17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Times Are Changing

I am going to be a mom in 26 days and counting (unless my little guy hopefully shows up early, or probably shows up late). My last day of work is next Friday. Only another week and a half until my "working" days are done. I've always worked. Sometimes I've really enjoyed my jobs... othertimes not so much. But that's really not the point.

Since the day I found out I was pregnant I was happy about it... and a grounded sort of happy. I feel like I've been pretty realistic throughout my pregnancy. Haven't lost my head too much. Until now. My dh, who just about flew the coup a couple times during our engagement, has been a complete rock during this entire pregnancy. I was anticipating having to talk him down off the ledge several times, but he has been amazing - very excited to become a dad. And I appreciate this and love him for how good he has been to me. But how strange that the tables have turned and now I, four weeks away from stay-at-home-mommyland, find myself anxious and quite frankly a little scared. Now here's the funny thing... I am not afraid of going into labor - of hospitals or giving birth (at least not yet). It's the after stuff that's a little nerve-wracking at this point. What will it be like to spend my entire days at home? Will I get stuck on the couch losing my brain cells to too many talk shows? Will I love being a mom and being there for this little person who I know needs me so much? Will I resent that now I feel like I will always have to clean the house and do the grocery shopping because I don't have a "job" anymore and he's working his butt off so I can stay home? Is breastfeeding really as big a mystery as it seems? Will I ever feel like a sexual being again, or even recognize my body?! Will I ever get to sleep in until 9am after he gets here? Heck, I'll take 8am... maybe even 7:30?

This being said, I know that I want to stay home with my little guy, and I believe it's important and the right choice for our family. I know I am ready for this. I can't wait to meet him and be his mom! I know my dh will be a part of this team with me. I'm just wondering... how do you survive the anticipation of these weeks ahead? How do you survive those first weeks with your new little person? How do you mourn your pre-baby freedom without feeling too guilty? I'm feeling afraid that I will not recognize the life that lays before me. I do already have a good group of stay-at-home-mom friends, so I'm grateful for that. They will probably becoming my saving grace on some days. Any words of wisdom from moms that I admire on making this transition over the next few months any smoother? (If that's even possible?)


  • I have all the same questions. Can't wait to read what the more experienced mommies have to say :)
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 2/02/2006 10:59:00 AM  

  • Okay, I can't help it. Here's the advice I give every new mom (more or less) at every baby shower I attend (okay, maybe I don't give ALL of it):

    1-The first 6 weeks are hard. HARD. Do not underestimate how hard they can be. Some women sail through with great recovery, but they are few. If I had at least a small inkling of how difficult the change the new baby would bring in my life I would have been much better off...

    2-Ask for help. ASK. Don't feel guilty. Swallow your pride. Get help.

    3-SLEEP. Refer to step #2 and then sleep when your baby sleeps. I finally did this with baby #2 and, once again, wished I had with baby #1

    4-Breastfeeding is not a science. Every time I went to a lactation specialist, I got all screwed up. Some women swear by them, but for me, it wasn't worth it. Ask a neighbor mom or your own mom or somebody with experience and have them help you latch the baby on. They're free, too. Oh, and my favorite way is what my friend referred to as the "cigarette hold" (you hold your breast with your two fingers like you're holding a ciggie and then latch the hungry baby on...worked every time for me!)

    5-Follow the Spirit. Don't worry about what "they" say about how you should raise your baby. Listen to your instincts and the Holy Ghost because they're there for a reason

    6-Your kid will not die if he/she cries. Yes, infants should be picked up often and loved and cuddled, but don't feel guilty if your child is crying while you're trying to pee...or finish eating...they'll be okay. Plus, refer to #5 and then you'll know when to feel guilty or not.

    7-Every mom is different. Just because one mom does it one way, doesn't mean you have to do it that way. Your child is different from any other child, and you may learn, each of your children will be different from each other.

    8-Teach your baby how to do things. When they are about 6-8 months old, it would be wise (hey, I'm just sayin') to teach he/she to sleep on their own. As in to FALL asleep on their own. Some kids are great at this and others aren't, but with 3 kids and counting I cannot tell you how WONDERFUL it is to know that my kids can fall asleep on their own. 2 nights of crying, and years of peaceful bliss...(this one will probably be debated upon, but I do have a friend who must still cuddle with her 4 year old until he falls asleep. Sometimes it takes HOURS--who's the adult here?)

