My humble advice to you

During my pregnancy, I ready so many mommy blogs. I scoured Pinterest to learn tips for labor and delivery, postpartum care and life with a newborn. I read reviews on baby gear. I wanted to be armed with all of the information possible so that I would be less scared.

I can’t say it didn’t help. Who knows how much more scared I would’ve been without all of that information? But I was still terrified. And you know what I learned? Some of it was legitimately good advice. But some if it was total bullshit. Here are my top 5 DOs and DO NOTs (all based on my personal experience – obviously I am no medical professional and everyone’s experience will vary):

DO…

… Get the epidural. I was terrified to get an epidural, but I was more terrified not to get an epidural. So, I got an epidural. Was it worth it? Hell yes. I had heard so many horror stories about not knowing when to push, not being able to walk, having to have a catheter, being totally numb and missing out on the full experience. Perhaps mine was one of the few completely positive experiences, but I had no issues whatsoever and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

… Bring adult diapers. Listen, those gigantic pads and mesh underwear aren’t bad. I gave them a shot, but the Depends that I brought in my bag were so much better. I had heard so many stories about not bringing anything with you to the hospital that you didn’t want to get ruined. I could’ve worn a ball gown and not worried about a leak.

… Let the baby sleep in the nursery. Listen, my baby was NINE days late. When he finally arrived, I didn’t want to give him up, even for a second. I cried when they took him for his assessments. I struggled to even let his dad and grandparents hold him! But I finally caved and let the nurses take him to the nursery when I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore and realized the nurses would be awake with him all night making sure he was safe and sound. Your body goes through so much when you deliver your little miracle, and it needs rest to recover.

Delay visitors for awhile. My baby was born at 7:30 am and visiting hours didn’t start until noon. It worked out perfectly because my husband and I knew that we wanted some time just the three of us before we accepted visitors. We had time to just soak in the miracle we had just witnessed and stare at our boy in awe. While we loved showing our boy off as soon as our family arrived, I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world. Our world stopped spinning during those few hours and all that mattered was that we were all together.

Ask all of the questions you want. I thought I knew it all. I had read the books, after all. Parenting can definitely be summarized in 300 pages, right? I read the blogs; I had pinned lots of new mommy topics. I didn’t want to ask questions. I would be sitting in my hospital bed using my iPhone to google things that I could’ve just asked the team of medical professionals that came into my room every 20 minutes. That was dumb. It’s okay to have questions. Some of it comes natural – like the love and admiration you feel for your baby – but some of it is hard and confusing. That’s okay. The nurses aren’t going to judge you. They’ve heard and seen it all.

DO NOT…

Make those damn padsicles that are all over Pinterest. I bought all of the supplies and took the time to make them. I used one. The rest are still in my freezer. Why? They’re so freaking cold. You can’t put something that cold on a part of your body that sensitive. You couldn’t do that on a normal day, let alone after the trauma that has just occurred. Save yourself the money and the time. Not worth it.

Make yourself miserable over breastfeeding. In fact, I have a whole post dedicated to my struggle. I’ll save you the time here – just give that a read.

Be embarrassed or insecure while in labor/delivery. I was self-conscious at first. Then the nurse told me I was never going to get anywhere if I didn’t stop holding back. So I stopped holding back. I gave it everything I had for an hour. I was a hot mess. I had busted blood vessels in my face. I had sore muscles for weeks. I can only imagine how I looked. But I didn’t care. I was getting another human being out of my body. All behavior is excused.

deny visitors completely. Like I said above, we waited several hours to have visitors and I wouldn’t change it. But we had considered asking family and friends to hold off on visiting until we came home from the hospital, and I’m so glad we didn’t. Even though having a new baby is so exciting, being cooped up in a hospital room gets boring. And I got so much joy out of seeing my baby’s grandparents, aunts and uncles meet him for the first time. It just enhanced the entire experience.

believe everything you read. Your labor and delivery experience, just like your pregnancy, is going to be one of a kind. No one can tell you exactly what to expect, and no one can give you fool proof advice. It definitely doesn’t hurt to be prepared – I am really glad I armed myself with as much information as I did. But I wish that I wouldn’t have expected to an experience exactly like the ones I had read. I had very few complications, but my baby had pooped sometime between my water breaking and his arrival. So while he ended up being perfectly healthy, he had to be fully assessed immediately – meaning I didn’t get him placed on my chest for skin to skin until he was several minutes old. I mourned the loss of that precious few minutes and decided that next time around, I will go in without expectations and just accept the experience as it happens for me.

