggles to recover after vaccines that I've questioned my own decisions, and questioned whether I really made the right decision for her. Vaccinations have become an anxiety-inducing decision even for parents who generally believe in the efficacy of them.
When my daughter was screaming and writhing for eight hours straight after her 15 month vaccines, all I could think was whether I had made the decision that caused her pain. She has fully recovered, but vaccines remain a very stressful decision for me as a mom.
Not every mom has to make decisions about childcare so early on, but many do. At 15 months, we had to make a decision to put our daughter in daycare and it was one of the toughest decisions to make, followed by even tougher decisions about what kind of childcare we could afford and would work for our family. We found the place that is right for our child, but it wasn't without its stresses, especially when we realized that every daycare in the area had a two year wait list.
Depending where you live, you might have to make major decisions about where you want your child to go to school, even before they're 2. I had to put my daughter on school lists at our preferred schools as soon as the newborn fog had lifted, and even that was later than I should have in order to get to the top of the list. Insanity.
Whether To Let Them Use Screens
Whether to let your child use screens is our generation's cross to bear. When we're all on our screens being told what to do and how to parent, that makes it even harder to distill what is actually best for your child.
What Words To Use Around Your Child
These days, there are so many words and phrases that we all thought were fine to use with or around our kids, only to find out that they're the worst thing you could do for your child. I read a headline the other day about why you shouldn't tell your kids "good job," and I had to force myself to keep scrolling through the Facebook feed. I just couldn't take on another "don't" when it came to what I should say to my kids.
Sometimes the decision comes down to what you and your partner feel is OK to speak to your child, rather than every other headline bossing you around.