At the beginning of 2018, I have just given birth to my first born, and is going through so so many things mentally and physically. It was arguably one of the hardest time in my life, ever.
Much of the hardship probably come from the fact that my baby and I are complete strangers. I know, we spent 9 months together, she kicked and hiccuped inside my belly daily for quite some time, but really we know nothing about each other’s personality, preferences, communication styles, and so on. Not only that, I need to keep my baby alive, all the while her lacking the crucial ability of telling me what she needs. It’s a recipe for disaster.
I often question how babies could behave the way they do if evolution is supposed to preserve the traits that maximize survival. Driving caretakers insane, depressed, and sometimes suicidal can not be beneficial for survival rates!
One year later now, thinking back to the year, there are so many things I want to say to myself one year back. Although I can’t send this back in time, I know that there are many people out there, going through those hurtles just as I did, because the first year of parenthood is not easy by any means.
1. Sleep deprivation is hard, and not something to be tackled alone
I thought I could do this, because I always manage to get through every hurtles in the past. Before giving birth, I thought how bad could it be, I get up 3 times a night as is, and survived puppy potty training, this will be piece of cake. But what I didn’t understand is that, puppy potty training ended in several weeks, and even though I get up so many times a night in my last trimester, I was up only for short periods of time, and go back to sleep very relaxed after. Baby night wakings do not work that way, at all! Not only are they absolutely unpredictable, you often will need to stay awake for longer, and not to mention the responsibilities that only seem to be more intense during the day. It is much harder than my day job, and the stakes are high. So plan for help early, and if not, continue to seek them, because until things are more together, every little bit helps. Discuss and coordinate schedules with family, and more importantly, keep yourself prioritized.
2. You are not a bad parent if you sleep train
This is a dividing subject, and one where I will write in a bit more detail in a separate post, but when it becomes necessary, and sleep is tearing everyone apart in the family, sleep training is probably the best thing you can do, for everyone, including the baby.
3. Breastfeeding hurts even if everything is going as it should
I asked and asked and asked, because breastfeeding hurt, from day 1. We were doing well, but it took months before we got to a pain free state. I asked at the hospital, I consulted midwives, I discussed with GP, and countless lactation consultants at specialized clinics. Our latch was normal. Turns out my body just had to get used to it, because with time, it all got better. Emilia’s latch was the same from day 1 up until she weaned, the only difference being her jaw gradually growing bigger.
Of course we did run into our fair share of over supply, plugged duct, mastitis, odd lumps, and let down pains. That’s all stories for another day. What matters is that, breastfeeding will always come with some challenges to tackle, and often accompanied with pain due to one reason or another.
Having the right mindset will make the process that much easier.
4. Talking to other people will make you feel better
Other moms are probably easiest to connect with, but also non parents are great resources for some quality conversation. Because when you are dealing with different variations of “WAH—WAH—WAAAAAAH”, some adult conversation could be what your brain need to come back to life.
5. Those old clothes and shoes will probably never fit again
Somehow my feet grew one size larger. It not only grew sideways, it also ended up longer. Even after most of my swelling went away I still could not fit into any of my old shoes again. Likewise my body proportion seem to have changed, my pelvic bones are aligned differently than before. It is all quite normal, after all your body go through a lot squeezing another human being out, but it is pretty sad to say good bye to those beloved jeans.
6. #5 is a totally legit reason to shop for new clothes
Of course new mommy’s gotta get pampered! But not so fast, it take time for the body to heal, so you shouldn’t be buying clothing that are not stretchy until at least 6 months post. Having said that I wanted nothing to do with proper clothing for the 6 months anyway. Pajamas and sweatpants were all I wore.
7. Browsing Amazon at night is not a good habit… financially at least
Night wakings are long and often quite boring. New borns can sometimes take up to an hour to eat, all the while mom desperately try to stay awake in fear of accidentally suffocating her baby if she doses off. I often browse Amazon as a result, both to distract and to destress. I now know that I had no idea what I needed at the time, since we racked up quite a bit of junk during the early days with my daughter, which we later had to spend even more effort selling off.
8. Problems don’t go away with a baby product even if their reviews say so
…and part of those junks mentioned in #7 are tons and tons of baby products that promises to solve my problems. No they don’t care for the baby for me, not quite, but they do promise to let me sleep. Granted, they may work for other babies, none of the product we tried worked for extended period of time. I will discuss this in my post that focuses on infant sleep, but I’ve probably tried everything out there that is legally sold in Canada during early 2018. Not a good idea!
9. Some baby eat very little, and lose a lot of weight in the first year, when in doubt, trust your paediatrician
I was constantly reminded how poorly my daughter was doing in weight by my GP. I felt like I needed to worry, because she is falling percentiles after percentiles – Emilia was born on the 50% percentile and fell down to a little below 15% by her one year check up. I got call backs one after another until I was referred to a paediatrician who assured me Emilia is growing just fine.
Because of her weight I never was comfortable with how much Emilia ate, but it’s been a year and I think it’s time to accept the fact that some baby eat very little, and it can be their normal.
10. You’ve got this, you will get through it, it does get easier, and you will be stronger!
Says the 2019 me, life is still intense, Emilia is a toddler, who zooms around super fast. She’s not only fast on her foot, she’s got fast hands too, to grab, to throw, and to feed herself non food items. But each day we learn more about each other, we get better at communicating with one another, and we are more understanding and accepting of each other’s emotions. I feel a little guilty saying this, because the last year had many joyous moments, but now days I finally have more genuine fun days than stressful ones.