I can’t believe that Baby Leon has been with us now for two weeks. It’s been a really steep learning curve. For the most part, he has been very gentle and non-demanding with us, sleeping well, eating well, and being remarkable even tempered for a newborn. I’m sure his personality will continue to change as he hits developmental milestones. We’re very happy to learn more about him, and the challenges/joys of parenting, day by day.
(This face makes middle of the night feeds worth it!)
So here’s my thoughts about how perceptions/goals have differed from postpartum reality:
1. Birth: I hoped for an un-medicated, natural, vaginal birth. But instead I got a super fast, intense labor (I had no idea I was in labor and having contractions even after my water unexpected broke at 36 weeks and 6 days, but it seems I was having them every 5-6 minutes for about 1 minute), complete with nausea, shakes, and constant running to the toilet (for number twos, ugh) was more than I could handle. I was admitted labor and delivery at 1:00 AM, labored naturally for a few hours (using all those poses and positions that a natural birth book recommended), then I got an epidural at 5 AM, and found out I was fully dilated at 7AM. My doctor said the epidural allowed me to relax and for my cervix to open. Leon came at 7:45AM, after just 15 pushes. Little man was gonna come out fast and furious, my own plans be damned. I felt bad at first (maybe about 3 hours) but my mom told me that I must have needed it. Since I was able to experience a lot of active, non-medicated labor, I feel good about the way it went. Also, they say activity and exercise make labor shorter. I guess my regular long walks did something!
2) Breastfeeding: L has a good latch, but I had A LOT of pain the first week. Eek. Turns out that he had a severe tongue-tie (both my husband and I have one, although ours are quite small in comparison), and thanks to the knowledge I got (and a friend I made) through La Leche League*, we were able to get Leon to a good Ear, Nose and Throat doc that took our insurance and specialized in pediatrics. Our little buddy was so brave during the procedure. I was less strong. I need to toughen up for upcoming immunizations.
Also, I feared milk supply problems (you always hear the horror stories) so I sent Blokey out to get oats, wheat germ, and other supply enhancers. Instead, I am leaking human dairy all over the bed, apartment, clothing, furniture. It smells faintly of spilled milk everywhere. Will this stuff attract bugs? I need more nursing pads, stat!
3) Cloth diapering: I was on the fence about doing this, but Blokey, who is very ethical and ignorant about child raising, insisted that we try it exclusively. My mom used cloth for all of us, including my sis, but she had my grandma helping, and a washer/dryer in the house. We have neither an awesome Korean grandma living with us or a W/D in the apartment. But here we are with 30 infant prefolds, 4 diaper covers (I used the Thirsties Duo size one- they could definitely be more thirsty), plus more hand-me-down/gifted supplies. The end result: mostly functional (70% of the time) system, but then otherwise, a lot of poo and pee everywhere. Luckily, I am not so grossed out by this, but there needs to be other solutions. We experimented with different additions to the wash/soak/rinse cycle, but we are still dealing with prodigious pee leakage! It’s possible that our infant diapers just aren’t that absorbent, so I spent the $50 birthday present that mother-in-law sent us to buy some pocket diapers, soakers, inserts, and new prefolds from one of the many cloth diapering suppliers out there. This is like a religion to many. Considering the upfront resource commitment, I get it. But unlike breastfeeding, you can do cloth diapering as a part time commitment and ramp it up later. Like if we suddenly get super busy, we can always order some disposables, or use them at night, and go back to cloth when we get a chance. I may end up DIYing some diaper inserts/soakers, as the fabric is probably much cheaper than the finished product.
4) Baby wearing: I am not a whole hog attachment parenting type (I can’t, since I will be going back to work and need to work), but I like the ideas/ideals of the community. Scientific evidence demonstrates that infants/small babies can’t create ideas of cause/effect/patterns well, so I patently reject the idea that anyone can spoil an infant. I want to be able to keep Leon close to us as much as possible, but unfortunately, I haven’t gotten the hang of my baby-wearing options yet. I have used the Moby with mixed success, but he always seems to slump more than the video suggest is correct. Plus, it gets awfully sweaty in there, and while he loves being in the wrap, Leon has protested (and seems to have some kind of rash where his head gets sweatiest). The infant insert of the Baby Ergo is totally befuddling. I would like a ring sling, as it seems more breathable and low intensity, but they are super expensive for something so low tech. So my artist/designer friend is bringing me some linen (I also have some medium weight red cotton woven fabric) this weekend, and I ordered a sample set from slingrings.com, so hopefully a more economical option will soon be mine. (I’ll follow these directions).
5. Sleeping: I thought I would co-sleep and it appears that I like the co-sleeping more than I thought. It made Blokey nervous at first but I am pretty comfortably with it, and I awake right away when he gets hungry, so he is never crying to get my attention at night. Leon didn’t like to sleep in the hospital bassinet, but I did not sleep with him in the crappy hospital bed for fear they would take him away from me. We do have a mini-crib, and L. slept in it for a whole night, but I hated him being in there, and he stirred and fussed quited a bit, so he is back in the bed with us. We have a “Close and Secure Co-Sleeper” that makes it more safe, but he prefers being closer to me, against the wall. We usually start him off the co-sleeper at the beginning of the night and then he may sleep next to me after a feeding, as he goes to sleep easier that way. I am sure that I will eventually try to transition him into the crib for at least part of the night, but not until after he is bigger.
6. Body image: This one is hard to write about. Like many women, I have what I recognize (on an intellectual level) as stupid body image problem. I had a difficult time dealing with my changing body during pregnancy. (It was worth it but I was used to being the same weight since I was 17, although my shape has changed over the years). I was convinced that I would want to buy an expensive girdle post partum. I was planning to order one around 38 weeks, but never got a chance. In the hospital, I thought about getting one, but considering that we were missing basic supplies, it seemed wasteful. I think that I am maturing a little bit (tiny bit) about my body craziness. While I am not thrilled about my appearance in pictures, I am coming to peace with the changes I’ve gone through. Leon is worth a little chub. (I still plan to work out and get fit as I can after the 6 week rest period is up!)
I was very curious about what kind of mom I’d be, and for the most part, I am the kind of mom that I wanted to be, although I’ve had to be flexible (about my own ignorance, especially). The most important thing is that I’m a pretty happy mom who is totally smitten by my kid. Win-win, if you ask me.
*I know some folks have had bad experiences with LLL, but I found the leaders here in BK to be encouraging, non-judgmental, and friendly. Yes, they want to promote breastfeeding for all mothers, but they don’t blame those who supplement with formula and are good with giving information above all. So I’ll continue to go to meetings. It’s nice to meet other youngish moms in the neighborhood).