I've been wanting to write this blog post for a while. My sweet baby boy Ethan is six weeks old! He is getting so big and doing new things every day. I am just so happy to be his Mom. I waited so long and tried so hard to get here, so I feel as though I need to appreciate it (and him) that much more. And I do. The strength of my love for him can not be measured. It is infinite.
But there is something else I want to talk about. Something that lots of people don't talk about: the emotional roller coaster that is new motherhood. Let's just say, I was not prepared. In fact, I was quite shocked. I think I tried so hard and waited so long to be his Mom...the idea was up on such a high pedestal, that I couldn't imagine anything but pure bliss...and it is bliss. Just not all the time. I want to address what I have found to be the two big myths and realities I've encountered. It is my personal experience. Maybe some of this stuff came easier to other women but I wanted to write this because I had a week or two there where I thought it was just me and that maybe I was developing PPD. I wasn't. In fact I was 100% normal. People just don't talk about this stuff.
Myth #1: Breastfed newborns eat every 2-3 hours.
Reality: Every baby is different and a lot of the time, the first 6 weeks of life is one big, giant cluster feed/growth spurt. Some factors add to this like having a larger baby. I was so unprepared for this, it's not even funny. It is so much pressure to be the sole nutritional source for your baby. Add to that the fact that in order to start up a good milk supply for the future, you have to feed on demand (which in my case during a few days around the 3 week old mark meant Ethan having 17 feedings varying from 25 mins-50 mins each in a 24 hour period,) extreme sleep deprivation and raging postpartum hormones, and you've got one very stressed out Mama. I cried...a lot. It is just now getting better. He is going longer stretches between feedings and I am pumping so Mark can give him a bottle 1x a day. But those first five weeks were so, so tough on me.
Myth #2: You should sleep when the baby sleeps
Reality: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. First of all, when I first got home, I couldn't sleep when he slept because I was paranoid that he would stop breathing in his sleep. Not fun. Then there is the laundry and the dishes. It is really easy to say they can wait for later. We all know that stuff has to get done. For me, having chaos and messiness around me while I was stuck on the couch feeding Ethan non-stop all day just increased my stress and anxiety that I had from all the postpartum hormones. So if I chose to spend a naptime cleaning instead of sleeping and then Ethan woke up and then stayed up all night cluster feeding, I was getting little or no sleep. And I cried...a lot.
Let's add to this a few things:
-Pressure from friends and family to visit/visit them/attend family functions...uh...I had no sleep, my boobs are leaking, I have no time to shower and my place is a mess and you want to come over?
-But. but, but...can't you just pump? Great idea. Why didn't I think of that? So when he is screaming bloody murder for boob, (90 % of the entire day) I'll just ignore him and pump instead so it is easier for everyone else.
-Postpartum pain. Ethan was 9lbs 1 oz. I pushed him out. There was tearing. Enough said.
-The baby blues/emotional ups and downs. One second I was laughing, smiling and happy. Next second I was hysterical crying. It's normal but when you are in it, it doesn't feel normal.
What you get is a very, tired and very emotionally drained Mom. I kind of felt like every day was an accomplishment just making it through the day. Everything felt bigger than it really was. It was hard.
But, every day is better than the day before. We are so in love with our little boy. Feeding him is getting so much easier and I am getting more sleep now. I love being a Mom. I would describe the first weeks as magical, exciting, anxiety-filled, stressful, happy, emotional, crazy and awesome. I just kind of wish I read a post like this so I was a little more prepared for what I was in for. Or I might not have believed it...who knows?
I WILL be a better blogger. I've got a fun cloth diaper post coming up as requested by Karen via twitter :)