    9. You cannot possibly love your baby too much. Or hold your baby too much. Or sing to your baby too much. Love your baby with all the love you got because they grow up so fast --the time just flies....

    10. Since you are going from working to staying at home, make sure you have a strong support system around you. Get out of the house at least once a day and be involved in church and the community. Your baby will take up a lot of your time, yes (especially the first 6 weeks --see #1), but you do not want to make it worse for yourself by becoming "bored"(That's when PPD can be it's worst, you can "let yourself go", etc.).

    11. LET DAD DO IT HIS WAY. Unless he's going to end up killing the child --Most fathers will seriously stop trying if mom is always harping on him for doing it the "wrong way". If you want his help, you better appreciate it and let him know. Just close your eyes and cringe when he changes the diaper that weird way so that he'll learn and then be willing to do it some more...(this goes for household chores, too)

    12. EXERCISE. I cannot emphasize this enough. I didn't, and I'm nearing 40 pounds overweight. Not morbidly obese, but it's been killer trying to get it off. If you keep it off from the beginning, it'll be an easier ride and you will:

    A-Feel sexy
    B-Be healthy
    C-Be a better mom
    D-Have a chance to be alone to think (at least for that hour!)
    E-Feel sexy

    13. Guilt will always be there. It won't go away, but always remember that if you take care of yourself, you are taking care of your baby. A happy and healthy mom (mentally, socially, emotionally, physically, etc) produces happy and healthy kids.

    Phew! Sorry for the long list. I guess I got carried away. :)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 2/02/2006 11:28:00 AM  

  • I'm the mom of 3 girls, ages 7,5, and almost 1 year. I can second Cheryl's list. Most of all, just hang on for about 6-7 weeks, it WILL get better. My husband would always say (when I was up bawling my eyes out the first few nights) "it's ok, we're learning, she's learning, we just have to figure each other out." Sometimes that takes a while.

    I was ready to take them back to the hospital in exchange for another baby at least once. It's ok to feel like that, as long as those feelings don't linger like PPD. "Baby blues" are VERY common. And not everyone is in "LOVE" with their baby at first sight. That will come.

    Don't try to be supermom. Set little goals for the day (sometimes that means to take a shower before 4pm). Accept help if someone offers and ask for help if no one offers.

    My saving grace was a bottle. If you're breastfeeding is going well, get the baby to take a bottle in the first 2 weeks. I usually made sure they had at least one bottle every day or every other day, just so they stayed used to it. Get a good pump, so you can get away for your own time. Babies eat sometimes every 1 1/2 hours at first (and thats from the time you START to feed), so you'll need some time away. This is a great time for Dad and baby to bond.

    Another thing that helped me was I kept a calendar. Get just a regular one and everyday, take some time to write down what happened that day (good or bad), if the baby slept for 4 hours straight, or had a little smile, or has odd little quirks, write it down. I'm amazed when I look back and those how much I didn't remember.

    Good luck and enjoy!
    posted by Blogger wendysue at 2/02/2006 11:52:00 AM  

  • Wow, I'm not sure I have too much to add except to second Cheryl's remarks. I especially want to focus on the "first six weeks are hard" concept. And 6 weeks is an estimate, so if it takes you 8, don't stress it. The major goal of that time is to survive and not do anything too horribly embarrassing, like leaving the house without pants on. There will be no day, no night, no schedule, just a haze that you will eventually emerge from and will realize that you remember who you are and have a feeling you might remotely be that person again someday. So ask for help when you need it, and try not to stress about the fact that you forgot to send your aunt a birthday card and your vaccum hasn't been used in so long it's got a layer of dust on it.

    My other thing is breast feeding. It's different for everyone, but it's good to know that for a lot of people it isn't easy and it isn't that "beautiful unification of mother and child" kind of concept that la leche league publications will give you. (whenever I read one of those, I felt like I should be skipping through a field of daisies whenever I nursed my son). In the beginning, it hurts even when you're doing it correctly, and your nipples will get sore - just push through it, at least for me it was worth it in the end. I'm glad I stuck with it and kept trying.
    posted by Blogger marian at 2/02/2006 11:54:00 AM  

  • Cheryl, I especially love #6, 8, 11 and 12 though I would modify 8 to sleep train at 4 months and any other bad habits that you don't like (thumbs, rocking to sleep, attached to a blanket or toy or whatever) get rid of before or right at 6 months. Babies are very trainable.
    Now the rest:
    Clean the bathtub Q? Yes, you will probably clean most often...but don't for the first few months.

