Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What Will Be Forgotten and Remembered

It's amazing to me how fast the first few weeks of a new baby disappear, and the worries and issues which seemed so huge are eclipsed by new issues and quickly forgotten. What I've discovered is that most moms I talked to have forgotten how those first few weeks felt, or they misremembered them. My own mother forgot that at one time, she had worried about whether I (her baby) was getting enough milk, because it resolved soon and she moved on. Someone told me that those first few weeks were the very best, and that it only got harder after that. I would disagree and ask if she misremembered them, because, while the beginning was magic, it felt like we were fumbling in the dark until we got to know our baby. I feel that it is easier now, since we can read O's cries better, I'm not on an emotional seesaw, and we have some confidence about baby-soothing skills. Also, people say that the only reason women have more kids is that they forget the pain of birth--there is a biological purpose to forgetting. Below is an excerpt of a letter I wrote to a new mom when O was about three weeks, in order not to forget: 
  • MILK:  My milk was slow to come in, and the books didn't talk much about that. They say "WHEN your milk comes in on day three, (or maybe four), but they don't talk about those whose don't or supplies that are low. I have been to a lactation consultant 5-6 times, and it was incredibly helpful.(I would, however suggest trying to see the same person or just a few. 5-6 different lactation consultants who have slightly different approaches can feel a bit disjointed.)  We are fine, Ollin started gaining again and reached his original birth weight closer to 3 weeks. I just went to a mom's group and found out that this is super common. Half the women I met had issues with milk supply.  
  • VISITORS: Family is so tricky. I really wanted someone there when we came home from the hospital. Then I wanted them gone. Then I wanted help, etc. We found that the most useful thing was for someone to be there early in the morning to take the baby so papa and mama could get a few extra hours of sleep. People staying with us was hard, even in our big house, because I was very emotional and also because breastfeeding was something I wasn't wanting to share with everyone. When shannon's dad/step-mom were here I went upstairs to breastfeed, and that probably saved me because I got private time with Ollin every few hours. They were very helpful and gave us lots of space, but I still needed breaks. I'd say two days at a time would've been ideal to have people there, and then I wanted space. 
  • Everything is temporary. When your baby's cries break your heart and you find yourself crying too, remember that you'll get used to it and it's temporary. Shannon and I felt a bit panicky at first because it wasn't just a baby cry, it was OUR BABY and we could barely stand it. 
  • If your body feels pretty good at first, still be gentle with it. I had no pain down there for the first four or five days, but then I had pain after that. Apparently it's normal to be numb for a few days. Oh, and did I mention that it's normal to cry a lot and for no reason? It's true. 
  • My midwife said to go home and be naked in bed with our baby for a week or so, and let people take care of us. It's so amazing to watch Shannon be a papa, in some ways I feel like our marriage just started. It's so great to trust him and be able to take a walk around the block or go to the store (I can't be away any longer because it hurts!) In fact, and apparently this is normal, Shannon can soothe him and get him to sleep better than me often because when I hold him, he just wants to nurse. 
  • This week I went to a moms' group up the street, and I was the newest mom for sure, but they all said they wished they'd come earlier. I found it soooo helpful because the little things I'd been wanting to know were mostly answered by sitting with a bunch of moms doing mom things. Also, it was a good first step for me getting out and being in a supportive environment where I could breastfeed and change a diaper and have a crying baby and everyone else was doing the same. They connected me with other activities like dad's groups and mommy matinees!  
  • It's all the little things that bewildered us, like what to dress him in for sleeping. Thats where people's advice is great.