Friday, July 27, 2012

Things no one told me about having a baby

I was reflecting on all the things I want to remember to tell my sister and friends when they get ready to have their first babies. I thought it would be worth writing them all down. Here is a quick collection of things I feel like I learned the hard way!

Visitors - just don't have them the first 2-3 weeks, if you can help it. People want to "help", but they don't really mean it. They want to hold the baby. I can hold my own baby, and very much enjoy doing so, thank you. When they're that little, they just sleep anyway. If you want to help, I need you to do the dishes, sweep the floor, clean the toilet, go grocery shopping, make me a meal, bring me a glass of water, listen to me while I cry....there are a million things you can do to help. I felt very possessive over Alex and I got so annoyed when people would come over to hold the baby, and I ended up feeling like I needed to offer them something to drink or entertain them.

Night sweats - gross. In the first few weeks, these were so disgusting I felt like washing the sheets every day. I would sweat all night and even when I snuck in a nap. I still have them occasionally, and I'll wake up with sweat literally dripping down my chest! When they first hit, I felt like maybe I was getting sick, since I didn't feel hot but I was so sweaty. I almost took my temperature one morning! I googled it and found out this was common, but I couldn't figure out why none of my pregnancy/childbirth books mentioned it.

Postpartum hormones - I guess people did prepare me, or tried to. I was warned vaguely about the baby blues and PPD, but no one told me how completely fragile I would feel, all the time, for days. Everything made me feel like I could just fall apart. I felt like an infant myself, a lot - wandering around and crying, incapable of pulling it together. The sleep deprivation didn't help.

Appetite - this has been all over the place since Alex arrived. Initially, I had no appetite at all. I had to force myself to eat because I knew I needed to for my milk supply. I remember gagging on a granola bar, just trying to choke it down. I wonder if this is some preservation thing that kicks in, because you don't have much time to prepare food for yourself? Now, though, I can't eat enough. For instance, it's 2pm and I've had the following to eat today: a bowl of cereal, cheeze its, two fried eggs, hashbrowns, and a frozen Amy's burrito. I'm still hungry.

Nursing - when you sit down to nurse, you need to have the following things, always: your cell phone, the remote for the TV, a glass of water, a snack. Also, pee before you start. Nursing a newborn takes a good 30 minutes and once you get them latched on I promise you won't want to go anywhere.

Going poo - I have a well documented problem with constipation. During pregnancy it was awful. The first few weeks of Alex's life I was constantly in the bathroom with the opposite problem. The weird thing was that nursing stimulated my bowels. Many times I was forced to choose between taking him off the breast so I could run to the restroom, or nursing on the toilet, which seemed really really gross to me.

Leaving the house by yourself - just do it. It won't get easier, even if you wait until he's six weeks old. Try to make yourself leave the house as soon as you can get 2 ounces pumped in a bottle for someone to give the baby. Even if you only go get your oil changed, you will feel better and more like a real person.

Leaving the house with the baby - just do it. The worst that will happen is that he will scream and it will stress you out and potentially embarrass you. That has happened to everyone! You may need to nurse him in the car in the parking lot. It will be worth it to get out into the world.

You're not doing it wrong - because you will feel like you are. If the baby is fed and doesn't have a poopy butt, you're not doing it wrong, period. This one is REALLY important, because I felt like I was doing it wrong for a long time.

Support system - make sure you have one. You will need advice and people to vent to. Make sure they have the same values as you do - you don't want to blow off steam to your mother about breastfeeding if she's going to ask "why don't you just give him formula?"

Egalitarian, non-gendered parenting - I am a huge believer in this. I swore up and down that my husband and I would be totally equal when it comes to parenting. And he is a great dad and loves Alex so much. But I still feel that parenting is primarily my responsibility. I can't shake that feeling no matter what I do. When A is holding the baby and he cries, I physically cannot resist trying to take him.

More babies - you will think about this way earlier than you think you will.

Resentment - no matter how much you yearned for, tried for, and ultimately love your child, you will have moments (or okay, days) when you miss your old life. You will get on facebook and hate all of your bitchy friends who are out drinking without you. That's okay. It doesn't mean you don't love your baby. Your old life is all you know, and now you are getting used to this one, which is a great life but it does mean you don't get to have a summer suntan because you're stuck inside with a baby all day.

Moms, what did I miss?


_Mushypea said...

Loneliness - how once all the visitors have gone back to their lives and you are on your own with your precious bundle that actually it can be very lonely. It is ok to admit this and you are not alone in how you feel. I know it was an unexpected element for me.

Spontaneity - this becomes a nightmare scenario as everything works around feeding and sleeping in the early days. Everything is planned to fit in with what works best for you as a family regardless of what others may think.

Sex - the big taboo. It is normal to want to feel womanly and sexy etc but the exhaustion can take that away as you fall asleep on the couch like you did when you were pregnant. It is hard to get time together as a couple even to just sit and relax - it will return in time.

These are the things I wish I'd been told in addition to the ones you list. Love this post!

Ruth said...

I feel like I could have written this post. Especially the part about "doing it wrong." I can't tell you how many times I felt self-conscious when older women would ask me if I was "timing" his feedings or marveled that I was "taking him out of the house already." Even though I know what I'm doing and know my reasons for doing so, I hate feeling like I have to defend my parenting style to others.

MaryMargaret said...

I just want to let you know that I am sitting here bawling after reading this post. Our twins are 6 days old, and have been home for 2 days.... and I am an emotional WRECK! I can completely relate to the Visitors point especially. I don't want to fold laundry while I watch you hold my baby. Thank you for the pointers- these are the things that no one tells you when you are pregnant.

Alex said...

TOTALLY!!! I find myself nodding to myself at each and every point. So true. Sounds like you're coming out of the fog a bit and reflecting on this time. That means you're through the hard part!

Anonymous said...

Are Mom's doing this solo or do they have help?

I have a 4 year old, a 2.5 year old and a 1 week old. I am part of a large family of siblings and just arrived home from the hospital with my son, 4 days ago.

My husband was with me 2 days and my sitter was with me one day. I am amazed that I have had no help from my family, particularly my mother and father who live with me in the same 2 family home.

The kicker is pre-delivery my mother was communicating to all my siblings what a help she wanted to be when the baby arrived and now that he is here, she is MIA.

She has not offered to cook, clean, launder, babysit the 2 younger ones, nothing. In fact, I left my stroller on her floor of the house when I came in from the park today and felt I was inconveniencing her.

I am so angry and disappointed, I could burst! Maybe I should employ my sitter more and just move on. I guess I had an expectation my mother would want to help, especially with ther campaigning to others that she did.

Are new Mom's doing this solo or do they have help (from their moms or others)?