Becoming Mother

A book and a blog for first-time mothers

Category: The First Year

Week 9: Maternity Leave, In Pictures

12:50 a.m.

Bottle # 1

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I don’t usually do this feeding, but Doug is too tired tonight. So I do it.

4:30 a.m.

Exercise

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Now, that Henry is waking up at 6 or 6:30, I’ve been getting up at 4:00 or 4:30, just to ensure that I have a whole hour of alone time to exercise. His naps are still too unpredictable to put much hope in fitting it in later.

Laundry Load # 1

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5:30 a.m.

Today’s supply of formula

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This is when I realize that we’re just about out of Similac Soy, which is what he can eat that won’t give him diarrhea or constipation. I would buy six containers on Amazon like last time, but Amazon just increased its Prime listing to $31.50 (as opposed to $27.99, like before) and now only offers the $27.99 price through Prime Pantry. That’s a big deal for me because I can’t get that price unless I’m able to fill a “box” to make the shipping worth it. And six containers of Similac only fills 12% of the box.

So now I have to go to the store.

Horror of horrors.

It will be Henry’s first trip to Target. Yeah, it’s true. I’ve managed to avoid it this long by leaving him home with someone else or sending someone else to the store for me.

But it’s probably time.

So we’ll need a stocked diaper bag. And I’ll cross my fingers that he’s able to sleep through the entire trip.

5:40 a.m.

Breakfast

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Steel cut oatmeal, raspberries, and dark chocolate chips. Always have a little chocolate in the morning.  It’s good advice.

Pack Child # 1’s lunch

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She doesn’t realize how good she has it.

Dish Load # 1

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(I refuse to hand-dry all that plastic.)

6:30 a.m.

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Bottle # 2

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Sometimes, This Is How You Have to Shower

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Halfway through brushing my teeth, the baby is giving an ear-piercing scream. Why? Who knows. I abandon brushing my teeth and spend the next 35 minutes going through the list of things to calm him down. He finally sucks down the last ounce in his bottle and passes out. I swaddle him and put him back in his crib.

7:20 a.m.

Coffee # 1

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For ten glorious minutes, I sit down with coffee and listen to NPR’s Morning Edition.

8:00 a.m.

Child # 1’s Daycare Drop-off

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With some stern words after ten minutes of asking nicely, Felicity has dressed and vitamin-ed herself. When we’re in the car, she says, “Please can I have Shake My Body“? (Technotronic’s “Move This.” I know. This is completely my fault.)

8:30 a.m.

Target

(a.k.a. Why I Hate Shopping with a Newborn)

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The car seat occupies basically the entire cart and you have to cram your stuff in the space around it. (Nope, you can’t put the car seat on the top of the cart, near the handlebars. This is a big no-no.)

I’m sure someone is thinking, “Put him in a baby carrier!” That doesn’t work for me because every time we go out in the car, he falls asleep and ain’t no way I want to wake a baby from sleeping. Not gonna do it. If I can avoid having a cranky baby at the end of the day, I will do anything.

9:15 a.m.

Coffee # 2 + eggs

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10:30 a.m.

Bottle # 3

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Diapers

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Yes, I’m cloth diapering again. For now. We’ve both agreed that we’re going to quit earlier this time, probably once he completely transitions to solids and fighting the solid-poop smell takes too much effort.

11:00 a.m.

Walk

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Getting out of the house is pretty important to my mental sanity. Even if it is just for a short walk. This was a good week since he was able to fall asleep in the stroller. Sometimes, it’s just screams.

12:00 p.m.

His Nap # 3

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My Nap # 1 (a whole 30 minutes)

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When he first starts stirring, I ignore it. No, I think. He’ll go back to sleep. Then, he starts crying. I run to try to salvage the nap. I sneak into the room, slip a hand into the crib without him seeing my face, and give him “the disembodied pat-down” to try to calm him.

Nope.

Damn it.

12:45 p.m.

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Because he chomps on his hands with his formula-coated mouth, “Cheesy Hands” needs a bath. But first, I need to pry open his Death Grip to get the soap between his fingers.

It takes time.

Laundry Load # 2

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It’s all ready to fold and then…

Crying.

2:00 p.m.

Bottle # 4

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2:30 p.m.

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Today is a hard day to get him to nap by himself. After several attempts to get him to sleep in the bouncer, I settle in for an hour and hold him. I watch Frontline’s “Divided States of America.” It’s excellent, of course. I love PBS. I’m glad we donate to them. After an hour or so, I manage to slip him onto the sofa on his back without completely waking him up.

