I became a mom over three years ago and it has been a wonderful journey. There was certainly a big learning curve but through trial and error I am proud of my new lifestyle. To be honest, it can be very shocking if you didn’t have much prior experience with children and I didn’t have much baby sitting experience in my youth. Though I did work in retail in high school and that now has comparable moments!
Its not that I didn’t care for infants, its just that ALL of my siblings were 20+ years older than me which meant that they had kids that also had kids. This made it challenging to connect to my siblings due to the jump in age, granted, my family is very social and I owe my sibling experiences to our frequent family gatherings and reunions. Therefore, I had a lot to learn and quickly about raising a child and I’m happy to share it with you now.
#1: Parental Bond: Its not that I thought that I wouldn’t like my child, but I was nervous about our relationship because of my lack of experience. However, this changed the moment that I got to hold her in my arms and realized that my husband and I had created a miracle. I was very relieved that what had came out of me was not an alien! (because I had no idea of what she looked like lol). My family has a lot of odd jokes and every time she had previously kicked inside of my belly it would instantly trigger the memory from the movie, “Space Balls” where the Alien kicks its way out of the stomach of a space man and starts singing, “Hello My Baby”. So you can imagine what was subliminally running through my mind after awhile.
Have you ever experienced or do you believe in love at first sight? I have experienced this once before and on April 22nd 2016, I could add a second tally to this claim! I felt this instant connection and I was overwhelmingly happy. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that we had such a beautiful baby and NO, we did not eat the placenta! I never imagined the doctor would hold it up to me and ask me that question…would you like to take this home and harvest it for nutrition? My mind was going…WTF! He also was completely amazed at how short the umbilical cord was and was holding it up for all of the nurses to see! (Three ring circus has a new act- freak body parts- you don’t want to miss it!) ha ha ha lol
Here are two positives and a negative to the birth of my child:
Positive #1: I didn’t have to go ALL Naturale,
Believe me I tried, but my body needed 13 doses of encouragement and by the time it decided to finally start the process of the birth, the pain was WAY TOO INTENSE for me to handle it all at once. I actually had taken a few classes with my husband beforehand and tried multiple techniques for birthing positions and as I had several friends that had done it successfully, I decided to give it a try. I even made my own music therapy birthing play list, but it only minimally helped. After nearly 12 hours of trying, and getting results, I was like: YES PLEASE! Since it was after midnight, I was able to fall asleep and wake up ready to start pushing…THANK GOD TOO because in the beginning there was also a lot of back labor pain. My mother was also stressing me out by saying, that I might die without the medicine…oh mother… I love you
Positive #2: I laughed through the first half of my labor!
Since my water broke early in the morning and it was a VERY slow leak, I thought it was more funny that I couldn’t control my bladder over embarrassment. Every time I had a little trickle that I tried to stop but couldn’t, I would burst out in a chuckle! What made it even more funnier was the fact that my husband had just learned to drive my car as he didn’t know stick shift, and as he was driving and malfunctioning the stick shift to the hospital, he literally went down to 1 from 5 before coming to a complete stop near a light and I felt like I was going to go through the windshield! Seat belt!-thank god for seat belts! Can you believe people don’t wear them? (On a side tangent-why the heck do children not have to wear them on school buses?! I know they don’t drive fast, but shouldn’t it have been mandatory by now? I remember bouncing up and down and watching kids trade seats while the bus is moving, that’s the best part of being kid-the lack of fear because you just don’t know!
Anyways, my husband said he was down shifting like I had taught him lol, but I reminded him that this something you do gradually to transition with the speed of deceleration and he said, “oh”. And I felt like I was going to go through the windshield! Note: I had given several lessons during our pregnancy and emphasized the importance of him needing to learn, but I think that it just wasn’t the number one priority to practice driving it. However, he got us to the hospital and that is all that matters. Not to pick on my husband…he is a GREAT DRIVER! And I remember the stress of driving a stick- in fact my mother wouldn’t let me drive an automatic until I learned to drive manual.
1 Negative: Time to Birth and Pain
Let me first begin by saying that I had the benefit of my sister available to assist with my birth since she has done it for a living. However, I remember the awkwardness of the assisting nurse working with my sister to help get me to push and there was a little bit of tension, but I think it was because this particular nurse was considerably younger than my sister and seemed insecure about discussing her methods with my sis. Also, though my sister was very encouraging, she kept repeating, “Your almost there!” And after the 12th, time I got a little fed up and told her she said that an hour ago, lol, “was I REALLY almost there, or was I not very close at all?” Of course reality hit me when my little one’s head pushed through and I cried out in utter agony. The pain was shockingly awful!
Let me just say though that it was so worth it and I would absolutely do it two more times if I could convince my husband! My brother on the other hand, told me I would forget the pain and be having more soon enough, but he was WRONG LOL! I may not feel that pain, but I remember the intensity of 1 to 10000 and I know where my pain rates on this scale. I will not forget the pain, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing, to remember the ultimate sacrifice before birth…I did go nearly 9 months without a period after all, I’m sure I was overdue for a lot of pain anyways! BRING IT ON! “I want another baby back, baby back, baby back now” lol instead of baby back ribs tune. The post labor pain wasn’t terrible, but it certainly was not a walk in the park. Do you know what its like to wear ice packs in your underwear? I never thought that I would feel coldness down there. So as that was happening, I was learning the new responsibility of being a parent.
