Confessions of a New Mom: What They Don’t Tell You

June 7, 2013 at 8:56 am | Posted in Family, Pregnancy Fun Time | Leave a comment
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Nearly three months ago (or, as I recently counted the passage of time, one trimester ago), I became a first time mommy!  Since then, I have experienced the most profound love and happiness in the world.  I’ve also changed approximately 1,100 diapers.  I’ve laughed, cried, panicked, smiled, screamed, worried… I’ve done pretty much everything except sleep (and write blog posts, as you already know).  And one of the things I’ve done most often is ask: why didn’t they tell me that?!

Sometimes it’s a happy surprise; why didn’t anyone tell me how drastically my world view would change once I “became” a mom?  Why didn’t anyone tell me how even a gas smile (as opposed to an emotion-based smile) on my baby’s beautiful (if I do say so myself) face feels like I’ve won some sort of cosmic lottery?  Probably because no one could tell me; no one could possibly find the right words or depth of meaning to convey this to me.  Just as I can’t properly explain it to you (suffice it to say: being a mom is, quite literally, awesome).

But there are some things that could have been shared, some things that would have been useful to know before I took the parenting plunge.  I can remember the day we left the hospital – the hubs and I were excited but slightly panicked as we got in our car, looking over our shoulders like we were making some sort of get-away with our baby.

Note to self...

Note to self…

Why compare going home to a get-away?  Confession number one (of which there will be many to follow in future blog posts): we felt like we were absconding with our baby.  You see, we had made this beautiful, perfect, amazing, little human, and after five days of excellent care in the hospital, we three were set loose upon the world with nary a pamphlet, let alone a handbook – we walked out the doors (okay, I was wheeled out the door but you get the idea) and I thought to myself: What now?  How can I possibly care for this beautiful little baby?  What do I do??

Yes, I am fully aware that babies don’t come with instruction manuals, but come on, people!  A head’s up about common occurrences couldn’t hurt.  And so, my dear reader(s), to save you from a similar panic, I will share some of the things I wish someone had shared with me, and hope that, should fate smile upon you with a magnificent child of your own (because your child will be magnificent – they all are), you’ll find this information helpful (and not write your own missive about how ill prepared you were, too).

Umbilical Cord Stumps & Bloody Tummies

Pediatricians will tell you to expect your baby’s umbilical stump to fall off somewhere between a week and three after birth, and if you have a very thorough medical team, someone might tell you that there could be a little blood when it does fall off.  Okay, sounds reasonable.  What no one told me, however, is that there could be blood in the days preceding its detachment, too, and if you open your baby’s cute little outfits and find blood on her clothes and skin, DO NOT PANIC (unless it is a lot of blood, of course).  Imagine me, a gal prone to worries already, who is completely sleep-deprived and out of her league, finding blood on my little one even though the stump was still attached!  Needless to say, I put my pediatrician on speed-dial…

Maybe I just need Alka-Seltzer!!

Maybe I just need Alka-Seltzer!!

Attachment Parenting?  Try Exhausted Parenting

Have you seen that video of Alicia Silverstone pre-chewing her kid’s food?  Yeah.  I thought that was weird before I had a child, and guess what?  Now that I have a baby of my own, I still think it’s weird.  But it brings up an important point I want to share: you may feel like you are flawed if you aren’t immediately all-consumed with this spiritual connection to your baby.  And THAT’S OKAY!  Trust me.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT DOUBT YOURSELF AS A PARENT!  It takes time for a bond to grow and, while you may love your little bundle from the moment you see her, no one expects you to have established the strongest bond known to man immediately.  Get to know your baby, give yourself the grace to heal and adjust to your new life, and don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t ready to regurgitate like a momma bird on day two (or ever… but you get the idea).

You Will Fight With Your Significant Other.  A lot.

Whether it’s the temperature of the bath water or the frequency (or lack thereof) that s/he washes the bottles or the way s/he tries to comfort your mini-miracle (which will, inevitably, differ from how you do it), or something you can’t even put your finger on (but you know it’s there), you and your significant other will feud.  H-E-double-hockey-sticks, you may even want to kill each other some days.  And guess what?  That’s normal, too.  Your lives have changed so dramatically and so quickly, and that, combined with exhaustion (not to mention physically healing), leads to natural feelings of frustration (to put it nicely).  Don’t immediately run to Judge Toler.  Take a deep breath (or a nap), give each other some slack, and if all else fails, remind yourself that new parents around the globe are probably feeling exactly the same way you are (the word mariticide exists for a reason, I assume).  And then throw something (soft… and preferably not directly at your sig. o.).  Or, even better, put him/her in charge of the little one for a few hours and go do something nice for yourself.

But do not, under any circumstances, wake the baby!

Pregnancy Moodiness Was (Pre) Child’s Play

If you think the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy ends immediately after your little one enters the world, you’re in for a rude awakening (and with a newborn, it’s just one of many awakenings).  Your hormones are wackadoo, you’re exhausted and adjusting, and maybe a little anxious, and you’re going to have extreme highs and lows.  Take heart, new mommies: this is NORMAL (and knowing that should help reassure you when you feel off-kilter and out-of-control).  Of course, if things don’t even out for you emotionally after a few weeks, I urge you to seek the advice of a trusted medical/psychological professional.  But if, on day seven, you can’t figure out why you’ve gone from laughing to sobbing faster than you can put a new diaper under your baby before s/he pees again, trust me, it happens to us all.  Sometimes big girls do cry, and there’s no shame in that.  (N.B. This section and the one above are related – your moodiness will contribute to the feuding and vice versa.  Gotta love it!)

