Some things I’ve learned

Some things I have come to learn in the last couple of months…

You’ll never be so familiar with and aware of your boobs as you are during the first couple of months of your baby’s life. For breastfeeding moms – the first week or two in particular – your breasts are bared more often than not… You’re learning to breastfeed, and it feels like you’ve just finished feeding your baby when they’re ready to eat again (that’s why my new favourite gift to give new mothers is a lightweight housecoat/robe – easy to whip out “the girls” at a moments notice). Talking about your breasts/breastfeeding becomes something that doesn’t even phase you… You become a pro at breastfeeding and pumping in the most random, yet normal/everyday, places. To date, I’ve fed A.J. in the middle of a physio clinic as Mark did rehab beside me, at a Subway during a road trip, and at multiple friends’ and families’ houses during get-togethers, baby showers, birthdays and holidays. I’ve also pumped in an airplane bathroom on the way home from a work trip (of course I picked a seat at the front of the plane so I could deplane quicker not thinking it would also mean walking down the aisle to the bathroom at the back of the plane with pump in hand…), in the bathroom at a stag and doe, and in the car on the drive back from a road trip (don’t worry, I was the passenger…). Every time you get dressed, you think “how hard is it going to be to breastfeed with this on…” Your breasts consume more of your thoughts than you could think possible…

Ryan Gosling memes are simply the best....

Ryan Gosling memes are simply the best….

Those pets you have – the ones that were your “babies” pre-kids – it is possible to love something more than them. Don’t laugh… Before A.J. I actually uttered the words “I’m afraid I’m not going to love my kids more than my pets.” Yep. That’s right… I remember a couple of years ago, Mark and I visited someone I used to go to high school with, and she said that they got rid of some of their pets after their first child was born. I tried not to let my face show what I was thinking, which was “you are a horrible pet mommy!” Boomer, Hilo and Jedi were my babies. We call Hilo our “investment kitty” since we spent way too much money on some hip surgeries a couple of years back. Our dog, Jedi, went with us everywhere we could take him. But… I must admit. It has crossed my mind how easy life would be if I just had A.J. to take care of without two cats and a dog underfoot (seriously, I deal with so much poop…). They get pretty neglected in comparison to our life pre-kid. Example: my routine pre-A.J. was wake up and put Jedi outside right away for a pee/poop and run around and then feed him (while pregnant, this routine was delayed only by a bathroom break for myself so I wouldn’t pee myself….). A couple of weeks after A.J. was born, it was just after noon and I asked Mark “when was the last time Jedi was put out?” He replied “when you put him out this morning!” I frantically said “I didn’t put him out this morning!” Poor guy… Our pets have been great with A.J., and for that I’m thankful (considering how jealous they must be that she has stolen so much of their mommy’s attention!).

"My life is about to change, isn't it....?"

“My life is about to change, isn’t it….?”

Pre-baby: enemies. Post-baby: united in our neglect

Pre-baby: enemies.
Post-baby: united in our neglect

Trying to spend time with both of my "babies"

Trying to spend time with both of my “babies”

Different people have different capabilities. Ok, this I already knew… Working with victims of human trafficking, I am very aware that people deal with trauma – and just life in general – in various ways and that some people can cope with things better than others. But while I’ve witnessed it (coping and capabilities), it’s not until I had a baby that I got a better, personal glimpse of how different people have different capablities. When A.J. was only a couple of days old, we went to the mall to visit Santa. It amazed me how many people said they were impressed that I was out so quickly after her birth. It didn’t feel like such a large feat to me… Because she was born so soon before Christmas, our lives were a whirlwind with various family get-togethers and trips out of the house. I was fortunate that I had so much support from my partner (so many partners are unable to be away from work beyond a couple of days, if that!). Even still, I have gone to work meetings with A.J., brought my husband to and from the hospital for his knee surgery, etc. For some mothers, even the thought of doing that is too overwhelming. For other mothers, they do that and more. I can’t imagine how mothers of twins do it (I’m sure many days they wonder that too!), but maybe there are certain things that I do that they would be impressed with? Each of us has different comfort levels and ideas of what they are capable of.

No matter what your capabilities are, you are constantly challenged and stretched over time. Parenthood stretches you in ways you never imagined. Before becoming pregnant, one of my best friends and I would talk in awe of parents who had the flu. We couldn’t imagine taking care of anyone but ourselves when we had horrible days or were sick. When A.J. was about 2 months old, I got a case of the flu. And guess what? I survived. And so did A.J. I’m going to hit more rough patches in the future, and I’m sure while they’ll be challenging, I’ll find that my idea of what I’m capable of will grow. The human body and mind is capable of more than we often give ourselves credit for.

Sometimes you just need to spend the day in a recliner/bed and relax!

Sometimes you just need to spend the day in a recliner/bed and relax!
This is me recovering from mastitis two weeks ago…

There is no right way to parent. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely WRONG ways to parent… There was a recent story in the news about a local woman leaving her baby home alone while she went out, and then their house caught on fire… Just one example of a wrong way to parent… But there are no right ways. Shortly after A.J. was born, a friend posted this article on Facebook. Simply hilarious… We started off not swaddling. After a couple of weeks, we discovered that she (and we…) got a much better night’s sleep if she was swaddled. A friend suggested “dream feeding” (feeding a baby just before you go to sleep between 10-11 PM with the idea that it will help them sleep longer and hopefully till morning). I did it for days, often forcing myself to stay awake much longer than I wanted before realizing that whether or not I did a dream feed A.J. was waking up between 3:30 and 5:00 AM regardless. Quickly stopped doing that… People are quick to give advice. It’s up to you to discern how you want to parent and care for your child.

stupid_instruction_for_parent9.5stupid_instruction_for_parent7

You learn something new every day: about yourself, your kid, your spouse, about others. Sometimes what you learn about yourself, your kid, your spouse, about others is good. Sometimes it’s bad. I’ve come to learn who I can lean on for support (and who have faded from our lives now that we are parents). I’ve come to learn more of A.J.’s signals and signs (for hunger, tiredness, etc.). I’ve come to learn what a great father Mark is and will continue to be. And I’m excited to see what I’ll learn today. Tomorrow. And the next day. And the next……

You never stop learning. Don’t think you’ve mastered something (or at the very least, be humble about it…) because once you think that, something changes… At about 5 weeks old, A.J. was having some good 5-7 hours stretches of sleep at night. One evening at a fundraiser held for my old work, I was bragging to everyone how well she slept at night… Wouldn’t you know it, that night (and for a couple of weeks afterwards), she woke up every 3-4 hours to be fed. Just like my previous point mentioned that people are quick to give you advice, be careful about how you give advice to other parents based on what you’ve learned so far. Because you never know what you’ll learn that night!

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