Saturday, February 20, 2010

10 things i've learned during my first year of motherhood, in honor of zora's first birthday on saturday!

1 Any woman who gives birth without pain medications is a total bad ass. (Yes, I am.)

2 Breastfeeding hurts. (As Patty the lactation consultant says.) Even when you're doing it "right," for many women the first 4-6 weeks are hell. We're talking sore and cracked and sometimes bleeding nipples. It's not all it's cracked up to be! (Ha!) It is worth it, though, if you can manage to get through the hard part - the benefits to your baby are awesome!

3 Newborns sleep a lot, at first. As they start to wake up, they start to cry. It's perfectly normal for a newborn to cry many hours a day just for the fun of it.

4 There is nothing wrong (and in fact it's quite normal) with not feeling overwhelming gushes of love constantly for your baby during the first few months. Your baby is a peeing, pooping, crying, hungry mess who can't even smile at you or say thanks for not putting her out with the garbage when she kept you up the whole night. They key is to not put your baby out with the garbage. You will come to ADORE this little being, I promise. You will feel love like never before. (If you are still not feeling this good juicy love in a reasonable amount of time, you might have postpartum depression and should get some help. It happens to a lot of women!) In the meantime, if you think you MIGHT put your baby on the curb with your recyclables, hand her to a responsible adult - or if that's not possible, put her in her crib, and walk away. Get some rest, drink some tea, breathe. You can do it! It will all be worth it, and then some!

5 There is nothing wrong with nursing your baby to sleep every night if that's what works for you. Ditto for co-sleeping. Other people love to give advice about parenting, but you are the one living it, and you've got to make decisions that are going to work for you and your family.

6 It is possible to work full time and be an attentive, loving mama. I said possible, not easy!

7 Being a working, pumping mama ushers you into a secret society whose members recognize each other by the big black bags and back packs, and small black square coolers they are lugging back and forth from work on the train and the bus. The members of this society discuss such topics as "keeping my supply up", electric vs. hand pumps, single vs. double pumps, the most interesting place you have been forced to pump (tie between federal courthouse and bible school classroom for me), how to find time to pump during the work day, what is the best storage container for breast milk, what was your worst breast milk spill mishap, how many ounces can you pump at one time, hands free pumping, and so much more!

8 There is something mystical about devoting your full attention to one task, to really losing yourself in the joy of it, to losing track of time, to a clear mind. I'm talking about being with Zora. It is an otherworldly feeling to be fully with her, to ignore the to do list and the dust under the couch. On the other hand, there is also something incredible about a parent's ability to multi-task. In the early days, breastfeeding and checking my email at the same time allowed me to meet Zora's needs for nutrition and closeness and my needs for connection to adult loved ones and a sense of sanity. To say nothing of the joys of breastfeeding while sleeping!

9 Mothering without your own mother is hard. Really hard. My mom died two years ago this month. I miss my mom every day and the grief is compounded by my love for Zora. I want my mom to meet her beautiful granddaughter, to hold her, to rock her, to kiss her, to give me all kinds of advice (the good, the bad, the unasked for, the solicited...), to talk to me about how I was at that age. I want Zora to get to spend the night with my mom. I want to see Zora's face when she realizes that I am to her what my mom is to me.

10 The only thing that remains the same is that everything changes. So I am trying to soak up and savor every moment of this amazing, precious gift. Thanks to all of you who have been such a big support to me, to Mike and to Zora over the last year.