    "Is breastfeeding really as big a mystery as it seems?"
    I have never had issues. Just make sure you do some yoga breathing so that the baby can feel you are relaxed…use your acting skills: BE confident, the baby will feel more secure then. This goes for anything you attempt to do that you really have no idea what you are doing-you'll be surprised how acting skills come into play

    "Will I ever feel like a sexual being again, or even recognize my body?!" YES, but maybe not right at first. I still have issues with my boobs…I might be forever scarred into thinking of them only as milk machines, but that’s ok…I like other parts of me even better than before I had babies! And I feel WAY empowered from giving birth...and that makes me feel sexy.

    "Will I ever get to sleep in until 9am after he gets here? .... heck, I'll take 8am! ... maybe even 7:30..." No…not unless your DH is really nice to you some Sat. morning. I would rely more on naps than sleeping in.

    "I'm just wondering... how do you survive the anticipation of these weeks ahead?" Remember when you were 13 and first learned about suicide and thought that might be a good idea? Ok..maybe I was the only one, but I came closest to THAT moment during those last few weeks of pregnancy with baby #1….

    "How do you mourn your pre-baby freedom without feeling too guilty?" Mourning is not reserved for death….anything and everything that feels like a loss should be given it’s proper mourning moment, guilt-free.

    You'll survive because you Love.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 2/02/2006 12:04:00 PM  

  • My mom was not a stay at home mom and I am a busy body, so the thought of staying at home scared me. However, I have found that I love it because I get to define my days around my children (of course).

    Here’s the huge secret that people forget to tell us before we have children-We are pregnant for about 15 months as women. You may be think it is over when you give birth, but the first few months are some of the hardest to adjust to because there will be so many demands from this new bundle of joy, so be patient and flexible with yourself. I think in some ways being pregnant is easy because you know you are providing all their needs, but after birth it is so important to balance your needs with the needs of your baby. Before the baby right down all your hopes in a journal, get a pedicure, have a dinner date with the hubby, have a lunch date with a close friend. After the baby is born enjoy the quiet times with your newborn and don't worry about meals or housekeeping, find a new hobby that’s just for you (I chose yoga), find time with just the girls (I found a book club), go on outings with your baby (I love museums, malls, parks, and the beach with my boys) and try to set up regular dates with your husband (I am still working on this,but we have two). Enjoy!
    posted by Blogger Tri Mama at 2/02/2006 12:30:00 PM  

  • Absoluely everthing everyone has said is good, sound and excellent advice!

    I'll just "third" the "first six weeks" thing. NOTHING could have prepared me, especially for those first days after DH went back to work. There really is no day or night, you gotta just roll with it the best you can. Do ask for that help, and give yourself time to take your shower, even if it's at night after DH is home.

    Breastfeeding? For some women its a breeze, for others, it's really hard. DO NOT get down on yourself if you are in the latter group. Mom's physiology and baby's physiology can make something that is easy for a friend darn near rocket science for you. Get whatever help you are most comfortable with- I never had much luck with the lactation nurses either, but trial and error on my own got us some answers.

    If you have close friends who want to come help, let them, and don't feel embarassed of self-conscious. The best thing anyone did for me with #1 was come over, not to visit, and she insisted we NOT sit and chat, but she cleaned my kitchen, washed and folded and put away all the laundry, and cleaned the bathrooms. Then she left. She was a veteral mom, and she knew what I needed. Let those friends help, and don't feel guilty about it.

    Know that you are the perfect mother for YOUR child. You will be just fine! Good luck!
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 2/02/2006 12:44:00 PM  

  • Ditto the first weeks. Just make it through them. And don't worry if, after two months or even three, you don't feel like you get it.

    I also second the outings. Even if it is just walking around your yard with baby. A change of scene was a life saver for me.

    One of the things I do when I am feeling overwhelmed is stop, take a breath (or three, or thirty) and think of just ONE thing that I feel like I can handle doing. If that means dinner isn't ready when your husband gets home, or the shower is skipped for today, that's okay. Especially in the first months.
    posted by Blogger Keryn at 2/02/2006 03:24:00 PM  

  • Ok, so everyone has talked about the first few weeks and months with a new baby. I have nothing new to add. Just a restatement of what's already been mentioned about breastfeeding. For some moms, it's just plain awful. Blisters, mastitis, non-stop pain. I really struggled with it--my baby was about 2 1/2 months by the time I felt like I could comfortably nurse and wasn't dreading it. A pump helped a lot. If there was one feeding out the day that I couldn't handle nursing her, I would pump and she would take a bottle (after about 3-4 weeks old). I loved the feeling of knowing that I could go somewhere without her and that she wasn't relying exclusively on me to feed her.

