Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dear Me, Don't forget the first 6 months...

Bo's half birthday is today!  Some days it feels like he just got here, and other days it feels like he's always been with us.

In case you ever think about having another baby, this list is so you don't forget what the first six months were like and what you have learned (or gotten more confused about)...

  1. Pregnancy is such a neat experience...especially when you can feel them moving and when you hear their heartbeat.  
  2. Pregnancy is hard.  You're carrying a lot of extra weight around, sleeping is difficult (if not impossible some nights), your hormones are raging out of control, the meds to stop labor are torturous, and you worry a lot about your unborn baby.
  3. See #1-2.  You will obviously feel conflicted about pregnancy.
  4. Childbirth is a miracle.  There is no other way to put it.  A complete miracle.
  5. Childbirth really stinks (and you only have experience with a c-section!).  The meds before surgery make you throw up.  The spinal block doesn't always work (and the pain is indescribable!).  And if they have to knock you out because the block doesn't work, you don't even get to hear your baby's first cry!
  6. See #3-4.  You will obviously feel conflicted about childbirth.
  7. C-section recovery isn't as bad as you feared.  Just stay ahead of the pain with the drug cocktail they give you.
  8. There is nothing like being taken care of by your mom after you've had a baby.  Nothing.
  9. Don't listen to the nursery about supplementing with formula.  Your milk will come in, and your baby will not starve.
  10. Get as much sleep as you can while you have help around those first few weeks.
  11. But's really hard to sleep as much as you can those first few weeks because you have so much adrenalin from the excitement of a new baby.
  12. You will feel like you need a straight jacket for a couple of weeks after the baby.  It will pass.  Just hold on.
  13. You will feel like you need a straight jacket when you stop nursing (if you have to stop cold turkey again).  It will pass.  Just hold on.
  14. You should nurse your baby.  Even though it was horribly hard the first couple of weeks, it was so worth it.  Remember the way the baby looks up at you with those big eyes, the sweet sounds they make, the way their hands drape over you, and that precious newborn smell.  It's so easy to not have to make/clean bottles.  It's worth it!  Hang in there!  You will be so glad you did.
  15. Don't feel like you have to nurse your baby.  Remember how horribly hard the first couple of weeks were?  I don't know if you can survive that again.  If you bottle feed, other people can feed the baby so you can get more rest.  It's really not that big of a deal to make/clean bottles.  And snuggling a baby and bottle feeding him is still a sweet and special experience.
  16. See #14-15.  Do whatever you want about nursing v. bottle feeding.  There's advantages and disadvantages to both.
  17.  Don't hold your baby all the time, especially when they sleep.  Let them cry it out.  You need rest.  The baby needs rest.  
  18. Hold your baby as much as you want to hold your baby.  Just do what you have to do to get some sleep and let the baby get some sleep.  6 months flies by!  You won't ruin their sleeping habits.  There's nothing sweeter than rocking a sleeping baby.  Don't worry about letting them cry it out! 
  19.  See #17-18.  Go with the flow about crying it out.  You're obviously going to be conflicted either way. 
  20. You cannot possibly prepare yourself for what hearing your baby hurt will do to you.  It will take you on an emotional roller coaster, cause you to panic, make you obsessively research for solutions (that don't exist).  It will make you crazy! will pass.  And as you've been told many times, the baby will not remember it.  Do what it takes to get through.  If that's putting them down and walking outside to take a breather, if it's asking someone for help, if it's staying up holding them and crying yourself.  Whatever gets you through...
  21. You cannot possibly prepare yourself for what sleep deprivation will do to you.  It will make you feel like you need a straight jacket.  It will pass.
  22. Prioritize your marriage.  Crazy hormones, sleep deprivation, and different child rearing philosophies will take their toll.   Laugh about all of these things as often as possible.
  23. Get your baby on a schedule.  They need a predictable wake up time and bed time.  Predictable nap times will make it easier on you.  Even if it means crying it out, get baby on a schedule!
  24. Scheduling is overrated.  Just go with the flow, and the baby will eventually get himself on a reasonable schedule.  
  25. See #22-23.  You will flip flop on the scheduling issue OVER and OVER again.  A somewhat predictable feeding schedule does make it easier, but don't obsess about scheduling every little thing.
  26. Stop reading books about scheduling and sleep training!  These books speak to the average baby with no special considerations whatsoever.  If your baby is premature, has MSPI, reflux, colic, is just demanding, etc., these will not work!  They'll just make you feel badly about yourself.  THROW THEM AWAY!
  27. Well meaning people will compare your baby to theirs ("oh yeah, that's how ___ was.  I just _____, and everything was fine."), think they know just what you're going through, etc.  No one knows your baby like you do.  You carried the baby for 9 months, are with him 24-7 in the beginning, and will spend a lifetime loving and worrying about him.  You've earned the right to make the best decisions on his behalf (even if they're not what someone else would do).  Trust yourself
  28. This too shall pass.  Say it over and over again because it's true.  If he's sick, if he's hurting, if he's not sleeping, if he's crying for no reason, if he's crying for a reason you can't figure out, if he's not eating well, if he's not nursing well, if you think you're going crazy....if...if...if...THIS TOO SHALL PASS.  It really will.
  29. Try not to remember... how sick the anti-labor meds made you, that the spinal block didn't work, the first time you had to walk after the c-section, the emotional roller coaster, how hard it was to get him to nurse well, sleep deprivation, his hurt cry.
  30. Don't ever forget... that newborn smell, tiny newborn hands, newborn sounds, the very first smile, the first laugh you heard, him nuzzling into your neck, rocking in the middle of the night and realizing he is yours, then realizing he is not really yours (he's His).
  31. See #29-30.  It's all worth it.

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