After having Kate, I resolved to be a “never say never” person. Sometimes, even if I did not anticipate that style of parenting, I give it the old college try and see what happens. Also, I found parenting to be a truly eye-opening experience in Adjusting Expectations. Now, looking back at almost a year of parenting, I want to share some of the Things I Thought about Babies Before I had a Baby:
5. Baby would entertain herself. HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Is that enough HA HA’s for you? Just wanted to make sure I really drove the point home on this one. I thought Kate would happily play with her blocks and plastic food and the like while I got chores done and wrote emails. No, that is not how that works at all. Kate will entertain herself for small increments of time here and there, but definitely not for much of an extended period of time. Not usually enough to accomplish big tasks. So I had to learn how to start and stop and start and stop tasks. Anyway, now that Kate is just about a year, it is easier, but still, every day is a challenge in altering expectations.
4. I will never co-sleep. Our first night at home, Kate let it be known she would not sleep alone. Heck no, why should she? For nine months she slept nestled in her watery womb where she was carried everywhere and heard her mom’s voice and felt the comforting beating of her mom’s heart. So, when we wrapped her up like a miniature burrito and layed her in (what seemed at the time) a vast, empty crib, well that was just a no go. That first night, we took turns holding her while the other slept. The next day Dan went out to get the cosleeper. I used the cosleeper for about two weeks before moving her to the crib. Even then, there were several mornings where I gave up on the crib somewhere around 4 a.m. and ended up nursing her/sleeping with her on the couch. Also, to get some rest in the afternoon, I often would lay down with her to nurse, so she could nurse/sleep, and I could just close my eyes and rest even if I was not truly sleeping. We never had Kate truly sleep in our bed because 1) I was terrified of accidently smothering her and 2) she snores/mouth breathes so loudly I could not sleep. But she and I napped/rested together on the couch plenty of times between zero and three months.
3. Nursing is a cinch. I have a BA and a MA. It was easier to earn those degrees than learn to breastfeed. It seems that you whip out a boob, latch that baby, and that’s it. Umm…no. That’s most definitely NOT how it works. I have a whole post planned for the trials and tribulations of nursing, so for now, suffice it to say there is much more to nursing than leaky boobs.
2. I will never ignore my kids/always run to kids at slightest complaint. I read a lot of baby stuff when I was pregnant. And I knew all about the dreadful/wonderful (depending on your side of the fence) cry it out method or attachment parenting style or Happiness Baby on the Block techniques. Basically, there is more than one way to raise your little stinker. And different methods work at different times (and probably different methods work for different kids as we will no doubt find out with future children). So, when Kate was first born, yes, I ran to her at the slightest squeak. But, I never had to really get too far because that child remained in my arms about 20 hours a day for the first three months. Anyway, when she was older (and I eventually had to put her down to brush my teeth, shower, go the gym, etc…), I let her whine a bit. Sorry, mom must shower. Showers at our house are non-negotionable. People in the Bagley house aspire to cleanliness. And when Dan goes out of town, and I am doing double duty, well, Kate is just going to have to fuss while I put dishes away or take the garbage out or attend to Miss Belle. She knows how to crawl. She is this close to walking. She can see me and follow me. But sometimes momma just cannot hold her no matter how much she is whining. And that’s okay. A little fuss never hurt anyone. And as soon as I am done with whatever important chore that cannot wait, we can resume playing with stacking cups.
1. I will be able to maintain who I am even with a new baby. Oh, motherhood. Something about you is so all-encompassing that for the first several months of a new baby’s life, it is hard to tell where baby ends and mom begins. Only now after almost a year of parenting do I see and understand some of the complexities of motherhood and how it changes a person from All About Me to All About Baby. New baby is just so gosh darn needy, mom must give herself over life, body, and spirit. Since these little spit up factories cannot change themselves or feed themselves or put themselves to sleep or do anything, really, mom is there to take care of their every need. That seems obvious, right? Duh, Sarah, newborns need a lot of care. Right, round the clock care and nurturing. So I found I simply had no time to think about me. Kate and I morphed into this one creature out of necessity. Since I was breastfeeding, I took on all the feedings. And we became so bonded and as my role as SAHM, Kate and I grew an easy attachment. So, now it is easy to see how I started to feel like I did not know who I was any more. And I started to freak out about it. There must be something wrong with my parenting. Is Kate too attached? Am I too attached as a mother? Now as the parent of an almost one-year-old, I can say, no, nothing is wrong with how I parented and no Kate is not too attached to me or visa versa. Of course we were stuck like glue to each other for the first six months. That is normal and natural and how it worked best for Kate and me. New babies need their moms. And after six months when she started taking solid food and crawling and able to do more, we slowly untangled from each other. That is also normal. So, all this to say, it is easy to loose oneself in mothering. It happens. It’s the natural course of things. But when Kate got older, I took some time for myself, and got back into my routine, life became easier and mothering no longer felt like treading water in deep seas.
So there you have it. Things I Thought I Knew. How about you? Any insights?