In case you haven't noticed...it seems to be the season for cookin' & serving up babies. Everywhere I look, there are pregnant ladies- gorgeous, glowing, exhausted, uncomfortable looking pregnant ladies. I want to touch all their bellies (thanks Rhi for indulging me), ask what they are having, when they are having it, what their birth plan is, what their nursery theme is...and then I remember exactly how I used to feel when strangers felt entitled to asking me these questions. Let me remain polite here and just say...I didn't love it.
Unsolicited advice abounds in pregnancy- everyone is a child-development expert, part-time birthing coach, survivor of the most epic labor ever...so I try and keep my comments to a minimum unless they are specifically requested. However, I feel this is an appropriate venue to share the things I have learned along the way..and the things I wish someone had included in one of the three-zillion baby books that I read...
- Everybody (and I mean EVERYBODY) wants to share their labor story with you. I got a pedicure about a week before I delivered. The lady doing my toes took that as an appropriate moment to tell me about how her daughter was 10lbs (at this point, we thought I was quite a bit overdue, so having a gigantic baby was a bit of a concern of mine) and “ripped her to shreds”. Direct quote. I had nightmares. Lesson learned- find some way to tune out whenever anyone begins to share their oh-so-helpful (read: entirely petrifying) experience with childbirth. Nobody has the exact same experience. I would sing songs to myself, begin to alphabetize my DVD collection in my head...you get the idea.
- Warning- I’m going to get a little graphic here. But this is something I think should be shared with every pregnant woman. If you have a vaginal birth..it is going to really hurt to pee afterwards.This is a very simple fact that was nowhere to be found in anything I ever read. Let me just add here that my labor was pretty fast and furious...I arrived at the hospital at 11 pm ish and Grace had arrived by 1:33 am. I swear I pushed all of 5 times. I shudder to think of what other women have gone through, those with more intense experiences. I had Grace with no pain medication. I never made a sound while in labor, never grunted or groaned, let alone screamed. When the nurse who delivered Grace (she had no need to wait for a doctor...that’s just the kind of girl she is) suggested I try to go to the bathroom, I bee-bopped in there, delirious over the fact I was now so deliciously pain free...and shrieked. I was certain I was peeing razor-blades. The nurse casually called in “Oh yeah, that might sting a little bit hun”. A LITTLE BIT? Following this experience, I went on a hydration strike, which led to Andrew and Robyn trying to coax me to drink by bringing me every delicious (and hospital friendly...if they were smarter they would have tried to smuggle me a margarita) beverage possible. I refused. The insertion of a catheter was threatened & I, much to everyones dismay, encouraged this idea. I was never EVER going to try and pee again. Perhaps if I had been more prepared for this...situation...I wouldn’t have had such a dramatic response. So when people do ask me for birthing advice...this is the gem I always share with them. Charming, right?
- Breast feeding hurts. And it’s hard. People elude to the fact that it might be difficult. Or uncomfortable. But mainly they focus on the wonderful, warm and fuzzy bonding experience that it is. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is an incredibly beautiful and rewarding thing. This does not negate the fact that initially...it HURTS and it is HARD. Another instance where brutal honesty would have served me well. There were times, in the beginning, where I literally cried and thought that I must just be really awful at this whole thing, because it shouldn’t possibly hurt this much. If you stick with it, for as long as you can stand it- it does get easier. Automatic, you can practically stay sleeping while doing it at 2 in the morning, kind of easier. Seek out support wherever you can find it--- don’t let the lactation consultants (who I fondly referred to as the “Nipple Nazi’s”..please don’t take offense to this, keep in mind I went on a straight almost 48 hours with no sleep) and La Leche league enthusiasts over-whelm you or discourage you, because you just don’t think it would be practical for you to breast-feed until your child reaches kindergarten and you are sure they will judge you because of this. And if you want to exclusively breast-feed...don’t let any doctor try and push you to supplement with formula, as long as your child isn’t losing weight. If you want to know more about my experience with this, I’d be happy to share. Let’s just say my slow-weight gaining baby girl- who a certain doctor tried to claim needed to be switched to, or at least supplemented with formula as a newborn- stopped nursing completely at around 7 months, switched to formula and even now with eating 3 real meals a day...is still only 17lbs, in the 5th percentile, and a peanut. She’s JUST SMALL. I was not starving her. And I’m so proud of the fact that I stuck with nursing her, despite this pressure. And the reverse is true too- if breast feeding just isn’t for you, don’t let anybody pressure you to stick with it. A cranky, miserable mommy is going to = a cranky, miserable baby. Do what feels right to YOU. Stepping off my soap-box now, I promise.
- There is so much more I wanted to share, but I will leave this post with this- nobody prepares you for the constant worry, guilt and anxiety of parenthood. No matter how much you have read, what kind of awesome support you have (my mom was a pediatric nurse for a very long time)- you are always worried that you are doing something wrong. That she wouldn’t have gotten such a bad ear infection if you didn’t let her have a pacifier. That maybe she never crawled because you couldn’t stand to hear her cry during tummy-time. It’s endless. I try so hard to just enjoy every second, every milestone, just to love being Gracie’s mommy. But I worry. All the time. About doing this monumentally important job well. I once read somewhere that if you worry about being a good parent, you probably already are one. This phrase has been comforting to me and hopefully, it is true.
Maybe someday I will write an honest, mildly inappropriate, true account of what to REALLY expect when you’re expecting...but I worry this will just turn me into a more in-your-face version of those supermarket baby whispers/labor geniuses. Yikes! :)
Have I mentioned that this moment makes it ALL worth it?Every time I think about it, I get the chills. There's you daily serving of cheeeeese. :)