Hello! I’m back!
Lots of things happened recently. The holidays happened, then my web hosting provider informed me that I had exceeded my database limit for my website (whaaaaaat?), so I couldn’t log in, then I had a baby, and then I got a little busy.
A baby? Yes! I had a baby! My last post was about the agony of waiting around for a baby to be born. This post is about surviving the first weeks of motherhood after that baby finally arrives.
HOORAY! We finally get to meet him!
You’ll get lots of contradictory advice.
Even if you’ve read all the baby books, you’ll still be totally clueless when your first kid arrives. Why? Because no book in the world can tell you about YOUR child. Now it’s time to get to know him!
If you’re in a hospital setting, you’ll get lots of advice from nurses and doctors. Sometimes, that advice might even seem contradictory. Once you’re on the post-natal ward, the confusion starts.
Our morning nurse told us categorically to NEVER swaddle our baby, and to ONLY treat sore nipples with breast milk.
Our evening nurse, on the other hand, gave us a lesson in swaddling the Bug, and even set up a little nest for him in the bed next to me (which horrified the morning nurse when she came in the next day). She also recommended lanolin cream for sore nipples.
The afternoon nurse said Bug was latching on perfectly, while the morning nurse said he had a tongue-tie (turns out he does) and we should use a pacifier.
“Wake the baby up to feed him every two hours!”
“Never wake a sleeping baby!”
“Put mitts over his hands so he doesn’t scratch himself.”
“Don’t cover his hands with mitts or he won’t be able to comfort himself.”
It’s enough to make you go mad!
What is right and what is wrong?
While there can very definitely be a wrong when it comes to taking care of your baby (i.e. neglecting the poor thing), there is no one right way of doing things.
“Right” is going to depend on what works for you and your baby.
Take any advice you get into consideration (or totally disregard it, especially when it is unsolicited and obnoxious), and decide for yourself what works for you. You may have never thought of one technique that someone suggests, and it could prove helpful to try it out. Just try things on for size. You’ll soon learn what works and what doesn’t.
Also, take any categorial advice (the NEVERs and the ALWAYSs and the YOU MUSTs) with a grain of salt. Excepting, of course, the big ones like, “Never shake a baby,” and, “You must feed your baby.”
We were told, for instance, to always wait an hour after feeding before giving the Bug a bath. But just after his meal is when he’s most amenable to bathing! So to heck with that one hour wait. Our Bug eats and then bathes, and he loves it.
The first night home is terrifying.
Though the advice and instructions you get at the hospital can sometimes be confusing, at least you’re in the care of professionals, right?
Well, when you get home, it’s just you two and your baby. Holy. Crap. It’s scary.
Suddenly, you realize that you guys are on your own and that you’re responsible for this tiny little human being. And what’s more, you have NO IDEA WHAT TO DO.
Do what I did: Call a friend in tears and ask for advice.
This is when it’s super helpful/important to have friends or family who have been through this and can listen to you and comfort you.
If you don’t know someone who’s been in your situation you can call, look up a local mommy group. Chico and I took our Bug to a breastfeeding meet-up when he was just one week old. That really helped me, especially to encounter other mothers in the same boat as me.
And if you’re freaking out about anything, just remember:
There is no normal.
Well, let me rephrase: There is such a wide range of what makes a baby “normal” that nothing seems normal.
We were told to feed our Bug at least 8 to 12 times a day. Well, he usually eats 6 to 8 times a day (occasionally he’ll have a big day where he eats 9 times).
For three weeks, this fact stressed me out. I constantly checked the time to figure out how long it had been since his last feed, and I continued to wake him up to feed him.
That is, until we realized he was gaining almost 50g per day (they aim for a 20-30g/day average weight gain). Apparently, our Bug doesn’t eat very frequently, but when he does he gets the job done effectively!
Again, this is a question of figuring out what works for you. If your baby is having issues gaining weight, that’s another story. You should discuss with your pediatrician.
But if your baby is gaining weight, peeing, pooping and eating well, then relax. You’re doing just fine.
Breastfeeding is hard.
The videos they show you in the prenatal classes make it look sooooooo easy, right? Baby will obligingly open his mouth wide and latch on well and OM NOM NOM NOM NOM.
I hate to break it to you, but that doesn’t always happen.
It can be for any number of reasons. Our Bug has a posterior tongue tie that makes his latch less than optimal. That’s made for some pretty sore nipples on my part, and a fair number of tearful feedings. (We’ve decided to cut his tongue tie on Monday. I will probably weep.)
But even if your baby doesn’t have a specific problem making breastfeeding tricky, it’s still a skill that both mother and baby need to learn, and it takes practice.
My only advice is this:
Be patient. Both with yourself, and with your baby.
If you really want to breastfeed, seek help from a lactation consultant, or a breastfeeding “godmother.” They’ll be able to give you advice and techniques to help you succeed.
If it doesn’t work, though, don’t think of it as a failure. Give it a go for as long as you can stand, but if you and your baby aren’t bonding over feeding time, then it’s time to consider a new option.
I’m still working on this one, so I’ll keep you posted as things progress.
That’s all for now.
I’ve touched on a lot of stuff in this post, and I think I’ll write more on each individual topic in other articles (especially the breastfeeding).
I thought it might help other new parents to know that tears, frustration and fears are perfectly normal. But so are joy, delight, and an almost overwhelming love for this new little person.
Our Bug is the light of our lives, and though we’ve had ups and downs, we wouldn’t go back or change anything for the world.
Despite all his little imperfections, he is absolutely perfect.