Wednesday, November 12, 2014

If I Could Tell Myself

I think those first few months of new-parent-hood were clouded by hormones and fatigue, yes, but also by pain. Until a few weeks ago, I truly thought I was never going to physically recover from childbirth. Thank GOD for modern medicine and the fact that I'm finally, slowly, on the mend.

I don't think you can outsmart those early hormones, but wow, those early days were so hard, and I was only dealing with mostly run-of-the-mill baby issues! I didn't have any perspective and I think I just thought things would be that hard forever. If I could just look back at myself at 8 weeks, I'd tell that poor girl so much:

1.) Go to physical therapy NOW. If 8 weeks postpartum feels a whole lot like 8 days postpartum, don't wait for the pain to get better! It obviously isn't improving on its own.

2.) Go to the pain management OBGYN NOW. See above.

3.) Someday, sooner than you think, you will be able to eat dinner with your husband again instead of one of you holding a screaming baby while the other one inhales whatever food you managed to scrounge out of the cabinet.

4.) Cloth diapers aren't that big of a deal. Don't stress about them so much. Just do it. (And I wish I'd known about Fluff Love University sooner!)

5.) Trust your instincts. If you feel like you still have thrush, it's thrush. If you think your baby has reflux, he has reflux. (Spoiler alert: both of them will eventually improve, I promise!)

6.) Just buy some non-maternity clothes a size up. Actually, I'd go back and tell my first-trimester self this one, when I was in between my normal clothes and my maternity clothes. I'm actually comfortable at the weight I'm at, but I do NOT fit into my old winter clothes yet.

7.) Take more pictures with your nice camera and fewer with your iPhone. Babies move too fast and half of your pictures are blurry!

8.) Don't compare yourself to your mom friends, and don't compare your baby to your friends' babies. You will either feel inordinately proud over something you can't take credit for or, more likely, completely awful because you feel like you're doing it all wrong. See: 6 Things New Parents Need to Stop Doing.

9.) In fact, don't even shame yourself about your feelings. They're not uncommon. Exhibit A. Exhibit B.

10.) Your baby's sleep schedule will at best make you tired and grumpy, and at worse expose your selfishness and control issues. Reinforce good habits, take what sleep you can get, and then just roll with it. Love him through it. His sleep will eventually sloooowly improve. You'll start to notice that his weeks of bad sleep will correspond with huge developmental leaps, and it will start to make sense. Reading this helps a lot:
“Infant/toddler sleep is erratic, unpredictable and doesn’t conform to our expectations. Children’s sleep habits have evolved to best serve the child, even if they don’t make sense to the parent. Adjust your expectations, not your child’s sleep habits (within reason)."

11.) CTFD and laugh a little. If you can't reach this point on your own, talk with your spouse, with other mom friends, or with a counselor until you can.

12.) Endorphins are still so very real. Work out if you can muster up even an ounce of energy, because it WILL give you more energy. Swimming, Body Pump, Piyo, hot yoga, and sometimes Zumba are your friends. HIIT, running, and plyometrics are not.

13.) Ross is a pretty awesome dad. Don't deprive him of opportunities to shine.

14.) Not only does breastfeeding get better, but should you be so lucky as to be able to continue this relationship, you'll start to notice how sanctifying it is:
Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind for the Eucharist. Through the breaking of the bread, God invites us into the nursing relationship: the meeting of all our needs.
I think about the cracked nipples and the itchy thrush, the aches and fevers of mastitis, the midnight trek across the house to feed a crying baby, fatigued to the point of nausea: "This is my body, broken for you."
I think about the times I missed out because of the chore it was keeping (my baby) fed, the chained-up feeling of pumping at work, the moments when I wish desperately for a break: "Poured out for you and for many…"
I think about God, who has given me these children and the means to sustain them, who is present in the Eucharist and in my nursing chair, who by these rituals invites me to participate in His life-giving power: "Do this, in remembrance of Me."

15.) Sleeping baby faces will always make your heart melt. That gummy smile will never fail to make your heart explode. Sometimes, instead of trying to capture the sweetness with the millionth picture, close your eyes and memorize it instead.

16.) You love your baby. You're doing a good job.

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