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.” 

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Parenthood & Gratitude: Musings from Week 39

March 6, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Posted in Pregnancy Fun Time | 4 Comments
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In just a two short days Andrew and I will be parents (g-d willing).  It’s exciting, amazing, staggering, nerve-wracking and takes my breath away (in a good way) every time I think about it.  And although my pregnancy has had its ups and downs, I’ve been trying to focus on the good stuff and be open and appreciative of all the amazing people and blessings in my life.

I know I’m getting sappy, but bear with me on this one!  I’m gonna be a mom – I have to set a good example here.  My regular snark will be back soon, I’m sure.  Anyway…

Preparing to bring a child into the world can be intense.  At one point in my pregnancy, I literally had to stop watching the news (which is tough for me – I’m such a news junkie) because it was too much, too sad, too depressing, too awful.  I wondered how I could, in good conscience, expose a child to all that.  As my colleagues will tell you, that week was weird – I didn’t even know Neil Armstrong had passed away until a month later (and it was an awkward discovery when, during the middle of a lunch break, I exclaimed: “Oh my gosh, Neil Armstrong is dead?!” and they all looked at me like I was delusional and then burst into laughter).

But I realized that I needed to change my perspective.  Yes, bad things happen and there are some bad seeds out there, but the good things and the good people are what matter, and I will do everything in my power to ensure my child appreciates both.

This past weekend my parents worked their butts off at my house because I needed the help.  They did our grocery shopping, they cleaned our house, they fed us, they set up the nursery, they assembled the Pack ‘N Play, they gave me a new-to-me cell phone (mine was unreliable, at best, not good for a mom-to-be).  In short, they showed me what it means to be a good parent, as they have been demonstrating my entire life.  But it was a particularly poignant reminder the weekend before I take on that role myself.

My friends, my family and my colleagues (and my husband, of course!) have made the past 39 weeks joyful, no matter how I was feeling physically.  Care packages and visits, baby showers and treats, encouragement and laughter, and support and love.  They have all cared for me and helped me arrive at this point, and I am forever grateful for that, and for being able to bring my baby into a world like this one, with so much to be thankful for.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

Apparently I’m Not a New Englander…

February 8, 2013 at 11:31 am | Posted in Around Boston, Pregnancy Fun Time | 4 Comments
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As I sit here watching the weather report (Read: emotionally preparing for impending doom), seeing the first signs of Blizzard Nemo (Bugging Andrew to come home early – pretty please – this is a dangerous fish!) and reading friends’ Facebook statuses about the joy of snowstorms (Bring it on?  No thank you – please keep it away!), I’ve come to realize something: I can’t be a New Englander! 

Despite our reputation for a chilly demeanor, I think there’s also a certain degree of machismo around winter weather in the Northeast, something like “stormchismo.”  We buy out the region’s supply of bread, milk, bottled water and, for some reason, Pop Tarts (ick); we stock up on flashlights and batteries (why did I buy 24 AAA batteries at Home Depot?  When will I ever use 24 AAA batteries???); we watch the weather reports and poke fun at those folks who worry with choruses of “We live in New England – get used to it!” and “Finally, a little snow!”

I'd probably be at home worrying...

I’d probably be at home worrying…

But not me.  I’m angsty about this storm, I’m fearful that we will lose power, and I’m already dreading the cleanup and dealing with the 24”+ inches of snow that will surely remain with us for days or weeks to come.  What gives? 

Sure, I could blame this on my pregnancy-induced proclivity to worry, but we all know I was a worrier before getting preggers and I’ll be a worrier after, too (less than 30 days left until we meet Baby L-ski!  Huzzah!).  That said, I used to love being home watching the snow, snuggled up with a cocoa and blanket.  And even though I’ve been in New England for most of my life, I was born and raised in Colorado – weather like this is something I’ve always known – no excuse there.  And it’s not like I have to commute in this – my boss is delightfully flexible about letting me WFH (that’s “work from home,” for those not in the know) during inclement weather. 

So what’s my excuse?  What’s the problem?  Is there hope for me or am I doomed to be a lesser Masshole?

And is it time to panic yet? 

Pregnancy, Part One

September 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Posted in Around Boston, Office Humor, Pregnancy Fun Time | 8 Comments
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As you know, I’m fairly open about sharing news and life milestones, but for some reason, I felt REALLY awkward telling people about my pregnancy when it was time to share it.  Has any other mom-to-be felt this way?  Am I the only who couldn’t quite figure out a way to let people know?  Or who was content with people eventually figuring out that my belly was more baby than brownies (for a change) without my having to say it out loud?