    Ok, but after those first few months. Once we got into a routine, where I felt like I knew what I was doing, where the nursing was going well, where the nights and days weren't upside down, then that's when I really starting missing my pre-baby life. I needed something else at that point. I was going a little crazy staying home all the time, and I could cruise the mall, go on long walks, or whatever else only so many times.

    We found a babysitter who came to our house three mornings a week so I could go back to "work." (You know, that non-paid variety of work, where you work on writing a dissertation.) It worked out great. It got me out of the house without baby. It was only for a few hours, and she napped during part of that time. She did great, I did great.

    In all the places we've lived, we've had to juggle a bit. It seems like our situation is so dynamic that what works one month so that everyone is happy and doing well won't necessarily work the next. So, we adjust. (And ALL of us adjust, not just me.)

    I highly recommend finding regular care for your baby (swapping with a friend one morning a week, a babysitter) so that you have time to yourself. Yes, you should go on dates, but it's nice to have time to do something all on your own. And sometimes it's hard to squeeze in around husbands' work schedules. You should never feel guilty about taking the time you need for yourself.
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 2/02/2006 05:35:00 PM  

  • Here are two suggestions that worked for me when I had crying babies-
    1. Sing. Sit in a rocking chair or walk around, but gently sing your favorite hmyns or primary songs into your babies ear. It always calmed me down and that seemed to calm my baby. MInd you, I do not have a great singing voice, but my babies didn't care.

    2. Vacuum. If the diaper is clean and the tummy is full. Lay your baby down (after singing a song or two) and get out the vacuum. The noise will muffle the crying and for some reason - often seems to put the baby to sleep. Added bonus - when you finally go to bed you have one household chore on your list that was completed!
    posted by Blogger kathi at 2/02/2006 06:05:00 PM  

  • I have just made it to week five with baby #8. I agree with most of what has been written here. It is hard at first, sometimes really hard, but there is nothing like your own sweet little baby to hold and to love. And they do grow up fast, I know, my oldest is 19 this month. Something that has helped me this time- a couple of days after her birth I read something about praying for little things, one women prayed to be able to function well with just a little sleep. I thought a-hah! Maybe I should try this. I pray for the abilitly to do what I need to do and to be sane, on the little sleep that I get. And it is working. (I usually don't get to nap when she naps, because of toddler boy.)
    I also recommend taking it easy as long as possible, even if you feel good, because once you start going and doing, people expect you to be back to normal. I wore pjs for 2 weeks! (and still wear them as often as I can)
    posted by Blogger Karen at 2/02/2006 08:28:00 PM  

  • "Will I get stuck on the couch losing my brain cells to too many talk shows? Will I love being a mom and being there for this little person who I know needs me so much? Will I resent my dh that now I feel like I, myself, will always have to clean the bathtub and do the grocery shopping since I don't really have a "job" anymore and he's working his butt off so I can stay home? Is breastfeeding really as big a mystery as it seems? "

    Yes. To all of the above.

    No one can really prepare you, but this is all good advice. Good luck, and drink lots of liquids- you will feel such joy in being able to hold large amounts in your bladder again.
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 2/02/2006 09:15:00 PM  

  • I wish my bladder was working again. baby #2 is 9 months and I still have no warning when I need to pee. Normally on a car trip you can say: "DH...I am going to need a rest stop in 20 minutes" For me I am just sitting there enjoying listening to Finding Nemo from the dvd player for the umpteenth time, and we are driving along and all of a sudden it's "OH MY GOSH I NEED TO PEE RIGHT NOW!" And after baby #1 I have NEVER been able to jump on a trampoline without losing my juice. I am on my way to DEPENDS land some day...oops...gotta go do some kegels.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 2/03/2006 05:11:00 AM  

  • Thanks for all of this awesome advice! Some of it really made me laugh out loud (which is great in the midst of fear!) I know I will refer to this post A LOT in a few more weeks.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 2/03/2006 11:40:00 AM  

