Things I Wish I’d Known.

17 Nov

There were many things people told me before I became a mother.  Advice, warnings, anecdotes…most of what was said fell on deaf ears.  For example, my family told me about the sleepless nights.  Did I believe them?  No.  For some reason, I though my little bundle of joy would be different.  My baby would sleep through the night, allowing her mother to emerge, each morning, like a beautiful butterfly from her long, deep sleep.  The reality of course is that I haven’t slept for more than three hours at a stretch in four months. And I am tired…very tired.  I wish I’d listened to some of this advice, so that I could have been a little more prepared.  So for all you pregnant ladies, here are a few things I wish I’d known…

Don’t buy too many 0-3 month clothes, because your baby will grow very, very quickly.

Not my little lamb, I thought.  She will fit into those adorable outfits for a full three months, so I’d better stock up.  And let’s not forget the tights and booties, the bonnets and bows.  She’ll wear it all, I can see it!  The reality of course was that we spent the first three months covered in spit up, hanging out in pajamas, trying to figure out nursing and the like.  Bonnets were met with screams, bows were met with a wrinkled brow and tights were met with runny, yellow baby poo.  In addition my girl quickly moved from delicate flower to chunky monkey in the mere blink of an eye.  So now at just 4 months she’s already dressing like a 6 month old.  My advice to you?  Buy the cute outfits, just don’t purchase the entire Gymboree summer line in size 0-3 months.

It took nine months to gain the weight, give yourself nine months to lose it.

I’ve always been thin, I thought.  This baby weight will fall right off of me.  I’ll be breastfeeding, of course, so the pounds will melt off….I read that in People magazine.  This baby weight thing will be a piece of cake…nevermind the fact that I gained a whopping 50lbs during my pregnancy, essentially increasing my body weight by 1/3rd.  I will emerge from the hospital looking like Heidi Klum (despite the fact that I have never looked like Heidi Klum before).

The reality of course was that I gained 50lbs during my pregnancy.  It was indeed a wonderful amount of weight to gain because from that weight I produced a beautiful, healthy little girl.  But after I had my baby did the weight fall off?  Hell no!  Did breastfeeding cause the pounds to melt away.  No way!  Did I emerge from the hospital still looking 6 months pregnant?  Why yes, thanks for asking, I did.

Of my 50lb weight gain, 20 of that were left at the hospital (except for the 7lb 11oz bambino I brought home with me!).  The rest remained with me, mostly on my hips and belly.  And there those pounds sat…for weeks.  Nothing budged for a month.  Then, slowly….ever so slowly….things started to shift.  Pants that before I could only pull up to my knees were now coming up to my hips. Dresses started zipping up again.  I was looking in the mirror and seeing my face once more.  Now, four months later, I have lost half of the baby weight…I imagine in another 4-5 months I will lose the rest.  So, if we do the math here, in about 9 months I will be back to my old self.  Just like everyone told me.

Everyone, that is, except People magazine.

When it comes to labor, your body will know what to do.

During my pregnancy I spent a LOT of time thinking about the whole labor/birth thing.  I’m sure this is normal for most first times moms.  The imminent task just feels so large, so unknown, so frightening…so awe-inspiring.  I read the books, took the birth classes, watched the videos, made my husband watch the videos (sorry, babe) and wrote my birth plan.  Boy did I write my birth plan.  In Paragraph 2, Section 3 I stated my desire for a dimly lit room.  In Paragraph 4, Section 7 I wrote about my desire to smell lilacs during my birth, because they reminded me of my childhood home.  In my suitcase I packed my special talisman, music, trail mix, tennis balls, essential oils…Were all of these thing useful?  Yes, for the most part, they were.  Writing an in depth birth plan helped me, a control freak, to feel like I had some idea of what to expect.  Like I could somehow prepare for the biggest unknown I had ever faced. It made me feel better, less scared, like I was somehow in control.   So in that way it was quite useful.  However, at two weeks past my due date, when my health began to rapidly decline, I had to chuck in my entire birth plan and be induced.  And through the entire process of labor I found what the mothers in my life had told me was true…my body knew what to do.  The knowledge was within me…it had always been there… and it had very little to do with a lilac scented room.

Breastfeeding is hard….I repeat breastfeeding is hard.

Okay so this is one that no one really told me.  I found that when it came to breastfeeding I was caught completely off guard.  The only thing I knew about breastfeeding was that I wanted to do it, and I assumed the rest would fall into place.  I bought one excellent book while I was pregnant, called The Nursing Mother’s Companion, which I kind of skimmed while taking a bath one night.  My problem was that I was too busy buying cute baby clothes (in size 0-3 months) and writing my birth plan to think about breastfeeding.

