Insecurity

At the end of my pregnancy I was feeling like a pro. I knew how to be pregnant. I knew what to expect. I was even able to offer advice to other pregnant women who weren’t as far along as me. I felt like I was a Senior in high school.

Then my baby was born. And I felt like a Freshman. I no longer knew everything,  let alone anything. I was in new unfamiliar territory.  I felt small and insecure. I had to figure out this new world that I was in.

I admit it. I like feeling superior. I like having experience and being able to share that with others. I like knowing things. I like being the seasoned veteran. I was a preschool teacher for 8 years. By the end I felt like a pro. I knew what I was doing and how to do it.

But now I’m lost. I’m new to this whole mothering thing. I’m not a pro. I’m not an expert. Some days I feel like I’m just barely treading water. Other days I feel like I’m drowning. Some days I feel like I can swim, but not very far or for very long.

When I’m alone with my baby, I don’t really care. But when I’m out in public, I stress out. I feel like people will judge me if my baby cries. They will wonder why I can’t calm her down. They will think I’m doing things all wrong.

Now I know that this is mostly untrue. Sure, some people judge. But who cares anyways?

I am a good Momma. I love my baby something fierce. I am doing the best I can. Each day I gain more experience and figure more things out. Sometimes the baby changes things on me and that’s okay. We’re figuring each other out. We’re learning and growing together.

I can’t let my insecurities control me. So what if my baby cries a little during church. It will happen and it will be okay. I’m not a pro and I never will be. I’m coming to accept that. Motherhood is a constantly changing evolving thing. I’m just excited I get to be on this journey with my baby girl.

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Reflections on the First Month of Motherhood

I can’t believe my baby girl turned a month old yesterday! It seems like time is flying by so quickly. I’m amazed at all that has happened in just such a short time. My life has changed dramatically.

There are times when it doesn’t seem real. The reality that I’m a mom and that I have a daughter has yet to fully sink in. I’m living this life, but mentally I just can’t quite comprehend it all.

Did you ever have that thing that you hoped and dreamed about for a long time and then when you got it you just couldn’t believe that it was really yours? That’s kind of how I feel. I feel like I’m living in a dream. Until 2 AM happens and I’m up nursing my baby and then she falls asleep so I try to put her down, but then she wakes up again and is hungry and repeat. Now that, that doesn’t feel like a dream. But I digress. I think part of what makes it feel like a dream is that it’s still hard to believe that I’m a mom. But also, motherhood is so different than what I expected.

I didn’t know how much I would love my baby. When she crys it makes me sad. I just want to make everything okay for her. When I’m apart from her I’m sad. I just want to hold her and snuggle her all the time. I don’t want to share her with anyone else, not even my husband. We have this special relationship that can’t be had with anyone else.

I also didn’t know how frustrated I would get. Like when she won’t latch on even though she’s clearly hungry and her body is rigid making it hard for me to help her find my breast. Or in the middle of the night when all I want to do is sleep, but she’s hungry and wants to snuggle with me. And then I get frustrated at myself for getting frustrated at her. She’s just a baby who needs her Momma. A sweet innocent precious baby.

I’ve learned a lot in a month, about her, about me, about my husband, and about God.

I used to think my daughter hated wet diapers, but it turns out that’s not true. She much rather eat when she wakes up and then have her diaper changed. She also likes being carried in the Boba wrap. It helps her to fall asleep. She likes her paci to help her fall asleep and then she spits it out and keeps sleeping. She likes car rides better now that I moved her straps up a notch. She loves it when her Baba sings to her and plays with her.

I’ve been lonely. It’s hard being by myself when my husband’s at work. I need people. I’ve always known this, but I feel it more acutely now. I also don’t know how to talk to people. It takes so much energy to have a conversation, but I need those interactions. I get stressed when the baby seems unhappy. I need to work on that. Stressing out doesn’t help anybody.

I’ve learned how incredible my husband is. He loves our daughter so much. It makes me so happy to see him with her. When he changes her diaper he’ll sing to her or play a game. I love those moments that I get to witness. And he loves me so well. He takes care of me so I can take care of baby girl. He puts up with my crankiness. He even lets me take naps while he takes care of the baby. My love for him has grown so much.

My relationship with God has changed. I don’t have that deep intimate time with Him. I’m trying to spend some time in the middle of the night reading and praying. Lately I’ve been too tired though. But, God is always there. I’m understanding more of how He loves us. A parent’s love is so different than any other kind of love.

This whole being a Mom thing is so different than what I thought. It’s so much better and so much more incredible. I don’t love it every minute, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Battle of Wills

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a battle of wills. There’s what I want and need on one side and what my daughter wants and needs on the other. Sometimes our wills match up. Unfortunately this is usually not the case in the evening and middle of the night hours. She’ll wake up and want to be changed and fed. I, on the other hand, just want to sleep. Or she’ll want to be rocked and held, but I want to go to the bathroom or eat food.
When our wills are out of sync, we’re both unhappy. She cries if her needs aren’t being met. I get cranky when I don’t get sleep.

