Thursday, October 15, 2009

Things I've Learned

So many people tell you about the many hats you have to wear once you've become a mom but they don't necessarily detail the experiences you'll need when wearing those hats. From day one of my life with my baby and that includes the gestation period while I was experiencing the "joys of pregnancy" okay so if you detected some sarcasm there you'd be correct.

Now don't get me wrong, I loved being pregnant from the standpoint that we were having our first child, bringing a new life into the world and all of the other cliches you've previously heard. But there's nothing joyful about morning sickness and even when I told myself that the books said this meant my child was developing and was healthy it was still impossible to enjoy vomiting throughout the day for the first three months. So from the time I learned I was pregnant, I think I wore several hats, selflessness-the hat worn when you realize that life has changed and from now on the decisions I made weren't just about me, what I ate, when I rested, etc. all impacted this precious future life.

Patience-this hat is worn off and on while you're pregnant and then pretty much becomes a permanent accessory after your baby arrives. First, I was patient while we waited to learn the sex, then patient while going through the first trimester and morning sickness, patient waiting on the other two trimesters to come and go so my body could return to normal.

Optimism-this hat is also worn throughout pregnancy and into parenthood. You're optimistic everything is okay and the baby is healthy. You're optimistic that you are not as big as a bus and while you may be a house you are a small house that is beautiful. Then as you bring your baby home you're optimistic that he/she will sleep soundly so that you may also rest. You're optimistic that you have the perfect child and all of the articles you've been reading about how to handle meltdowns, battle bedtimes, etc. will not apply to your child.

Wisdom-this is a confusing hat. I went into the hospital to deliver my little girl with as much knowledge as I felt I could absorb. I read up on everything, subscribed to almost every baby and parenting magazine on the market, researched every major purchase we made even down to the swing and other toys. I knew what to expect during labor and delivery, had the nursery ready from month six and felt like was prepared to be a "Mom". What I didn't know was that when you leave the hospital with your child you only come out with as much knowledge as you entered with...I came home and expected to be Mrs. Cleaver. I thought now that I'm a parent I should know how to sew, what each and every cry means, how to breastfeed without any problems, would and should be capable of preparing gourmet meals for my family each and every evening while also baking so my house smelled wonderful when my husband returned from work. This led to some major disappointment for me, since I came home and was exhausted.

Breastfeeding was not easy, it was not natural for me and I was tormented with the thoughts and feelings that this would be my first but not last failure as a parent. I wasn't able to stay awake long enough to cook let alone to have the energy to prepare something as simple as a sandwich. My head was so muddled that when my husband showed me the art to swaddling our little girl I thought he was trying to teach me how to make a quilt. I just couldn't process anything. And when the post-part um hit that was the last straw. I felt like I was never meant to be any one's parent and how awful it would be for my little girl to have me as a mom.

A lot of these experiences are now in the past for me. My little girl, McKenzie, turned one last Sunday. She turned one while in the hospital recovering from bacterial meningitis. Looking back this was our worst experience, this was the most terrifying nightmare. So what McKenzie was bottle fed and I couldn't swaddle her the way her dad did. We have the most precious gift a little girl that is returning to a healthy toddler.

And at the end of the day, having bought her the best stroller won't matter, the fact that I don't cook gourmet meals or bake everyday isn't important but the time that I spend with my little girl playing, reading to her, holding her in my arms is so much more important that anything else that I did or didn't do as a new mom.

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