Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Things about having a baby no one really tells you

Now that I'm 6 months post-partum I laugh at the tremendous amount of time that is spent preparing for labor.  Yes, it was a little intense, the most intense day of my life. But then it's over.  What comes after you have brought that beautiful life into this world is the real challenge.

This is not meant to scare you, it's meant to be honest.  Everything is strictly my opinion based off my own experiences. Yours will be different.

Warning - contains graphic content 

(childbirth isn't pretty, even just talking about it)

0. It's all worth it.  The immense love you feel for this little baby will help you power through those sleepless nights when you have to get up for work in an hour. When they cuddle up on your shoulder or stop crying as soon as you hold them your heart will melt.  That smile that's reserved only for Mommy.  That's worth it.  Being a mom is the greatest thing in the world.

1.  Your contractions don't stop when the baby's born.  They'll last for a day or two after the baby's born actually.  This is to help you uterus contract down to its original size and to help your body push out any remnants of your baby's home from the last 9 months.Nursing helps your uterus contract too so every time you nurse you'll cramp up.  They're not as bad as when you're in labor but they're still there.

2. Breastfeeding is hard. And it hurts. And it's really hard. And you'll want to give up, often. Don't.

Millions of women breastfeed every day, you can too, probably.  Don't give up because of the pain, you will get used to it.  I'm not going to lie and say it stops hurting and feels magical and wonderful because that's simply not true.  Know that it will hurt a little and move on.  It's still magical and wonderful and amazing.

O wouldn't latch in the beginning and we learned soon after that he hadn't figured out to swallow yet.  Those first few days were terrifying so even giving him a bottle was a challenge because he didn't know what to do with the milk once it was in his mouth.  Finally he learned and we kept giving him a bottle to make sure we knew how much he was eating.  I pumped a lot.  It's so much harder to care for a newborn and pump but I wanted to give my baby milk if I could.  I'd offer him the boob periodically to see if he'd take it and he'd just scream and do nothing.  Then about 3 months he decided to nurse.  I whoheartedly do not believe in nipple confusion because now for the past 3 months he'll nurse and take bottles without any problem.

If you can't breastfeed and/or pump for various reasons that's ok.  Baby formula is not the devil's spawn that some mommies like to make it out to be.  You just do what's best for your baby and a thriving baby is all you need.  You're a great mom either way you go.

3. You will bleed a lot, for a long time.  I didn't really have any idea how long it would last and I was amazed when, as I was approaching full-term, I read that you can bleed for 6 weeks.  6 weeks!? Luckily, I wasn't in that camp but it did stick around for a couple of weeks.  Have LOTS of pads on hand, in the beginning it's pretty heavy.

4. Recovery sucks.  Your body has just gone through an amazingly traumatic experience, one that you don't snap back from immediately. Your lady bits will swell and be tender for a while.  Tucks, witch hazel, and ice pads will be your best friends during that first week or two.  It will get better I promise.  If you have a C-section I'm sorry, it's no picnic either.  Prepare yourself for both outcomes because you never know what will happen during deliver.  Take loose clothing with you to the hospital to wear home, you'll thank yourself.

5. Sleep. Oh my goodness sleep doesn't exist anymore. I had the worst time sleeping when I was pregnant and I figured I was well prepared. No. There is no preparation. This is the worst kind of sleep deprivation. You're too tired to walk or talk but you have this tiny, fragile human relying on you for everything. You can't just lounge on the couch and watch TV Land late at night.  The exhaustion physically hurt me so much more than everything else about childbirth combined.  The worst was easily when we had to feed O every 2 hours around the clock because he had lost so much weight and feeding him took about an hour - hour and a half.  Yep. That sucked.  It didn't get much better until he was about 4 months old.

You will party like it's 1999 the first time you get more than 3 consecutive hours of sleep and resent your husband when he gets 8.  Don't worry, that won't last.  They'll sleep well for a couple of days then go back to waking up every hour.  It'll be like that for a long time (we're still going through it at 6 months).  Just wait until you walk in in the middle of the night and they see you and get a big smile on their face, that makes not sleeping completely worth it.

6. You will lose your hair.  It will literally fall out by the handful.  My hair always sheds but nothing like this.  I swear I didn't think I'd have any hair left.  Invest in a good lint roller (your clothes will be covered), vacuum, and drano.  You'll need all three.

7. Your hair may become curly, or lose its curl, or become frizzy as a result of pregnancy. Shampoo that used to work perfectly will now make your hair feel goopy or dry.  Everything changes.  And apparently it stays that way.

8.  Your skin will also change, it'll go from dry to oily or both. You might break out like you're 16 again.

9. Going back to work will be the 2nd hardest thing you've ever done.  You just spent the past x weeks nurturing this baby around the clock and have discovered love like you never knew existed and now you're going to leave him with someone else so you can go back to work? Who needs a paycheck that badly?  Sadly for most of us, we do.  The first day back at work sucks.  You will cry just thinking about it in the days leading up to it. You will cry when you go to leave him at daycare. You will cry in the car on the way to work (darn hormones) and you will probably cry throughout the day anytime you think about him.  It feels just awful.

It gets easier.  Know that you are doing your best to provide for your family and seeing your little one at the end of the day wipes away all of the stress built up from the day.

10. 90% of the time you will feel like an out of control wreck and bad mother.  The other 10% of the time you will be asleep or dreaming about being asleep.  You'll look at the other moms who seem to have it all together and know you're a wreck of a mom.  Don't worry, they feel the same way.  We all hide our chaos differently but we all struggle with the same things.  You will learn each day of new things that you should or shouldn't do with baby and regret that you haven't or did do them.  Don't worry, your baby is fine, you are fine, we're all just learning.  Find a good mommy group where you can express your fears and learn that every other mommy out there is just like you and chances are you're a great mom.  Just keep doing the best you can.

11. Let me repeat this again: it's all worth it.  The immense love you feel for this little baby will help you power through those sleepless nights when you have to get up for work in an hour. When they cuddle up on your shoulder or stop crying as soon as you hold them your heart will melt.  That smile that's reserved only for Mommy.  That's worth it.  Being a mom is the greatest thing in the world.

Is there anything you would add to this list?