I am totally reminded of my relationship with God. I have a battle of wills with Him sometimes. Though I don’t see it as tangibly as I do with my baby. No, it’s much more subtle. But, the outcome is the same. When I am living and moving in the will of God for my life, I have a sense of peace and contentment. But, when I ignore His will and selfishly do what I want and desire, I am left feeling empty and unhappy.

My thoughts on this are still developing and formulating. I’m sure there will be a follow-up post.

Motherhood Survival Tips for the first few weeks

There are so many things I was unprepared for. Here’s my list of things to make it through the first few weeks.

1.  Make sure you go to the bathroom every couple of hours. You may not feel the urge to go. You don’t want to get a UTI.

2. When packing the diaper bag, include pads for yourself. I totally forgot about me.

3. Babies cry. I know this is obvious, but sometimes you feel like you did everything and they still cry. Oh, and just because you just changed the diaper that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be changed again 2 minutes later.

4. Know that you will be exhausted and emotional and that’s okay.  Ask for and accept help from your spouse, family, friends, etc.

5. You may feel like a cow or a 24/7 vending machine. Babies eat a lot, sometimes what seems like nonstop. This is completely normal. Enjoy the time to bond with and love on your baby.

6. Doctors and nurses have their own views on things, so do friends, family and complete strangers. Learn to smile and nod. Listen to your gut and do what is right for you and baby.

7. Just say no to Mommy guilt. If you are feeding, changing and loving on your baby then you are doing just fine.

8. Take a break. Take a few minutes or more to get away. This does not make you a bad person. Everyone needs a mental, physical, and emotional break.

9. Sleep when the baby sleeps as much as you can. This is so hard to do. You never know what night the baby will be up every hour wanting to eat.

10. Babywearing is good for you and baby. It enables you to get a break from holding the baby, but still gives the baby the closeness she desires and needs.

11. Enjoy every minute. Babies grow and change quickly. (But it’s okay if you don’t enjoy it all. Late night feedings and diaper changes are hard.)

12. Let go of control. You no longer have any. The baby determines when you eat, sleep, and go anywhere. Some days you may get nothing done.

13. Eat food. It’s so hard to find time to do anything. You may have to eat while nursing. Remember your health is important for the baby’s health.

14. Drink lots of liquids, especially water. Don’t be surprised if you’re constantly thirsty.

15. Be real with yourself and others about how you’re feeling.

16. A Boppy (or other nursing pillow) is a life-saver (and back, neck and arm saver).

17. What you thought you would do and what you actually do can be two very different things.

18. Each day is a new one. Take things moment by moment.

19. Try not to stress about the small or big things.

20. Lanolin and gel pads are nipple savers. Use them often and don’t be lazy about correcting an improper latch.

21. Take time to burp the baby. When you’re exhausted you may just want to let the baby sleep when she’s done eating. Burping will make them more comfortable though.

22. Babies have short sleep cycles and will often rouse. Wait a few minutes to see if they go back to sleep. They may awaken, cry a little and go right back to sleep. My baby is upset if I pick her up when she is rousing.

23. Baby skin is sensitive. Many scratches and red bumps may appear along with patches of dry skin. This is all very normal. If the bumps don’t go away after a few days, then it might be good to check with the doctor.

24. Book lights! Put them where you change and feed the baby. So much better than turning on a lamp or the bedroom light.

25. Snacks. Those middle of the night feedings make you hungry. I like to keep some protein bars on the nightstand.

26. Make a game out of things. I like to play “Get the Boobie” with my daughter. It keeps me from getting frustrated when she is clearly hungry but won’t latch on.

27. Kellymom.com is a great resource for all things breastfeeding related.

28. Enjoy the adventure.

Motherhood

Aiya! Being a mother is so hard. There are so many emotions. It’s all so exciting and overwhelming.

I stare at my sweet girl’s face and I am overcome with love and joy. In that same moment I have so many fears and doubts and ponderings about her future. I am responsible for her. I will always be her mother. We are bonded forever.

I’ve longed to be a mother for so long. I’ve always loved children. But, now that I am one, I struggle with it. I want to do everything I can for her. It hurts me when she cries and I can’t quite figure out what is wrong. There’s moments when all I want to do is snuggle her and moments when I just want to go somewhere else and have a few minutes alone.

Being a mother is not easy. I don’t know that I ever really thought it would be, but I certainly didn’t know the full extent of what I was getting myself into.

I’m sure lack of sleep doesn’t help me any. I cried today because I put the happy, fed, and changed baby into her crib so I could take a shower. She was fine until I was done. She started crying as I got dressed. I tried calming her down and feeding her. But, she wouldn’t eat. So, as I held her, I cried too and told her that I didn’t know what was wrong. And I think that’s the most important thing. Admitting to her,  myself, and others that I just don’t know. And that’s okay. I’m doing the best I can. I’m going to fail and make mistakes. But, I will move on from those and love her.

