Aside
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I hesitate to put this into words, given how miserable I was during my last pregnancy, but I really want to maintain a positive outlook this time around. You know, maybe even be that ‘glowing’ pregnant woman who handles the whole ordeal with ease! I’m not gonna put too much pressure on myself to enjoy every minute of it, but I’m going to try to keep in mind that it may very well be the last time I experience pregnancy.

Thinking about the things I want to do differently the next time around brings up some unresolved issues with my birthing process. Please don’t judge me – I’m probably about to sound crazy here for a bit. But I think that part of the reason I experienced such a downward spiral of confusion and sadness after Kenneth was born had to do with how chaotic the whole process felt. I mean, we went to the hospital without a diaper bag, much less a car seat. We were not at all expecting to have him in our arms the very next day, and I just didn’t feel prepared. On top of that, he was severely jaundiced for a week after he was born, and six days later we were still in the hospital because he hadn’t had any bowel movements… Cue the pediatrician telling me I was going to brain damage my child if I didn’t give him formula.

It just wasn’t really a fun time, all-around.

But (and this is a deep dark secret) I think that what bothers me most and doesn’t sit right with me is how the actual birth itself went down. I experienced amnesia after the fact, for whatever reason – exhaustion? Stress? I really don’t know, and I’ve never asked a professional out of embarrassment. But I don’t remember the first few hours after giving birth… I remember the doctor telling me to stop pushing, watching him grab a scalpel and cut me open, and then I remember the doctor holding our baby up by the leg. He let out one little cry and then went silent, and my gut told me that that couldn’t be right. Then he was immediately taken away (somewhere behind me) for what, I don’t know. I kept asking, “Is he okay? Why isn’t he making any noise?” And no one would answer me. Finally, the nurse brought him to me and laid him on my chest. My arms were too weak to wrap around him or hold him, and my legs were so weak that I watched them shake as I kept my knees bent and my doctor stitched me back up.

And that’s where it ends…

At some point, our families came in and joined us, and we were taken to another room. But I don’t remember any of this, or recall how much time had elapsed or what I did to bond with my son. I remember the first nurse coming in once we’d been moved, and asking me how long it had been since our little guy had eaten. I told her that I wasn’t sure, and that it had probably been when we were still in the birthing suite. She was quite upset, as that had apparently been a few hours ago.

The hardest piece for me to stomach fell into place at my eight-week checkup. I told my doctor about the pain I’d experienced around the incision site when my husband and I had sex, and he asked me why he’d given me an episiotomy. I thought to myself, “What do you mean, why?” I had assumed it was related to the fact that I’d been pushing for two hours and his head had reached a point it just wasn’t going to fit through.

“I’m not really sure…” I replied.

“I only do one or two of those a year. And only if there’s an emergent situation,” he said.

My stomach sunk. Suddenly it made sense why, though he’d asked me maybe fifteen minutes earlier in my labor if I wanted baby brought straight to my chest, he was taken away after he made it out. Doc speculated that perhaps the baby’s heart rate was dropping. Whatever happened, I will probably never know…

It took me awhile to acknowledge that this combination of events truly saddened me, but in time I did… And I found peace knowing that if I faced those feelings, I would be able to close the gap between my baby and myself. All of these events supported the voice in my head telling me to be afraid. The one that didn’t believe I would ever be a mother – not after the “uncertainty” of the first trimester had passed, not after finding out his gender, not as I started to show… Not even as I went into labor. It never felt real, and the chaos surrounding his birth fed that fear that I would lose him.

In time, after much struggle and anxiety, it began to feel ‘real.’ I think at some point I realized that if I held my breath waiting for the bottom to drop out, I would miss out on so much. When I look back, that seems to be true for about the first month of his life. But after that, I began to embrace being his mother and sustaining another human life. I began to trust my body and heart and soul to do what they were created to do. And it was amazing… I’m so glad I decided not to let fear keep me from those precious moments.

Anyways.

These are the thoughts that plague my mind as I’m trying to fall asleep tonight. Things I hope are different the second time around. Hopefully this will be a non-issue, as I now have living proof that my body is indeed capable of creating a human being. 😛 Hopefully instead, I rock the entire pregnancy and childbirth with the confidence of someone who’s been there, done that. Hopefully I will have more faith in God’s plan.

But I can’t guarantee I won’t worry my heart out for the little being that will come. ❤

1

New Mommy Checklist

6 months into this mommy gig, I’ve read many mommies’ “must-have” lists, and I think it’s about time I put together one of my own! When the hubs and I ventured into our local Babies ‘R Us to put together our registry, we were lost. And I mean, L O S T. We went in around noon, and by the time we left, the sun had gone down. Needless to say, the incredibly helpful sales clerks had shown us everything we ‘needed,’ and by the time we left, there were thousands of dollars’ worth of items on our registry.  A word to the wise, ladies, and take it or leave it: Having a baby is sort of like Valentine’s Day. It’s commercialized. And believe me, there are companies around every corner who want the money you are oh-so-willing to spend on your precious bundle of joy.

