Apparently by virtue of having been pregnant, birthed a child and breastfed in the past two years I can now be considered an expert on all these subjects. I wasn't aware of this but it started at work.
Someone who use to work here came in - overdue and asked someone a breastfeeding question. She had no idea since she'd never done it. So I hear from down the hall -
"You better ask Diana."
"Is she STILL nursing?"
"I think so!"
Yes, Yes I am. Almost 14 months now. To the child who will never wean. He's a drive by nurser who thinks it's great fun to pull down my shirt and say "Na?". Makes for some awkward moments when we are out.
A very sick Jellybean nursing while we were at the ER with C-diff.
That being said - I love it. I will always be a huge advocate for breastfeeding and hope everyone at least tries it. I know it's not for everyone and by no means does it "come naturally" or is it "easier" for everyone. We had our struggles too. It took him five weeks to learn to latch on really well, I had a massive oversupply, we had reflux and my child refused bottles and decided to reverse cycle. I also got to spend lots of time cuddling with him, can calm him down in an instant and have a great excuse why he can't go spend the night away from me yet. My greatest piece of advice when it comes to breastfeeding is to approach it with an open mind and tons of support. There are groups everywhere whose only goal is to help you through it from La Leche to birthing centers and hospitals - just look around and you will find the help you need. Anytime someone has a breastfeeding question though I am more than happy to answer it. One of the biggest benefits of breastfeeding though is the fact that it is free! I can't even imagine how much we would have spent on formula. My child ate every two hours for the first 7 months. You do the math!
One of my dearest friends (if long lost and sporadically contacting) Scott and his wife Krystal recently announced they were pregnant. Once the official announcement came out I quickly received a phone call from Scott with the what do I need to know questions. His biggest fear was diaper changes. (Ha! To that I say!)
My words of wisdom -
Our maternity shoot - where we thought we still had 8 weeks to go! Jellybean showed up three weeks later!
Pregnancy is the easy part. It's exciting and wondrous and new. Life is still easy while you are pregnant. I loved being pregnant. I loved having my little buddy kicking away during meetings at work. I liked imagining what he was going to look like. I would talk to him all the time. I didn't mind the exhaustion, swelling or even the C-section.
Jellybean and Daddy on his first night home. All 3lbs 13oz of him at 2 weeks!
Parenting though - that ROCKS your world. You learn as you go. There isn't a "right" way to do it. (Although there are definitely some questionable approaches.) What works for one family may not work for another.
One month in - that's the exhausted look...
You are going to fight - A LOT - more often. You are exhausted, overworked, sleep deprived, touched out, hormonal, emotional, overwhelmed, annoyed, happy, anxious, scared and probably hungry too. Because you tried heating your lunch up at noon and its now still in the microwave at 4pm and you haven't changed out of your PJ's which are probably covered in spit up, leaky breast milk and drool. Your hair looks like Marge's from the Simpsons and you are trying to remember the last time you took a shower.
Then your baby smiles or falls asleep on your chest with a milk drunk sigh and suddenly you forget all that.
Joey and I use to cheer the Jellybean on as he would do pushups and we almost cried the first time he rolled over!
(I need to remember that since just last night I was contemplating renting an apartment far, far away from him. Gee, thanks for rinsing all the dishes that were in the sink and stacking them on the counter. That would be helpful if we had a dishwasher...which we don't! JUST WASH THE DAMN THINGS!!)
...getting back on track...
Parenting is hard and scary. You think you know what you are doing but you're new at it. You learn as you go along. I was at the pediatricians a lot at the beginning. Pretty sure they were going to offer me a parking spot and a frequent visitor punch card. Then somewhere along the way I could tell the difference from when he needed to go in or not. I can spot an ear infection immediately now. When he caught C-diff I knew at what point it was time for the ER. (Which Scott - diaper changes are nothing compared to being projectile vomited on and explosive diarrhea. Your gag reflux goes away pretty quickly then!)
You also need to figure out what works for you as a family. Jellybean is still in our bedroom even though I swore he’d be in his own room sleeping in a crib quickly while I was pregnant. Then I realized that working full time along with a baby that wakes frequently during the night makes it a battle of survival. So since he still wakes during the night his crib is in our room and there are many nights that he ends up in bed with me. He’s a snuggler.
It may not work for the next family but it does for us.
We delayed solids until 6 months. Then I did modified baby led weaning – a mix of purees and finger foods. That would freak some people out with the whole gag reflux/choking thing. Jellybean was a champ with it. He’s also part Hoover and inhales food most of the day. Someone else may decide to start cereal at four months and stick with purees for awhile. If it works for you do it.
I still haven’t introduced whole milk. The pediatrician doesn’t see a need to push it since he still nurses frequently. My milk is actually higher in fat then whole milk could be. Maybe I’ll do it around 15 months or 18. Most start at 12 months though.
There are many, many things we still struggle with though. I wish the hubby would pitch in more and help me. The sad reality is that the majority of the parenting and home management usually does fall on the woman. We are better multitaskers and we see everything that needs to get done.
Also – Dad’s find babies scary. They are these fragile blobs that can’t tell you what they need. Mom’s always seem to have it together and just know what the baby needs. We have OUR routine and OUR way of doing things so Dad always feels like he’s doing it wrong. Now that Jellybean is a toddler Joey is much more hands on then he was before. I know that if I leave the two of them together Jellybean will have way too many snacks and probably not eat a real meal but he will also have a blast playing out in the yard and giggling with Daddy.
Honestly though – I’m not an expert by any means. I still have my days where I doubt myself and wonder if I have any idea of what I am doing. I get scared, tired and overwhelmed. There are days where I hate my husband and sometimes during that same day I can look at my beautiful little boy and my husband together and I can’t wait to have another. I don’t have all the right answers. My kid may end up totally screwed up years down the road while I was doing what I thought was best. I know that I am trying my hardest though. I know being a Mom is the hardest thing I have ever done. I know that it is also the most gratifying and that I am thrilled that my friends are getting to experience it too. I know that I will always be there with advice when IT IS ASKED FOR!
And the rest of the time?
Don’t worry Mom and Dad – you’re doing a great job!