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 Babyfit.com 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!