Let’s just say I wasn’t quick to post ultrasound photos to Facebook… (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”)

But now that my pregnancy is “Facebook official” (thanks, mom!), I can blog about it freely and share my experiences thus far with a bun in my oven (icky expression).  Andrew and I are SO excited to be parents (g-d willing), but as you can imagine, there’s been a fair amount of awkwardness over these past 16 weeks, too.  Here’s a slice of the silly aspects of pregnancy thus far…

In the Dark with Morning Sickness

Because I work at a software company, the ratio of men to women is pretty skewed, so, despite the four stalls, the ladies room often feels like a private potty.  The plus side of that is, mid-first trimester when I spent a fair amount of time hovering over the porcelain throne, I could bank on being alone in there and easily hiding whenever I had to toss my cookies in the office bathroom.

However, this privacy also had a downside.  In an effort to save energy, the bathroom lights are on sensors, and after a few minutes without detecting movement, the lights shut off.  No windows, no night lights – it is pitch black in there when the overheads are off.  I can’t even begin to tell you how awkward it is to be locked in a bathroom stall in absolute darkness, on the verge of ralphing, praying you don’t miss the toilet while trying not to touch anything!

It should have been an event in London – I’d have won Olympic gold!


April’s Ruining it for Womankind…

August 31, 2010 at 7:45 am | Posted in Pregnancy Fun Time | 7 Comments
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I feel the need to preface this post by reassuring you, our dear reader(s), that I simply adore April. I know how sad kids feel when their parents fight, so I want to be clear that we love each other very much and we are not getting a friend-divorce. With that said, I think she is being a little selfish.   

April does all this while pregnant! ...Overachiever...

 

You see, April is an amazing pregnant woman. She is the epitome of what 1950s etiquette books imply is perfect behavior for married women who are “with child.”   

At seven months pregnant, April still functions like a normal person. She chases after her son all day, does the grocery shopping and cooking, cleans everything but the cat’s litter box (which she isn’t allowed to do). She isn’t confined to bed rest. She rarely succumbs to emotional outbursts (at least not any more than usual). She doesn’t even have cravings or eat everything in sight!   

And that’s great. For her. And even greater for her hubs. But what about the rest of us?   

I don’t know about you, but I was hoping that whenever I actually became pregnant (and no, we aren’t trying yet!), it would provide an excuse for me to ease up a little activity-wise, get some extra help around the house, and dictate meal choices and random snacks at all times of the day and night. But now that Andrew has seen April as a pregnant superwoman, I know convincing him of my desperate need for kumquats and a foot massage at 3 a.m. is going to be even more difficult than I anticipated.    

April: for the love of womankind, can you please be a little more needy and irrational?   

~Sarah

Another Odd Pregnancy Symptom

August 3, 2010 at 6:53 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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I must apologize for our lack of a fresh post yesterday. Sarah was laid up with food poisoning and I had a terrible migraine that kept me in bed most of the day.

No, that’s not true. Not all of it, anyway. Sarah really did have food poisoning. I was fine. I even took a three-mile walk along the canal with Max. I don’t know why I lied to you, dear reader(s). It seems I just can’t be trusted these days. Don’t worry, I have no problem telling the truth regarding important issues. But if you ask me an inconsequential question, you just might get a fib.

We recently had a bit of an ant problem in our apartment. So I called our apartment manager to request that maintenance come and spray outside or do whatever it is they do when ants decide to colonize your dishwasher. Our lovely manager asked if I had sprayed anything already to take care of the ant. I said yes. And not just, “Oh, yeah, sure I sprayed,” but an emphatic affirmative answer as if only an idiot would ask maintenance to come over without first trying to solve the problem herself. However. I’m pregnant. I have a curious toddler who thinks the world is his chew toy. I’m not spraying anything in my house, and neither is anyone else. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I wanted to slap myself. Why would I say yes when the answer was clearly no? And to make matters worse, the manager’s next question was what, exactly, I had sprayed. And before I could even confess that I actually hadn’t sprayed anything, my mouth, completely of its own accord, informed her that I’d been attacking the ants with bleach. We don’t even own any bleach. And once that was out, what could I do? Take it back? People think I’m crazy enough without me saying one thing and then immediately saying, “Oh, wait, I’m sorry. You know what I said? The opposite is true.”

And then I was talking to my former insurance agent on the phone about our old car insurance policy. She asked if I still had my Mass. license plates. I told her I already sent them. When she asked when I had done that, I told her that morning. They were still in the backseat of my car. In fact, I didn’t even go to the post office for another week! But again, once the first little fib popped out, what could I do?

Where are the lies coming from? I’m usually painfully truthful. But not lately. I blame this new baby. Because I can. And because pregnancy makes women do crazy things. And because if you ask me, I’ll probably just lie anyway.

~April

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