Good enough.

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3:45 p.m.

Dish Load # 2

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I leave the bottles for a thorough scrubbing later, with the rest of the day’s bottles.

4:00 p.m.

Dinner preparation

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This is the pretty part of the dinner. The rest is scrambled eggs and some oranges.

Yep.

5:00 p.m.

Bottle # 5

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5:45 p.m.

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Today was a great day for her. She even washes her hands when she comes in the door without the All-Out Meltdown. She impresses me with the sentence, “Be careful. It’s delicate.”

Who is this kid? Can we keep her?

6:30 p.m.

Dish Load # 3

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7:30 p.m.

Nap # 5

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Today is an interesting day. He decides to go to bed for the night at 7:30. He doesn’t wake up for his next bottle until 2:00 a.m. Nice stretch, but can’t we have it from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.? Maybe next week.

8:00 p.m.

Trash Night

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A few stories, a trip to the bathroom, (“No, you don’t need any more water.”), and some snuggling. Don’t let her fool you. She’ll leave her room at least three more times before she falls asleep, just to make sure that no one is doing anything fun. In her mind, I know she thinks we’re downstairs enjoying episode after episode of Paw Patrol while she’s doing nothing but boring sleeping.

9:00 p.m.

Making Memories

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(Not pictured: Nine diaper changes. Do you really want to see that anyway?)

***

Obviously, maternity leave isn’t a vacation. It’s not all baby smiles and cute clothes (although those are nice…)  It’s also not like other medical leave. You don’t have weeks and weeks to take it easy and recover. If anything, it’s like a marathon that you run for months.

When I go back to work full-time when he’s about three months old, it will be the first time since January when I’ve had eight straight hours completely to myself. (Kind of.)

Eight hours to think by myself.

Eight hours to not be a mother.

Time with your children is valuable. Time with your baby is priceless.

But as all mothers know, so is time by yourself.

Baby Registries: What to Add, What to Skip

Now that my daughter is almost three years old, I wish I could go back in time and re-do my baby registry. Wouldn’t it be great to know the things that would end up being a waste of resources and the things you ended up using all the time?

So that’s what I’ll do in this post. Obviously, every household and every baby is different, so I’ll try to keep this list to items that seem pertinent to most parents I know.

diaper_cake

Don’t Just Add: Get Several of Them

1.) Car Seats

If you live in a household with two cars, register for two car seats. Even if you’re thinking, Well, we’ll save money and just drive the kid around in one car. There are far too many situations that are guaranteed to happen when just one car has a car seat. (If you both work, the person with the car seat has to leave to pick up a sick child–end of story.)

We registered for one convertible car seat and a stroller/car seat combo. Our rationale: A convertible car seat isn’t great for newborns. You need to purchase extra padding to fill the car seat before you place the baby. We also wanted to have a car seat that could be easily detached from a base without having to unstrap the baby. That was actually a good idea because it helped preserve her naps if we took her out and she fell asleep in the car.

Here’s what we ended up using:

Convertible Car Seat: Britax Marathon (Cost: about $230)

Britax carseat

 

Stroller/Car Seat combo:  Britax B-Agile (Cost: about $250)

Sat, Feb 19, 2011 2:40:02 PM

Oh, and you’ll need to buy a car seat base for this puppy. They don’t advertise that important fact too much. Here is the base (Cost: about $65). You’ll need two of these if you have two cars.

car seat base

The cost is adding up, right? See why you should register for these?

2.) Swaddle blankets: Register for several packs of these

swaddle

If you’re a first-time parent, trust me: You will want to learn how to swaddle a newborn. It chills them out so many times (as long as their not in pain or hungry, at least in my experience).

We tried several kinds of swaddling blankets, including the ones with Velcro that seemed that they would be the easiest to use. But truly, I thought it was easiest to use the very large, durable muslin blankets by Aden and Anais. They were not hard to fold and wrap, the swaddle was tight enough to keep her little limbs from breaking out of it (most of the time), and they washed so, so well.

But these aren’t just swaddle blankets.

They are…

  • car seat covers when you’re outside
  • nursing covers
  • impromptu burp cloths and bibs
  • comfort blankets that your child can use well into toddlerhood
  • Place them on the ground, fill them with dirty laundry, collect the four corners, and they are a lightweight laundry basket!

A sound investment.

