Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why It's Best to Have No Expectations

This is a part of a series of guest posts for first time moms that I have put together from a variety of moms with a variety of perspectives. This one is written by Liz of A Belle, A Bean & A Chicago Dog. Please stop by her blog to read more of her posts. You can also follow A Belle, A Bean & A Chicago Dog on Facebook & Twitter.

I'm so happy to be here today, taking part in Cameron's New Moms Tips Week!  I'm Liz, a 32 yr old mom of 2 girls, and my tips below are what I learned following the birth of my first daughter, four and a half years ago.

I firmly believe in the power of numbers, and the saying, "It takes a village."  Motherhood is like nothing else imaginable, and surrounding yourself with as many Mommy Friends as possible will be beneficial to you. 

This story is mine, just like yours will be uniquely you.  I hope you can take away a thing or two that will help in your New Mom Journey...


Take a baby care class along with your child birth class - This would be my first tip for first-time moms-to-be.  So much of the emphasis and focus during your pregnancy is on your labor and delivery.  But during labor and delivery, you are surrounded by seasoned, trained professionals that guide you through the process.

A short 2 days later (or 96 hrs if a C-section), you are sent home with this tiny, new creature and left to survive the wilds that is parenthood all.on.your.own

I promise - a baby care class will be worth your while!

Don't assume breastfeeding will be easy - Sure, it's "natural" and what Mother Nature intended, but don't expect that the first (or even twentieth) time you put your newborn to your breast, that your baby will perfectly latch on and happily suck away.

Trust your mama instincts - The moment your child enters the world, you are a mom.  And along with that single, defining moment comes your mama instincts. 

If something doesn't seem right, just ask.  Your intuition is more insightful than you realize.

Don't hesitate to call your pediatrician's office you have questions - I really wasn't aware of all the services offered by most every pediatrician.  During office hours, you can call in and just ask to speak to a nurse who will either answer your questions or let you know if you are better off bringing in your baby to be seen by your doc. 

Also, most ped's offices have after-hours lines.  Typically, you call your ped's office, which is forwarded to an answering service, and you leave a message with them.  A nurse will call you back shortly.

Your baby will be seen by someone from your ped's office while still in the hospital, so your baby is a patient from that point in time.  Even if you haven't been into the office yet to see your ped for a well-baby visit, don't hesitate to call if you have a question!

=The 4 points above all factor in to my first-time mom newborn story=

When I was pregnant with my first child, I desperately wanted to breastfeed. 

Kate was born full-term, weighing in at 6 lbs 9 ozs., and we were discharged without as much as a peep that our teeny baby was jaundiced.

As a breastfeeding mom, you are repeatedly told that it can take 3-5 days for your milk to come in, and that your baby is getting what they need until then.

We got home from the hospital, and after one night and the following morning, Kate had not had a wet diaper.  I did not take a baby care class, but remembered reading somewhere about the maximum number of hours a newborn could safely go without having a wet diaper. 

Kate was absolutely beyond that point.

Craig first called back to the hospital, and the nurse again reiterated that it takes a while for a mom's milk to come in.  But it just didn't sit right with me.

A few hours later, I called the after-hours line at my ped's office, and spoke to a nurse.  I will never forget hearing her words, "Oh honey, you need to get that baby to a hospital!"

At that point, I handed the phone to Craig, tears streaming down my face. 

He finished up with the nurse and we headed to the children's hospital.

Long story, short - Kate was jaundiced and severely dehydrated. 

I won't get into the hell that was our time there...just that we spent 4 days in the kids' hospital before going home for good.

*Also, I want to add that my experience is far from the norm.  Most new parents take their baby home and there are no complications whatsoever.  Just make sure to ask questions and go with your gut if you feel uneasy. 

"Baby Blues" are very real, and in my case, so is P.P.D. - After you deliver your baby, your hormones level drop quickly and drastically, thus the source of the Baby Blues.  I had read all about the Baby Blues, what the symptoms were, and how they can last for 3 weeks after delivery. 

What I don't remember is exactly when I told Craig that I was concerned it was more than just the Baby Blues, but it turned out that I was suffering from Post-Partum Depression. 

Until I was diagnosed with PPD and began telling others about it, I was unaware with how - dare I say - "common" it is.  I think too many people still feel like it isn't a topic that is OK to talk about.  However, I found that someone in every circle of my life either experienced it themselves or had a close friend or family member who did. 

When I started Zoloft, I was still breastfeeding (although I had to supplement, too, due to her jaundice and dehydration).  I was hellbent on nursing my baby.  I was also pumping after each feeding in order to increase my milk supply.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough.

Between nursing, followed by pumping and adding in my anxiety caused by the PPD, I wasn't eating or drinking.  I dropped all my baby weight in 2 weeks, and my milk dried up.

I had obviously been supplementing with formula, but I still had been hoping to eventually breastfeed exclusively.  However, it just wasn't going to happen for me.

