Sunday, December 16, 2012

Transitioning into motherhood

We are chillin'
In my twenties, I didn't think I’d ever want kids. I think after a childhood of seeing the perils of dysfunctional family, one grows into one’s youth filled with the sense that you too are going to repeat those mistakes.  But as my thirties dawned, all of a sudden, my priorities changed.  Now, I’m sitting here, with a small baby drifting off to sleep against my leg, after a night of cluster-feeding and crying, and realizing that no matter how difficult it is, I can cope.  I can look at Baby J’s bright little eyes and see what this is all for.  My fears of postpartum depression were unfounded. The anti-depressants prescribed to me just in case were unnecessary.

Baby J turned one month old yesterday. It doesn't feel like a month. That doesn't mean it’s been free sailing, Baby J is a bit of a Crankasaurus Rex.  His pediatrician, Dr. White, a guy who looks far too young to be a doctor, but who has a magic touch with babies, described this first period to me as ‘the fourth trimester’.  “By the size of his hips in proportion to his head, this baby, all babies are technically underdeveloped compared to babies of other species. In all truth, this baby should be gestated another three months. So understanding this, imagine that this child is really not ready for all of this…” he said, twirling his finger around to indicate the world of buzzing fluorescent lights and sirens blaring outside.  The first three months are going to be hard. And having a baby that is inordinately cranky means a little extra work.  Baby J’s most taxing issue is the cluster-feeding. What that means is he wants to eat frequently in spurts.  He’ll do all-night marathons of forty minute to one-minute apart feedings. I’m not getting a lot of sleep, which is par for the course for new parents—especially when breast feeding.

I have learned a great deal in trial by fire.  Here are a few lessons for new parents:

The Hospital – what you *really* need

For You:

I packed a couple of nightgowns, a robe, my slippers, some ‘sacrificial’ underwear, a bathroom kit and my Nook (and knitting for some odd reason).  What I really needed to bring? Maybe a robe and slippers would have sufficed. I never touched my reading or the knitting—it was a testament to my delusion. I thought I’d pop out a baby, and be larking about on my tippie toes cradling my baby in one arm and toting Mary Robinette Kowal’s latest book in the other while birds and forest creatures danced around me. LOL. Okay, I wasn't that deluded but I just didn't have any idea what to expect once the baby arrived. These are not the days of a big room full of babies where they stay most of the time while mom convalesces anymore. Now babies stay in the room with mom, and the nurses only take the baby to the nursery upon request for a maximum of three hours per day respite—something I never ended up taking advantage of because I figured it wasn't reality and I wouldn't get that option at home.

Auntie loves Alex
The nightgowns, which I picked specifically for their button-down fronts served mostly to make me feel comfortable in my own skin (let’s be real, those hospital gowns, practical as they may be, are not exactly pleasant to wear). The nightgowns I had also kind of made me look like a haggard Laura Ingalls.  But in all truth, the ‘net’ underwear the hospital provided were what I used, I never took out my own undies during my stay, and since I had to stay at the hospital longer for the unexpected Caesarean, two nightgowns wasn't enough—so I ended up using their maternity hospital gowns to supplement when my clean gowns ran out.

Giving birth is a messy business, and the hospital is well-equipped to provide for clean stuff if you don’t feel like having a gown for each day. The net panties can be tossed and do the job they’re designed for.

Bring soap and shampoo and the like too. Nothing feels better than a nice hot shower after all the ordeal of birth, surgery and all the trappings (catheter, tape, IVs, etc). As soon as they loosed me from that stuff, I was up and about, much to the nurses’ surprise—apparently most moms don’t get out of bed very quickly. I just wanted a god damned shower and it’s the first thing I did as soon as they gave me the okay.

The Baby:

You could walk into a hospital with nothing and be okay. Hospitals provide a good deal of support to new moms.  The moment you pop out the baby, he or she will have what they need regardless of what you tote into the hospital. The baby is diapered and swaddled, and given one of those cute little caps for their head. They provide wipes and diapers for the duration, and not only that, they send you home with a bunch of them. Since we opted to use gDiapers, we don’t use regular diapering products but what the hospital sent home with us is wonderful for emergency backup. I keep a packet in the diaper bag if Baby J happens to soil both of the g-Pants on an outing.

Since I chose to breastfeed, we didn't get any special bottle/formula support, but I’m pretty sure the hospital will help with that too.

My message is this, ultimately: Don’t panic.  Don’t go nuts.  You could show up at the hospital with your purse and that’s it, and you’d be okay, and the hospital would provide enough to give you a few days’ running start if you need it. So never fear.

Mom in law swoons
As for home… you don’t need a baby room for at least three months. We haven’t finished the baby room yet, and that’s fine. The bassinet (which we hardly use) is the only necessary purchase. We ended up getting a ‘Snuggle Nest’ because Baby J is happier closer to me, so we have a bed that fits on our bed where he sleeps between us. I know. I’m a sucker.

We actually change him on our sideboard in the dining room. LOL.  It works for now.  ::shrug:: Meh. 

I spend most of my days in my pajamas, and I feel like more of the time is spent with one of my boobs out and a baby latched onto it than not. Hehheh.

Being a mom so far is something I never could even begin to imagine or adequately describe.  All I can say is that no matter how tired, haggard and grumpy I am, one look at Baby J’s face is enough to send me into melting puddles of love.  This bright-eyed, alert, demanding little bugger has become the center of my world. I feel empty if he’s not near me. I live for the moments when he’s sprawled out on my belly, so relaxed his usually bunched-up froggy legs are stretched out and draped on me. I love to hold him against my chest when he’s just a little ball. This tiny (now 7lb 4oz) baby is so f*#%ing precious, it’s impossible to communicate the way I feel.  I sat him on my lap yesterday and he bent his head back to look up at me, and I nearly died from the cute.

He’s cranky. He’s beautiful. He’s precious. His feet are a freakin’ work of art they’re so damned adorable. I’m wholly, and utterly besotted. The mom-chemistry is raging inside me, and I’ve become one of those irritating people that can’t resist posting pictures of their baby constantly on Facebook, and talking incessantly about him. 

Even Satan is in love.
I still have to get a handle on my potty-mouth, but I have a bit of time to reprogram myself so my child doesn’t grow up cursing like a sailor.  And what’s more?  Baby J has brought out the best of everyone, including Satan.  My mother is utterly in love. The usually-child-hating cantankerous black hole of negativity has vanished (on the most part) and has been replaced by a gushing, fussing grandma that just can’t get enough of Baby J.  We stopped by the assisted living facility on our way home from the hospital with Baby J to introduce him to grandma and great grandma, and they were fighting over him.  LOL.

My world is irrevocably changed—but kind of not because of this new addition.  He has sort of fallen into his place in our household, and we both find ourselves looking at this tiny itty-bitty human being in wonder. We have a child! There’s a baby here, sitting on me. Where’d he come from?  Who is he going to be? Who knows? All I know is that every little coo and grunt he makes (even his baby pterodactyl noises) are precious to me.  Hell, even his little apple-sized butt is freaking adorable.

I’m a mom. Holy shit! Be afraid.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

My potty mouth was cured when my daughter repeated something she learned from me. Just saying...


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