So, in case you’ve run across this post first, it’s the second of a two-part series on some somewhat-serious, but not-really tips for all you blessed new moms out there. Here’s a link to part one.
You know the story you hear about mom’s first look at baby? About how it’s supposed to be all sparkly and magical and full of instantaneous love and mushy-gushy ooey-gooey stuff like that? (Well, there might be some goo… lol)
Soon-to-Be-New-Mom Tip 2.1: Don’t feel bad if it isn’t like that. My first thought upon seeing Rocketboy was that he was funny looking. And this was a C-section baby, so he didn’t have a misshapen head or anything weird like that. They had put one of those cutesy little caps on his head before letting me see him, and I didn’t like that, so I took it right off him, much to the nurses’ dismay. He just didn’t look like the gorgeous little baby I’d been expecting. Of course, later on, I thought he was the most beautiful baby in the world. Don’t feel guilty if your experience doesn’t live up to the hype.
After the C-section, we were required to stay 3 days at the hospital. During that time, we were assigned NINE lactation consultants. Yes, NINE. (Thankfully not all at once!) Each one of those ladies had great intentions. They were very supportive of my desire to breastfeed. But every single one of them had a different method and different ideas as to why Rocketboy wasn’t feeding as much as they liked. They sent us home with a breast pump, a finger-feeding tube setup, and yes, a can of formula, “just in case.”
He was jaundiced enough to be sleepy, so we brought home a “glow worm” set up to get his bilirubin levels back down to normal; and although we attempted the various recommended methods of getting him to eat those first few days home, he just wasn’t getting enough. It was 3 am on one of those nights when I did it. I couldn’t take any more. I got out the big can of formula and one of the freebie bottles they’d conveniently provided. Washed it, measured out the stinky formula, added the water, put on the top, shook it up… and then dumped everything down the sink.
I finally figured if he was hungry, he would eat, and that was that. No more “tricks,” no more “aids”. I threw out the finger-feeding set up and the stack of breast shields they’d given us but we’d never used and returned the pump a week earlier than they expected. We just sat down and did it. And guess what? I got a phone call from one of those consultants a few days later, and she was honestly shocked to hear that we had succeeded and were sticking with it. Her surprise saddened me, but I had motivation… I figured since I didn’t get the natural birth I’d been hoping for, the very least I could do was make sure that we breastfed.
Soon-to-Be-New-Mom Tip #2.2: if you want to breastfeed, be committed. Don’t give up unless you’ve made a concerted effort for at least SIX WEEKS. That was the magic number with each of my kiddos. It was a pain, (literally!) for the first six weeks… then after that, smooth sailing!
And the surprises didn’t stop there… did you Soon-to-Be-Moms realize that babies don’t KNOW HOW to sleep through the night? Really! “Knowing” that and actually experiencing it are two completely different things. I remember calling a friend at one point (one who’d had a baby a couple of months before we did,) and I blearily asked her at what age they start sleeping through the night. Her response, “They don’t!” actually shocked me. What do you mean, “they don’t?!!” Surely they have to at some point, right? It was NOT what sleep-deprived me needed to hear at that point! (Thankfully, two years later, Rocketboy finally figured out how to sleep through the night!)
Soon-to-Be-New-Mom Tip #2.3: They don’t sleep through the night. You think it’s an obvious one, but be prepared!
I guess my final tip for those early baby days is one that’s probably the most important. Relax and enjoy this sweet little one who you’ve been blessed with. Don’t worry about whether you’re following whoever’s advice on feeding, or sleep training, or vaccines, or cry-it-out or not, or whether to babywear or use a stroller or whatever… ignore those mommy wars.
Soon-to-Be-New-Mom Tip #2.4: Relax and enjoy! Follow your God-given instincts. God gave you this child and gave you those instincts, so trust them!
And lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from someone with a teenager, they might just enjoy the chance to revisit those baby years a little.
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