by Cynthia Rajchman, LMFT, Mommy & Me Instructor at The Pump Station & Nurtury®
Being a parent is wonderful, and while it is also a very personal experience it can sometimes feel like everyone has something to say about the way parents parent. In our society, there is immense pressure to be “good parents.” The pressure is such that we can start to believe that we have to live up to an ideal we haven’t created for ourselves.
While pregnant, I remember feeling that every question my husband and I were asked by family, friends, and even strangers was a measure (or a judgment?) of whether or not we were good parents-to-be. Questions such as, “What does the nursery look like?” “What stroller are you going to get?” “Have you started thinking of preschools?” would elicit quips in my head I was afraid to utter lest I be thought of as a thoughtless mom. “Hmm... nursery...? It looks like an empty room with a crib that I haven’t set up yet.” “Yes, I bought a stroller. I traded my car in for it.” “Preschool?!?!?!?!?!” Are those the wrong answers?
The list is endless. Once our daughter was born, it felt like the interrogations got even worse because unsolicited advice would often follow. If I was breastfeeding, I was told that I should complement with formula so our child gets the calories she needs to grow and develop. If I were to bottle-feed, I would be told my child wasn’t attaching to me correctly. If my husband insisted on buying organic only, he was ridiculed for wasting money on sheer marketing. Yet, if we bought conventionally grown produce we were told our child was being exposed to harmful agrotoxins. If we let our child explore and go on her own at the playground, we got nervous looks from other parents. If we stayed close, we were helicopter parents. Our inner voices-which were habitually loud and strong-became shy and cluttered with other voices that we didn’t recognize as our own.
The thing is, we also have questions. We do want advice. But more importantly, we want to be heard and understood, and know that it’s OK if we don’t have all the answers right away.
Talking to other parents going through similar processes helped my husband and me feel that we were not alone. It allowed us to release some of that pressure and to explore what it means to us to be a good parent, not through the lens of societal expectations, but through our own experiences and feelings. It gave us space to figure things out without feeling judged for not having all the answers or not knowing what to expect.
Learning to be a parent is a social endeavor, and it requires support and help from other parents who know what we’re each facing. In Mommy & Daddy & Me, we get to explore these issues in a safe, non-judgmental environment so you can discover how to be the parents you want to be. As we discuss some of the issues around being first-time parents, I will give you information that I hope you will find useful while not overwhelming you with advice and opinions. I invite you to get to know other parents who, like you and me, ultimately want the best for our children.
I promise to listen without judging, and to be a witness of your child’s development. I promise to give you the tools to listen to your inner voice, and trust it.
Cynthia Rajchman, LMFT is a Mommy & Me Leader at The Pump Station & Nurtury and is currently leading 2 Mommy, Daddy & Me Groups on Sunday at the Santa Monica location.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Thursday, July 2, 2015
by Laurie Kinigstein, LCSW, Mommy & Me Instructor at The Pump Station & Nurtury®
The moment an expecting mother discovers she is having multiples can be surreal. Feelings of shock, excitement, panic and gratitude all set in at once. These conflicting feelings often continue throughout the early stages of parenting multiples, and many parents find themselves overwhelmed and exhausted while simultaneously being overjoyed about their growing family.
In my first few months as a parent of fraternal twin daughters, I experienced all of these conflicting feelings. In addition to the constant conflict between being overwhelmed and elated, I was always exhausted. My friends who had singleton babies experienced a similar range of feelings, but I couldn’t help wonder if my experience was more intense in some ways. I was completely preoccupied with feeding, sleeping, and overall survival.
My journey began with an intense preoccupation with my milk supply and with my babies’ growth and weight gain. It seemed my daughters were always smaller than their same-aged peers, and my decision to attempt to exclusively nurse was often questioned by family and friends. I also found that I was exhausted from severe sleep deprivation and overwhelmed with caretaking responsibilities. Would my babies ever sleep at the same time? Would we ever be on a predictable schedule so that I could get anything done around the house?
In the first couple of months, I consulted anyone I could about these and other questions. I spent hours calling and visiting my pediatrician. I also sought advice from other medical professionals and my friends with young children. I turned to the internet and read segments of books when time allowed. Nevertheless, the questions kept coming, and the majority of my days were simply about surviving and preparing myself for another long, sleepless night.
When my daughters turned 3 months, I began attending two different Mommy and Me groups. The groups became my primary source of parenting information and support. Much of my confusion and internal conflict about parenting was alleviated. Through the support of my instructors who had experience raising twins, I was able to get my daughters on a feeding and sleep schedule that worked for all of us. Whereas I was previously questioning my decision to nurse, I now felt supported and motivated to continue nursing my daughters. I gained skills in communicating with my babies and learned about activities to facilitate bonding. In the end, I found myself more attuned to my babies’ needs and increasingly able to help facilitate a secure parent-child attachment.
The combination of support and concrete skills that I gained from my experience in parenting classes led to my increased satisfaction as a mother. I was a more confident parent, and I learned to trust my instincts. I also developed lasting friendships and enjoyed the benefits of being part of a parenting community. My daughters are turning seven this summer, and as I reflect on my Mommy and Me experience, I realize that I continue to utilize the communication style and intervention strategies that I developed in my parenting classes.
Knowing first-hand the rollercoaster ride that is the honest start to many people’s parenting journey, I decided to expand my specialization as a child therapist to include postpartum adjustment challenges and parenting support. I am thrilled to be facilitating a group focused specifically on parenting multiples for The Pump Station & Nurtury® this fall (Click here to reserve your spot or email Dinora@PumpStation.com for more info). I feel honored to have the opportunity to support and guide other parents of multiples on their unique, challenging, wonderful and overwhelming journeys of parenthood.
If you would like more info on our upcoming groups please email the following with your babies' names, Due Date/Birth Date and a phone number. You can reserve your spot with a deposit:
Santa Monica/Conejo Valley: Dinora@PumpStation.com
Hollywood: Norma@PumpStation.comor reserve your spot here...
Laurie Kinigstein, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in West LA, specializing in perinatal mental health issues and postpartum adjustment challenges. Laurie also works for Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles where she facilitates support groups and provides individual therapy in the New Moms Connect program. She received her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin and subsequently worked as a child and adolescent psychotherapist for over ten years prior to expanding her specialization to include parenting support and postpartum depression. Laurie's experience parenting twin daughters has led to her passion for supporting new moms as they attempt to navigate their unique parenting journeys.