Oh hey, new series alert! Pigtales is a glimpse at the going-ons that take place (mostly) outside of the P&Q kitchen. Baby stuffs, things I love, general musings and other tales from my life as a momma, wife and semi-professional goofball.
By choice, Chris and I brought Lana home to an empty house. Our parents, who were ear-to-the-door during Lana’s delivery, stayed around the hospital long enough to snuggle our little one and ensure we were well nourished and comfortable, and then they all piled back into the car for what I imagine was a very endorphin-fueled drive to Sacramento. And so it was that Chris and I spent our first night — and every night after for at least several weeks — on our own with our sweet, gentle bug. We were strong enough a team to bring her into the world, we figured; we’d be strong enough a team to show her its first wonders. And we were.
That said, we accepted help where it was offered, and one of the most valuable forms of support I received was the ‘round the clock wisdom of my best friend since childhood, Whitney, who just happens to be a certified lactation consultant. (Right? Color me LUCKY.) Whitney, bless her kind and generous heart, was on the receiving end of many a panicked midnight text and phone call — and, yes, video. Does her latch look right? Are my boobs supposed to be this big? If I pump is it going to lead to oversupply!? And, of course, Holy shit is it supposed to hurt?
So when Whit (not yet a momma) asked me to send her some of my learnings as a new mom so she could even better relate to her clients, I answered with a resounding yes — or more accurately: It’s the least I can do, really! Should I write it with my boobs? They’re the one’s that owe ya! — and then sat on a poorly organized email draft for two months. (I mean, The Bachelor. That’s about the only excuse I got.) And that brings us to today, which, kinda perfectly, just happens to be Whit’s birthday. Happy birthday, dear friend. Thanks for everything you’ve done to help me nourish my babe to the best of my ability. We’re both better for it. Love you so much.
Ok, here we go!
Five Things I Learned As a New Mom
1. It’s ok to accept help.
I have friends who have described their first few months of parenthood as “fun,” “sweet,” and even “easy.” To those moms, I’d love a sip of whatever spiked punch you’re pounding, because this shit is hard — and I say that knowing we got very, very lucky with Lana. Don’t shy away from friends or family when they offer to make you a meal or take some of the housework off your hands. And — real talk — if all you want them to do is hold the dang baby so you can escape to the kitchen and wash a sinkful of dishes because it means feeling normal again, let them know. They’ll assume they’re being most helpful by affording you more time with your little one, but when you’ve been attached at the boob for 20 hours, throwing in a load of laundry or making the bed in solitude can offer its own sense of restorative peace. On that note…
2. The Baby Blues are very real.
I haven’t talked much about this here (or at all, really), but the first three weeks that I was home with Lana, I felt stuck in a sort of limbo. I wanted so very badly to be filled with an overwhelming sense of euphoria when I looked at her sweet face, but despite the fact that I already loved her deeply, a very real part of me kept whispering maybe we can put her back in. I remember cradling Lana in my arms and sobbing to Chris, “I should be the happiest I’ve ever been but I don’t feel like me. I just want to feel like me again.” The inherent sense of shame associated with feeling so unsure of yourself — as a mother, as a human being — when you’re expected to literally glow with delight broke my heart. Even to this day, my earliest memories of Lana are tainted with wisps of that shame, and my heart aches with envy and regret when I hear other new moms talk about their first days home with such warmth and glee. If we’re looking for a lesson here, I don’t really have one, other than to say: if you find yourself in this boat, you are absolutely not alone. Also, eat your placenta. I totally should have eaten my placenta.
3. Newborns nurse. A LOT.
Ok, Whit, this isn’t news to you, but somehow nothing I read or was told prepared me for just how much time that sweet babe would spend at the boob, and it knocked me on my ass. As in, milk factory doesn’t even begin to describe it. Just when I thought I had a moment to shower or sit down with a sandwich, Lana would start smacking those little rosebud lips. (Funny how, now that she’s actually decreased her nursing, I’m nostalgic for those early feedings.) Chris and I haven’t decided whether we’ll add to our family or not, but if there’s a next time, I fully intend to anticipate this period — and embrace the hell out of it. That is: surround myself with every snack imaginable and all the daytime television I can handle. And when that wee bug dozes off in between suckles? You better believe I’ll buck the urge to “get things done” and allow myself to do the same.
4. The internet can offer a wealth of knowledge…
…and a burden of information. The world-wide web is a dangerous place, and it’s all too easy to wander into some dark corners when the sun’s long gone and you’re desperately trying to keep those lids high while a little ‘un bellies up to the bar. (After all, didn’t you read somewhere that falling asleep while nursing is the surest way to drop/smother/otherwise put an end to your precious babe?) I spent countless hours googling anything and everything I could about baby sleep schedules, poop frequency, nipple care — you name it. And while most of the time it was comforting to find a forum or two where a dozen other moms shared my concerns, they ultimately had little effect on the decisions we’ve made about Lana’s care and upbringing. Yes, it’s true that, despite my early desire to be the go-anywhere, do-anything mom with the super adaptable babe, we followed Lana’s lead toward a not-so-adaptable schedule — and I truly believe it has helped her to become the fantastic little sleeper that she is today. But once we made that decision, I probably didn’t need to read 17 blog posts to back it up. In fact, I realize now that, unless it was a true medical concern, the majority of our parenting decisions came down to knowing our baby and trusting our gut, or soliciting advice from friends and family who understood our lifestyle and needs and could offer contextual advice. All those hours I logged researching (and re-researching) tips and best practices just created additional opportunities to compare my life and parenting style to somebody else’s, and the last thing you need when you’re functioning in zombie mode is to second guess yourself. over. and over. again. So, you — yeah you on the brink of tears, mindlessly gliding or rocking or shhhhhhing the night away by the light of your phone: take a break. Trust your gut. Instagram is calling!
5. Your memory fails you.
Consider it nature’s way of ensuring we don’t all sterilize ourselves following the births of our children. (Kidding.) Within just a few weeks of Lana’s arrival, the details surrounding my labor and Lana’s delivery had blurred into little more than a haze. When I try to recall the most intense moments of those 40+ hours — the ones I was sure I’d never forget — it’s like trying to run in water or piecing together a dream upon waking. Slogging. Frustrating. Indistinct. Looking back at pictures of her as a newborn, it’s like seeing someone else’s child. How were her fingers ever so curled, her now-chubby thighs so slender? My recollection of her in those moments is now almost solely dependent on my phone’s camera roll and notepad. And as every month passes and I find myself increasingly immersed in Lana’s impending toddlerhood (?!?!), my time as a true baby momma becomes ever more hazy. Snap thousands of pictures. Record those first coos. Write a blog post for your bestie while the topic is still fresh (oops). Because I knew time would pass quickly, but I had no idea how much of my long-term memory it’d take with it.
OH! before you go…
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