Monday, September 8, 2014

On Being a FTM

In case your 2:00am google searches don’t land you on forums, allow me to explain.

FTM = First Time Mom

And LO = little one, DD = dear daughter, DS = dear son, DH = dear husband. Then there’s EBF = exclusively breastfed, BLW = baby led weaning, SAHM = stay at home mom, CIO = Cry it Out, and STTN = sleeping through the night. Seriously, the list goes on and on. I’m pretty sure the time it takes to decode the acronyms negates the time saved by typing them.

We’ve been doing this “new parent” thing for about four months now, and we’ve learned so much. We’ve read books and watched videos, called the doctor a couple of times. But mostly, we’ve learned by trial and error. Lots of trial and lots of error.

Here are a few pearls of wisdom we’ve learned along the way.

On Labor & Delivery

It’s rough. But it’s worth it. A few months out, your momnesia will kick in and you’ll forget just how rough it was. Momnesia – it’s a real thing! How else would anybody have more than one child!? Up until the 2 month point, I might have told you would never have another baby. The labor, the crying, the sleepless nights… they’re just a fuzzy memory now. What remains clear in my memory are the snuggles in the rocker, the fine downy hairs that covered her little forehead, the way she breathed so sweetly while she was falling asleep. A few hours of pain (or 28 hours in my case) for a lifetime of love. Worth it.

On a Postpartum Body
Remember that infamous picture of Duchess Kate in a blue dress outside the hospital after the birth of baby William? Everyone had something to say about her little belly bump still showing. I mostly remember a lot of praise for her, for not being afraid to show what a real postpartum body looks like. I was ready for that. I was prepared to look like Kate. Pretty hair, pretty dress, pretty little lingering bump. Well let’s be honest, I left the hospital looking a couple months more pregnant than Duchess Kate. And a couple months out, I still look like Kate did on day 2. But someone recently said something that really resonated with me. It took nine months to grow a baby, gain 40 pounds, and look like the pictures below. Why should the weight and roundness come off any faster?
 (I once swore you'd never see a picture of my bare pregnant belly on social media. But it's really too funny not to share, right? This was the day before Maddie was born)

Moral of the story, cut yourself some slack on the baby weight, it will come off eventually. There are more important things to worry about in the meantime.

On Hormones
Be prepared to cry before/during/after labor, and really for a few weeks (months?) after that. Every emotion – happy, sad, frustrated, elated – is 10x stronger than you’ve ever felt it before. There are good tears, bad tears, joy and struggles. Cut yourself some slack here too, it’s okay to cry. One of the most beautiful, incredible, terrifying, and absolutely life-changing things has happened to you. It’s perfectly normal to be emotional! And, well, while we’re on the topic of hormones, remember all that gorgeous thick hair you had during your pregnancy? It falls out =( For me it started happening around 2 months postpartum. Tom actually commented to me, “I feel like I’m constantly walking through spider webs in our house” *sigh* Goodbye thick hair.

 On Being Flexible
You know that boyscouts saying, “always be prepared”? It’s excellent advice. Plan for everything: packing your bags, getting to the hospital, the birth plan, how you will feed the baby, where the baby will sleep, who will do diapers, who will rock the baby at 2am, who will feed the dogs and cook the dinners and mow the yard and check the mail. Talk about it, write it down, have a plan. But possibly more important than having a plan, is being flexible. There’s another saying, “nothing ever goes as planned”. Yep, that one definitely applies to a newborn baby. Some things won’t go according to plan, and you’ll change your mind on things. Do what works for you and your family, even if it wasn’t in the plan.

 On Lowering your Expectations
Seriously on this one. Lower. Your. Expectations. Of yourself, of your spouse, of your baby, of the state of your house, of your [lack of] style. You’ll be a mess is every sense of the word. You’ll be tired, you’ll be frustrated, you might even feel like you’re failing. But you are not! Being a new parent is tough. Don’t make it tougher on yourself with unrealistic expectations. You will wake up one day and try to remember the last time you washed your hair and brushed your teeth. Your spouse will sleep right through a midnight crying session. Your baby will wake up every hour when you thought she’d sleep for three. Your sink will be full, your hamper overflowing, your vacuum untouched. Sweat pants and no make up will be your new MO. It’s OK! All of it, it’s OK! This time is fleeting. Let things go. Try your best to enjoy the good moments.

 On Technology
I highly recommend using an app to track your newborn’s activity for the first couple of weeks. We used (still use) Total Baby, and it’s been awesome. Now I just use it to track nursing sessions, because good heavens, I can never remember what side I last nursed on. But in the beginning, we tracked diapers too – better count those 4-6 wet diapers and 3 dirty diapers per day! Or whatever it is they tell you. I was a sucker for the blue line on the pampers diaper and changed it every time I saw a speck of blue... alright alright I still do.  Ok but back to the app, I found it really useful to try and find trends, count feedings, count diapers, etc. You can even track sleep, medications, doctors visits and more.

 On Doctors
I thought I had posted the story of how we switched OBGYN’s during my pregnancy but apparently I did not because I just searched through all of my posts and couldn't find it, *sigh*. But now you know, we switched doctors and it was the best decision. Annnnd, we did it again. We started Maddie out with our family practice doctor. We thought it would be convenient for all of us to see the same doctor. But a couple weeks in, we decided we would be more comfortable with a pediatrician. And I highly recommend that, seeing a pediatrician! At our first visit with our new doctor, he asked me, “and she’s taking her Vitamin D drops, right?” ... “Umm Vitamin D? Nobody mentioned Vitamin D” … “And that’s why you see a pediatrician!” he said. We’ve felt so much more comfortable and confident with our new doctor. Side note – both of her doctor’s are named Dr. Berg. And they are not related. Weird, yeah? Another side note – on the topic of Vitamin D, I HIGHLY recommend Carlson Labs Super Daily D drops. One tiny tiny drop, so much easier than the D-Vi-Sol syrup kind from Walgreens.

 On Cankles
Well there’s really nothing to say here, other than, your feet and ankles might look like this when you come home from the hospital, even if they never swelled during your pregnancy. Laugh at them and know that they will eventually go back to normal.

And there you have it, everything you need to know to be a new parent ;) HA! Just kidding. But in all seriousness, live and learn! To all the new parents out there, you’re doing a great job.