I'm working on my birth story. It's a lot harder to write than I thought it would be. How detailed should it be? Should I include pictures? (yes, I have pictures)
So many things to consider.
So while I'm working on this, let me just share a list of things I've learned since having a baby. Some of them I "knew" before- but it all took on new meaning once my pooping, screaming, loveable little bundle of joy became a reality.
Things my baby has taught me
- "Sleep when the baby sleeps" is not just advice. It's the only way you will survive.
- Burps and gas and poop that won't come out- these things are the enemy. "I wish I could just have your gas for you!" is a sentence I never thought I'd say. Especially not at 4am, while we are both sobbing.
- Poop sometimes shoots out like a cannon, and almost hits you in the face. Without a cough or a sneeze or any kind of warning. You must always be on guard.
- The Sneeze & Sigh. That's when a baby sneezes, and draws in a big breath to sneeze again- but then turns into this adorable little girly sigh. There is no way to prepare for this level of cuteness.
- Cracked and bleeding nipples. And I thought labor was painful.
- Everything is worse at night. Especially anxiety. There are times I can't put her down in her bassinette because I just know she could stop breathing. This gets better. And an Angelcare or Snuza monitor helps in a BIG way.
- Newborn baby eyes do weird things. Especially when they are sleeping.
- All those newborn outfits? Might not be worth it. They still fit just fine, but if we are staying home (and right now we are mostly staying home) I prefer her naked. She is just so soft and cuddly.
- Having help for the first few weeks is insanely important. Healing from having a baby can be delayed if you aren't taking it easy. You may feel great and have so much energy, so you go make yourself a sandwich at noon, and then do the dishes- but by 3pm you will be crashing and in pain and unable to walk to the bathroom without help. And you will know if you are overdoing it, because your body will bleed more and pass giant clots as revenge.
- THE BOPPY. Get one. It is heaven to sit on.
- No matter how curious you are in the days following birth, don't look down there. You can't unsee that image. And it will haunt you.
- "Kurt, can you go buy me some more Depends?" - I thought I'd have a good 4 or 5 decades before asking that question.
- Padsicles became my best friends. This is a giant pad soaked in water and witch hazel, and then frozen. You put it right in your depends. And it is heaven on your lady parts. You can never have enough of these.
- Nothing prepared me for the squishy leftover stomach. Not even Santa. It just hangs out and swings when you move. But it does go away, especially if you nurse (this causes your uterus to contract). Shapewear tank tops- that's where the real magic happens.
- Speaking of tank tops; take a tight one, and cut holes for your boobs. Now every shirt is a nursing shirt. Just pull the overshirt up or down, and you are covered.
- ...Not that you will care. I think 15 people saw my nipples in that first week. And after birth? It doesn't even matter anymore.
- The heel prick test- don't do this one alone. I cry just thinking about it. She was in so much pain.
- Waiting to announce the name- best decision I've ever made. Besides Kurt. And having this baby. And not getting that perm. If you tell people before the baby is born, they think it's ok to give their opinions and alternative suggestions. If you wait until the ink is dry on the birth certificate, all they can say is "How cute!" etc. Unless they are jerks. But you didn't really like them, anyway.
- Hot shallow baths with witch hazel. These also became my best friends. I can have multiple best friends.
- Turns out the things that make mommy gassy can also make the baby gassy. Fiber cereal, dairy, dark leafy greens, broccoli, beans, caffeine. Caffeine doesn't bother me, but apparently it's a thing. This is according to my pediatrician. Basically, my baby wants me to be constipated.
- Apparently Gripe Water and Colic Calm and cutting dairy out of your diet can help with the baby's intestinal pain- depending on the kid. I haven't tried these yet. But I CAN vouch for the Qtip trick. She filled 2 diapers and finally stopped screaming, thank God. (that is not blasphemous. I really am thanking God. This poor little baby was in so much pain).
- When she does get a poop out (and you will know- it's so loud and squishy sounding) it's cause for a happy dance celebration! You'd think she just got into Harvard or something. "Yay!! I knew you could do it! I'm so proud of my little girl!! Where's the camera??"
- There is no way to prepare for the bitterness that washes over you at 4am, when you are trying to feed your fussy baby, and your husband is sleeping peacefully next to you. Dark thoughts go through my head, and I start plotting my revenge. He doesn't know the pain of back labor, childbirth, tearing, stitches, recovery, cracked nipples, or endless nighttime feedings- BUT HE WILL.
- To be fair, he gets up and helps whenever I ask. I just don't ask often, since his day starts at 6am, and ends with a diaper change at 1am. Like I mentioned above- everything is worse at night.
- ...especially the sweat. Holy dripping down my legs! I heard someone mention that you sweat out the puffiness and extra fluid, but I honestly wake up in a puddle. Every night. You do not want to be in my armpits right now.
- Sometimes you have to put the crying baby down and walk away. Especially if it's been hours since you've peed. And that's ok.
- Lactation consultants can help. So can Post Partum therapists. And Pediatricians. And they all want you to call them if you have any questions. No matter how silly you feel- they will not make you feel stupid.
- She is not a baby. She is a newborn. And newborns are hard. They are little balls of needs who cry and scream and sometimes you can't help and it is really, really hard. But they need you, And they will grow into babies, who smile and giggle and hug your neck and plant slobbery kisses on your face and love you so much. You just have to love them first. Even though it's hard. Even though you sometimes want to give up. Because they are worth it, and so are you.
- And if you feel like she isn't, or like you aren't you need to tell someone who cares. Even if you are ashamed. Because Post Partum Depression is real, and it's dangerous, and it's hormonal, and it's not your fault. And it's sneaky. You might not feel sad. You might not feel "depressed." You might just feel angry, or sad, or hopeless, or full of anxiety. Or you might not feel any of these things. You might just not love her. And it might fill you with guilt because what mom doesn't love her child?
- And it's ok to feel like this, as long as you don't hide it. Talk to your partner or your mother or your pediatrician, or your healthcare provider. Because talking helps. And a Midwife or a Doctor? Has heard this before. And they care. And they know how to help you.
- And then it will get better. And you'll realize that you loved her all along.
- The Bloggess is right. Depression lies. And it's when you listen to it, and you don't get help that things get scary.
- And finally, that squishy little face she makes when she stretches? It melts my heart. And suddenly everything is worth it again.
That's my list. That's what I've learned so far. And she is only 3 weeks old.
What are some things that surprised you when you had a baby?