The biggest thing I have learned, is that the learning curve to parenthood is a steep one and it's a never ending cycle of learning! Here are the biggest things I have learned this month:
- Breastfeeding. While I was pregnant, I was sooo determined to exclusively breastfeed my son when he was born. I had heard about some of the struggles I may encounter from family and friends, mostly about the physical pain associated with it. What I had not heard about was the emotional struggles I would be facing! On the day he was born, he did really well with his sucking and I thought I had him latched as well. I just thought, well that's nice, this came naturally for both of us. Um, WRONG. On the second night, I couldn't get him to latch. He had been sleeping for SOOO LONG (another thing I learned, newborns tend to be really alert right after birth and then reeeeally sleeping in the days following) that I was worried he was starving. So I kept trying to wake him up to eat but he just wouldn't wake up! Then when he finally did, he cried. And cried. He was inconsolable. I would put him up to my breast and he would just scream at my nipple, which then made me cry. I was trying so hard to feed and nourish my son, but he wouldn't feed! This went on for about two hours and around 4 am Josh and I just looked at each other like, "What did we just get ourselves into?!" I had packed a pacifier in our hospital bag just in case we needed it, and finally I gave in and stuck it in his mouth. He eventually calmed down and went back to sleep. At 6 am, the doctor came in to have us sign consent forms for him to be circumcised, since we had originally agreed to it. I broke down and started crying because I was afraid he would go through this painful procedure and the doctors would bring him back screaming, and I wouldn't be able to console him because he wouldn't nurse the night before. After some debating, we stuck to our plan to have him circumcised and after they wheeled him away and Josh and I were alone in the room, I just collapsed into his arms and began sobbing. Josh comforted me and reassured me that I wasn't a bad mom for struggling with feeding him, but also to not give up. Our nurse was so kind and let us stay the whole day so we could work with the lactation consultant. Originally we were supposed to be discharged at 11 am, but we got to check out at 8 pm instead. The lactation consultant was my personal savior that day. She taught me little tricks to get him to latch and told me that I'm not the only one learning how to breastfeed, baby is too. After that day, it has been smooth sailing ever since and baby is gaining weight really well. I am so grateful I didn't give up. I'm proud that I learned how to breastfeed.
- Sleep. Oh that beautiful thing that I miss having in my life! The first week at home was rough. After that I quickly learned that I needed to take at least 1-2 naps during the day when Mikala was napping in order to get through those multiple late night/early morning feedings. I also learned that some babies need help in falling asleep. Some newborns just sleep like rocks. Not our little active guy. The room has to be darkened at least a little bit, he HAS to be swaddled, and sometimes he needs to be held and rocked to sleep for his naps during the day. If he's awake for longer than 1-2 hours, he gets over tired, overstimulated, and incredibly fussy. Then I do the "try everything" method of getting him to sleep, which only stimulates him more, then by some miracle he eventually falls asleep. And while he sleeps, a lot of times he's grunting every 5 seconds and I think he's waking up. But he does this for sometimes an hour straight! In his sleep! If he doesn't get several naps throughout the day, then evenings are just terrible for us. So I learned to make sure he gets lots of good naps during the day.
- My husband/marriage still comes first. When I was pregnant, I was given a series of books called Babywise. One of the first things it teaches you has nothing to do with babies, it is that you still need to put your marriage first to keep it strong. Babies thrive when they know they are in a safe, secure, and loving environment provided by a strong, loving marriage. When I read this I was like, duh! I was taught this from a child thanks to being a member of the LDS church. However, once baby was born and I was overwhelmed with all the things I needed to do to take care of him, I am sad to say that I quickly forgot about Josh. But he didn't forget about me at all. In fact, he has been serving me equally as much, if not more, as he takes care of baby. The books warn against child-centered parenting, wherein the child always comes first and the spouse second. Once either spouse begins neglecting the other, there is a breakdown in the strong foundation provided to care and provide for the child. I am glad my husband lovingly reminded me that he needs attention and love and care from me still. Just because baby was born, doesn't mean his needs have suddenly disappeared. It's ironic because I was always the needy one. In fact I reminded him that I'm the one who had to chase him down and get him to like me before we started dating, hahaha. I truly and deeply love my husband, and learned that I need to continue working on putting him first and not losing our identity as a couple.
- Feeding my spirit will take twice as much work as before. I'm about to make myself very vulnerable here as I share my inner struggles of keeping myself spiritually strong. I tend to care too much about what other people think of me, so I fear being judged by others. But more often than not, I know people aren't passing judgement on me. And if they are, so what? What's the worst that can happen? Anyway...after birth, recovery can be hard. You're super sore down there and you're bleeding and just physically and emotionally exhausted from lack of sleep as you adjust to a newborn's schedule. I learned that I need to make time to feed my spirit. When baby takes naps throughout the day maybe I can rest for one nap, but the next one say a good prayer or read a General Conference talk or read my scriptures. I learned that just because I had a baby doesn't mean I can or should stop looking for ways to serve others, serve in my calling, etc. I learned that although it may seem like a hassle and be uncomfortable at first, making the efforts to wear my garments again now that I have recovered will be worth it. I learned that every little effort I make to show my Heavenly Father that I have not forgotten Him is worth it. I learned that every prayer needs to include many words of gratitude to keep my mind positive at all times.
In my next post, I'll try to make it all about baby and his developments. I need to close this post now because I hear some wiggling and farting going on in his crib, so it's time to go tend to his needs...haha. Gotta love being a new mom.