Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What I wish I'd known as a first time mom

Alternately titled: What I hope to remember this time around.

There will be a moment (and similar ones to follow) when you look at your newborn and are suddenly struck with the magnitude of your new, massive, overwhelming, and incomprehensible responsibility.  It will feel like, " have I done?..."

This does not mean you don't love your baby, nor that you wouldn't do anything for him.  It is merely a manifestation of the massive change in your life and the beginning of you truly understanding your new life as a mother to this child.  Way to be realistic!:)
*also, your normally-stable-husband will probably have this moment, too. 
Don't let this freak you out. You guys can do this!

Breastfeeding does not come naturally.  And it hurts.  And you'll feel like you need ten hands.

Keep going.  Keep trying new techniques, positions, pillows, etc.  You'll get used to it.  Your baby will get used to it.  Your body will get used to it.  Read a good book about it before you're in the trenches of it.  And trust your intuition- not the impatient and haughty lactation consultant.

Nurses, ob/gyns, pediatricians, anesthesiologists, specialists, etc. all have more experience in this than you do.  However, they are not you and they are not the mother of your child. 

Speak up.  Politely gets more results, but speak up.  You are in charge, not them.  Ask for explanation on everything you aren't convinced about.  Be a squeaky wheel.  Don't be afraid of the hassle of switching doctors.  There are plenty of good and kind professionals out there; it may be hard to find them, but very worth the effort.

There is a whole new level of exhaustion that you have not experienced yet, but will become quite familiar with.

20 minute chunks of sleep a few times a night is normal.  Your body learns to function and eventually you'll trick yourself into thinking you're not that tired...but don't drive for a couple weeks and don't be shocked when you find you put your lost brush under the kitchen sink.

Cliche as it sounds, there will be times when you can't recognize yourself at all and wonder where and when the real you got lost. 

You're still there.  Don't worry:)  You're just temporarily drowned in the exhaustion.  And hey, you can't come out of this without changing.  This little soul will teach you many a life-changing lesson.

Baby blues.  You've heard about them.  Don't be surprised when they show up.

I'd heard about it, read about it, and the nurses in the hospital even talked to me about it before I took my baby home.  But I still didn't recognize that I was experiencing it until my firstborn's six week pediatrician check up when the doctor asked me, "So how are the baby blues treating you?"  Oh THAT'S what that was!  I thought I was just crazy.
You're not crazy.  You're just riding the crazy hormonal roller coaster.  It will let you off eventually!

Your baby will cry.  And though you try everything you can think of- sometimes, the crying will not stop.  That moment when you realize you don't have a magic motherly touch to console your child is rough.

This doesn't mean he doesn't love you or that you're a horrible mother.  Be patient.  They may find the energy to cry for hours on end, but it won't last forever.  Promise.

There's a lot of hyped up, but unnecessary baby items that you'll find on lists of must-haves for your baby and nursery. 

Don't "buy" into it.  Aha! Aha!  What wit;)

You've heard about the instant bond and intense love felt when a mother first holds her new baby...might not happen for you.

I haven't bonded instantly with my children.  On some level, I loved them dearly.  I ached for their pain and confusion when they cried.  I longed to provide comfort for them.  But I couldn't say 'I love you' for a week or so and I felt like I was looking at a stranger when I looked in their eyes.  I found that unnerving the first time around.  What kind of mother was I if I couldn't say 'I love you' to my baby?!?!  Once again, don't worry if this happens- you will bond.  Seven plus years into motherhood and my boys are my heart and soul and it feels like it's always been this way. 

Preeclampsia can happen after you've given birth.  And it hurts.

There will likely be a handful of medical suprises.  Don't let doctors or nurses get away with a, "don't worry this happens all the time."  Keep asking questions until you understand.  And get your husband in on as many of these conversations as possible since you may be quite out of it and will need help remembering what your supposed to do and why.

Your baby will grow up way too fast.  Try to enjoy the moments of each stage, even though there's a lot you'd rather speed through.

I remember looking at my two week old one morning and being shocked as I realized how changed he was from when he was first home.  And I was even more shocked at how sad I was about having a stage behind us already.  It can be very hard to get used to each other and even harder to remember you'll miss this when you're out of bed at 3 am trying to feed a squirmy baby who can't figure out how to latch on right and is making nerve-grating noises that make you want to scream right back.  But don't let those times keep you from remembering to enjoy the perfect softness of your baby, their fuzzy face, their cute noises, their laughs (yes they laugh and have real smiles before six weeks that are not caused by gas!  My four day old laughed from the gut in his sleep and I'll cherish that moment forever even though at the time it freaked me out because I'd been asleep too and holding him on the couch and about dropped him when he startled me awake with that laugh:)), their sleepy eyes, their floppy body, and general amazingness.

That's all I've got to say about that.

And you?  What do you think should be added to the list?


Emnacnud said...

they get better with age, as wonderful as they are new, they just keep getting better, so enjoy the ride, enjoy them.

Lindsey said...

Amen to that! Every stage is pretty darn awesome. So far, I gotta say, these years between ages 4 and 7 are my favs. Looking forward to future years fo' sho!