Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Motherhood: What I Wish I Knew Then, Part 1


Photo of Miles by Fiddleaf Photography 

I can't believe it: Miles will be a year old next week! The past 12 months have flown by and looking back I realized I've learned so much about him, babies in general, myself, my husband and how to survive that crucial first year of parenthood. To say my hubby and I were unprepared for what Miles had in store for us once he entered the world is an understatement. Here are a few things I wish I'd known before I gave birth!

#1. Some newborns don't like to sleep. Like, sometimes they will get up every 30 or 45 minutes to an hour throughout the night and you'll try everything to soothe them but nothing will work and you end up seriously fantasizing about leaving the baby with your partner while you check into a hotel, take a couple of Tylenol 3's and sleep for 2 days days straight. My husband and I knew that a baby would keep us up at night for a little while, I mean new parents always talk about those "sleepless nights" and we aren't stupid, but we didn't know just how hard it would be. If Miles slept more than three hours at a time when he was a newborn, which was extremely rare, we were ecstatic. He suffered from silent acid reflux and was colicky off and on the first 3 months of his life so he was frequently uncomfortable. Our son was up so often during the night my husband (who went back to work a week after Miles was born) ended up sleeping in the basement the majority of the time. I was so jealous of my other mom friends because their babies seemed to be sleeping so well and Miles wasn't a happy camper, and his mom was an anxious mess. The first 3 months of motherhood I was quite sleep-deprived so I would go over to my parents' house during the day when I could and take naps in their basement in my childhood room while they looked after him. Thank God for my parents because if it wasn't for those naps every so often I don't know how I would have functioned. I never drank coffee before I had a baby and now I have one every single day.

As soon as Miles was old enough to be sleep-trained (including naps cause those sucked, too) at 3 months (before that we used this sleep guide which really helped), we did it, out of desperation. We worked with Pam Edwards of Wee Bee Dreaming and she got Miles sleeping in a crib, with no pacifier, going to sleep on his own without any tears and only waking up when it was time to be fed. His whole demeanor changed, too, since he was getting the rest he needed. And now that he is almost a year old he sleeps through the night (unless he's teething or not feeling well) and naps like a boss! I honestly never thought it would happen but it did and when it did I felt SO happy and so rested. The first time Miles slept 12 hours straight felt like we won the lottery!

What helped Miles sleep: A Boba Wrap, a hand-me-down swing (he would sleep in this even at night!), a Rock 'n Glide after he outgrew the swing and a double swaddle in his bassinet once his acid reflux settled down.

I don't mean to scare anyone who is pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant, there are plenty of babies that end up being naturally good sleepers and sleep through the night early on but ours was not one of them! But we got through it and he's a great little sleeper now! And such a happy baby. I still drink coffee but it's because I'm addicted, not because I need it. Well, some days I still do, I mean hello teething. But I no longer dream about abandoning my family to go hide out in a hotel room for 48 hours.

 # 2. Breastfeeding can be REALLY hard! When I was pregnant I was open to breastfeeding and thought (naively) that it wouldn't be too difficult. HA! I didn't buy a breast pump beforehand and wasn't concerned about milk production because I had lots of colostrum in late pregnancy. Well, when Miles was born he wouldn't latch to my breast. We saw two lactation consultants while we were still in hospital and he would only latch to one side, with a nipple shield but only for a few seconds. I had so much milk but he would cry and scream when I tried to feed him. I ended up hand-expressing my milk into a spoon and feeding him that way. The nurses at the hospital were very anti-formula (which made me soooo mad), pressuring me to breastfeed but I was so stressed after a difficult delivery, and sleep-deprived (I didn't sleep for almost two days, neither did my husband) that we ended up giving him formula which we were absolutely fine with. Finally a nurse (who was different from the other RN's) told me that because I had so much milk I could pump if I wanted to so she brought a breast pump into our hospital room. THANK GOD FOR THAT NURSE! I didn't know it at the time but pumping would become a huge part of my baby's life. And mine. The day we brought Miles home from the hospital my husband went out and bought a Medela Freestyle Pump and I kept pumping at home. We went to see ANOTHER lactation consultant at a breastfeeding clinic a couple of days later and again Miles would scream bloody murder every time I tried to get him to latch. It was at that point that I decided I couldn't take it anymore, he was happy drinking my breast milk from a bottle and I had abundant supply so I decided to exclusively pump. I didn't even know women could be "EP'ers'" (Exclusive Pumpers) but there's even a Facebook group for EP'ers! So, I would pump 5-6 times a day (and once during the night) and feed Miles through a bottle and freeze any extra.

Sorting my frozen stash of breast milk

Currently, I still pump once a day. I have enough frozen stash to last him well past his first birthday. My Dad actually bought us an extra freezer off Kijiji because we ran out of storage space! Looking back, I honestly can't believe I had the energy to pump 7 times a day while looking after a newborn, cleaning pump parts, washing and sterilizing bottles, running a household, while sleep-deprived and trying to hold my sh*t together. I ended up getting mastitis once and it was HORRIBLE (I was put on anti-biotics) but I kept on pumping - at home, in my bed at 3 am, in the car, at relatives' houses, no matter how tired or exhausted I was, to make sure my baby was fed. To be clear, I was never against giving my baby formula, after all I believe "fed is best," no matter how babies get their nourishment but I had so much milk, I thought it would be a shame to deny my son his mama's milk if it was readily available and honestly I didn't mind pumping (well most of the time!) because I knew I was giving my baby what he needed....I'm not sure how much longer I'll keep it up, as of now I'm not getting much milk so I think it's only a matter of days until I dry up. Miles will be introduced to whole milk shortly any way...It will be bittersweet once I pack my breast pump and parts away, it was such a huge part of my first year of motherhood and provided the best possible nourishment for my son. And it was so worth it. Even if, at times, I felt like a cow being milked ; ).

Ok, so I'll be back next week with part 2 of this series. I couldn't fit everything into one post, it was way too long and I would have lost you, my lovely readers, a quarter of the way through, GUARANTEED.

Have a great week!

xo

4 comments:

Dress Me Dearly said...

This was so great!!! Can't wait to read the next one. Love your honesty.

J. said...

Love the pictures of you and Miles. Great post. So honest and real. Cannot wait till part two.
:) J.

Alecia said...

I currently have a five month old son and I can totally relate to several of our comments. Love that you keep it very honest and real! Your son is adorable, you should be a proud momma!

Shivangi said...

Miles is such a cutie! This was really informative, though I don't plan on having kids for a while lol

Can't wait to read next week's post!

<3 Shivangi

 
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