  • Kage, lol, you and I must have the same brand of bladder. . .no trampolines and whenever I sneeze and say "Dang it! and run to the bathroom" my dh just says "sorry." Amen to the "gotta go do my kegels."
    posted by Blogger wendysue at 2/03/2006 11:52:00 AM  

  • In regards to the bladder issues there is hope, but you have to be done with having kids or your issues will just come back. I just saw my Dr. regarding this issue because I am always on the verge of wetting my pants or do wet my pants during exercise and he suggested a Bladder Suspension and said until then to do kegels everytime you come to a stop light.
    posted by Blogger Tri Mama at 2/03/2006 01:25:00 PM  

  • These are all great tips - wish this post had been around when I was sitting in your shoes just 8 weeks ago. While becoming a mom and getting to know my child was amazing, the first few weeks were hands down the most difficult of my life so far. My mood during the first 3-4 weeks or so vacillated between intense crying to total adoration of dd. (I now have a whole new level of compassion for people who suffer from depression.)

    Try to have simple meal prep stuff on hand before you come home from the hospital - think pop-top soups (mixing water and soup might be too difficult), saltines, and sandwich fixings. Of course, if people offer help, accept it - it will make the mood swings more manageable.

    I had a really difficult time bfing initially and had a lactation consultant come to my home when dd was 8 days old. It was worth every penny and gave me the confidence to push through the initial sore period. I’d recommend the Nursing Mothers Companion and the Breast Friend pillow.

    Clothing. I thought I was all prepared with sleepers and oneies. Once I brought her home, I couldn't imagine pulling a oneies over her tender little neck. Plus, there was the issue w/ the cord. Think about getting a pack of t-shirts and a pack of recieving blankets. You can button the t-shirt in front (protecting the cord) and swaddle the baby in a recieving blanket. (This is how the nurses dressed the babies @ my hospital.) I wish I had had the t-shirts on hand when we got home because it was so difficult for me to make it to Babies R Us. This outfit worked great for my daugther until her cord fell off and we moved on to the onies and cute sleepers.

    Don't let anyone pressure you into going out with the baby before you are ready. I loved hanging out in the nursery with dd during those first few weeks. The idea of going out anywhere other than her pediatrician had zero appeal. That goes for church as well. Kudos to women who make it to church 2 days after giving birth, but its not for everyone. I didn't go until dd was 6 weeks old and that was probably pushing it for me. Plus, its RSV season and you can't be too careful.
    posted by Blogger Liz at 2/04/2006 09:55:00 PM  

  • Okay, there's already a ton of great advice, but remember to just take what appeals to YOU. I felt overwhelmed with advice at first, but just chose what worked for me.

    Yes, it was VERY HARD to go from independent, working, free spirit to motherhood and 24-hour responsibility for an innocent little baby. I cried the first few days trying to get him to latch on and breastfeed, but eventually it got easier. I cried when nothing would help him stop crying. I cried when I never got sleep all night (sleep-sharing SAVED me). My nipples were sore for 4 months, but it was all worth it.

    Now my boy is one and I look back at how quickly it went. So hang in there when it gets tough!
    posted by Blogger Squiddy at 2/06/2006 10:42:00 AM  

  • Things that happen during/after you give birth that nobody talks about:
    Baby #2 I pooped, peed and threw up while pushing, none of the above for baby #1.
    Nubaine is like being drunk. I hated it.
    It's ok if you don't cry or feel joy when you see your baby.
    The Shakes.
    Cramping, especially when you nurse.
    You still look 6 months pregnant.
    Blood Clots-some big ones.
    It's hard to pee that first time. You REALLY have to concentrate.
    Various injuries: Baby #1 was stitches for me, Baby #2 was my rectum was tender for quite a while.
    Second go-round I got TUCKS. Get the economy size, they feel oh so nice on those intimate parts.
    First time: bleedy nipples.
    Second time: Blisters on my nipples, yup that kind filled with puss...lovely.
    When your milk arrives it is like Dolly Parton and a pair of grapefruits entered your body. Yikes.
    Just remember, your babies release a chemical from their heads that is like sniffing cocaine (or something...my midwife told me this)...so sniff away.
    PS. My midwife did not tell me until AFTER giving birth to the second, that ALL the cramping and after-pains were twice as painful with baby #2. What great news that was!
    posted by Blogger Kage at 2/06/2006 01:21:00 PM  

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