So it’s been quite a while since I last blogged, and it has been long overdue. Between figuring out this mom thing and going back to work, it has been hard to take time doing what I enjoy, including writing. I wrote this when I was about 6 weeks postpartum and kind of forgot about it. I guess now is as good of a time as any to share it with you! Enjoy!
Almost two months ago I gave birth to the perfect baby girl. Okay, so everyone says their baby is the cutest baby ever. But Hadleigh REALLY is ;). While she might be cute, I am definitely not being serious about her being perfect. But what human is? We all have flaws…and at this stage of life hers come in the form of poop, crying and constant hunger.
So as I sit here at 3:30 P.M. on a Wednesday afternoon with a glass of wine to my right and my baby girl finally sleeping to my left, I decided I was ready to share my struggles and joys with everyone about my new journey into motherhood.
Everyone who dreams about becoming a mother has a picture in their mind of what it will be like. Baby laughs, witnessing her first crawl, listening to her say her first word, dressing her in cute clothes. But what you don’t imagine is the absence of her cry when she first enters the earth, the failure to get her to latch properly, the inconsolable crying, literal sleepless nights, and the constant wonder if you are doing this mom thing right.
Rewind to when my sweet baby girl was first born. It was 3:21 in the morning on a Friday. I was in labor for 19.5 hours. I didn’t sleep or eat during that time and I had completely failed at having a “natural” birth with no drugs. I was exhausted. When she came out and they laid her on top of me she was completely purple and was not crying. Normally, a mother would be upset or concerned, but I didn’t feel anything except the exhaustion. I had absolutely nothing left in me. After 45 minutes of pushing and almost a full day of being in agonizing pain with failed pain relief, I was just done. We didn’t get to do skin-to-skin like we originally planned due to her not crying so the nurses whisked her away to get the fluid out of her lungs. Again, not something you picture in your head after just giving birth, but that was my reality. After a few minutes of the nurses suctioning her, I finally heard her sweet little cry, and that was when my feelings of joy started overcoming my exhaustion. When they laid her in my arms and I put her to my breast, I was still exhausted, but I was in a state of complete content. She was perfect. And while I imagined myself crying tears of overwhelming joy, I almost feel like my actual reaction was better. I was in a state of calm, and just so happy she was finally here.
But let me tell you…that calm did not last. In the hospital, the lactation consultant examined Hadleigh’s latch and said she was latching correctly. She didn’t lose any weight at the hospital, which apparently is unheard of, so we knew she was getting adequate milk. Well, fast forward to a few days after arriving home, my nipples had become completely cracked and bloody. That’s when I started having some baby blues. I was in so much pain from afterbirth, exhausted and now I had cracked, bleeding nipples. One morning while eating breakfast I just sat there and cried while trying to stuff pancakes in my mouth. My husband just sat there without knowing what to say. I wouldn’t know what to say either. It was hard for him to relate to what I was going through. I felt so defeated. The thought of having to feed my baby terrified me. We decided to contact a lactation consultant. She came to our house and analyzed her latch again. She was still latching but she had an abnormally strong suck and a slight tongue tie. She recommended finger sucking exercises, nipple shields and temporary pumping. Well the temporary pumping turned into exclusive pumping. I enjoyed the ability to pump on a schedule, let my husband give her a bottle so I didn’t have to get up every single time in the middle of the night, and after a couple of days I was able to start building a pretty good breast milk stash. Fast forward to almost two months later and I am still, for the most part, exclusively pumping. I joined a Facebook community for just exclusively pumping mothers, which has really been a supportive place for me to relate to other women going through the same experience. I don’t know anyone personally that has decided to exclusively pump, and that has been kind of hard. It is a relatively new concept in the breastfeeding world, and I feel like a lot of mothers, and even some pediatricians don’t understand it. But as long as my babe is getting the nutrition she needs, and I am staying somewhat sane, then that is all that matters to me.
However, exclusive pumping has potentially created other “issues”. We have to bottle feed, which means more air gets into her digestive tract, causing GI irritation and increased gas. This means…more fussiness. At one point I thought she had a milk allergy or GERD because of how painful it looks when she is passing gas. The doctor reassured me it is her underdeveloped GI system, which takes time to mature. Most babies at this age are fussy when they have gas. But that doesn’t make it any easier! There are days that she doesn’t take naps, and will just let out huge screams like she is near her death bed. She is currently passing her 6 week growth spurt, so the fussiness has been at an all time high. She is constantly acting like she is hungry. With bottle fed babies you have to burp more frequently, but man…when you take that bottle away from her you would think you were taking her only source of food for the rest of time.
On top of the day to day struggle of caring for a newborn, my husband is working out of town. And while I now have my sister here to help when I need to run errands and for when I return to work, I am still pretty much on my own until the weekends. Pumping around the clock, feeding her, changing her and taking on night duty by myself is seriously HARD y’all!! I don’t know how single moms do it. I worship you.
Now I don’t want to make this post one big complain fest. I love being a mom, and I know there are those who would love to be going through these struggles but can’t have children of their own. And I know there are women with many more children than I have and there are also women in worse circumstances than I’m in. Being a mom has opened new doors and feelings I never knew existed. But I feel like no one really talks about the hard stuff. Baby blues, postpartum depression, breastfeeding issues, exhaustion, guilt. These things that every mom experiences at some point. I feel compelled to share the struggles and the reality instead of painting a picture perfect mom life.
The harsh reality of being a mom is that you will forever second guess yourself and your parenting choices. You will constantly be getting advice and opinions from others, whether it’s welcome or not. Should you co-sleep? No, it’s dangerous. Yes, it’s natural. When should you sleep train? Never. Now. How many ounces of milk should she be eating? 1 ounce per hour. However much they will eat. The list goes on and on. As moms we are faced with daunting decisions every single day. But what we are also faced with is our babies looking into our eyes and reaching deep into our soul. We are faced with this tiny human that relies completely on us. We are faced with countless hugs and kisses. We are faced with smiles, cries and laughter. And we are faced with raising the future of this world. There are so many things that we as moms are blessed with. Mom life is hard. But mom life is worth it.