Wednesday, December 5, 2012

labor, postpartum, and baby: what I wish I knew beforehand...


There's a lot of things that people don't tell you about having a baby.
They tell you all the wonderful, positive things, 
but they tend to leave out the "not so cute" stuff.

Well, I wish someone had stepped up and told me about all the hard stuff.
Not because it would have changed anything, 
but it would have been nice to know what to expect.
I love my baby more than I can say, but boy is it different than I once anticipated.

So in the event I ever have another baby (that one's still up for debate haha),
here are the things I wanna remember:

Labor
  • A birth plan is just that.  A plan.  It's okay to stray from it.  Don't go into labor expecting everything to go exactly one way.  You can plan as much as you want, but in the end, the events do not always happen as you intended them to.  Be flexible.  The most important thing is you and your baby.  
  • Even though you have months and months to prepare to meet your sweet baby, nothing can really prepare you for that first moment when you meet your child.  It's a beautiful thing.  
  • Your nurse and midwife/doctor have a huge effect on your overall birthing experience.  I was blessed to have a WONDERFUL labor nurse and midwife.  They were so incredibly helpful and supportive.  I knew I would be relying a lot on my dear hubby, but I had no idea how appreciative I would be of my nurse and midwife.  I honestly wish I had brought some kind of "thank you" for them.  

Postpartum
  • Recovery sucks.  I had a relatively easy recovery, but there's still nothing fun about labor recovery.
  • It takes a while for your boobs to feel normal. It took about 2 days for the painfulness of breastfeeding to catch up with me.  I remember the first time I fed my baby I thought to myself, "this isn't as bad as people make it seem."  Yeah...give it a day or two of a baby sucking on you every 2 hours and then tell me how you feel.  I wouldn't have survived without Medala Soothing Pads and lanolin cream.
  • Your unmentionable area is gonna be a mess for awhile.  Listen to the nurses and REST.  Even when you start feeling better, take it easy.  Your body will certainly let you know if you do too much.  And when I say too much, I mean like tidying up the house may even send your body into a fit and having you wish you had just stayed in bed for the day.  REST AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!
  • Accept pain medicine at the hospital and keep up with it at home.  There's nothing to prove by refusing pain medicine while healing.  Your body has just gone through a trauma and I promise you will appreciate those motrin pills.  
  • Accept any and all help! I thought once the baby came, I'd be able to be superwoman and still do everything.  Well, I got a bit slap of reality after labor.  Recovery is hard.  Taking care of a newborn is hard.  Being sleep deprived is hard.  Finding time to eat/make food is hard.  Finding time to keep your house remotely presentable is nearly impossible.  Add all those up and you can see how difficult of a time you might have if you're doing everything on your own.  So when family offers to help out, ACCEPT IT! Feel free to tell people what it is that you really need though.  If people offer to bring you meals, ACCEPT IT! Once the meals stopped coming in, hubby and I ate quesadillas for a week straight, because it was the only thing I had the time/energy to make.  
  • Don't expect things to get back to "normal" ever.  You'll eventually feel more normal, but you'll soon fall into a "new normal." 
  • If you're like me, you'll feel a crazy sense of anxiety all the time.  I hated having people hold my baby. I know that's crazy, but I had such a hard time napping when others offered to hold and watch my baby.  I'd sit in bed, exhausted but unable to turn off my brain.  Is my baby okay?  I should be holding him.  What if he gets hungry and no one realizes it?  What if he needs me? Yeah, I was a little crazy.  I may still be.  It's getting better though.  
  • Once you feel up to it, make it a point every day to take care of yourself. Dress yourself up, put in your contacts, and throw on some make up.  It'll make you feel so much more like yourself.  Don't lose yourself just because you have a baby.  You're still you.  
  • It's totally okay to cry.  Cry as much as you want.  Don't be ashamed for feeling overwhelmed.  Don't allow yourself to believe that you're somehow inadequate for not immediately loving every aspect of motherhood.  It doesn't mean you love your baby any less.  It just means that you're human and that it's a hard adjustment.  You'll be okay.  