There is a lot of emphasis placed on breastfeeding today.  And while I do believe it is natural and has more benefits than even the top formula, it simply is NOT for everybody.  Further, women who choose to move to formula should not feel guilty about it. 

Another point to consider would be that my generation is primarily formula fed because breastfeeding wasn't "in vogue" in the 70's.  And my mom, who is a child of the 50's, has joked with me, "God only KNOWS what was in OUR formula back then!"

The fact of the matter is this: Babies have been raised on formula for GENERATIONS, and have thrived and grown into healthy, intelligent, productive adults.  So if breastfeeding isn't for you, don't beat yourself up!  Happy moms make for happy babies!

I guess if I had to sum it up in 1 overall tip it would be: DON'T have any expectations.  There is no way to know what life's going to be like once that tiny human is placed in your arms, so don't put more pressure on yourself by thinking things have to be a certain way.  Just take it day by day, and do what feels right.

Best of luck on your new journey called mommyhood!

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Liz said...

Woo hoo! Too bad my own blog just crashed!! I can't even get to my hosting company's site, so I'm sure that's the problem!

I'll tweet this a few times today, too!

Metro DC Mom said...

All good points. The newborn days are so hard and dealing with it while dealing with PPD is even harder. And then you add in the guilt that all the "experts" like to throw your way about pretty much every decision you have to make as a new mom...

One thing I would add to your points is a visit with a certified lactation consultant. I never would have been successful with breastfeeding without a visit with a lactation consultant. No woman should feel guilty about not breastfeeding and not every problem is solvable, but sometimes a small change makes all the difference in the world.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

Liz said...

Oh, I did, and that still didn't help. :)

Just Another Mom of 2 said...

LOVE this post Liz! It is so true that having too many expectations- from what your labor experience is going to be like to what your first days and weeks will endure is the most stressful thing you can do to yourself. While I was lucky enough to have two easy labor and deliveries, my experiences after having the kids was drastically different with each of the two!

~Lisa~ said...

Cameron, you always have great posts! Thoughtful, helpful and real. Again you inner teacher shines through (= Go girl and I hope all is going well!

Natalie said...

Excellent points- I couldn't agree with any more.

I was a young mom & wanted to breastfeed my first born. Although I still lived at home & had plenty of help, no one had nursed & couldn't answer any questions. My son would.not.latch I tried everything. I had plenty of milk. He did great with the collostrum, but when the real thing got there he couldn't latch. He chewed instead of sucked.. me, his bottle, everything. He refused pacifiers. I would sit in bed trying desperately to feed my son with tears streaming down my face it hurt so bad. I gave up & switched entirely to formula when he was 2 or 3 weeks old. Remembering that & what happened as he grew with speech, I realize he should've had his tongue clipped. And I get upset knowing that not one medical professional realized it. I often wonder how different it would've been had someone noticed.

Poppy said...

Each pregnancy is also different. Did you try to breastfeed with your second at all or did you just decide it wasn't for you? I totally agree that you should do what is right for you. How much bonding can you do with your baby if you are constantly attached to the breast pump?

I had no problems with PPD with my first two kids, but felt completely overwhelmed with my 3rd and went on Zoloft for a while too.

Natalie said...

What a cool idea for a blog series! Liz is one of my favs, so I'm glad she's here and that I found your blog!

Liz - excellent points, all of them - and I agree with them. I also suffered from PPD and it is very real...if you're a mom that thinks you might be affected by it, get help!

Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) said...

Excellent advice. It's so important to be aware and prepared that things may not go as planned and that breastfeeding doesn't always turn our like you'd hope. I'm glad you followed your gut and got your baby in when she needed it. Trusting that Mommy Instinct is so vital. I didn't succeed at BF either and it was devastating which exacerbated those baby blues for me too. Thanks so much for sharing your story:)

The Flying Chalupa said...

Liz - great points and I loved hearing your story. My son was very dehydrated too (but not like your situation) and I was forced to supplement as well. For the next round, I definitely plan on taking better care of myself! And if that means a little more formula, so be it.

Lindsey said...

Great post, and adorable baby pic! Uhhh my heart still melts and wishes my girls were all babies again :)

JDaniel4's Mom said...

JDaniel had to go under lights at the hospital due to jaundice. I was lucky they caught is early.

I would have been so distraught taking him back to the hospital.

Lori said...

Great post with great thoughts to share with first time moms.

Nursing my first was such a natural experience, but surprisingly nursing my second was a challenge and I found that joining La Leche League was a tremendous support system for me. But I am a huge believer in options and it's so good to know that in this day and age we as moms have SO many choices in a wide variety of formula that's right for your child. You say it so well, don't beat

I just love how you talk about trusting your mama instincts. That's a definite from birth til, well I wonder when that stops?

Great post, Liz!

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