Ollie and I just had his 2-month appointment. He is growing and healthy.
I’ll spare the details of his weight and height statistics, the shape of his skull, his sleep habits, which vaccines we did or didn’t give him, et cetera. And I’ll skip the part where I talk about my postpartum weight and how easy or hard it’s been for me to lose it. Though I love connecting with other moms about this stuff, it is SO, SO easy for me (and maybe you, too?) to lose myself in comparison. Dwelling on those things does NOT help me be a better mom to my baby or a better wife to my husband. This is my story, and you have yours. Let’s celebrate where we are together and be attentive to the little glorious moments each day that fuel us.
As I mentioned in my last post, I was really humbled by my pregnancy and birth experience, and I see now how naive I was to assume so much without having experienced it myself. So sorry if I hurt any other mamas in that. Not my intention at all. I learned!
Actually, I learned a lot. By trial and error, mostly. There were a lot of laughs and a lot of tears. But we dealt. Now, a couple of panic attacks in the bathtub huffing essential oils later, I am a motherhood expert with many precious jewels of wisdom to offer new moms. Use them wisely.
Have a cup of coffee. (Or a glass of wine.) Or two. One midwife told me all caffeinated beverages make babies colicky. Okay midwife, I’ll give up caffeine, but I will also give up being awake and attentive to my child’s immediate physical needs. I’ve heard from the progressive, urban moms I roll with that one cup won’t kill anyone. So most days, I find myself at a coffee shop. Though it’s what I really want, I skip the $5 latte due to budgetary restrictions (because like any submissive wife would, I constantly follow my budget and never exceed my spending money limit), but I still need something. Preferably something cold, because all hot drinks remind me of the time I threw up coffee in my bathroom sink before my glucose screening. Coke sounds good. But what about losing my baby weight? Maybe a Diet Coke? Nope, aspartame causes every kind of cancer that ever existed. There’s no winning. Pick a reasonably-priced caffeinated drink that makes you happy and drink it in moderation.
Get Hulu Plus. And Netflix. And Amazon Prime if you’re fiscally able. I’m pretty sure watching entire seasons of Keeping up with the Kardashians probably won’t ruin your baby’s childhood. The freezer meals and visitors were helpful, but honestly, I couldn’t have done the first few weeks of Ollie’s life without TV. My best friends in those early days were the Kardashians. And the Jenners. I learned many moral lessons about important social issues like gun control and plastic surgery through Kourtney, Khloe, and Kim. And Bruce. Always Bruce.
Get rid of your pet if you have to. Considering our designer dog was essentially used for Instagram novelty purposes only, it wasn’t that hard to give him up. After much thought and debate, when I had to choose between successfully nursing my infant or tending to the superficial needs of an attention-hungry Muppet who eats whole loaves of artisan bread from my kitchen counter and burps up dirty diapers (yes, the poopy kind), I chose the former. Haven’t regretted it since.
Don’t be afraid to customize your pee experience. Unrelated to how you rear your baby but closely related to other kinds of rears, sitting in warm bathwater may make your postpartum urinary experience a tidge more tolerable. Hashtag glamour.
Break the rules sometimes for your own convenience. Desperate for another hour of sleep? Use sleep props. White noise machine not cutting it? Try a blow dryer. Nook not staying in the mouth? Try washi tape. Gearing up for a night out and scared to disrupt your nursing schedule? Wake that baby up.
Expect comments. All kinds of comments. The same people who asked if you were having twins during your pregnancy will comment on the large or tiny size of your newborn and grossly over/underestimate his or her age. If you’re really lucky (and likely on a day you’re feeling particularly exhausted and emotionally vulnerable) you’ll get a bonus comment about your kid’s behavior and some unsolicited advice about how cold dill pickle spears are the answer to all your teething problems. Awesome.
Enlist as much help as you can. Hire a postpartum doula. (Here’s mine). Seriously, having your dishes done and taking a shower longer than 45 seconds makes all the difference. And don’t feel bad about asking your husband to change a diaper in the middle of the night. Mamahood is full-time, just like his job. Tim never even remembers getting up to change Ollie’s diaper anyway.
Your kid might have red hair. You may never know why.
Your baby’s weight (and height and onesie size) is not a trophy. I always assumed having a “chubby baby” would prove I was an expert breastfeeder. Ollie gained a lot of weight quickly at first, and everyone made comments that he was a “good eater.” His growth has slowed down now, and he looks longer than he does chubby. My son is average. My milk game is not proportional to my kid’s girth.
It’s okay to only have food-bringing, chore-doing friends over at first. Gotta have a boundary sometimes. Love you, but if you’re not bringing a humongous casserole or “new mom essentials” gift package full of body sprays and organic foodstuffs, please wait until I’ve accumulated a minimum of 25 hours of sleep per week before you come over to tell me all about the 10k you’re running tomorrow and the extraneous graduate degree you’re pursuing with all your free time. I probably don’t have a category for anything that doesn’t add to my physical and emotional comfort at this point.
Text other moms in the middle of the night. We’re all up nursing. It’s like a fun secret society where you can unashamedly share prayer requests and the fifteen thousand “baby and me selfies” that are waiting in your Instagram queue.
Befriend a Chinese Herbalist. She will prescribe magical medicinals with names like “Wu Tang Clan” that will somehow restore your hemoglobin and make your tongue more pink. Great for those with excessive blood loss during delivery and even better for hypochondriacs with a soft spot for soy sauce.
You cannot instill a sense of logic in your newborn baby. He will inevitably confuse days and nights for several weeks. He will love to be swaddled on a Tuesday but hate it by Friday. He will wake up the second you set him down in his crib, and he will have a meltdown at Panera, while nursing, when you’re seated next to a group of executives about to make an important business transaction (their fault for doing it at Panera). He will also start screaming when you’re writing a witty blog post about very serious postpartum issues, resulting in a prematurely published draft and coy apology to your very few subscribers who received said draft in their inboxes. Our bad.
Go ahead, change your mind. Your philosophy and approach might differ from day to day depending on the need of the hour. That’s okay. No one expects you to magically have your shiz together on your 44th day of motherhood.
There’s no right way. I’ve read it all. Babywise, Dr. Sears, all the forums. I’ve been guilted into going to my baby every time he whimpers and feeding him on demand till I’m exhausted and covered in breastmilk (sorry guys). I’ve also been shamed to feel like I need my kid on a rigid, consistent schedule so I don’t spoil him, even when that may not fit the flexible lifestyle our life demands right now. The truth is, I can’ t compartmentalize my kid’s life. Some things work and some things don’t. Pull the good things from all philosophies and do what works for your family with no apologies. Put your iPhone down. The Babycenter forum will be there tomorrow. Enjoy your baby.