Thursday, February 21, 2013

Motherhood, part 1

I am now in my fourth month of motherhood ... but along the way, I wrote some thoughts about it. Enjoy ... 

There is nothing, no class, no book, no niece, nephew or cousin that can prepare you for your own child. Or at least I think that way. Prior to having my own baby, I had changed only a handful of diapers.

I don't have younger cousins and my niece was only 3 1/2 when Harlow was born and she lives 2,500 miles away from me. I truly did no understand what motherhood and parenting would be like.

The first four weeks were awful. I am convinced the books only tell you the good stuff (I really didn't even read any books) and none of your friends will tell you the honest truth. The bleeding, the crying, the gas (yours and the baby's!), the frustration when the baby cries and cries and cries and nothing you are doing is working. The internal war you have when you know that the only way to get your little one to sleep longer than one hour is to let them sleep with you, on you, in your bed, whatever it takes to get them to sleep.

That sinking feeling you have when you previously judged other mothers before having children of your own. "You didn't breastfeed because it was 'too hard?' Psh! It is the best thing for your kid. That is selfish." "A schedule?! What happens when you want to go somewhere and do something? You are now a slave to your child." "Why is that kid crying in the middle of Target?" "Why did that mom bring a baby shopping at DSW AND in a stroller, she is taking up the whole aisle." It goes on and one. Every day I am sorry for all of the ways I've judged mothers who've gone before me ....

Truth is, you have to do what you need to do to get by. For the first few days, the hubs and I would both get up with Harlow during the night. And we would both be zombies by late morning and neither one of us were prepared to parent that day. Hubs would help by getting her calm while I clipped on My Brest Friend, whipped out the nipple shield (more on that on another post!) and he would then position her for me. We had code words for the positions: football or cross. I would feed, hand her over and he would burp her while I unclipped myself and returned to sleep. A true partnership indeed. Until we realized that while it is fun to get up and be with her and watch her, we weren't doing her any good if we were both zombies that day.
It was about 10 days until I had to finally change a diaper, the hubs was that good about doing everything that he can to help make motherhood a bit easier on me. After 14 days, he went back to work and I had my parents here to help.

On the first day that he went back to work, my mom and I took Harlow to Target and she proceeded to throw a fit. A screaming fit. We had the stroller and an additional cart and instead of staying in the infant section (what I like to call a safe place in any store), I walked her to the front of the store and to the bathroom to see if she needed a new diaper. I changed my first diaper in public, by myself. And then I figured she was hungry, so I help her and nursed her in a Target bathroom while standing up and using a nip shield. Never. Again. She still screamed, but I was determined to get my shopping done. Even while people walked past me, "Awe ... she's a young one." YES I KNOW. She is young and I am an idiot for taking a 2 1/12 week old out in public and not leaving when she starts screaming. Eventually Magic Mima (meeee-mah) got her to calm down while I finished shopping. Once I got what I needed (my 2-foot-long kid needed pants, what can I say?!), we hustled out of there and all the way home.

There were some nights that we just couldn't figure out what the heck to do with this baby. She would scream that purple-face, stop-breathing cry that made you die on the inside. There was nothing worse than a baby trying to tell you something is wrong but you can't figure out what it is that is wrong. We were all for the putting her down somewhere safe, shutting the door and taking a break. I will never forget when the hubs put her down and said, "I need to get out." And he got out of the house. A part of me feared he'd never come back. We questioned ourselves plenty of times, What did we do? Was having a baby the right thing to do? Can we do this? When does it get better?

We took to "the Google" and would search on how to calm a baby, colic, how to get a baby to sleep, how to jump out a window. Just kidding on that one.

Shortly after the hubs went back to work, Harlow took on a witching hour. From 8-11 p.m., she would cry nonstop. Or nonstop until she stopped. And then started again as soon as I put her down. This kiddo did, and still doesn't, like to sleep unless she is snuggled tightly.

Everyone told us it does get better ... and it did. Right after my parents left. It was almost like our daughter knew that we were two clueless parents about to lose our freakin' marbles if she didn't help us help her. And on the night they left, she slept for five hours.

It does get easier. Every day we learn something new. We tried a new technique. And we counted up the days until "it got better." And it did get easier. Looking back now, I see why people have more children. You do forget how awful it is and take pride in how great it is. Motherhood is everything they say it will be: amazing, awesome, incredible, awful, challenging, scary and more.

It did get better and I will share the good stories, too.

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