We are planners. I am a micro-managing control freak, and my husband has made a career out of anticipating every potential obstacle/downfall in order to win wars. This baby thing? We wanted to be prepared.Yep, we were that couple that went out and bought every item we had registered for that we didn’t get at our baby shower.  (And most of it is collecting dust in the nursery we never use.) The truth is, there are very few things you truly need in order to raise a baby.

With that said, here is my list of “Must-haves.” These are the things I would, without a doubt, invest the money in again if I could do it over.

  1. Diapers! Diapers, diapers, diapers. We got one package of diapers at our baby shower. That’s right, one. Mamas, make sure you let your guests know you want diapers! In every size! (Unless you’re doing cloth diapers, in which case, you rock. I wish I’d been that ambitious.) I think people were afraid that everyone else would bring them. Guess what? You can never have too many diapers.  I know that’s not what you want to hear, and compared to the glorious walls full of ‘things’ you are going to look at when you register, diapers are lame. They don’t make your heart flutter. Trust me – when you go through three packages in the first week of baby’s life, you’re going to want to exchange five of those binkies you got for some Pampers because, well, priorities!

    I know, I know... My baby could pretty much be a diaper model.

    I know, I know… My baby could pretty much be a diaper model.

  2. Sleepsacks: This is an embarrassing admission – when we were in the hospital, every time we needed to swaddle baby, we called a nurse in. Turns out, between myself, my husband, and my mom, we all sucked at swaddling. I was terrified to do it wrong and fall asleep only to wake up to a baby who had somehow tangled himself up in his blanket. In retrospect, the blanket tragedy was probably mostly an irrational fear, but sleep-deprivation will take its toll. And when it does, this Halo Sleepsack will provide you some peace of mind. It was, in those first few weeks, my favorite item I received at my baby shower (and I didn’t even register for it! Thanks, Aunt Molly –  you are brilliant). I wish I’d gotten a dozen because, inevitably, baby would pee in it in the middle of the night, and it became a guessing game – Do we put him in it first thing, and hope we can anticipate when he’s going to have a huge blowout, or do we wait until AFTER he’s had a blowout halfway through the night, and then put it on him??? Seriously. Next time around, we will have tons of these things so we never run out.
    "Guys, if you let me out of this straight-jacket, I promise I'll behave..."

    “Guys, if you let me out of this straight-jacket, I promise I’ll behave…”

    photo 3 

  3. Breastpump: Engorgement. ‘Nuff said. I’ll probably do a whole post at some point on breastfeeding basics (you’d think it would be self-explanatory, right? Not always!) but if you’re choosing to breastfeed, at some point or another you will probably want to invest in a good pump. I got the Medela Freestyle and used it every two hours for the first two weeks (latch issues galore) and it held up nicely.  If you aren’t going back to work, and you won’t be giving bottles except on rare occasions, skip a pricey one. But it’s worth it to get the higher quality if you’ll be using it frequently.
  4. Cloth diaper inserts: My precious bundle of joy made it pretty clear early on that he was a spitter. I mean major reflux. A basic burp cloth simply wasn’t going to handle this mess. Thankfully, my mom prepared me with diaper inserts (which I pretended to be super stoked about when I received them at my shower, then gave her a real “Thank you” once baby got here and I ran out and bought another package). Every new mom deserves to know this life hack. Diaper inserts were made to be absorbent. They may not be the prettiest, but what better time to learn to embroider than when you’re nesting instinct finally kicks in? Besides – when it’s 3 a.m. and there’s a puddle of spit-up under your little one and you’re not about to wash the crib sheets again, you’ll thank me.

    photo 1

    Owned.

  5. NoseFrida: If you follow Baby Sideburns, you probably saw her roast-post on the NoseFrida. I love my Baby Sideburns, but I must respectfully disagree with her here! When baby gets his or her first cold, and you’re listening to painstakingly stuffy breathing, you’ll do anything to make it better. To include sticking a tube in your rugrat’s nose and sucking the snot out using your very own lung power. These gadgets are seventeen bucks – do yourself a favor and register for it. In fact, make it a baby shower game – whoever shows up with the NoseFrida in tow wins a prize. Really, though, this person knows what they’re doing and probably loves you very much. (Disclaimer: I draw the line at the Windi. Google at your own risk!)

    photo 2

    The mother of all snot-suckers.

