Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Seven Truths

I am so out of practice in my written communication skills it isn't even funny. It is, however, amazing to consider how not that long ago I was writing papers every day for class, cover letters and essays for grad school admissions, blogging almost daily - I was so used to expressing myself and conveying ideas through the written word that I would send my husband berating e-mails instead of arguing with him in-person. lol

But now, as I reflect back on 2010, I realize that I have not written much of anything at all in a very long time, "baby poop journal" aside. So I ask for your patience as I blow the dust off my keyboard, crack my knuckles, and try to jumpstart the side of my brain that contains vocabulary words beyond "nappy nap," "cutie patootie," and "swingy-dingy."

There are many things I want to blog about, but in order to keep myself focused I am going to restrict myself here to the things I learned this year that I think might be helpful to other moms-to-be and new moms. So here goes:

1. Giving birth is a lesson in letting go of control and expectations. I knew going in that I would have no idea what could or would happen so I never bothered with a birth plan or anything like that. Even then, the last thing I expected was a c-section, yet that's what I had to have after 23 hours of labor. As disappointing as that was, I had to get over it in the face of knowing that 50+ years ago, my baby and I would probably both have died during childbirth. The c-section saved both our lives.

2. Breastfeeding is not just hard, it is painful. Not one book I read in advance of motherhood prepared me for that. They all hint at "discomfort" but say nothing of curling your toes and blinking back tears even when your baby latches properly. They certainly say nothing of this lasting for 4-5 weeks. It would have been helpful to know this so I wouldn't have felt like I was doing something wrong. La Leche League - you could do a better job at preparing women with realistic expectations. I was okay after finding out it was normal and that it would end. Thank god for the message boards, that's all I have to say.

3. The most commonly heard and read advice to stay in the hospital as long as you can so you can catch up on your rest is bullshit. They wake you up every 45 mins to an hour for stupid shit like blood pressure and temp readings, cleaning the floors, bringing meals, changing linens, checking the baby, etc. I couldn't sleep for anything. It was only after being home for a couple of weeks that I actually began to catch up on my sleep.

4. Do not let anyone make you feel guilty or badly for any of the choices you make, no matter how big or small they are. It is YOUR child, and at the end of the day we're all just doing the best we can to make it through and keep our kids healthy and safe.

5. Try not to get caught up in "shoulds" and "oughts." I cried on my second day in the hospital when the doctors said we had to give my son formula and the lactation consultant "tskd" at me for allowing them to show us how to finger-feed. I knew that I "should" breastfeed, but he had a fever and the doctors said he needed it - fuck her for making me feel caught in the middle of a battle between "breast is best" and the medical community. My son is still 99% breastfed, but I'll be damned if I'm going to feel guilty for giving him a bottle of formula every now and then.

6. None of us are perfect. If we get caught up in striving for perfection we will only find ourselves isolated and lonely. Some of us find ourselves feeling that way anyway. Parenting isn't a contest or a race. My son will never fault me for not giving him enough tummy time when he was a baby, but hopefully he will flourish from the cuddles, hugs, kisses, and snuggles he receives almost constantly.

7. And lastly, I heard the most profound and true quote about motherhood the other day: "The days are long, but the years are short." Try to keep things in perspective and remember that some day, sooner than we would all like, our children will be too big for our laps, too independent for carrying, too impatient for our stories, and too busy to call or visit. This doesn't mean you should be a martyr in the meantime. Instead, keep in mind that motherhood is the most ordinary yet profound role you will likely play in this life, but someday the most all-encompassing aspects of it will come to an end.

That's it for now. I will return soon on a lighter note with tales of hilarity from our New House Misadventures & Mishaps, the list of the 73 books I actually read this year (even though I didn't make it to 100), the birth story (for those interested), and as usual, Random Ramblings.

Happy & Safe Holidays to everyone!

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Anonymous said...

"The days are long, but the years are short".
Love that. So very true. My son is just 4 years old, but the other day a song came on that I used to play for him every night before I would lie him down. We'd dance and dance until he was nearly asleep. I tried to recreate this memory I cherish so much, just for the hell of it. Maybe I was feeling needy. Who knows. In any case, the kid is all tall and lanky and heavy and busy now. He cooperated for a few seconds. Those seconds were lovely. Then he proceeded to tell me about Spiderman and how the webs did something ... and on and on... about Spiderman.
So glad he's such a good talker, but I sure miss the days he couldn't move on purpose. They were rough in so many ways (mostly because he is my one and only and I was paranoid I would break him), but they were perfect.

JLK said...

I'm with you, Kali. I'm trying really hard to keep it all in perspective so that when he gets to the point of not wanting to be held and all that anymore, I will feel like I spent these moments well. Like at 4am when he wakes me up and doesn't want to go back to sleep, I repeat that line to myself about the days being long so that my head doesn't explode from sleep deprivation.

Thanks for stopping by!

Arlenna said...

"The days are long, but the years are short."

That is beautiful, and it made me cry. My little girl just turned 1 on Dec. 24th. I still distinctly remember how awful and soul-sucking those long, looong early days were (I did not do well with that phase), but yet, here we are--she is a year old, and running and playing and learning words and turning into a little person.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely love that quote...just trying to remind myself that I'll look back on all this with longing.

I also remember #3 very well - every time I managed to fall asleep, someone new was barging in. Couldn't wait to get out of there!

JLK said...

@ Arlenna - It's nice to "see" you around these parts again! I'm glad you like the quote. It's amazing how quickly they change and grow, isn't it? I can't believe my son is 7 months old now and will soon be running and playing just like your daughter!

@ Micro Dr. O - Thanks for stopping by! I really think that my extended hospital stay is what set my REM sleep debt in motion for the entire summer. If they had just left me the hell alone, I probably would not have been run as ragged in those first couple of months.

Dr. Dad, PhD said...

Love the quotation and the post! I stumbled in following Arlenna, and I look forward to reading more.

We had my oldest while I was finishing my PhD and I can hardly believe he's already in school. I still remember typing my entire thesis with him in my lap. Usually he was irreconcilable and screaming hysterically in my ear while I slowly sipped whiskey as it got dangerously close to dawn, but I don't think I'd ever trade my time with him. Although the novelty of watching sunset and sunrise from my "home office" (desk in the living room) quickly lost its appeal...

And now I'm hoping I'll get a real job before he graduates college, but that's another story....

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