For two blissful months, I took time off from work and blogging to focus on being a mom. It was amazing and tiring, rewarding and terrifying. And I have learned so much about myself, about my husband and about this fascinating, adorable person we created.
I learned that I’m stronger than I ever imagined. Bringing a little human into this world is hard work. I had read about labor and what to expect, but I don’t think you can ever really prepare yourself for the intensity of it. I made two trips to the hospital before I was admitted, thinking that I was going into labor. The first time I wasn’t even close. The second time I was a little bit closer, but still not enough for me to be admitted. So at 3 a.m. during that second visit, the nurse gave me a shot to help with the pain of contractions (it took the edge off for maybe two hours) and sent me home. By 9 a.m., I was miserable but I didn’t want to make another trip to the hospital just to be sent home. The good Lord must have been on my side because my doctor’s office called that morning to say my doctor would be available that day for me to come in to be induced, two days earlier than we had planned. By this point, the contractions brought me to my knees with their pain and intensity. I was more than ready to have this baby. I was pretty certain before giving birth that I would want an epidural, and I was more than ready for it by the time I got to the hospital. After having contractions that were so intense I was sobbing into my husband’s T-shirt, I was ready for some relief. And the epidural was bliss. The pain subsided and it made me really sleepy. I was able to get some rest before having to push. But just because you have an epidural doesn’t make pushing a baby out any easier. It’s still extremely difficult, tiring and painful. I was so grateful he arrived after only 20 minutes of pushing.
I have always known I have an amazing husband, but during the most physically painful time of my life, he was exactly what I needed and did everything right. He rubbed my back, made sure I had everything I needed to be as comfortable as possible, talked me through each contraction, held me when the pain was so intense I couldn’t speak and coached me through the most physically-demanding part: pushing our kid out. He was patient, gentle, caring and sweet. Looking back on that day, I love remembering how he cared for me and never left my side for a moment. I’m so grateful to have a person who is my rock and provides me with exactly what I need during the most challenging parts of life.
I learned that I do have maternal instincts, and they kicked in pretty quickly. I have nieces and nephews, so I have been around babies. But I have never been the one providing 24/7 care, and I was a little worried before having Oliver that I wasn’t going to know what to do when I had a baby of my own. While I think I was in shock when he was first placed on my chest, I couldn’t let him go. It was a strange and bewildering feeling to have this person that I had been wondering about for nine months suddenly just be right in front of me. But as each moment passed, I felt a bigger and more intense love for this little person. I was cooing over him and would immediately be at his side the moment he’d let out a screech. Things I thought would be scary like giving him a bath, soothing him when he was upset and caring for him at all hours actually came to me pretty easily. Granted, it’s never easy or fun to wake up every two hours at night, but thankfully Brett and I worked together and we have had a lot of help.
I have learned to stick to my guns and do what I feel is best for my son. I was always on the fence about breastfeeding. I just didn’t know if it was something I would want to do, but I didn’t want to rule it out. I decided I would give it a try, and if it worked for me and Oliver, great. So I gave it a try, but I never felt very comfortable doing it. I didn’t want to give up, but I started to worry when Oliver lost over a pound two days after birth. Our doctor said that was pretty normal, and he would gain it back. So we carried on until that night when this tiny little being screamed for over an hour and couldn’t seem to latch. I called the hospital to get some advice, but finally I broke down and decided to give him a bottle of formula. He guzzled that bottle like there was no tomorrow. He immediately returned to his calm, content self, and I gave up breastfeeding. I could question myself all day about how maybe I should have tried harder or maybe I should have pumped, etc., but I’m not going to do that. I did what I believed to be best for my baby and for me. And he is happy, healthy and growing like a weed.
And most of all, I have learned motherhood is all it’s cracked up to be. I was told over and over how it’s the most challenging but most rewarding role a woman will ever have. I have only been a mom for two months, but I can’t imagine my life any other way. There are definitely days where I miss sleeping in and spending my Saturdays lounging around with my hubby, but when I creep into my kiddo’s room and see the gigantic smile he has for me, that all melts away. Watching him grow and develop a spunky personality fills my heart with so much joy. Plus, there is truly nothing better than baby snuggles and giggles. 🙂