One month ago I became a first-time mother to the most incredible little boy Brandon Russell. It’s something I never thought I would get to do, with infertility, endometriosis, and all the odds stacked against me. But it did happen, and one month in, I have to say the old saying is true, “It’s Different When it’s Your Own”. It really is, though. Once I finally got pregnant, after 10 years of trying, I was plagued with the thought, “But what if I don’t like being a mom?” and “What if I’m not good at it?” After all of this trying and wanting, what if it was all a letdown? What if, at 38, I am too used to my freedom to really be ok with a tiny, squalling human who is 100% dependent on me? I felt horrible for even thinking that way, but let’s be real. It can happen. I’ve heard so many horror stories about motherhood, and yeah, I was spooked.
I didn’t need to be.
As soon as I heard that first cry, I was done. I would move Heaven and Earth for that little, bloody screaming human that they pulled from my belly. My world literally tipped at that moment, and at the best angle possible.
I know there’s a lot of women in my shoes… super excited to be pregnant for the first time, yet also terrified that it won’t be what you’d hoped.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
#1: The Best Birth Plan is No Plan
I told my doctor that I didn’t want a birth plan, and he said “Good!” So many well-intended plans don’t end up as expected, and I knew better than to even get my hopes up to have things go my way. I figured the doctor and nurses would do what’s best. I was scheduled for an induction at 39 weeks and 1 day, and when I finally did start to go into labor, the baby’s heart rate would drop with every contraction. I was only 1 cenimeter dialated, so they wanted to do a C-section. That was definitely NOT expected, as I had a really good pregnancy and everything was going as it should have. Wanting to do what I could to save the baby, I said to go for it. I remember the doctor saying I was one of the calmest patients he’s ever dealt with. I said “Of course I am, I’m high as a kite!” They do give you some serious drugs… I had to fight to stay awake, because there was no way in hell that I was missing this. That first cry was EVERYTHING, and honestly, the recovery from the C-section isn’t as bad as I thought. It does help that I’m in really good shape, but still, endometriosis is worse than a major surgery recovery. At least for me it was. I’m four weeks post surgery, and honestly, I feel great! The first few days are rough, but that’s with any kind of delivery I hear. If you do have a C-section, getting an abdominal binder is a great idea for those first few weeks!
#2: The First 48 Hours At Home Are Terrifying!!!
When we were released from the hospital, my husband stood there holding the baby in the carseat and said, “I’m terrified.” Mind you, this is a man who is Active Duty Army, has deployed twice, and plays with bombs for a living. But really, it’s extremely scary bringing that baby home without the nurses and doctors and somebody to help 24/7. I was afraid to look away from the baby for more than five seconds, and that first night we maybe got two hours of sleep because we were too scared that something would happen when we weren’t watching. Also, being three days post-surgery, I was not able to do very much to help. Add that to all the crazy post-partum hormones which are intense, and just general anxiety… yeah, those first couple of days weren’t the easiest. But you know what? It gets better every day. Thank God!
Here’s some products that helped us get through those first few days… we ordered right after Day #1 knowing we needed reinforcements:
We already had a Halo Bassinet- but this newborn insert made a HUGE difference in Brandon’s sleep.
And we have a Pack N’ Play, and we put the Dock a Tot in there to keep him cozy.
As for feeding? These Tommie Tippee Anti-Colic Bottles are awesome.
Those are just a few helpful things that got us started off, and are still useful one month in. Thankfully, I have tons of friends with babies to help me out on what to get, because I had literally zero idea.
#3: You’re Going to Have at Least One Parenting Fail That First Week
Those first 24 hours, as I had mentioned, were rough for us. Not only did we have hardly any sleep, but we kept noticing that Brandon was soaking wet on his back. His diaper wasn’t showing that he peed, so we figured it was sweat. So we called the nurse’s line, and they said get to the ER. Two hours later, we found out it was NOT sweat, but in fact, urine. Baby boys can pee up their back, it turns out. He was perfectly fine. We, however, we’re not. Yeah, it’s better to be safe than sorry, but damn, that was kind of humiliating. Now it’s funny, but then? I literally cried in embarrassment (and hormones!)
#4: Fed is Best
These days, you always hear “Breast is Best”, and there’s almost like this Breastfeeding Mafia that hates on anyone who can’t or won’t breastfeed. To be honest, I wanted to breastfeed, but unfortunately, due to age, infertility, a C-section, and my milk not even coming in until a week later, it wasn’t working. I couldn’t produce near enough milk to feed him properly, and he was already hooked on the bottle at that point. He would just look at my chest and cry (to be fair, I do that too, sometimes. My pregnancy boobs jumped ship pretty quickly. Rude.) And yes, I tried pumping, and could barely make a 3rd of what he required per feeding in 30 minutes. And yes, I tried mixing with formula, which would just make him sick, so… formula it is! I say this because way too many people have inquired whether I am breast feeding or not, and I need to “keep trying”. You know what? There’s a point where you have to stop and think of what’s best for YOU and YOUR BABY. Brandon loves his formula, and we had his one month check-up and is thriving. So, there ya go.
Also, both my husband and I were formula-fed, and guess what? We are both productive members of society that wear deoderant and pay our taxes. So, it’s all good.
#5: Accept Help When Offered:
I’m the first person to turn down help because, “I can do it myself, dammit!”
After the baby, take what you can get! My parents came for a few days, and my Mother-in-Law stayed for three weeks, which was a huge help, as she took bottle washing and mroning feed duties. After having a C-section, sleep was essential to healing as I have. And if you are in a relationship, split the feeding duties if you can. JB and I trade off on night feeds, and that has worked out really well so far. If your partner won’t do his or her share, make them sleep on the back porch.
Also, single parents deserve a medal and a statue in their honor, as do parents of multiples.
#6: Poop Becomes a Hot Topic of Conversation
I had always heard that parents talk incessantly about poop, and I really tried to avoid that. Truly, I did. But it’s like when you have a kid, your brain gets taken over by some alien force that makes you overly interested in what comes out of your baby’s butt. And you’re not even mad at cleaning it. Ahhhhh… Nature, you’re a clever bitch.
#7: Having a Baby is Really the Coolest Ever:
First 48-hours at home aside, being a Mom is the coolest, most amazing thing I have ever expeirenced. I thought I knew love, but that was just the beginning. It’s really the most incredible thing, and anyone who is expecting and just nervous about what to expect as I was, I just want to say that it’s all good. Enjoy those final months of pregancy, and know the other side is just the best. I’m still shocked at how much I love motherhood… way more than I ever expected. I say this even after I was literally projectile-vomited on less than an hour ago. You get used to it.
Now watch him turn into a crazy pants in month two because I spoke too soon. Stay tuned!