Sunday, May 27, 2007

Five things I learned in my first week as a mom

One: Spare time is but a distant memory.

Astute readers will notice that I’ve actually been a mother for two weeks. I started trying to write this blog about a week ago, but I kept getting sidetracked. There’s always a diaper to change or a bottle to warm, so I can’t seem to get around to checking e-mail or writing thank-you notes for all the flowers and gifts people have sent. The only reason I managed to vacuum the floor the other day was because my mom was watching the baby.

Two: It’s not about me anymore.

For the past 28 years, I’ve had the luxury of being selfish. If I wanted to go to the store, I went to the store. If I wanted to take a nap, I took a nap. Now I have to consider how everything affects my little Kaylee. This has been a weird transition for me, because I’ve gotten used to being narcissistic and relatively carefree. Now I have this needy (albeit very cute) little person around me 24 hours a day, and she always comes first. Before long I’m sure this will seem perfectly natural, but right now it’s taking some adjustment.

Three: Breastfeeding isn’t a cakewalk.

Nobody warned me that nursing could be messy and kind of painful. Whenever my daughter latches on, I feel like I’ve been captured by the enemy and am being tortured for top secret information. I worked with nurses and a lactation consultant to try to remedy this, but nothing has changed the fact that breastfeeding really, really hurts. (A note to other soon-to-be moms out there: I don’t think this is typical, so don’t panic. You’ll probably be fine.)

In order to keep me sane and my daughter fed, she’s almost entirely on formula now. We started this switch after I found blood around her mouth during a particularly painful nursing session, when we were faced with an important question: Which is worse, raising our daughter on formula, or continuing to breastfeed despite its tendency to make me cry and the possibility of giving our daughter a taste for human blood and turning her into a vampire?

Either choice is an unhappy one. If I go ahead and breastfeed, I feel like a bad mother because feeding my baby makes me cringe and cry. If a don’t, I feel like a failure for giving up on breastfeeding. This has been a big source of stress for me, but I’m almost at the point where I can think about it without crying.

Four: Diaper Genies fill up fast.

Before now, I never would have guessed that I could regularly encounter someone else’s bodily fluids without being grossed out. But now I’ve been peed on, pooped on, sneezed on and spit up on, and none of it has even made me flinch. I guess when the person doing the peeing is really, really cute and cuddly, you don’t mind so much. In fact, earlier today I said this: “Yay, Kaylee pooped!” I never thought a sentence like that would come out of my mouth.

Five: Fathers are much more capable than TV would have you believe.

I’ve seen a lot of TV shows featuring bumbling fathers who don’t know how to change a diaper, so I had minor fears that my husband would be timid around the baby – afraid to pick her up and play with her, and unwilling to help with the late-night feedings. But from the very first moment, he’s been eager to take care of her and be her daddy. It’s like he was born to play that role. With both of us on the job, maybe, just maybe, Kaylee will turn out ok.


Oh, and just because I felt like it, here’s a picture of Kaylee wearing a bunny hat.


Kate said...

Yay, Kaylee pooped!
But BOOOOO, we miss you around work.

Pam said...

Baby vampires! Ooh, scary!

Heather McDonnell said...

Baby vampires would be kind of creepy. Except that, since they don't have teeth, they'd only be able to give really vicious hickeys.

Anonymous said...

Your experience with breastfeeding wasn't at all an extreme case. It is very normal to have cracked, bleeding nipples and to cringe with pain during the first few weeks... usually up to 6 weeks! All that said, breastfeeding isn't for everyone. I think it's great that you recognized that a happy and sane mother that is formula feeding is better for your little girl than the alternative. Having formula fed my first child and breastfed my second and third, I can honestly say I understand! ;)

Heather McDonnell said...

Thanks for telling me that. I'm glad to know that lots of people have those issues. I think we're all pretty happy now with formula feeding, but I'll give nursing another chance with the next baby ... years and years from now.