Yes, I've said that more than once over these past two weeks. What on earth just happened to my life? Who am I anymore?
While I was pregnant, I heard over and over the first two weeks are the hardest. I tried to shake it off. I tried to tell myself I was different, stronger...that I could handle more than most. Ummmm...who was I kidding? I'm here to admit that, yes, the first two weeks are hard.
But at the same time, very awesome too. My heart swells more every day. I stare at Jackson and love him up any chance I get. I can't believe we made something so precious. But that's not to say there are moments where I want to hide under the sheets in bed.
|Professional photo taken by Ali Hohn in Northfield, Minnesota|
This little post is a reminder to myself a few years (months, etc) down the road when we start talking about baby number two. Just in case I forget the craziness of it all.
What to Expect When You Have NO CLUE What to Expect:
1. Sleep. What the F is that?
Remember that very first sleepover you went to when you were in grade school? Like...the really cool popular girls invited you and you felt cooler than cool? And you played silly games like kick the can and tried to hypnotize each other by saying, "stiff as a board, hard as a rock" and watched movies and ate junk food? And then stayed up all night? It was pretty awesome, right? Then you got home and crashed because your little body needed sleep - after all you had just put it through the ringer. Well, parenthood is kind of like that...but you don't ever get to fall asleep to catch up. Ever. You just keep going. And going. And going. Slumber party after slumber party, but this time you're changing poopy diapers and breastfeeding and pumping and leaking all over and soothing a wailing baby. And any chance you do get to sleep, you wake up and realize you get to do it all over again, but on even less sleep than the day before. It's pretty nuts how the body adjusts to very little sleep. This is probably the part that surprised me the most. Just how much little sleep the human body can still somewhat function off of.
2. Breastfeeding is no walk in the park
Breastfeeding is hard. Very hard. Thankfully I had some brave friends share their stories with me ahead of time, warning me that b-feeding isn't as easy as it looks. I also had a few friends plead with me that I just need to hang on for two to three weeks and things would get better.
I'll soon be entering week three, and things are FINALLY starting to get better in this department.
I was prepared for things to not go as planned, just so I wouldn't get so upset. Unfortunately, I sort of ended up with things not going so great. And with very little sleep and body parts not working, it's hard NOT to get upset and freaked out, and anxious.
Little Jackson had to go in for his weekly checkup and his weight was down. Rats. The doctor didn't like that at all so she sent me up to the lactation consultant. The lactation consultant (who Karl calls the breast whisperer and the Jane Goodall of boobies) and I became friends in the hospital. I used her expertise a lot just because I wanted to be the "star feeder". But we know how life is and that our plans doesn't always go as well as we planned.
Jackson is amazing. He sleeps a lot, as most newborns do. BUT, the minute his clothes come off. Forget it. I was having issues week one with Jackson screaming his brains out when we'd undress him and put him skin to skin on me and tried getting him to latch. I couldn't stand him being so hungry and unwilling to latch. So into the breast whisper's office I went. We spent a couple hours getting a plan down. I thought we had it down, until the scale said otherwise. And the doctor wasn't having that. Crap.
The doctor insisted I come in AGAIN to get Jackson weighed within 24 hours but she wanted me to feed and then pump and save. Say what? And then do whatever the breast whisperer wanted. Say what? More of my efforts needed???
After sitting with the breast whisperer for another two hours, the plan was to feed Jackson for 45 minutes, then I had to pump and feed him 1 ounce of my milk, THEN I had to pump and save milk for after. This whole process took about an hour and 45 minutes at one sitting. Now, all moms know that you must feed a baby every 2 to 3 hours, eight to 12 times a day. And babies don't always just fall asleep...there is coaxing and rocking and then I'd finally get to pumping. So....where does sleep fit in? You do the math.
My anxiety levels were through the roof. Sleep? Non existent. And I was so scared I'd have to stop and formula feed Jackson. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I just really wanted him to breastfeed for as long as possible. Ten days just doesn't seem like enough.
Then I went to get professional pictures taken of Jackson and they needed me to feed him so he was easier to photograph. Crap. The four women in the room would have to see how bad I was at breastfeeding. They'd JUDGE me and tell me I sucked! But little ol' me...the one who's always been shy of her lil' ol chest, bared all. And in no time I had four women tending to my fears and worries...offering up advice and suggestions, tying back my hair, rubbing my back that everything would be OK. So we got some awesome pictures and I got some piece of mind too! Nice little therapy session.
Anyway, after following doctor's orders and emailing the breast whisperer and talking to her on the phone and crying to Karl a lot, I took Jackson in today and he is up 4 ounces!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM IN THE CLEAR.
Moral of the story: Breastfeeding is HARD WORK.
3. There is NO Crying in Motherhood. Ha!
Let's see... I have cried to the home health care nurse that came by. My mom. My dad. Karl. I cried at a Pampers diaper commercial. I cried at a country song I've heard numerous times. I just cry.
My emotions are out of control. I rarely ever cried in my old life. My husband once asked me if I had a soul since tears didn't come easily. I bet he takes that back now. I can't help it. I just cry. Sometimes I freak myself out so much because it feels like I've completely lost myself and my "old" life. But, each day...things get better and better and better. And I wouldn't share this if I didn't think it was NORMAL.
4. THANK GOD for Girlfriends
Honestly... I am SO grateful for my girlfriends, especially the ones who have been through this or are also nursing and texting me at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 a.m. cheering me on. I don't feel so alone. Or I love the ones who openly share what a struggle motherhood was for them at the beginning too. Then I know I'm not alone! My advice: find some g-friends going through the same thing and let it all out. Just let it out. Nobody is judging. It's like WE KNOW the secret voices going on in your head. It's OK!
Whoever invited the Halo Sleepsack is awesome. We wrap Jackson in this and he's out. He loves being all bundled up. And to go with that, The Happiest Baby on The Block book has been spot on so far. Swaddle, Shhhing, Swinging, Sucking, Side holding. Works like a charm. That, and marching up and down the stairs thanks to my stair stepper addiction during pregnancy. Or sticking a finger in Jackson's mouth to suck on.
6. The Books Aren't Always Right
I struggle with this. Everyone is saying 8-12 feedings a day, no pacifier until 4 weeks, no bottle until 3-4 weeks, etc., etc., etc.Talk about information overload. Too many cooks in the kitchen. Dude. Right now I'm at the point where enough is enough. I'm going off what I feel and what Jackson needs. It's too much to follow a book to perfection.
7. Limiting Visitors
HOLY MOLY. People will be chomping at the bit to see your little one. Be prepared. It may become very overwhelming, especially if there are struggles with feedings and such. The hospital warned us about this, but I never realized how crazy it would really become. One thing I did hear is just shut your phone off. That is a bit hard for me, but I can see how that becomes good advice.
8. Day by Day
Yes, this is the greatest piece of advice I've received. Take each day...even hour...minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Jackson is only going to be this little for a short while. I need to enjoy him and not all the worries and fears. I need to LIVE!
Anything that shocked you as a new mother?