Cost: About $50 for a pack of 4

3.) Bibs

Most bibs are just bibs. But not this one.

burpy bib

Behold Aden and Anais’s Burpy Bib.

As you can see, this bib provides a whole cape of protection. Which you want. Your kid won’t just stare straight ahead while he eats. He’ll look around, rest his chin on his shoulder, you get the picture.

We got three of these guys and we used them all the time from about 6 months to 18 months, washed them regularly, and they held up beautifully. And they’re reversible! Cute patterns on both sides!

They are secured in the back with a single, durable, snap closure. The name “burpy bib” comes from the fact that this doubles as a nice burpcloth that you can put over the shoulder. Too bad we didn’t find this bib while we were still using burpcloths. I’m sure we would have used them all the time.

Cost: About $22 per pack of 2.

4.) Sheets

These ones specifically.

crib sheet

Once, again Aden and Anais have created a light, breathable, durable sheet that washes well over and over again. While we had other sheets that lost their elasticity and tore at the corners, these have held up over time. And the patterns are so damn cute.

Cost: About $25-30 per sheet. (That’s why you register for them.)

Add!

4.) Becoming Mother, a.k.a, my book

Book-Cover-Becoming-Mother-Kindle

Okay, so I’m a bit biased here, but really, how many pregnancy books share with you the actual, nitty-gritty experience of becoming a mother? Don’t expect a guidebook or a handbook. Here, you’ll find just the plain, messy truth.

Read some published reviews about it here. You can add it to your Amazon registry or you can buy it now here.

Cost: Print, $12.99. Kindle, $4.99.

5.) Highchair

We thought we would be fine with just an attachable seat that we would strap to a dining room chair. But it turns out that I really wanted her to be at my hip level while standing, not my knee level. We usually pulled the highchair into the kitchen where we could wipe up the spilled food more easily, so I spent a lot of time standing in the kitchen, eating, and cutting up pieces of avocado and banana for her.

We liked Graco’s Duo Diner. The tray was easy to detach if I grabbed from the front or the side. My husband hated the detachable white surface because you could pull it off, and there might still be food stuck on the side that presses against the baby’s belly. (That never bothered me though.) The liner washes well, so when your child inevitably makes a mess or vomits, clean up is easy.

Cost: About $150.

highchair

6.) Snoogle

I slept with this every night from 4 months pregnant to 6 months postpartum. A true lifesaver for all the wonky ways that pregnancy realigns your organs and spine.

Cost: About $50

snoogle

7.) White noise maker

We had one for her car seat to help her sleep if we needed to be out of the house with her during a nap. They did wonders for blocking out sound so she wouldn’t wake up. We used Cloud B’s Sleep Sheep.

Cost: About $28

sleep sheep

At home, we used the MyBaby SoundSpa Slumber Whale. Sound options include a heartbeat, ocean waves, white noise. Music options include Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Rock-a-Bye Baby, and Braham’s Lullaby. It also has the ability to project images on the ceiling, but we didn’t really use this. You might though.

Cost: $30

white noise maker

8.) Crib & Mattress

We weren’t a co-sleeping family, so she went to a crib fairly early in life, right around 8 weeks. We got a 4-in-1 convertible style crib that could morph into a toddler bed and later on, a double bed. I can’t remember the exact model that we purchased, but once you’ve seen one crib, you’ve kind of seen them all. Here’s one like the one we have:

crib

Cost: About $200

We actually spent more money on the mattress. Here’s the one that we got.

 

mattress

Cost: About $250

9.) Baby book/Memory album

I mean, really, this is what you’re going to hold on to. Not all of those onesies that you’ve stashed in that one container because you’re too sentimental to let go. You know what I’m talking about…

Everyone has a different level of involvement in creating a baby book. I wanted something structured, but that still had a lot of space for personalizing. I also wanted one that would hold information for the first 5 years. Here’s the one that I got.

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10.) Glider/Rocker

You’re going to be doing a lot of this, so you might as well go big. Here’s the one that we loved.

glider

Cost: $500 (yeah…)

11.) Baby monitor

Some people want video monitors, but I’ve found that an audio monitor was almost always sufficient. We had a model that was sold by VTech, but it must have been discontinued. Figures. It died on us at when our daughter was about 14 months old. It couldn’t retain its charge.

So we bought this one by Philips. And it has been wonderful. Wish we had started with this one.

monitor

Cost: About $100

Meh…

… because they were valuable for brief windows of time.

  • Baby Gyms

A cute purchase, but putting a blanket on the floor giving them toys might have been just as effective.

