Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Confessions from a New Mom

Since I did a blog post of confessions from a mom-to-be, I figured it would be good to do a follow-up of confessions as a new mom. I'm being brutally honest here in hopes that it will help other new moms out there if they are experiencing some of the same things.

1. Everyone warns you that the first two weeks are really hard. For me it's been the first month... And the worst part is there's nothing you can do though to prepare for just how hard, unpredictable, and nerve-wracking it is to get minimal sleep an have a screaming baby that you can't console for hours on end. I also wasn't prepared for the hormonal roller coaster that ensued once we came home. I'm cried every day, usually twice a day, that first three weeks.

2. Everything we read and wanted to implement in our parenting went out the window during week one. We were so desperate for sleep and for Madi to stop crying we did all the things we hadn't planned  or wanted to do- human pacifier, rocking to sleep, falling asleep on our chests, soothing by wearing her in a baby wrap, and co-sleeping a couple times. I know these techniques are used by some and there's nothing wrong with them, but we want to implement a self-soothing routine that respects both Madi's needs and our needs. We've re-grouped, spent time looking back at our two favorites - Baby Wise and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer - and are going full-speed ahead with an Eat-Wake-Sleep schedule. 

3. I love Jason even more than I did before Madi came into our lives. I can't describe it, but there's just something about how he handles Madison and how supportive he's been to me that's made me fall deeper in love with him and cherish him.

4. PPD. It's real and it sucks. I knew something was wrong when I found myself yelling at Madison for giving herself the hiccups for what seemed like the 100th time and starting feeling like we'd made a huge mistake and never should have gotten pregnant in the first place and that there was no way I was going to be able to do this mother thing. And I hated admitting that I was having these feelings to Jason. Everyone says that you have this unconditional love and joy when you become a mother. What they don't tell you is that it's normal to not have those feelings straight away and to struggle when your baby has been crying for an hour and you can't do anything to calm her down.

I would feel guilty for how I felt and for not loving Madison as much as I thought I was supposed to and for not being happier to be a new mom. I would also get upset with myself and feel guilty for being so impatient with her and for getting angry with her. She's just a little baby who can't help but cry when she needs something and I know that, but somehow I would still get worked up when we couldn't calm her down, which caused her to get more worked up, and cause us to enter a vicious cycle.

Jason and my friend Maryam encouraged me to go ahead and talk to someone and I reached out at our last visit at the health station. That afternoon someone came to the house and listened to me and my feelings. It was reassuring to know that everything I was experiencing and feeling was normal and that a lot of new moms feel that way, but don't talk about it. She also encouraged me to get out of the house alone each day, even for just a 5-10 min walk. And the biggest advice she gave me, which I have been trying to take to heart, is to stop being so hard on myself and making myself feel so guilty. It helped a lot to talk to someone and to know that I have the resources available to help me. (If you are a new mom and struggling with any of these same feelings and want to talk to me or ask me questions please feel free to contact me. I am hoping that by sharing my story other new moms out there will realize they aren't alone in how they are feeling and will be encouraged to know that there is help available and they shouldn't be embarrassed or afraid to seek it, sooner rather than later.)

5. The meals that people brought over the first two weeks after Madison's arrival helped more than they realize and we can never express how appreciative we were to have them. Thank you Shaina for coordinating the meal delivery and bringing over a delicious casserole. Thank you Emily and Tyler, Megan and Loren, Heather and Sully, and Deepa for the delicious meals that you brought. They kept us well-fed and significantly less stressed!!

6. Being a mom >> being an engineer. I have to admit I was slightly jealous when Jason was returning to work (and then being sent to Gran Canaria for a business meeting...) and there have been days when I've really wished I was back in the office... adult conversations, latte machine, and especially no crying. However, there are definitely pros to being at home and it's getting better each day. Seeing little smiles like this makes it easier that's for sure. :-)

7. We received mixed advice/opinions about having help from family members early on. My mom came to visit a couple weeks after Madison's arrival and I can't thank her enough for the amazing job that she's been doing since she arrived. Especially with me struggling with PPD and then Jason going on a last minute business trip one weekend, it was wonderful to have her with me to care for Madison. She put up with my ups and downs without judging me and I'm so thankful Madison is getting to spend time with her Grandma. I appreciate her so much and realize now what a tough job it is to be a mother and it's definitely brought us closer.