I was in for a rude awakening the night after I gave birth to Bea.  Fortunately for me, Bea was a natural when it came to nursing.  She latched on as soon as she was laid on my stomach and nursed like a champ for 20 minutes after she was born.  When we were all settled in our room after the labor was over the nurses gave me a little booklet in which to record nursing times and told me to nurse every  hour, for 15 minutes on each side.  This was to be done no matter what, so my milk would come in.    Now it’s an understatement to say that I felt kind of crappy after giving birth.  I felt worn out, exhausted and well…like I had just given birth.  So really all I wanted to do was stare at my baby and sleep.  I did not anticipate this whole nursing thing.  What happened to me was this…

11:15 pm – Arrive in room with Bea and Sean.  Nurse tells me to try nursing before going to sleep.

11:17 pm – Take off hospital gown.  Start trying to get into a comfortable position for nursing.

11:27 pm – Still trying to find a comfortable position…

11:32 pm – Okay in position.  Ask Sean to hand me Bea.

11:43 pm – I think she’s latched on correctly…but I’m not sure…

12:01 am – Switch to other side.

12:12 am – Still in process of switching to the other side.

12:15 am – Nurse comes in to take vitals (note I still have my gown off).

12:17 am – An hour has passed…time to start over.

Please note there was no sleeping, resting or dozing during any of this.

After 24 hours I had the whole process down to half an hour, so that I could nap for a whole 15 minutes!  But of course by that time my nipples had turned into scabs, making the entire process extremely painful.  This continued for three days or so until my milk finally came in.  At this point things got a little easier.  But, I didn’t really get the hang of the breastfeeding for a month.

So for those of you pregnant ladies who are out buying 0-3month baby clothes,  pick up a book on breastfeeding, maybe take a class.   Prepare yourself for the fact that after the baby comes you will have your work cut out for you.  But also know that once all the difficulty is behind you, nursing becomes the most lovely, wonderful part of your day.  Plus there is nothing more satisfying than looking at your baby’s cute little fat rolls and thinking…I did that.

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5 Responses to “Things I Wish I’d Known.”

  1. The Food Hound November 18, 2010 at 5:53 am #

    I just found your blog and I love it! I love this post, especially– the Booze Hound (see my blog http://food-hound.blogspot.com) and I plan to have bambini eventually, and it’s so refreshing to hear a real-but-not-negative story about birth and the first few months of motherhood. Keep up the good work! I used to work for WIC, and for training I had to read “Child of Mine” by Ellyn Satter. It’s an INDISPENSABLE resource for nursing and feeding children– I highly recommend it!!

  2. emily November 18, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    omg too funny, and all true. when friends say they want to hear what labor is realy like, i laugh! they would never ever believe me! its the most painful thing youll probly ever experience, is the most intense sensation and it can last for a couple days! oy. who wants to believe it. i dont think 50lbs is at all abnormal to gain, especially in a thin person. i gained 60lbs w/my son, 50 w/my daughter and lost the 50 from my daughter at about 1 year or more. i found recuding sugar and eliminating bread/wheat to be helpful for this. when my daughter was first born i felt famished and ate cinnomon rolls every day! yikes. congrats on the new baby and welcome to the reality of motherhood! it doesnt really get easier, even when they are 9 years old.

  3. Brooke Guthrie November 18, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

    Love your blog. I got a lot of hand me downs for my son – these were a dream. I heard the breast feeding/weight loss myth from my sister in law with 4 kids. It has worked for friends, not for me. Still trying to find a way to lose the 50 pounds I gained from having my son (lost 30 initially), still working on it, and then some. Breastfeeding is hard! I weaned my son at 13.5 months and we didn’t get it till the first month and after the lactation consultant (5 visits?) and the lovely La Leche League (I love them!). My birth plan said no residents – day of – I had a lovely gent there to watch and gasp at the real goings on of making a baby.

  4. Valerie November 26, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    Oh, baby. 50 lbs is half your pre-pregnancy weight! Of course that’s going to take a lot of time to reduce. The people with La Leche League are super at helping new moms with the breast feeding. They were a godsend for Aly, who had her baby 13 weeks early.

    I hope Bea starts sleeping through the night pretty soon. Or at least sometime in a long enough stretch for you to wake feeling refreshed. Did you take all the ze he che? Do you find it not as renewing as we learned?

    Oh, and People magazine lies.

  5. eripaige December 2, 2010 at 8:12 pm #

    This is one reason god brought you to my life, to tell me the truths of life!

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