Tuesday, December 14, 2010

4 Months!! Some reflecting back...

Ok I know...way too many pictures of the same pose, but I just couldn't decide which one was the cutest! I'm a typical mom no matter how many times I swore I wouldn't be!! I used to think it was going over board to post 10,000 pics of your baby on facebook, but now I am guilty as charged. It's like this thing takes over your mind and makes you believe that everyone wants to see a billion pictures of your child. Ahhh motherhood...you win! I'm drunk on my baby's cuteness!!! :)

The last four months have been a blurry whirlwind to me. So many new things to learn and experience. Literally since I left the hospital with my tiny new baby and a majorly sore who-ha the world has been a new place all together. There are no books or classes or tips from friends that can truly prepare a new mother for the adventure she is about to begin. 

 On a side note:
The who-ha has long healed...I went to my Obgyn yesterday for my annual and he confirmed that everything has totally healed normally and that I'm very healthy. It all goes back together again...who knew?? That is the last time I have to be in stirrups for a year?!?!? Wow that's liberating after 3 years of infertility testing and treatments and 9 months of pregnancy!!

Back to the main train of thought:
 That little baby we brought home from the hospital has grown (a lot) and I am finally able to look in the mirror and see a confident mother looking back. In the beginning I got nervous when my baby cried because I wasn't sure if I knew how to help her. Breastfeeding was a disaster and ultimately I had very little confidence in my abilities. What I was an expert at was knowing all about infertility. The tides have certainly changed!!

These last four months have been nothing short of a steep learning curve. Although, it's a kind of learning that I didn't master in college. With no professors or advisors, I could only rely on my own instincts to teach me how to be a mother. There are books and classes and helpful tips, but I've found that really being a good mother has to come from within. I still have a long way to go and I know that I'll never be perfect, but now I've learned how to listen to that voice inside that tells me what my baby needs to keep a smile on her face.

In the beginning I was overwhelmed. I didn't blog about this at the time because I didn't want to sound ungrateful or pathetic especially given what we went through to become parents. Also I'm the type of girl who doesn't like to admit her weaknesses.

I remember those first few nights being home with our brand new baby and I was actually afraid of her. When she was inside me, in my womb, she was part of me and I could rub my belly and feel the love. But when she came out it was very apparent that she was separate from me. She was her own being and that was a LOT for this new momma to wrap her head around. I know that might sound silly...I knew all along she was going to be her own person, but in the darkness of night through a very sleep deprived blur she seemed more like an alien that had just emerged from my abdomen then a baby human that belonged to us. I literally hadn't slept in a week after my extremely long labor and my hormones were crashing after the birth, both of these I know were the main culprit, but there were moments late at night when I watched her sleep and I feared her eyes might open up and glow green like the that of an extraterrestrial. Scary! I was actually afraid of my helpless new baby.

Crazy! I know!! Baby blues? Maybe? Yikes! That's why I did NOT blog about it at the time. I was too ashamed. It just seemed wrong after how much I had prayed for a baby of my own. As I recovered from the birth and got some sleep those terrifying thoughts in the night vanished and I started to see Morgan the way everyone describes you'll feel about your newborn. I began to fall head over heels in love with her.

What I learned from this experience is that not all mother's have that instant "love at first sight" phenomenon at the birth of their child. Perhaps I didn't experience that because of the length and trauma of my labor. Maybe I was so exhausted that my heart and mind couldn't function normally. What I do know now is that the love does eventually arrive and it takes you over by storm!

Next was trying to master breastfeeding. My sweet baby girl never had any trouble latching, but my POOR, POOR nipples, oh they had all kinds of trouble! They were cracked and bleeding and when my milk came in they flowed like a garden hose. Morgan's little throat and belly couldn't handle that and threw up a lot which made her choke. Holding a choking 4 day old is the most terrifying experience of my life. Granted she recovered in moment, to me it felt like ages. When she would take a breath again I couldn't help but cry with relief. It was terrifying and stressful and wasn't at all how I picture breastfeeding. Everyone I knew who had successfully breastfed their babies described it as sweet bonding while you tenderly nurture you child. NOT! I had a baby who would fight to gulp down milk pouring from my over engorged boobs then she's swallow the wrong way and vomit everything back up all over both of us. One time the milk she threw up was red with BLOOD! It totally freaked me out when I was alone at 3AM feeding her in her nursery. After a momentary panic attack  I realized that was MY blood from my shredded nipples. Oh great now the blood was up-setting her stomach and I was almost out of milk and she was crying and so was I. It was not at all how I had pictured. It was awful, and I felt like a failure.

So I started pumping to tackle the fast flow issues and we ran into more problems. She took a bottle of breast milk just fine...again she was easy it was me who the problems stemmed from. There was something in my diet that was causing her extreme discomfort in her belly. I could never figure out what it was? I tried leaving things out and changing things up, but it never seemed to work. Sometimes right after I fed her she would scream and stiffen her body in pain. I new she had gas pains so I gave her mylicon, but that didn't seem to help. It was agonizing for both of us. Not a day could go by without having feeding problems. And finally as she turned 6 weeks old I couldn't even keep up with her demand. I pumped and pumped and pumped and still could never make as much as she wanted, let alone a surplus to store in the freezer. I would only get about 2-3 oz with each pumping session. I knew something had to give when I was getting up in the night to go pump when the baby lay sleeping. She was sleeping though most nights by 6 weeks yet I was still getting up to pump every few hours so I could keep up my milk supply to keep her fed. The whole experience totally sucked! It was stressful and I felt anxious all the time about feeding her. I was afraid that I wouldn't have enough or it would upset her stomach and she would scream for hours. Or that she'd throw everything up and then I would be out of  milk to feed her. It really wore me down being worried all the time.   

Finally when she was 7 weeks I gave in and supplemented some formula. It was something I swore I wasn't going to do, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Immediately she took to the formula and was a smiling, contented, full baby after each feeding. She was never writhing with gas pains and there was always more if she wanted it. I was hugely relieved! I stopped breastfeeding almost immediately after I found how much easier this feeding method worked for us.

The lesson I learned here is NEVER say never!! I used to believe that breastfeeding was what was best for my baby and that formula was an excess cost and effort and a lot of dishes, but boy was I wrong! It is a total life saver. I thought I would never touch the stuff, but now I am very grateful for the belly filling/soothing effects it has on my baby. Feedings are now sweet and pleasant and the fighting/crying/struggles of breastfeeding have all gone out the window. Not to mention I don't have to worry about getting my nips out in public. They make breastfeeding covers, but some babies cry if you put them under them...hmmmm, yet another lesson learned. Formula = Good

Now that months have gone by from these two major lessons learned I can look back and laugh a little. That's why I'm sharing them here. I was horrified with myself for feeling fearful of and overwhelmed by my newborn and I was overcome with guilt for giving up on breastfeeding. Now when I look at her smiling face, I'm realizing that I'm really doing ok. I got through those first few months and all the things that seemed like a big deal are now just a memory. At the time I thought that I was doing a bad job, but now I learned that listening to myself and choosing "what works" verses "what I thought would work" is the best thing I can do to be a good mother.

In the beginning it was really tough to see myself as a mother, but now it feels so natural. We snuggle and laugh and I know just how to sooth her. She crys very infequently, but smiles often and I have a lot more confidence. I guess I'm growing right along side my beautiful baby!

Merry Christmas! I hope this holiday season brings everyone joy and laughter!

This video was from almost a month ago, but I had to share it.