Monday, February 2, 2015

The hard parts

In the interest of full disclosure, motherhood has been a blessing, and all the stuff I wrote last week is true. But there are some hard things, and we definitely struggled and continue to struggle in some areas. The biggest challenge for us was feeding.

I was warned that breastfeeding is hard and doesn't always work. And I thought I had prepared myself for that, but there really is no preparing yourself for it. I've said it over and over, breastfeeding is the hardest thing I've ever done.

E and I struggled a lot. I am incredibly grateful to a lactation consultant that spent hours with us and still answers my questions by email.

I know there is a lot of criticism these days about elevating breastfeeding as the ultimate standard of being a good mom. But there is no judgment from me. E and I worked hard to get it to work for us, but I also know that we could have worked that hard and still ended up switching to formula.

In the first week when every feeding was a fight, and we were supplementing, it felt like all I did was attempt to feed her, pump and sleep. At one point through tears, I looked at my mom and said, "I feel like I don't even get to enjoy her." My mom said to me, "If that's the case, then it's not worth it." And she was right. The most important thing was that E was healthy and growing, but it was also important for me to be happy. We did move past that stage of fighting quickly enough that I didn't feel like I needed to quit, but that possibility often lingered in the following weeks.

But by six weeks, E and I found our groove and 95 percent of our feedings are successful with limited crying (from either of us).

One of the best moments came a few nights ago. We've been experimenting with giving a bottle of breastmilk at night in hopes of filling her up to sleep. I was giving her the bottle, and she didn't want to take it. She wanted me and that felt like such a victory. I thought back to when she was four days old, I sobbed while giving her a bottle that she sucked down as fast as she could because she was so hungry.

Now, she's over 10 pounds with her cheeks getting chubbier by the day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Seven weeks in...

It's been a year and a half since I blogged on this site. In that time, I've gone back to school and finished my masters degree in journalism and had a baby. Now that I've come out of the baby fog, I find myself wanting to write about what I'm learning in this new stage of life. No guarantees of how often I will write, but I wanted to have an outlet.

I have a seven-week-old. Most days I'm still in awe of that.

I have always wanted to be a mother. There is a video of me when I was 4 or 5 where my parents ask me what I want to be when I grow up. I respond, "A mommy." I also say I want five children, but I didn't understand the whole pregnancy/childbirth thing at that age.

I always loved children and babies. My mom did let me regularly hold one of the twins when I was 3, and as they got older, I saw the opportunity to use them as part of my imaginative play. As soon as they could sit up, they were my students. All of my jobs in high school involved nannying in some form with children ages 4 months to 7.

But during my single years, I wondered if this dream of being a mom would ever become a reality. Even when I married Jesse, I wondered if I could get pregnant and whether my body could handle pregnancy. (It turns out pregnancy and breastfeeding have given me relief of my fibromyalgia symptoms.) I never stop thanking God for the blessing of the pregnancy and our baby girl. I know we are incredibly blessed by how smoothly everything went.

After all those years of being the nanny or babysitter or aunt, it is incredible to actually be the mom. When you are just filling in for mom, you know that child isn't crying for you, and you also get to hand the child back to the parents when he or she is screaming. But now I'm the one everyone hands the baby back to, and I am actually able to calm her down when no one else can. (Well, most of the time...)

There are things that are harder than I thought, but there are so many more things that are much sweeter and more rewarding than I ever expected. In this time that I'm home with her, I get to see it all — the fussiness but also the smiles and coos — and the good far outweighs the bad.

One of my favorite things is how she puts her hand on my chest when I'm rocking her, and you can't beat seeing this smile.