Yes, everything is going well

It wasn’t a lie, exactly. When the lactation consultant from the hospital called and I told her everything was going well, I meant it. Everything was going well… with formula feeding. We had given up breastfeeding weeks prior. So, it wasn’t a lie, exactly. But it wasn’t the truth, either.

She was a very kind person, and she truly wanted to help me. I know that. She wanted me to find success in breastfeeding because it’s what I wanted, and it’s what is best for babies. But it didn’t work out for me and because I was sad, frustrated and, in all honesty, a little ashamed and embarrassed, I wasn’t honest.

This was weeks ago. I have since found confidence in myself as a mother. I now know that I made the right decision based on my baby’s needs. He was hungry. I wasn’t producing enough breastmilk to sustain him. No matter how much he nursed, no matter how much I pumped, he was never getting full. He was always crying. I was always crying. I felt incompetent as a mother. My husband felt useless. My baby was hungry.

So, I started to supplement. With the first bottle of formula, I saw my baby, for the first time, get his belly full. He was satisfied. He was content. I was relieved. I got some sleep.

I continued to try to nurse him, but he never quite mastered it. Each time he nursed, he required a nipple shield to latch on. I continued to try to pump, but I couldn’t get enough for even a full feeding. It felt like a losing battle. All the time I spent pumping was time spent away from my baby. I would sit in my bed, hooked up to my pump, scouring the internet for advice, watching and re-watching the videos the lactation consultant recommended, and cry. I would cry because I wanted to be holding my baby. I would cry because I couldn’t give him what I knew was best for him. I would cry because I was so tired. I would cry because I felt like my body was letting me down. I would cry because I wanted to stop, but I was afraid my baby wouldn’t love me as much. I would cry because I felt like a failure.

I have a history of depression and anxiety, and I could feel myself starting to sink back into the darkness. I knew that something had to change, or I was going to lose myself. I didn’t want to go back to that place. I didn’t want go to that place and leave my husband and my baby. They needed me.

Finally, I gave up. I accepted that my baby would be (I cringed for so long when I would say it) formula fed. It only took 48 hours for my milk to dry up. I felt so guilty for weeks. I questioned my decision every day. I thought maybe I could start pumping again and get it to come back. I kept crying. Every time someone asked me if I was nursing, I sobbed.

It has been weeks and I’m finally content with my decision. I no longer feel guilty. My baby is full, and that is nothing to feel guilty about. I no longer cry when asked if I’m nursing. I can simply say, “I did at first, but it didn’t work out for us.” I no longer question whether I made the right decision. It may not be right for everyone, but it was right for us. I would no longer lie to the lactation consultant, because now I feel confident in myself as a mother. I no longer feel like a failure. My baby smiles constantly, cries very little and his belly gets full each time he eats. Not to mention, his mommy is stable and healthy. I no longer think that’s a reason to be embarrassed or ashamed.

So, to new moms, I leave you with this advice:

Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing the best you can. Whether you nurse your baby, you formula feed your baby, or you choose a combination of the two, if your baby’s belly is full, you’re doing your job. You’re not a failure. You are a good mom. Your baby loves you. Your baby needs you. Never be ashamed or embarrassed by your parenting choices. Only you know what’s best for you, your baby and your family.

You are the best mommy your baby will ever have, no matter what.

I’m new at this

Motherhood, that is.

I have tried to blog before. Maybe you were a follower who gave up on me. I always got too busy, or I would decide that no one was interested in what I was saying. Truthfully, both excuses were probably somewhat valid. But I’ve decided to try again anyway.

Am I going to be good at it this time? Am I going to stick with it? I don’t know. I can’t predict the future (Actually, I can a little bit. For instance, I know that my baby is going to be hungry in exactly one hour. But that’s all I’ve got.) but I know that right now, I need a place to vent, to unload, to unwind – and I don’t have the time for therapy.

I created this blog when my baby was three weeks old and we were having a particularly hard day with nursing. I wanted to pour my feelings out into a blog post, but I got distracted by his cries for hunger… for five weeks. So, again, am I going to be good at it this time? Probably not. But that’s life, right? My family is always going to come first. But I’m already learning that I have to take care of me before I can take care of them (in the words of my wise mother, “it’s the same as putting your own oxygen mask on first.”) and this time, I’m doing this for me.

Stay tuned. Or don’t. But if you do, please don’t get frustrated when I walk away for five weeks. It’s because my baby needed me more than I needed a blog.