On being an edible woman and other oddities of motherhood

As my daughter approaches 5 months, I look back and realize how much harder it was than I would have ever admitted at the time. Yes, I was one of those new moms that attempted to get everything back to “normal” after the baby was born. From sex to working out to dinner on the table, I really tried to maintain that pre-baby quality of life.

Rookie mistake!

Today I met a woman with an 8 week old and it got me thinking about what I’ve learned, and what advice held true that maybe I should have listened to.

On breastfeeding: Yeah it’s cool to bond with your baby and I wouldn’t change it for the world but some days I do feel like those people on True Blood after they’ve been devoured. It didn’t help that I got my period after only 3 months after my daughter was born. My body is an asshole when it  comes to periods. That being said, it’s really cool to see this little person grow bigger and bigger and bigger from having eaten nothing but what comes out of my boobs. Crazy! The point I wanted to make though is that I think all of this militant breastfeeding stuff does more damage than good. We do what we can!

On other mommies: I’ve always had more guy friends than girlfriends, but let me tell you, I would have died without my mommy friends. Three of my girlfriends had babies 6 mos and 1 year older than Raquel and these ladies were LIFESAVERS! The advice, the support, the hand-me-downs, the company and camaraderie — I will be forever grateful. It’s actually one of the reasons I started this blog, for women that might not be that lucky in the mat leave buddies department.

On babies crying: You hear this thing about your baby’s cry being genetically programmed to get under your skin. Man, is it ever true! It turns my brain into some kind of omelette made of worry, panic, love, and pepperoni. It’s a weird feeling. And it took a while for me to realize its effect on me. Holy mother of God is it ever uncomfortable.

On hormones: I might have been a little irritable. Ok, a lot irritable. I sort of wanted to punch my husband, and this is not how I normally feel. It was a LOT like quitting smoking. A LOT. What helped? Rescue Remedy and Wine. And sunshine. I wasn’t depressed – I think I had one bad day. I was a bit anxious though. You get used to being in PANIC mode and after a few weeks of little sleep and high adrenalin, ya feel a little funny… like drained, and weird… but still capable, strangely. I can’t believe how many times I managed to not crash the car, or forget the diapers, or fall asleep at inopportune times. You just kinda muddle through and the days pass, and soon… the three month release.

On the Three Month marker: A friend (a dad actually) told me about how babies chill out at around 3 months. It’s true! And it’s wonderful. All of the sudden you’re like oh, my baby’s awake and NOT crying???

On the second child decision: Why would I want to go through that again? Correction: Why do I desperately want to go through that again and again? It makes no sense from a logical perspective. It hurts, deprives you of sleep and time, fucks up your body, and is really, really uncomfortable for at least 9 months. I can’t even imagine what other sacrifices are lurking down that rosy path of parenthood. And yet… I want more. At least one. Shoot me.

On marriage after baby: I hope you’re married to someone you like, because you kind of have to like the person 110% to survive the 50% drop in romance, time, sleep, and grown-up time.

 

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What this lamb (and some smart midwives) taught me about breastfeeding

I’ve been fortunate in the breastfeeding department. I know that it doesn’t work perfectly al the time so I wanted to at least jot down a few of the things that helped me in getting it right…

1. the hamburger hold
There’s lots of discussion about how to hold the baby but not much about how to hold a boob. What really helped me was the advice I got from my midwife, to squish my breast so that it’s wide like a hamburger instead of round like a grapefruit.

Baby’s mouth is small and this helps them latch more fully.

2. the overtired bluff

I noticed early on that my daughter would think she was hungry when she was actually overtired. When I fed her, she’d actually cry at the ending of nursing, which made me think that I wasn’t producing enough milk, but I was.  What I figured out was that she was saying “that’s enough food, I’m too tired”

3. The open up and say ahh

This was another gem from the midwives. As babies learn to suckle they need their moms to be smart about helping them latch properly. If you just stick a boob in their mouth it could be an ineffective and probably painful attempt. What you want to do is offer the nipple to them just above their upper lip, almost to the nose so that they have to open their mouths sort of upward, toward it, to get it in their mouth.

Basically it helps them open wide instinctually, then you get them sucking in that millisecond second before they close their mouths.**Midwives say always bring baby to boob not boob to baby! Do this by cradling baby’s head in your hands, so you can move her toward you easily.

4. The lamb principle – give it time, trust the process.

In the Spring my husband and I had the pleasure of meeting a brand new baby lamb, seconds after it was born. We watched as it tried to stand, fell, tried again, and then did the same thing again with suckling. The whole process took a while, and I’ve thought about that moment a lot.

We presume that nursing a baby should be an instantaneous thing, but even in nature it takes a while for everyone to figure out what they have to do.

I think trusting in that process makes a big difference in that first 24 hours, with your baby’s first attempts, and then the entire first week, as your milk comes in and things change again. It all takes patience, but more than that — it takes trust, in yourself and in your baby.

5. Last but not least… drink a LOT of water before and during nursing!