  • Jumperoo

A cute purchase that kept her occupied when she was between 6 months and 1 year old. After that, she wanted to be out and about, all the time.

  • Co-Sleeper/Bassinet

I have to admit that it was nice to have her sleeping right next to me at night when she was a newborn. A co-sleeper gave her a separate space to sleep, while still remaining close. But she outgrew this by the time she was 7 weeks old. If you’re interested in this getting a co-sleeper, I can say that this was a decent one.

  • Pack N’ Play

I think if we had different lifestyles, this might have been a useful purchase. But we strongly preferred for her to sleep at home. We did end up buying a Pack N’ Play when we needed to travel to Minnesota for a funeral and she was about 10 months old. We didn’t think any of us would sleep well if we all shared a bed. We also used it when we were moving and didn’t have her room completely unpacked yet. Other than those instances, we didn’t usually find ourselves in situations when we needed a Pack N’ Play for her to take a nap.

  • Diaper Bags

I found that what I needed to take with me changed so much that I ended up buying three different diaper bags as time went on. I guess you can register for one, but be open to the likelihood that you upgrade and downgrade through the first three years.

Don’t Add…

…because these will only be used for brief windows of time.

  • Puj Bath Tub

A great concept–a baby bath tub that folds away for flat storage.

puj tub

But only while your baby is small. Our daughter was a 7-pound 11 ounce baby at birth, which placed her at 50% percentile. However, her growth accelerated in the first two months. At three months old, she was already 15 pounds–and way too big for this tub. We ended up buying a tub made by The First Years and used it until she was about a year old.  Then it was big-girl bath time.

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  • Bumbo

Like I just said, my daughter tracked high in height and weight early on. So she barely fit into this contraption by the time she finally had enough head control to sit in it. The first time I put her in it, she immediately vomited. Guess her stomach wasn’t used to being compressed that way.

I duly gave it away after that.

I’ve met more than a few other mothers who were equally meh about the Bumbo. Some swear by it. I guess you can’t know until you have an idea about how quickly your baby is growing and whether you’ll have a need for it.

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  • Baby Walkers

I’m not such a free-range parent that I’m morally against putting my child in some kind of “containment furniture” (I admit, sometimes, it is nice to have them in something that they can’t get out while I’m doing something else). But my daughter didn’t really get the point of these.

She would sit in it, and try to jump in it, as if it were a Jumperoo. I tried to show her how to use her little legs to move it, but I don’t think she was motivated to make it go. She preferred to just crawl. Even when she was learning to walk, she didn’t want to be in this thing. Honest to God, she preferred to use my husband’s shoe horns as her “balancing sticks” and would toddle along with one in either hand. Aw, memories.

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  • Shopping Cart Cover

First, I hated taking my daughter grocery shopping because I could never figure out a good way to put her car seat in the cart. I heard this position was a huge no-no.

Shopping-Cart-Diagram-Dorel

And the safest option was to put in the cart, where I was going to put all my purchases. Which means I couldn’t do a week’s worth of grocery shopping at one time. Plus, I was fairly strict about being home during her naps. So until she started staying awake longer than two hours, shopping with her wasn’t happening very often.

So most of the time, my husband and I took turns grocery shopping without her. It wasn’t until she was a year old that we started considering taking her grocery shopping with us. And by that time, I think we might have used the cover 5-10 times before it was just more trouble than it was worth.

But hey, maybe I would have used it more if I needed to take her grocery shopping. Who can say.

cart cover

 

…because every baby is different.

  • Bottles
  • Pacifiers
  • Diapers
  • Baby carriers (try them out, return the types your baby hates)

Instead, use gift cards for these to try them out.

 

…because people are going to buy them for you anyway.

  • Clothes, shoes, socks
  • Burp cloths
  • Baby shampoo/lotion
  • Diaper cream
  • Towels/washcloths
  • Books
  • All toys, including teethers

 

The key to making a great baby registry is to

  • provide a variety of choices with different price points ($10-$25 range; $30-$50 range, $50-$100, and above $100).
  • register only for items that you’re fairly certain you’ll use
  • make sure to list gift cards as options on the registry

Finally, gratefully accept whatever gift anyone gives you, even if you end up returning it. Baby shower gifts are one person’s good wishes for you and your baby and the last thing you want to do is hurt a relationship over a gift. It’s your relationships with others that will get you through the tough times, so be good to them.

Happy registering!

Initiation

Remember this clip from An Officer and a Gentleman?

