When becoming a parent certain scenarios play out in your head and you imagine how to handle them. For instance, say the baby is hysterical in the middle of the night. You think I’ll never just let my baby “cry it out”. I’m going to comfort him until he feels better. Well, things change. Opinions change and our minds change. Below is a list of things I’ve learned to come around on. All things I scoffed at, and said I’d never do. Guess what? I’ve done them all.
Have a C-Section
While it certainly wasn’t my first choice in the way I gave birth, it was the right choice and the safest for my baby. When I was pregnant I thought I would never, ever have a c-section so why would I do any reading about the procedure, and the side effects of it? No one imagines their birth going the complete opposite of what they thought it would be. We discussed it a bit in our class. The effects of not being able to have those first moments with baby, longer recovery time, and breast feeding issues that could arise, which I did sort of experience. My milk didn’t come in for a week and I do believe that was due to the surgery. I never knew that my abdomen would be numb for some time (it’s still numb and I don’t know when I’ll be able to feel it again). I didn’t know how out of my mind loopy I’d be from all the drugs I was given, or that I would have such a hard time bonding with my baby. There’s a lot more to this one, but for now this is it. I never thought this would happen and it did.
Have postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety
Ok, this one was kind of out of my control like the c-section. I thought that since I had such a stellar pregnancy and was so insanely happy that I wouldn’t suffer with these. Exactly a week after I had Max it all hit. My hormones were going crazy wreaking havoc on my mental state. I was terrified of my baby, scared to be alone with him, crying all the time, wondering why this was happening to me and mourning my dream birth. It. Was. Miserable. I knew exactly what was happening and I took action. I called and made appointments with my therapist, my midwife and my acupuncturist. I was so upset that I was feeling this way. I was supposed to be enjoying my baby, not sitting there sobbing feeling like death. Soooo not how I thought I’d be spending those first few weeks. At about the 6 week mark I was finally feeling like myself again. I’m still pretty sad that those first weeks were so awful. I feel like mine and Max’s bonding was put on hold. He’ll never be that small again (well, he never was too small to begin with I guess),
Use a pacifier
Now this one is a stretch. I was concerned about using pacifiers and nipple confusion. When exclusively breast feeding, it is encouraged to not use pacifiers and bottles because the baby can take well to a bottle but not to the breast. We had pacifiers on hand in case we wanted to use them. He took it in the hospital, but we never really pushed it at home. Now, nearly four months in I would pay someone to get this kid to take a pacifier. You see, he took to sucking on our fingers and now my right index and middle fingers are dry and cracked and peeling because they are his pacifier. And he won’t take a bottle for that matter either.
Take my baby to a chiropractor
In our birthing class we had couples come in and talk about their birth experiences. One couple mentioned that they were taking their baby to the chiropractor for general adjustments, the result of a traumatic birth. My firs thought was seriously?
During labor when I was pushing and Max’s head was presenting itself but not moving it started to swell. This is one of the reasons he was born via c-section. That part of his head that was presenting itself was a pocket of fluid for weeks, then it calcified and formed into a large bump on the back of his head on the left. It became a speed bump that he couldn’t get over. Meaning whenever he would be laying down, or in his car seat he wouldn’t be able to turn his head to the left. He was favoring his right side. Well, we took him to a chiropractor, but not just any chiropractor. A chiropractor that also practices craniosacral work. Literally the day after our first appointment Max was turning his head to the left and laying it flat. Something he had never done before. The day after our second appointment he rolled over for the first time. To the left.
I now think all babies should have this work done after birth. All births are traumatic for the baby. Think about it. A tiny human being is being squeezed through this incredibly small space for a (usually) long amount of time. The body is going to experience some amount of trauma.
Let my baby “Cry It Out”
This was an extremely hard decision to make. I never realized what an issue sleep could be with babies.
From the beginning we’ve pretty much been the attachment parent type. Answering to his every beck and call, nursing on demand and nursing him to sleep, holding him rather than placing him in a chair or swing. When it comes to sleep we’ve hit a road block. We swaddled the guy well into his third month of life. At which point he wasn’t sleeping well because he was being swaddled and was breaking out of it multiple times a night. He now sleeps un-swaddled, yay! We’ve rocked or bounced him, or let him suck on our finger until he’s asleep since birth. Well, this has all come back to bite us in the ass. He can’t put himself to sleep.
The last month or so has been especially hard. Since Rob works nights, it’s up to me to put the kid to bed and take care of middle of the night feedings and putting him back down. He hasn’t been napping, which in turn makes putting him to bed for the night so much harder. It is nothing short of a struggle and I am more exhausted now than when he was first born.
Last night I was at my wits end. He wouldn’t go to sleep. He wouldn’t be rocked or bounced. He wouldn’t take my finger. There was nothing I could do and all he would do is scream, but as soon as I picked him up he was fine. It was obvious he just wanted me. He wasn’t in pain. He just wanted his mom to hold him. I argued with Rob about letting him cry it out. To me it was nearly inhumane and a horrible thing to put a child through. I called my mom in tears. After talking with her I had decided to give it a try.
I nursed him, told him I loved him and I laid him down and walked away. He started crying immediately and it didn’t take long for him to start screaming. I sat at the top of the stairs crying myself. I felt awful. All he wanted was for me to hold him and comfort him and I made a decision to not do that. I stayed in the room because I didn’t want him to be alone. I know he doesn’t know I was there, and I know he won’t ever remember screaming his adorable little head off, but I needed to be there for me. It took exactly 30 minutes for him to go to sleep. I felt much better as soon as he was asleep. Today he wasn’t fussy like he has been for the last few weeks and he was much more attentive.
Tonight it took only 13 minutes.
I feel guilty every time I let him sit their and cry like that. But when I see the well rested baby smile and be happy all day I know I made the right decision.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since becoming a parent is to not be too quick to judge. I’m notorious for that. This parenting thing is hard and the last thing a parent needs is someone judging their every move. I’m going to make an honest effort to be more open minded and accepting of the way other’s do things.
I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be one of those parents that constantly posts photos of their baby online. Well guess what? I am most certainly that parent. I love taking photos of him. We had a little photo shoot today. Here are some of my favorite shots:
He’s just so damn cute I can’t help but rub in your face.