July 19, 2016 arrived much sooner than I expected. Anna was in the breech position the last half of my pregnancy, and despite my efforts at the chiropractor to have her flip, I scheduled a c-section for the morning of the 19th in case she decided to be stubborn and keep her head up against my rib cage. Well… she was stubborn and she came into the world on a schedule (catering, of course, to how our family operates: on schedules.)
I clearly remember Anna’s delivery. I remember being in pre-op and the “nurse in training”, who was supposed to fix me up with some IV’s, did some digging and clearly wasn’t a master of needle-sticking. That was the most painful part of my delivery. Interesting, right? The epidural didn’t hurt. The surgery didn’t hurt. And the recovery wasn’t even that bad. I was up and walking on my own within a few hours post-op and I could even do all of my bathroom duties without any pain! (Ladies who deliver naturally, you are the true heroes.) Even with the pain of the initial IV, the annoyance of nurses coming in to check on me every hour, and the discomfort for anyone who stays in a hospital bed, the scariest part was that I now had a small human being who I would be responsible for the next… forever years.
No more leaving on a wim to go on vacation. No more sleeping in until 10am. No more fun….
…. at least that’s really how I felt the first couple of months.
I vividly remember spending most of the first 2 weeks crying. Breast feeding hurt a lot – so I cried. Anna wouldn’t stop crying and it’d been 6 hours – so I cried. I felt so tired yet sleep wasn’t an option – so I cried. Johan wanted to tell me how great of a Mom I was – and then I cried. Everything made me cry!! Friends, family, and doctors tried to warn me about baby blues and postpartum depression, but to everyone reading this, you really can’t understand either of those two things until you’re a new mom. Not only did I cry the first 2 weeks, but I had numerous thoughts of “why did we get pregnant?” and “I wish I could go back to last year” and “When will she be in kindergarten?” It pains me to admit that, but to other moms who had similar thoughts: I understand you and I feel for you. There’s a percentage of women who don’t immediately fall in love with their children and that’s okay. Everyone’s story is unique and that’s what makes this thing called Motherhood so amazing.
So what is Motherhood?
Motherhood is really really really hard.
Motherhood brings a level of joy you’ve never felt before.
Motherhood makes a marriage struggle.
Motherhood invokes a new kind of communication between Mom and Dad.
Motherhood takes away your independence.
Motherhood causes you to reevaluate your priorities.
Motherhood introduces many sleepless nights.
Motherhood gives you a good reason to be up at 3am.
Motherhood means your house is now a laundromat.
Motherhood demonstrates sacrifice and pure love.
I struggled in the beginning and I questioned our decision to have kids a lot. There were highs and lows and while so many of my mom friends consoled me and reassured me that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, I still texted them numerous times per day asking about the same things over and over again. I’m blessed with people in my life who were patient and loving to me in that trying time. Now that Anna is just over 6 months old, I get it. I finally understand that there really is a light. I continue to learn things about our new family dynamic every day. My hope is that moms everywhere will be comfortable sharing their feelings even if they don’t line up with the image portrayed on television or on social media. And if you know someone who may be struggling, don’t let her cute Facebook pictures with super positive captions fool you. I posted enough of those as tears were hitting my keyboard and I hadn’t eaten in hours.
Tips that saved me
- Your birth story is whatever you want it to be
- Don’t plan to do any actual work at the hospital
- Don’t be worried about using the nipple shield – it literally saved the integrity of my nipples
- Get someone to watch baby the first night you’re home from the hospital (even if you’re breastfeeding, he/she can bring the baby to you to feed then put him/her back to bed) you’ll need the sleep!
- If you have a generous family member or you have the $$ to hire someone, having help at night the first 2 weeks will make you a completely different woman
- Get an Amazon Prime account
- Keep track of feedings/diapers in a notebook or an app at least the first 4 weeks
- If you’re going to be scheduled-oriented, the notebook is also helpful to keep track of baby’s sleep patterns
- Read 12 Hours Sleep by 12 Weeks Old by Suzy Giordano – it worked perfectly for Anna!
- Get out of the house as soon as possible, even just for a quick trip to the grocery story (We took Anna to Costco when she was like 1 week old and it felt amazing.)
- Let baby cry sometimes
- Let yourself cry sometimes
- Take a shower every day while someone watches baby
- For the first 3 months, have lots of plain onesies
- Take a daily walk up and down the street with baby
- Ask for help as much as you want and as much as you need
- Vick’s infant chest rub is great for baby colds
- If baby is super stuffy, shower steam works miracles
- Formula feeding? the Baby Brezza is a must
- Don’t let Dr. Brown’s bottles intimidate you – they’re harder to clean but they’re a lifesaver for colic
- Those amber necklaces aren’t just for teething, they’re for spitting up too!
- Yes, baby can sleep in his/her crib from day 1 if you want
- Your demeanor will most definitely reflect on baby’s behavior (stressed Momma = stressed baby)
- There is power in prayer
- It really does get a lot better after 2-3 months
- If you’re comfortable, let different, trustworthy people watch baby (Anna goes to the church nursery, stays with neighbors, and has a few different babysitters and it’s helped her be okay with separation)
- Take lots of pictures
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5