It didn’t take long for her to calm down and she’s happily eating now. I think she just needed some Momma snuggles to know that everything is okay.

My 30 days of Brave

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So, I made the plunge and joined this challenge that started on Monday. I tried to come up with lots of reasons not to do it. My main reason is that I just had a baby. My life is (rightly) consumed with her, so of course I don’t have time for anything else. The real reason though is that I’m a recovering perfectionist (thank you melancholy personality). I hate HATE setting goals of any kind. Because, ultimately they lead to failure. I’m not perfect. I can’t fulfill my goals all of the time. While I know this, I have an adversion to making mistakes, to not being perfect. I try to let the sanguine side of my personality rule and not care about doing things perfectly. But the melancholy side silently screams at me to get my act together.

If you notice, even though I set goals, they are a little vague and leave room for imperfection. The only one that is required daily is the first one. I spend a lot of time on my phone while nursing,  so I figured some of that time should be productive. Just because I have a newborn, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t spend time with God. Though, what that time looks like is vastly different than it was before and that’s okay. I’m in a different season of life.

My second goal is so important. My husband has been kind of neglected ever since I got pregnant. It’s so important to take time to encourage him in his new role. He is really doing great and I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without him.

My third goal is so vague. What is a walk exactly? I could count going out to the mailbox as a walk, though I won’t. But, being physically active in some way is important to my health. There are days when I won’t be able to leave the house and I have to accept that. My life and my schedule are no longer my own (one could argue that they were never mine, which is true, it’s just easier to see how they aren’t mine now.)

My fourth goal is probably one of the hardest for me. I love people. I love being social. But I fear rejection. It’d be so easy to hide behind the baby and not seek relationship with others. But, I desperately need people in my life.

I’ve always sucked at my fifth goal. It’s so easy to get caught up in things. Sometimes when I’m glued to the couch with a sleeping baby that will wake up if I try to move her, I think about all the things I could be doing, like cooking, cleaning, taking a shower, going to the bathroom. And I miss out on the precious time with my baby. I am so thankful to have her. I don’t want to take my time with her for granted. She needs me and I need her.

So here’s to 30 days of being brave. And here’s to offering myself grace when I fail.

Things I wish I would’ve known about labor, delivery, and the postpartum life

About Labor:

  1. For me, contractions felt like stomach cramps
  2. Contractions really aren’t as bad as I envisioned, especially in the beginning
  3. Bouncing on an exercise ball is extremely helpful (wish I would’ve brought it to the hospital)
  4. Eating during a contraction is extremely uncomfortable
  5. Resting as much as possible is important
  6. Contractions in a car stuck in traffic are not fun
  7. There are moments of self-doubt
  8. Screaming “Get this baby out of me!” just might happen a few times
  9. Saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” might also happen
  10. Warm showers really do help the body to relax

About delivery:

  1. It’s weird and strange to feel a baby come out of you
  2. There is a “ring of fire” but you quickly forget about it
  3. What they say about pushing like you’re pooping is totally true
  4. Wait for the strong contractions to push and let them build first, don’t push on the weak ones
  5. The moment when they put the baby on your chest is the most exciting and scariest moment
  6. Delivering the placenta was actually really easy

About postpartum life:

  1. You get little to no sleep in the hospital
  2. Breastfeeding hurts at first and nurses will “help” you
  3. All your dignity and sense of shame went out the window when you gave birth
  4. A nurse will use a peri bottle to rinse you off after you go to the bathroom
  5. You’re not supposed to “push” when you go poop
  6. You’re also not supposed to wipe when you go to the bathroom
  7. The first night home is one of the hardest, especially when you’re running on little sleep
  8. You may have fleeting thoughts that make you feel like a horrible person
  9. Postpartum hormones are like a million times worse than pregnancy hormones; there is soooo much crying
  10. Being the person responsible for a new life is incredibly overwhelming
  11. It’s okay to not be okay
  12. Having visitors is nice, but also exhausting
  13. Sleeping when the baby sleeps isn’t very easy, but really important
  14. Day 3 is a day like no other, especially if it’s the day your milk comes in, baby may nurse every hour all day long
  15. You do whatever you can to get sleep the first few days, even if that means sleeping in the recliner while holding the baby
  16. Everything you thought you knew and thought you would do no longer matter, you do whatever you gotta do to survive
  17. Hearing your baby cry makes you wanna cry too
  18. Relaxing while nursing is so important! Use a chair with arms and put your feet up
  19. Mom guilt starts early
  20. The baby determines the schedule and how the days and nights are going to go
  21. Everytime you think you have your baby figured out, they change on you
  22. Holding a precious newborn is worth every moment