Baby
  • You know what's best for your baby.  Don't let other people's comments make you believe any different.  Everyone has an opinion when it comes to babies.  Everyone thinks they know what's best. They'll tell you your baby is eating too much or too little.  They'll tell you the best ways to get your baby to sleep.  They'll tell you all kinds of things.  But when it comes down to it, YOU are the mom and only YOU know what is best for your sweet baby.  Trust your instincts.  
  • It's okay to feel "lost" the first couple weeks.  You, your husband, and your baby are all trying to figure each other out for the first time.  It's okay to not immediately know what all of your baby's cries mean.  You'll learn in time.  
  • Your adorable, sweet baby is going to make you more sleep deprived than you ever thought possible.  People tell you you're gonna be tired, but you really can't comprehend it until you have your baby.  It's seriously a whole new level of sleep deprivation.  Be strong.  The first couple weeks are the hardest.  You may think you're not gonna make it through, but I promise you will.  If you need help, ask for it.  Newborns are a lot of work.
  • After labor, babies have to clear out their systems.  For the first couple days, they may seem like they're choking and spit up a lot of fluid.  When this happened, I was honestly scared to death.  I seriously thought my tiny little baby was going to choke and die.  He'd turn red and purple and stop breathing for a couple of seconds.  Believe it or not, this is normal.  They have a lot of extra amniotic fluid in their system that they need to clear out.  
  • Don't be afraid to say "no" to people.  Everyone loves babies and everyone wants to touch and hold them.  Use your judgement in exposing your baby.  Their immune systems are still developing, and when they're first born they don't have their immunizations yet, putting them at risk.  Make sure people wash their hands before holding and touching your baby.  This doesn't make you the "bad guy." It makes you a mom watching out for her baby and that's perfectly fine. 
  • Newborns digestive systems are still adjusting and developing.  This can cause a lot of discomfort for your baby, such as gas or reflux.  My little guy had terrible gas the first few weeks.  He would stay up screaming in pain at night because he was having stomach pains and having difficulty passing gas.  Gas drops helped us at first.  It's progressively gotten better though.
  • If you're ever worried, call the pediatrician.  That's what they're there for and it'll save you hours of worry if you just voice your concerns.  
  • Take as many pictures as you can.  You won't believe just how quickly your baby will grow and change.

I'm sure there are other things, but for now, this is quite the hefty list. 
Babies are wonderful, but they're such hard work. 
It's definitely an adjustment, but one that is quite possible.
It just takes time. 
Be patient and know that there are people out there in your same situation. 
And more important, there are people out there who want to help you in any way they can.
It's okay to not be superwoman.  I'm still figuring that out myself.
But I'm trying to remind myself that it'll all be okay.  
So if I ever have another child, these are the things I hope to remember.
But like I said, having another one is still up for debate.  
We'll take it a day at a time.  

4 comments:

Tiffany said... Best Blogger Tips

all so true. and i was willing to do that three time?! what was i thinking?! :) just wait until he gets older. then you'll have this list for all the new stages coming up in life. being a mom really is amazing though. and the kids are just so darn adorable.

Jenna said... Best Blogger Tips

Candace- I haven't been to your blog in ages. I didn't know you were expecting and now you have a beautiful baby boy! :D

Sending you sweet congratulations from Ohio <3

This is a wonderful post! Even if I don't see babies in my near future, I'd love to read this someday when I myself am pregnant! What a sincere and honest look at motherhood!

Congrats again!! :)

Adeline Tan said... Best Blogger Tips

It's scary, especially the choking part. You are doing so well Candace! Proud of you :)

eryka {from abcde} said... Best Blogger Tips

I stumbled upon your blog via Pinterest and I love this post so much. I am not preggers yet but we are trying and this will be so handy someday! Thanksss!

XO
Eryka @ ABCDE
abcdetheblog.blogspot.com