8. Getting out of the house at least once a day has been critical. Whether it was a quick trip to the grocery store, a visit to the health station, a doctor appointment for me or Madi - just to get outside and get some fresh air was incredible. I would suggest to any new mom to get outside once a day to avoid going stir crazy. I know there are all sorts of concerns about taking a newborn in public, but there are ways to avoid people or places full of people. Don't let anyone touch the baby (not a problem here in Norway where everyone minds their own business) or just take a stroll around the block.

9. I was prepared for looking pregnant still after giving birth. I was not, however, prepared for just how incredibly flabby and disgusting my stomach would feel. Yes, I realize I'm being incredibly vain with this one, but also honest. My stomach isn't much larger than it was pre-pregnancy, but it's definitely looser and I should probably start on some ab exercises now that the doctor has cleared me to workout!

10. I am slightly afraid of my daughter. Specifically when we've finally gotten her to go to sleep and she starts squirming again and we hold our breaths saying desperate prayers "Lord, please let her stay asleep..." Same situation when we have her out in the pram and have just gotten her to sleep and I'm crossing my fingers that she stays asleep long enough for me to finish my errands, get back home, and maybe even have time to eat or shower. Lofty goals I know.

As I took this picture I was saying a silent prayer for her to stay asleep... ;-)

11. We have a steady supply of alcohol now (thanks to Duty Free stops from Jason, my mom, and Jeff's arrivals), but I am terrified to have a drink. (1) I am afraid that a single glass of wine will put me into a drunken stuper (2) We haven't used a bottle yet so it's a fine art of feeding Madison, slamming down a drink, and having enough time before she's hungry again for it to get out of my system. I am not ready to attempt this process yet and so I remain sober... but craving a glass of wine at the end of a bad day.

12. I've always had a love/hate relationship with showering (and going to the bathroom for that matter, but probably TMI...) I love being in the shower and the clean feeling afterwards, but I hate stepping out of the shower and being wet and having to dry off and get dressed. It's a hassle and I only showered every other day as a result. For whatever reason after we returned home from the hospital I have done a complete 180. I now love showering! I've tried to jump in for a few minutes everyday just to get the day going and wake myself up.

13. I believe I was in love with the idea of being a mom more than the reality at first. I realize that sounds harsh, but I think I had this glamorous idea in my head of the perfect happy baby, eating well, playing for a bit, going down for a nap, and me being able to go to lunch or run errands with her in the stroller sleeping peacefully or letting me hold her happily. Then reality hit... And I had a screaming baby the entire way home from the butcher and some trouble with her eating for a couple days and having to cut out dairy to see if that helps her fussiness. Welcome to motherhood. The good, the bad, and the ugly. :-)

14. Breastfeeding is difficult. I don't even have soreness or pain to complain about, but just the sheer exhaustion of being the only one who can feed her, waking up every few hours, and feeling like a milk machine. We are getting better at the whole "bonding" thing, but I still feel like a total fool talking to my daughter while she's chowing down. Fortunately, she's a great feeder (85%) of the time and our biggest issue is her falling asleep while she's eating and me having to try and get her to eat more so she has a full feeding. Plus I know the benefits she's getting from my milk are so good for her that I know it's the right thing for us to be doing.

15. Motherhood has shown me just how selfish, self-centered, angry, impatient, and unloving person I really am. I know, I know, I just mentioned above that I need to be easier on myself, however, it's obvious that the Lord has some major refining work to do on my character. I truly believe He puts people in our lives to challenge us and grow us in areas of weakness. Apparently Jason wasn't doing a good enough job challenging me so the Lord blessed me with Madison. ;-) I am praising Him for His amazing grace and forgiveness as I struggle to grow and become a better Christian, wife, and especially mother to the beautiful family that He has given me.

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