(courtesy MovieClips.com)

Initiation seems to belong to the realm of men, with the exception of a few tough women that fight to be in their ranks. Go G.I. Jane.

But what if I told you that initiations like these happen to far fewer men than they do to women. Mothers in the room, please raise your hand. Look at all of those hands. Mothers everywhere can look at this video and pinpoint a moment in those early weeks of motherhood when they felt like Richard Gere in this clip.

In the first days and weeks of motherhood, you start to feel that everything defies logic. New motherhood forces you to

1) become a living paradox

2) experience counterintuitive physical and emotional reactions

3) occupy your world upside-down.

Cultural anthropologist, Robbie Davis-Floyd (2003) refers to these types of experiences as a  specific technique in rituals, known as “strange-making.” Consider these brief examples—and if you’ve had a baby, mentally check off the ones that you experienced (probably all of them).

A Living Paradox

Motherhood is full of paradoxes that bend and break your previous expectations and prepare you for accepting everything that is coming down the line.

  • In pregnancy, you are single, but double.
  • In labor, you go to a hospital, but you’re not sick.
  • In recovery, you become a source of nourishment, while you are a convalescent.
  • In the postpartum period, you are not “you” anymore, and you don’t know who you are becoming.

Counterintuitive Reactions

Throughout that first year of motherhood, you find yourself occupying all sorts of strange mental, physical, and emotional spaces. In these new and strange situations, you find yourself stretching beyond your previous capacity and behaving in ways that you never expected.

  • You’re so tired that you’re awake again.

I haven’t slept in 26 hours, but I’ve got my second wind.

  • You’re in so much pain that you’re numb.

I missed a dose? I must have gotten used to it.

  • You’re so happy that you’re sad.

(while sobbing) This is so wonderful! I don’t want it to end!

  • You’re so thankful that you’re afraid.

This child is the greatest gift that I’ve ever received. What if something happens to him?

  • You’re so frustrated that you’re laughing.

(while laughing) Can this day possibly get any worse? No way in hell!

Your World Upside Down

Finally, you encounter situations in which the world seems to have been turned upside-down. Incredible new sites, sounds, and experiences become “the new normal” and help reshape what your life is becoming—and in fact, who you are becoming.

  • Before: You never really used your arms for anything, except maybe lugging groceries and bags.
  • After: Your arms are prime real estate—the site of constant cradling and rocking.

 

  • Before: You knew what time it was when you looked at the clock.
  • After: When you wake up, you wonder if “2:00” means 2:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m.

 

  • Before: You and your partner spend your days working, having conversations, and making future plans.
  • After: You and your partner spend your days changing diapers, learning how to swaddle, and googling information about how to give a newborn a bath.

All of these types of “strange-making” shatter our previous mental categories into pieces. They create a new reality and new norms. And in the wake of all this time, both parents are able to throw their hands into the air and say, “Oh, what-the-hell-ever” or “I give up on things being perfect.” “Nothing makes sense anymore” or “Everything that I thought I knew is completely backward.”

And this—is a wonderful realization.

That’s just the point.

What-the-hell-ever, indeed.

Take a look at Richard Gere again—that is a broken man. That is a man who went into basic training expecting that he needed to “take it like a man,” but was only able to fully prove himself worthy by surrendering and telling the truth: “I got nowhere else to go.”

Reaching this point of surrender is so, so necessary for what comes next—the mapping of a new identity as mother onto your current identity of woman. And over and over again throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period, you experience so many situations that crush all your previous reasoning and logic. And if you are a person that holds strongly to logic and order, this can be especially difficult to accept.

Because the first year of motherhood is full of experiences and emotions that defy all logic—and for good reason. They help you recreate new expectations and new standards for your life. It pulls you in all directions until you are doubled, tripled, and quadrupled. Like the physical stretching of pregnancy, the first year of motherhood stretches your mental and emotional capacity. But growth is hard. It is painful. And with each doubling of yourself, you are prone to self-doubt and a total re-examination of who you are. You may feel that you have totally lost control.

But over time, you begin to accept that, sometimes, what seems paradoxical is really just the tension between who you were and who you are becoming.

Angry, but in love.

Selfish, but sacrificial.

Desperate, but confident.

Afraid, but courageous.

And if you can find comfort in being a fluid self and allowing yourself to be swept away on the winds that have caught your sails, you can stop worrying so much about the irrationality of the whole process. You can stop agonizing about how beaten down you feel every day. Because you understand that all of these emotions can co-exist in the same mind. And so the impossible and illogical not only become possible, but true.