  6. Carrier: A fellow mommy loaned me her ErgoBaby when Kenneth was about two months and we had to fly (sans Daddy) from Missouri to Florida. We never looked back. This thing is so much easier to use than a stroller or infant carrier.  Plus, you have your hands free. It’s especially useful when baby is fussy and only wants to be held. You can go to the grocery store, get laundry done, do dishes – pretty much anything, all while baby is snuggled in close to you (and sometimes even napping peacefully on your back!). I definitely encourage every new mom to check into a local babywearing group on Facebook. The ladies there will hook you up with a Learn & Play where you can try (and even borrow) different styles of carriers before investing in one (they start around $125). We even ventured out into the realm of ring-slings! Can’t wait to have another baby so we can try it out with a squish. 😉
    IMG_0709

    Aww, man… No more excuse for not getting anything done. But at least my arms aren’t sore!

    random2

    Complete with sleepydust… It’s love.

  7. Boobies: Yep, I went there.  I just wanna point out that boobs require no washing/sterilizing, and they’re free. I dunno about you, but I am super lazy, and the learning curve of caring for an infant was enough for me to handle without washing bottles multiple times a day, and running to the store for formula. My little man is finally starting solids, and I am seriously resenting having to consciously anticipate/plan his meals, then be all responsible and stuff and clean them up. Ugh. It was so much more fun when my body did all the work. 😦
  8. Swing: Oh my gosh – I forgot the swing! How could I forget the swing?! Little man is now 22 pounds, and he STILL loves to nap in his swing! There was that one incident when he fell out (before he’d actually rolled over and we didn’t realize just how mobile he was) so I advise you to always strap baby in, even if he’s never shown any signs of escape before. Otherwise, embrace the swing! Seriously! I’m all about ‘attachment,’ and ‘bonding,’ and ‘skin-to-skin,’ but sometimes you have to shower. Or leave your love with a babysitter.  Or go into another room to have 45 minutes to yourself for the sake of your sanity. When life happens, you will want a swing with lullabies and a safety harness to strap your baby into. This is one of those things that made my heart flutter when we looked at it in the store – “How cuuuuuuute! He’ll have little lamb ears!” Now, my heart flutters when I attempt a swing transfer during naptime and he starts to stir. I digress….

    003

    Arguably the best $175 we ever spent…

 

Well, I think that pretty much covers it. These are the things that have made the first few months the easiest for us. The rest of the baby hoopla is, well, just that. In fact, look out for my next post on the things I was surprised not to have needed! That should be fun.

2

The Day I Forfeit.

Since baby came around, I’ve somehow become ensnared in the mommy competition. It was a slow downward spiral, and I’m not sure I was entirely cognizant of it until the other day. I was surfing a website I’m subscribed to which focuses on natural childbirth, etc., and something they said made me rather sad about being unable to have an intervention-free birth. And then I had a light bulb moment – why the hell would I be sad or mourn for the birthing process I went through? Our story is our very own, and it wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t have a stroke, or an embolism. My son and I both made it through alive. I have so very much to be grateful for, yet I let my idealism blind me to all of the good fortune I’ve had.

Perfectionism. Bleh.

My life is messy. Yes, yes it is. In fact, I’m pretty sure I found a dirty diaper at the bottom of my diaper bag, today, that had been there for God only knows how long.

…That was an overshare, huh?

I went to a mommy group today and we (inevitably) traded birth stories, and I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt to hear other women tell me they asked for an epidural as soon as they were admitted to the maternity ward.  The truth is, nothing is quite as humbling as raising a little human.  The standard is oh-so-high (this ‘standard’ I’m referring to is my own, but I suspect every mom has this imagined standard in her heart), and entirely impossible to live up to. I could never give my little man everything that he deserves, despite my best intentions. Today, I watched other mommies smile and laugh about it (as opposed to beating their heads against a wall for being the worst mommies ever!), and I decided that I forfeit.  What does that mean, exactly? Well, for me it meant going through and unsubscribing from any webpages/blogs/facebook feeds that left me feeling the slightest bit inadequate. Yep. I am no longer an attachment parenting, babywearing, breastfeeding, natural birth advocate according to social media. I am just a mom. The best mom I am capable of being, and that’s just gonna have to be enough for my son. I love him so, so much, that I will never be able to doenough to express that. I give up holding myself to the ‘right way’ of doing things according to all of the latest research.  Because, quite frankly, the anxiety that I’m going to screw my kid up if I don’t do A, B, and C is keeping me from being emotionally present. And in the long run, I think he will appreciate having a mother’s open, joyful heart much more than he will appreciate the time and money she spent dicing up organic avocados in a futile attempt at baby-led weaning. 

Perhaps I simply have too much time on my hands! Maybe tonight I’ll lobby for Baby #2.

 

(…Still laughing…)

 

Okay, friends! Any advice for REAL parenting and letting go of the perfect mommy in my imagination is highly encouraged! 🙂 Please and thank you.