Growing up there were two things I knew I wanted to be and was meant to be: a writer and a mother. As Mother's Day approaches, I've been reflecting on this past year of motherhood, and I'm pretty sure this is the year I get my first grey hair. Jokes aside, I've also been thinking about LinkedIn's attempt to be more inclusive by adding "Stay at Home Mom/Parent" as a job. It's certainly a good step forward, but I think it's still going to take time for people to change their mentality about how society views and thinks of parents, and especially mothers. We've all heard parents say that the most important job they've ever had is being a parent. Here are a few reasons why we need to take that more seriously and stop punishing mothers for doing the hardest job in the world.
Prior to becoming pregnant, I never thought about what postpartum healing entailed. In movies, we may see the mother scream from labor pains, but after that all is joyful, which is not true for everyone. While I was pregnant I had read a few articles that explained what would happen, which for some reason terrified me more than actually giving birth, but I still had no clue what I was in for. I had heard one celebrity say she didn't expect to be as sore as she was, but that still wasn't a clear picture of the pain and discomfort I would endure. Aside from the immediate postpartum healing though, I thought I'd track and share what exactly I went through during my first year postpartum, because I had heard from a few people that they didn't even feel like they got their bodies back or felt like themselves again until a year later. WARNING: Talk of pee, poo, blood below.
This week my baby turns one and boy has it been a year! I've learned so much about babies, obviously, but also myself and life. So, I thought I'd share a few of those things.
I don't think I've ever met anyone who said sleep training wasn't worth it. Most people say that it sucks and you have to suffer the first week, but then it gets better and it is so worth it. Still, for some reason, I tried avoiding it. I just didn't want to let my baby cry at all and feel any kind of abandonment. However, probably due to our co-sleeping situation, we hit a point at 8 months where I was going to lose my sanity, because he seemed to have regressed so badly that he was up every hour, some times less. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry. So, I did a bunch of research, talked to friends, asked other mommies in Facebook groups, and here's what we ended up doing...
We haven't even hit six months and I'm already worried about screen time. I hear people talk about it all the time like it's a cardinal sin. I definitely don't want my child to be glued to a screen, because that is eventually going to happen, unless he winds up in a trade that doesn't require being on a computer for work. My husband and I both work in industries that are all about screen time--entertainment and social media. Screen time is literally part of our jobs. On top of that, our son was born just before we went into lockdown, and from day one (okay, okay day 5), his main form of communication with the family has been via FaceTime. So, I'm struggling with a bit of Mom Guilt, but I've been thinking and wondering how harmful is a bit of screen time each day, and are their certain types of screen time that might actually be good for baby? Let me explain.
It wasn't so much a decision, but something that just happened. There are a lot of things no one ever tells you about newborns, like the fact that they make pterodactyl sounds all night, and sometimes the sounds of all the animals in the zoo. On our second night in the hospital, when I was struggling to nurse my 2 day old baby, the nurse was trying to help and as soon as she positioned him next to me in such a way that he was snuggled up against Mama, we realized quickly that he wasn't hungry, he just wanted to be next to Mama. So starting around weeks 2 and 3 I realized when I couldn't calm him, I just needed to snuggle with him, let him do skin to skin with me, and that usually calmed him. As he became a noisier sleeper, we tried everything--white noise, swaddling, rocking, nothing kept him calm long enough, except when he was laying next to Mama. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the safest place for baby to sleep in order to prevent SIDS is on baby's back in her/his own bed in the parents' room. However, cosleeping is common around the world and SIDS is low in cosleeping cultures. This article states that SIDS is lowest in Hong Kong where cosleeping is extremely common. While I am not recommending or encouraging cosleeping, I have come to learn that cosleeping isn't the evil that some make it out to be. In fact, there are benefits to cosleeping and it's important to understand these and the risks so you can make the best decision for your family. Many physicians, scientists, and SIDS researchers even disagree with the AAP's recommendation. Let me share with you why and what I've learned.
Thankfully I've had a number of friends who had kids before me and who were honest about some of the challenges of breastfeeding. It's interesting how something so natural isn't always natural in practice. Even more interesting to me is that I have never heard anyone say that they love breastfeeding. In fact, if anything, most of my friends have not enjoyed breastfeeding. So, I was prepared to potentially face some challenges and sure enough I did. Furthermore, my mother had always told me that when she was pregnant with my brother and I, her doctor told her that formula was now the same as breast milk (this was back in the late 80's and early 90's). When I got pregnant, my only motivation for breastfeeding was free milk. But then I learned how incredible breast milk really is and once I started nursing, I learned so much more. Here are a few of the unexpected things I learned about breastfeeding.