I was referred to this great blog written by a fellow new mom and she asked us other new moms to talk about things we wished we had done or known before embarking on this crazy ride- so here are my thoughts:
First of all, anyone who says she loves being pregnant, I am immediately suspicious of.
Secondly, the writer of the blog suggested a baby bootcamp for prospective parents. A ‘training’ of sorts where you wouldn’t be allowed to give the baby back once it started screaming but had to actually deal with it ALL NIGHT LONG. Although I think this is a brilliant idea, nothing can prepare a Mother for the physiological, emotional, and mental stress hearing her very own baby’s cry does to her. It’s insane how deep this shit goes. It is core. I find myself shaking, sweating, crying, and huddled in the corner in the fetal position in a matter of seconds when my baby wails. This doesn’t happen to my husband because he didn’t grow her in his body for 40 weeks. That still blows my mind and doesn’t really make sense. That she lived INSIDE of me and now lives OUTSIDE of me. I don’t think she’s fully come to terms with it either. I mean, she’s only 3 months. We are just getting out of the fourth trimester. I hear that pretty soon though she does get it and it freaks her the fuck out. Looking forward to that.
Which brings me to one of the biggest things I wish we’d done that we didn’t- HAD A DISCUSSION about how we would respond, as a team, to her cries. I guess if you aren’t co-parenting it isn’t an issue, but if you are, it’s not the time to argue about it when you have a screaming infant in your arms, because primarily your hormones are raging and every cell of your being is commanding you to do whatever it takes to soothe the baby and anyone who suggests otherwise is an immediate threat and traitor. And these little people are SHARP. They KNOW what you are feeling even if you don’t. And no matter how hard you might try to hide it, they smell fear and anxiety like an animal and will respond accordingly. I regret those moments the most. It took us a while but we are now a well oiled co-parenting machine, and getting there took a lot of listening and talking and compromising on both our parts, but we are better parents because of it.
The writer of the blog mentioned the beating her vagina took and how intense the recovery was. I didn’t have that experience. I was forewarned how scary pooping would be at first, which was true. But my vagina actually shrunk. In fact, if I’d known this would happen, I would have had a child sooner. It’s been sort of a blessing for me. I guess every vagina is different. Who knew?
What I didn’t take seriously enough was how traumatic the birthing was for my baby. We were induced and she endured a good 14 hours of hard ass contractions with no break. I was able to get an epidural, which saved me from a cesarean, I believe, but my daughter had nothing. Her head was pounding against my cervix the entire time. Although it was the best thing I have ever done for my daughter, going to the Osteopathic doctor, I wish I’d taken her sooner. She didn’t have to endure, again, three months of irritability, uncomfortability, and spitting up ferociously. All of which disappeared once we saw the lovely Dr. Nevins. Next birth, that woman is at our house the next day.
Another thing- a big thing- is I really wish someone had given me the permission to stay home the first two months and do absolutely nothing but bond with my baby. I am sure people did tell me that, but I didn’t hear it the way I needed to and I kept trying to do too much. I wish I hadn’t. And another thing- everyone can wait to see the damn baby. I didn’t need to host a bunch of meet and greets with well meaning friends who didn’t seem to know when to leave early enough. No fault of their own. It was all mine. I was terrified to ask for what I needed. Mainly because I didn’t even know I could need or want that kind of solitude. But it’s okay to cave. Second baby, you won’t see me for awhile, I promise.
The writer talks about getting help. YES. HELP ME PLEASE should of been the easiest words out of my mouth, but silly little me was too stubborn to say them. Although, I have to say, we never used our doula in the hospital and I feel pretty good about how my husband and I handled those first few weeks alone, in shock, two deer in the headlights, two ships passing in the night. We did it. And it was incredibly bonding. Because our daughter didn’t do much those first few weeks. It was when she began The Witching Hour that we lost our shit. That was when we needed help and didn’t ask for it. That was when we needed the village. We have no village. No family around. It was like a giant wave of relief when my Mom finally came up to stay with us. We both had no idea help could be so good. We want help now. We crave it. In fact, today is the first day that Pony has been with her new BFF, Irene, for the entire day. On Thursdays they are going to hang out together playing games and learning Spanish. And on Thursdays now I am going to teach, and write, and run errands and whatever the hell I want to do.
I used to be militant about no other woman raising my child, but I have to tell you, as hard and strange as it was to watch her walk out the door with my daughter in the stroller and for me to leave the house alone, it is kind of miraculous at the same time. I couldn’t do it every day of the week, but one day, one day feels like a mini vacation and I am super grateful and recharged. And it kind of surprised me, but I did vet this woman thoroughly and I heard it happens with her, my little angel seems to LOVE her already. I went home to nurse before going to write and Pony was all smiles and giggles. Amazing.
HELP IS GOOD.
The writer recommends acknowledging loss and grieving it. Although this wasn’t my experience, I have heard of this. I don’t know if it is because my husband and I have been sober for so long, but what we lost we don’t miss. We both wanted a new paradigm in our lives and were totally excited for it. Although it’s been mind blowingly more challenging than we ever could of realized, it was more about acknowledging CHANGE than grieving loss for me. I always wanted to live in the moment and this baby keeps me so present, reveling in a smile, a giggle, a coo. No Self-Help book can do that to you. If you really want to be here now, just look into your sweet child’s eyes. It’ll pull you back every time.
Parenting for me is like one never ending spiritual lesson after another that never lets up- day or night. It’s relentless and demanding and ever so rewarding. Because at the end of the day, I haven’t thought about myself half as much as I used to and that, to me, is a gift. Like a dear friend once said- Parenting is the most spiritual thing you will ever do. That is, if you accept the challenge as such. Perception is everything. Change your perception and you change your life.
Lastly, I completely agree with the writer about wishing I had been more forewarned about Parenting Philosophies and what they really are. Just philosophies that either help or hinder. There are amazing things about the entire spectrum of parenting that make perfect sense to me and I wish I’d spent less time reading about them and more time meditating and being quiet before this baby was born. Because your own particular parenting style I think evolves whether you want it to or not. Everyone is making concessions that either nip something in the bud or kick the can farther down the road, but in the end you have to find what works for you and your family. Like vaginas, they are all different. I resented my husband slightly at first because he was very adamant that we not have the Family Bed and you know what, 3 months later we have a peaceful little sleeper in her own bed in her own room and I have a husband I can snuggle with in the morning while we listen to her coo and giggle to herself. It’s pretty special and intimate and works 100% for us. And we never sleep trained or let her cry it out for hours on end. We did a very gradual gentle approach that we didn’t even know we were doing. It just began with a co-sleeper on the bed, which became a bassinet next to the bed, then the bassinet was in her room for day time naps, and finally it became the landing pad for nighttime sleep at around 3 months and now it’s her crib. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be either or. There can be a middle road. It does involve crying however, but how much is up to you.
It’s so funny because at the end of her post the woman says the only thing she would have done differently would have been to hire a doula and that is the one thing I would have not done. I would have taken the money we spent on our doula and spent it on another baby moon, or another movie, or another dinner. That is time well spent. Not sleeping. That you can’t have memories of. But holding hands and watching a quiet beautiful sunrise while you are pregnant with life, that is priceless.