Last week someone shared this video with me. The maker of the video asked mother's what they would tell themselves if they could go back to before their first baby. Of course I cried watching this because I am a total sucker for the video montage (you should have seen the blubbering mess I was when the Olympics ended and it was montage mania). When you're pregnant, people LOVE to give you advice. My personal favourites were "sleep now while you can," "get the epidrual," and of course my mom's personal favourite, "HAVE THAT BABY IN A HOSPITAL!" Anyway, I think some of the advice the women offer in the video is really good and since I have a four month old and am so obviously qualified to offer my wise two cents (you're catching the sarcasm, right?), I'm going to do just that.
My favourite advice from the video (with commentary from a breastfeeding, babywearing, bedsharing and overall sleep deprived mama of the most beautiful baby boy EVER):
- "Forgive yourself" - This is such an important one. There is so much guilt that comes along with being a mom and it can really take hold of you and drag you into deep, dark places that can be really tough to get out of. I really think the only way to rid yourself from that oppressive guilt is to forgive yourself. There have been nights where I feel like I just can't do it anymore. Where I've had to put a screaming baby down and walk away to scream myself. Where I've said "I give up." And when you feel like that - when you're frustrated and helpless and just depleted - the guilt is so overpowering. The guilt that you've failed as a mom, that you can't be or do what your baby needs. And its so unfortunate that mom's don't talk about it because we've all been there and it's a lonely, lonely place. After one particularly harrowing night that involved me and Kale both crying on the kitchen floor at 4am I went on The Bump (a web forum for mom's) and saw that the overwhelming number of posts were about sleep deprivation. Yet when I read them, they all said the same thing - "My baby was up all night crying and I feel so bad for him. Poor little guy. All I could do was hold him and rock him and sing to him." And I thought, ok, it's true. I do feel bad for Kale when he's up crying and I can't figure out what's wrong. But am I the only person out there who feels bad for ME??! And then I felt guilty. But I know I'm not the only one. It's just not possible. It's entirely impossible that I'm the only person out there who has moments of sheer selfishness. And so I shut out the guilt and I FORGIVE MYSELF.
- "This too shall pass" - I remember going to the midwives office for Kale's two week appointment with a list of "symptoms" - he's gassy, he gets the hiccups all the time, his belly is always gurgling, he has bouts of inconsolable crying. I was convinced he had the dreaded REFLUX that I was reading about all.the.time on The Bump. Luckily my midwife wasn't so quick to handout a diagnosis like reflux and instead we worked on finding the cause of his discomfort (ended up being over-active letdown and a sensitivity to dairy and soy). Kris and I also struggled with the fact that Kale didn't like to sleep anywhere but in our arms. We would take turns holding him all night long and spent countless hours trying to get him to sleep anywhere else. Little did I know that all of those initial "problems" were totally normal. I think the most common post I see on The Bump from new mom's is either "Help! My baby is gassy!" or "Help! I can't get my baby to sleep anywhere but my arms!" But guess what? It passes. As Kale went from newborn to baby, he left behind his need in our arms (and now even prefers not to sometimes) and even though he's still a gas bomb, it's not nearly as bad as those first few weeks. At my discharge appointment with the midwives the gave me a handout that was a letter from a newborn to its parents and one of the requests was to allow 6 weeks of challenges. For us, it was 8 weeks before things started to get easier, but they really did. Now we have a whole new set of challenges and the thing that gets us through it? Knowing that it too shall pass...
- "Google doesn't have children" - I swear that no one knows this better than I do. I am a champion internet user. I can google faster than the best of them. When Kris google's something for us, I usually have a complete nervous breakdown due to his sheer lack of speed. I can cook an entire meal before Kris finds out whether apple cider vinegar can be used in place of red wine vinegar. You want to know something? I will google it, and I will google it FAST. However, it didn't take me long to figure out that google is the absolute nemesis of a new mom. For example, you google "baby spit up" and all of a sudden you need to do a barium swallow and put your kid on zantac. You google "bedsharing" and realize it's a miracle of life that your baby hasn't died from SIDS already. It's true - google doesn't have children. In fact, I'm now convinced that the sole purpose of google is to instill fear in new parents. *Disclaimer* - Google is also addicting and despite its downfalls I continue to use it 18,000 a day.
- "You are the expert" and "Trust your instincts" - These are my favourite bits of advice from the video. There are so many books and articles and videos out there from experts and I think that I've read them all. Yet what I realized really quickly is that while "experts" are really great for validifying your instincts, YOU know what is best for your baby. Don't worry about hitting milestones, sleeping through the night, "spoiling," or any of that. Enjoy your baby. Do what works best for your family.
- "Take time to fall in love with your baby" - Everyone told me that the second my baby was placed in my arms, I would know love like I'd never known possible. In reality, Kale kind of slid onto my chest after the most intensely physical experience of my life and I was sitting in a pool of cold, bloody water and while it all can only be described as AWESOME, I wasn't hit with that overwhelming feeling of LOVE. Instead, it took time. There was never a single moment for us, it just kind of happened. Where there short little moments when I panicked that it wasn't going to happen? That it wasn't happening fast enough? Sure. Because everyone prepared me for it to happen instantly and it didn't. It took time and guess what? I took the time. The best advice my midwife gave me was to stay in bed with my baby for the first week of his life and that's exactly what we did. And it was awesome. And I fell in love.
I have thoughts on some of the other advice offered in the video. Some which I think it totally ridiculous. But this post is already exceptionally long and I probably already sound like a know it all. So here's the kicker - the advice I would offer myself if I could go back to a time before Kale was born? Accept the fact that everything you think you know about being a mom is wrong - just let go and embrace the chaos.