And if you’re on the verge of new motherhood, I guarantee you—you will reach this point of surrender, too. You may completely flip out—as I did (read more about this in my forthcoming book). Or you may have a less dramatic—but equally powerful—moment of clarity, when everything is boiled down into a single truth: as long as we’re all alive, nothing else matters.

Forget the way that you expected this whole experience of new motherhood to be. And embrace what it actually is. Dirty laundry, paper plates, a water bottle that needs to be refilled (again), hair ties, granola bars, and the smell of spit-up from just about everywhere. One unfinished day after another. Uncertainty about what tomorrow will be like. Hell, uncertainty about what the next hour will look like.

Hang tight, future mother. And when you hit your breaking point, remember that this is the tension between who you once were and who you are not quite yet.

 

References

Davis-Floyd, Robbie. (2003). Birth as an American Rite of Passage. (2nd ed.) Berkeley: University of California Press.

 

Dear Pregnant Self

Like so many other women, I wish that I could go back in time and talk to my pregnant self. That 39-week-pregnant woman, waiting for labor to begin, wanting to know what she could do to prepare.

35 weeks

What would I say to her?

I would say…

Your worries are valid. I’m not going to belittle your concerns or tell you that things will be wonderful. You don’t need to “grow up” or “get over it.” But on the landscape of your life, your worries right now are small, a mere blip.

A child could ruin your marriage. I’ve seen how easy it could have been for you to become the martyr and insist that you were the only one who could take care of your baby. I’ve seen how difficult–but important–it is to strike the balance between communicating directly, yet patiently with your husband. But you’ll find it. Because you’ll discover—after 8 years of marriage—that you care more about your husband and your child than you do about yourself. So this child isn’t going to drive you apart—this child will actually be the push you both forward.

You will see your career differently. I won’t say that you’ll find out that your career isn’t as fulfilling as raising a child or that the work-family balance is impossible. But those evening and weekend hours will become sacred to you. And the last thing that you’ll want to do is sacrifice those hours to finish what you couldn’t get done in the office.

Babies are expensive. You’ll spend $600 on car seats. You’ll spend $1,100 every month for tuition at a good daycare. But you’ll also be glad to spend the money to know that your child is safe and in good care.

Childbirth. Is. Hard. But it’s not important to know how long your labor will last or how much pain you’re going to feel. What is important is that you’ll never doubt the depths of your strength again. Ever.

The postpartum period is even harder. But you are normal. Those crazy hormone shifts that detach you from reality—they happen to so many new mothers. You’re not broken. You’re not defective. And you will be able to take care of your baby.

You will lose many hours of sleep. It will alter your mood, your health, and your ability to connect with others. And even though it feels like forever, I assure you, it will end.

You will have a hard time losing the weight. Breastfeeding will not magically melt it away for you. But you have already made that 40 + pound journey down the scale two times before. It will take a whole year, but you will do it again.

You’ll learn that some women hunker down into brands of motherhood. But rest assured, you are not required—nor is it even possible—to fit into one particular category all the time. And how you feed, clothe, diaper, and carry your child is not an indication of how much you love your child. Or how good your mothering is.

Approach the first year of motherhood like you approach labor: one small piece at a time. Don’t think about the whole year. It’s too dynamic. Every single week has its own flavor, its own rhythms, its own challenges, and triumphs. Focus on one day at time. Carve the good days and weeks into your memory. Then, remember them to give you strength to pull through the bad ones.

It’s not possible to enjoy every single minute of this first year. It’s an unrealistic, romantic standard that no mother can achieve. So, for God’s sake, sob and vent when the time calls for it. And don’t you dare feel guilty about it. Because those moments of sadness are a brilliant contrast to those moments of joy. And they will show just how spectacular this first year of motherhood really is.

And your vagina will be fine. Different. But fine.

 

But you’re not truly concerned about all of these things.

 

What you’re really concerned about is whether or not you’ll be a good mother.

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So let me wholeheartedly assure you that it’s not about being a “good mother,” as if I could pull a picture from Google Images to show you what that looks like. As if there is an approved checklist of criteria to meet in order to earn that title. As if all following this mythical checklist is best for all babies.

So it’s not about being a good mother.

It’s about being the right mother.

For this child.

In this moment.

So what I’m telling you, pregnant self, is to seek to be the right mother. Every day. And if you can do that, you can find peace in the chaos of motherhood.

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