Sleeping Through the Night?  Ha!

One of the kookiest phrases I hear from parents relates to kids’ sleeping habits.  Not long after your beautiful little angel is born, people will start asking if s/he sleeps through the night.  Haha!, you think, I wish!  But alas, your child may technically be already doing so!  Let’s say you put your bundle of joy down to bed at 7:30 p.m. and s/he is up again at 1:30 a.m., and then 4:15 a.m., and again at 6:45 a.m., technically your little angel has slept through the night.  Yeah.  I’m not kidding.  While there’s conflicting views about this, sleeping through the night is generally considered a good five-to-six hour stretch.  So congratulations, exhausted mommies and daddies, your kid has achieved the holy grail of slumber.  <yawn>

Mommy readers, what do you wish someone had shared with you before your parenthood adventure began?  Any sage wisdom for future parents? 

And stay tuned, dear reader(s), for my thoughts about advice like “breast is best,” and “colic is a myth.” 

The Pregnancy Inquisition, Part Deux

March 29, 2012 at 9:28 am | Posted in Married Life, Pregnancy Fun Time | 2 Comments
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In my last post regarding procreation pressure (like that alliteration?), I lamented the awkwardness of having my friends, colleagues and loved ones harass me about my reproductive status, and received some great tips and feedback from you, dear reader(s).  Well, today I’d like to expand upon this topic and bring every retail establishment that sells anything related to children into the mix.

Mind Your Own Bees wax

Mind your own... (Photo from Beyond The Hive)

Have you seen the story in the New York Times by Charles Duhigg about how Target knew a teenager was pregnant before her own father did?  It’s both fascinating and creepy, and, apparently, happening every day, much to my annoyance.  The gist of the article is that, based on just a smidge of demographic information and the things you buy, even things that don’t seem like obvious signs at first glance (fragrance-free lotion, cotton balls and hand sanitizer, for example, indicate you’re about to pop out a tiny human), retailers can virtually predict major life events like pregnancy.

Lucky for me (ha!), it seems I’ve found myself on the list of “probably preggers, so shamelessly market baby-related products to her” distribution list.  From emails (cough cough Target cough cough) to catalogs (Pottery Barn Kids, I’m talking to you!), coupons (Babies “R” Us, back off!) to advice (no, I don’t need to purchase X, Y or Z to prepare for my inevitable parental cluelessness), I’m being bombarded on a daily basis with baby-related information and savings (but at least it’s helping the post office stay afloat).

I’ll say it again: I’m NOT pregnant.  Yes, I’ve been happily married for over a year, am in my thirties and recently bought a home, but I am not “with child.”

I am, however, thinking about how this must feel to women experiencing fertility struggles.  These retailers don’t know what our reproductive status is – they don’t have a clue about whether we find these communications exciting or a difficult reminder of a very sensitive, very personal issue.  I understand the need to make money, to attract customers at this time in their lives; I even respect the power of the statistics nerd!  (Seriously, all hail the nerds of the world!)  But for goodness sake, please back off.  Or at least hide your intentions a little better so we can assume it’s just a coincidence that diapers are on sale… again…

I’ll procreate when I’m good and ready,
Sarah

And Then He Peed On The Sink

June 24, 2010 at 8:39 am | Posted in Misc. | 3 Comments
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Since having Max, I’ve had many experiences with bodily functions that were surprising to me only because of how unfazed I remained. Things that once would have drove me screaming straight into a shower now rarely warrant so much as a shrug. Like the time when Max was just a few months old and he peed, pooped, puked and sneezed on me all in a 24-hour period.

The other day was as much an adventure of being a SAHM (that’s Stay At Home Mom for those of you not up on the lingo of the Interwebs) as any other day. While I was changing the poopy diaper of a squirmy little boy who hates having his diaper changed primarily because it takes time out of his busy schedule of streaking through the house screaming like a banshee, said little boy was as wiggly as ever. And he somehow managed to smash his right hand in the worst part of his diaper.

“Awesome,” I said. So I was forced to hold his filthy hand as far away from his still-squirming body and our cream-colored carpet as humanly possible while wiping off his butt with my other hand. Why we have cream-colored carpets in the first place and the havoc that wreaks on our daily life is another story altogether.

But I was beginning to lose the battle with the poop-hand, and I knew I would never be able to encase his little tushie with a clean diaper using only one hand. I’m good, but I’m not that good. So in my apparently delusional state, I decided it was safe to take a naked-from-the-waist-down, unpotty-trained, 15-month-old boy to the bathroom for a thorough hand washing. I was incorrect.

As soon as I stood that little boy on the bathroom counter and ran the water, he peed. He doused an entire half of the counter. What could I do but laugh? And when I relayed the story to Schmommy later that day, she laughed and said, “Five years ago, did you ever think you’d be laughing about something like this?”

And no, I never imagined I’d be laughing all day about a story that culminates with someone peeing on my bathroom counter. I know exactly how you, dear reader(s), feel as you commute to your (hopefully) urine-free offices, wishing you didn’t have to work. And how sometimes (or maybe constantly, I don’t judge) you daydream about the “life of leisure” of a SAHM while staring intently at your computer screen so as to give the illusion of the ultimate worker bee. So while you may be thinking that the grass is greener over here, allow me to remind you that your 9-5 schedule does not involve copious amounts of urine and feces. Unless you work at a daycare or the zoo. Or you have a really, really, horrific job.

~April

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