Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Baby Talk: What I've Learned So Far.

I've been a parent for all of the blink of an eye and I already feel like I've learned a TON. Every day seems to bring a new challenge, a new lesson, a deeper love than I thought possible. I tried to keep my pre-baby expectations pretty realistic (no, I never thought I'd spend maternity leave whipping up gourmet meals and learning Japanese) but I still felt in over my head at times.

Parenting is an area where I love to hear what works for other people and where I feel like opening a conversation can be insanely helpful so I thought I'd share some things I've learned over the last 9 weeks with the tiny love of my life as a new breastfeeding mom who had an unexpected C-section.

My story is my own. 
 I never expected to be induced or have a c-section. I planned to go into labor at home have this beautiful, traditional delivery and skip the surgery. As my due date came and went, I went to sleep every night hoping to wake up to my broken water. I didn't get that. Shit happens.For the first few weeks, I felt so disappointed in how things happened. I didn't get my rush-to-the-hospital moment. After eleven hours of labor, I didn't get to push. I felt like there was judgement on me because I had a c-section. I had someone ask if I had a "real delivery or a c-section" insinuating I didn't give birth rather than I had surgery. I'm so grateful for my healthy, happy baby but it broke my heart not to bring him into the world the way I had planned and it shattered my feelings when people didn't realize how their words impacted me.

But my story is mine. My baby could have gotten hurt in a vaginal birth. My belly scar is my reminder that I did give birth, I brought a beautiful life into this world, I was strong. I'm not any less of a mom because things happened differently for me.
There are never enough hours in the day.
 Two things that used to be mine are not anymore: my time and my boobs. With a newborn I had NO idea that you really spend every single second on someone else's timetable. Even at two months Rowan is a grazer and a nap-fighter so much of my time revolves around feeding him every 1.5-2 hours and trying to lull him into a nap. Then you add pumping into that? Aye carumba. Long gone are the days where I would wake up early, get in a 12 or 13 hour work day, make dinner, and paint my nails while watching Netflix. Gone are the Saturdays where we'd just decide to go "find something to do" and drive around until we found somewhere to shop or eat or play. I have to schedule things around the baby's feedings and naps and make sure not to pack too much activity in as not to overstimulate him.

I'm still getting adjusted to having a schedule but not having a routine, to structuring my day around things I can't control. It takes time to get used to but I'm trying. Also, side note, pumping is a pain in the ass but it opened up my world a bit. Having a bottle in the fridge means I can take a long shower or run to get groceries or work without worrying that Ro will go hungry.

It's okay to feel like shit.
 Real talk: I had the baby blues and they are no joke. I felt blue for about three weeks postpartum and I didn't expect to at all. I thought I'd be blissed out because I had such a wonderful pregnancy and was so ready to be a mom. But those crazy hormones and recovering from surgery and never sleeping created a recipe for the baby blues. I had read about women who feel no connection to their baby or resent motherhood or can't stop crying or think violent things....that was NOT me. More than anything, I felt emotional. I missed being pregnant and being the only one who had a deep connection with Rowan. I felt like I wasn't doing a good job as a mom because I didn't know what I was doing. Anything could send me into a cry jag. I felt ugly and fat and I was physically hurting from surgery recovery. I was alone much of the day and breastfeeding took a lot of time to learn and I felt so overwhelmed. I would say I spent 80% of the time happy, 20% blue. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed that I was dealing with the baby blues. I felt like I was being selfish. I was so happy to have my beautiful baby but I felt like nothing I was doing was good enough and that I should be better at being a mom.

It passed, luckily, as my hormones evened out and my c-section incision healed (once you can laugh or sneeze or pee without crying about how much it hurts your whole world is brighter!) and I realized no new parent knows what they are doing. It was okay for me to feel overwhelmed (I still do sometimes) and hormonal and miss being pregnant. My pregnancy was magical and I know I'll never feel Rowan's tiny kicks from inside of my belly again. It's okay to miss it.

A support system is vital.
I have an amazing family who help me out constantly from babysitting during my work day to bringing us dinner to sleeping over once a week to help out with Rowan. I relied heavily on their help and advice (still do!) and it makes this whole "being a new parent with a tiny human life in my hands" so much easier.

I also lucked out that a couple of friends had babies around the same time I did. Texting during middle of the night feedings or asking what nap techniques work best for their babies or just venting about what a dummy my husband can be (sorry, Rhyno) has made motherhood easier already. It takes a village to raise a baby and a village to make a new mom not feel like she is screwing everything up.

This too shall pass.
I knew parenting would have its own challenges and promised Rowan when he was in my belly to do anything I can to make his life happy and healthy. The more comfortable I become in my still new role as a mom, the more joy there is in every single day. I have been so in love with Rowan since the second I saw his face and I am so grateful to be his mom, the beauty outweighs the challenges. I was told how magical motherhood is and I still can't believe it. I can't believe how much I love him and even when I try for hours to get him to sleep, I miss him when he's been asleep too long.

Having the responsibility of forming his world is a lot of pressure but I know I'll blink and he'll be an adult. I know in just a couple years when he's telling me "no!" and doesn't want to hold my hand when crossing the street, I'll miss being bleary eyed at 2am rocking him. People aren't kidding when they say parenthood is the most challenging, rewarding, and wonderful job there is.

Are you a parent? Any wisdom to pass along?

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You look so pretty today.