Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The things they don't tell you

At the risk of sounding as if I'm complaining about motherhood, I am about to blog about all the things "they" don't tell you about motherhood. Make no mistake - I LOVE my Micah, and I LOVE being a mommy. Micah is absolutely adorable, and I'm constantly amazed by how he is growing and developing. He has the most wonderful smile - every time I see it light up his face, my heart melts.

So . . . back to the point of my blog - the things they don't tell you about having a baby.

BREASTFEEDING. I've mentioned this a bunch of times, but breastfeeding is not easy. Let's start with the fact that latching should be easy, but it isn't always. Then, factor in issues of supply. Then move on to the demand factor - you have to be the one completely available to your little one 24 hours a day to provide for his/her eating needs. When you are exhausted, or overwhelmed, or sick, YOU still have to be the primary one responsible for feeding your baby. It is an enormous responsibility, and there is very little feedback to reassure you that you are doing it right. Taking time off? Not really an option - even if you step away, you still have to make sure to pump enough to keep the supply up. I think bottle-feeding moms really do have an advantage because they gain far more independence and can much more easily share this responsibility with a spouse.

PLAYING. It sounds strange, but I'm never sure that I am playing with Micah enough . . . or stimulating his brain development sufficiently. Sometimes it is hard to figure out what to do, and I always feel like I am not doing enough. Other times, I just want to sit quietly with him, and I wonder if I'm wasting precious moments when I should be teaching him something. I have no idea whether we are supposed to fill every waking second (when they are not eating) with learning.

IDENTITY. I blogged about this before, but I really feel like I've lost myself a bit. My whole life now revolves around this little tiny life, and sometimes I feel like I've lost me. I'm working hard to find me again and re-establish that balance, but it is much harder than I realized.

INDEPENDENCE. I find it difficult to go out for extended periods of time. Much of this may have to do with the fact I am breastfeeding, but it is difficult to figure out how to leave Micah for long stretches of time. Even figuring out how to pump when I am out is challenging. As a result, I feel like I do not have time to get things done . . . either my work, or even spending time with friends, or getting my nails done. I know that moms are able to balance this when they go back to work, but I guess I am a bit more nervous about testing the waters because we JUST got my supply established the past few weeks, and I'm so afraid of messing it all up. My goal over the next few weeks is to figure out how to give myself some space when I need it - maybe have a few days a week that we bottle feed Micah during the day to give me a bit of a break. I am really ready to be able to take the day off and either let DH have a full day with Micah or ask my parents to babysit. Now that he is sleeping through the night, it would be so easy to let him stay at his Grammy and Goppy's house overnight.

SEX. You hear all the time about how after a baby, there is no time (or sometimes interest) in having sex. What they don't tell you is that getting back to having sex is physically challenging. I mean, think about it. For those of us who have just had a vaginal birth, even the lucky ones have just inflicted some significant trauma on our hoo-has - we have done a fairly good job of tearing and ripping the area to pieces. Once you get beyond the healing, the things we don't think about are scar tissue, tightness, soreness from the healing process, and things not healing up the same way they were before. As most people do, we got the green light to resume normal sexual activity at 6 weeks. Try as we might, that task has been more challenging than we thought. We were quite proud of ourselves - we scheduled plenty of time, we arranged for our privacy (thanks to Micah for cooperating by going to bed early, in his own room, and sleeping through the night), and we "set the mood." And yet . . . things just still don't work correctly for me yet. It has taken us many attempts to even make it work, and . . . shall we say I've lost that loving feeling. I sure hope it comes back :(.

SLEEP. I'll throw a bone to the sleep deprivation factor, although I don't sleep much in the first place. I have to say, I did not think this would affect me at all, and I was amazed by how difficult the first few weeks were. With all of the feeding issues I was having, I really did not get ANY sleep in the beginning. They tell you to nap when the baby is napping, but if you are feeding every 2-3 hours from the START of a feed, and if the feeding takes over 1 hour, and then it takes another 15-20 minutes to pump (factoring in the setup and cleanup) . . . well, you are at 2 hours, and it is time to start over again! I would say I'm lucky - by the 2 week mark, Micah was sleeping 4-6 hours without interruption overnight, and that immediately gave me my normal sleep schedule back, so my sleep deprivation was short-lived.


Chele said...

Some of this I experienced some of it I didn't. Basically because I didn't breastfeed and I had a c-section.

I think motherhood is different for everyone. I didn't experience the identity thing but know others that did and I can understand why they feel that way.

As parents we are always second guessing ourselves but we are doing the best we can and making the adjustments that are needed as we go along. Even after all these years we still sometimes second guess ourselves and hindsight can really suck at times.

There is no such thing as a PERFECT PARENT and when you run across someone that "thinks" they are a perfect parent it's obvious to everyone but them that they aren't.

Carving out a place for yourself is a good idea. I've always done that with the help of Rick. There were times he's had to actually force me to do things for myself and push me out the door. lol! Those times were good for him because he got the one on one care/time with them and it wasn't always great time. It usually woke him up and made him appreciate all that I was doing.

Hang in there, it does get easier.

Sarah said...

Great post, and you're totally not alone. Part of the reason I went to bottle feeding is because I felt like I was "losing myself". It made a huge difference in my mental health. And I, too, struggle with if I should be "stimulating" Caleb constantly--but I read somewhere that that isn't necessary...they're learning about the world regardless, what they need right now is comfort and security, not lessons. Trust me, you'll miss the times when you could just hold him-Caleb is already getting super squirmy when I hold him, and it makes me sad. Hang in there, girl, and I've always got a shoulder for you to cry on if you need it!

Anonymous said...

I totally have been where you are! Just know that you do the best you can, but things don't have to be perfect. Getting through these early months with some tiny semblance of sanity is the best you can do.

Welcome to the guilt-ridden trek of's always full of whatifs and whatnext?

But, it gets easier, trust me!