After our daughter was born at 10am in the morning, my husband and I were so in love and excited! We enjoyed holding our child, talking to her, and sharing her to our family and friends. I could not wrap my mind around the CUTENESS of her tiny little hands, feet, and eyes staring back at me and I would highly recommend that instant skin to skin bond right after birth. Holding her close to me and feeling her breathing was amazing. To be honest, I was so found of hearing her fast heart beat when I went in for ultra sounds and was missing this unique experience, but was so glad to have her out and get to meet her. After many visits from family, my husband and I were told by many nurses to rest tonight, because we wouldn’t be getting much sleep in the future. At the time, this honestly didn’t seem too bad to me because I had worked as a care taker with disabled adults and had that drive to full fill other’s needs over my own. It was the experience with the satisfaction of helping someone else when I sometimes had to sacrifice sleep that made all of the sacrifice worth it, but what I didn’t realize, was the effect of losing continuous sleep over a couple of weeks, and months would do to my sanity.
Well to be HONEST…the first night would have been perfect for our sleep, since our child did sleep, but the doctors and nurses came in EVERY SINGLE HOUR to check on our baby and us! I usually am the kind of sleeper that could remain asleep while a freight train blasted through the house, but since the checking was on our new found love, it was very difficult for us BOTH to sleep. Of course for a husband to sleep in a hospital roll out couch isn’t that much comfortable either, but don’t the doctors and nurses have their own kind of advanced baby monitoring cameras? Also, immediately after the birth, the lactation nurse started in with her education about how to begin feeding my baby. To be honest, I was so tired that I just wanted 30 minutes of quiet time with our child. My mother and sister later joked about this particular nurse being on prozac because she talked a million miles an hour and was very assertive about the techniques. I remember her talking to me and both my mother and sister rolling their eyes and silently mimicking her while I tried my best to attend to her instruction about how to help my child latch on. I felt frusterated at the time with my family, because I really did want to learn what she was saying, but I also had to chuckle and laugh because she did seem way too over the top. I mean Rome wasn’t built in a day! Even though I was doing something not as complex, it still didn’t seem fair to be able to do it right away and it felt like this particular nurse was very limited on time, like she had taken too much time with the prior delivery and needed to rush through mine to get to the next patient. Lesson to be learned- you never know who you are going to meet in any setting. Take it with a grain of salt!
The truth about missing sleep- Yes! I want to say thank you to both my mother, sister who were able to come and spend two weeks following the birth of our child to help us rest. Though it was like a four hour rotating shift between each of us, but it was very beneficial to have that love, support and education. It took two months for our child to sleep during the night, but through constant repetition and reinforcement of play time during the day, we were able to transition her to sleeping at night and we were blessed that she sleeped a full 8 hours. However, this changed frequently, when she became sick, or something woke her up. I was scared into letting her sleep in the crib, because of my mother’s fear of her rolling over onto her belly and suffocating. So for a good long while, we lived on our couch. Though my mom would also tell me not to sleep with my child, due to the same fear, so I had to keep her in an upright rocker next to me. We did this for awhile and even eventually transitioned her into her room into this carrier. My husband thought I was a little obsessed, but I would wake up frequently throughout the night to blindly stare at the baby monitor to make sure she was okay. I got the shock of my life when I woke up one night and saw she wasn’t in the carrier and immediately yelled, “She’s gone!” startling my husband. Thank goodness, she was found face up close to the rocker (that was only a few inches off the ground and everything seemed fine with her).
Positive #1: Trading Sleep for other things!
For me, I actually gain happiness by sacrificing something as simple as sleep to help my child. However, this is hard to explain to a man. Its not that he didn’t understand what it meant to sacrificse sleep, as he had worked overnights for years, but it was more about the fact that I was enjoying the missed sleep to have that new role as a provider. I was happy to have the opportunity to be needed and even today, I am still happy to make the sleep sacrifice to assist my little one. That’s something that my husband doesn’t seem to connect well with, but I think over time his opinions may change. Even if they don’t, its more about accepting that everyone has different levels of care they are able to contribute and he was more concerned with me not caring about my own sleep for my own mental health.
I learned over time that sometimes loosing sleep means gaining more time for yourself and though it may not seem right, but trading a few hours of sleep for self care, can be beneficial, because you give so much of your self to a little one and when you don’t have time for you, its easy to become depressed. Especially when you went to school for so many years and had a wonderful job that I immensly enjoyed- being a music therapist. There were so many people that I missed interacting with and to be honest, the stay at home life isn’t for me. There just aren’t enough people, and the tasks are too mundane and repetitive (always doing laundry, always cleaning, always restocking) So, EVEN today, and last year when I worked a full time job, I would take time (the time when my child sleeps to do something for myself! Last November, I followed my dreams to create my own business and though it took many hours, I am still on cloud 9 with enthusiasm for myself. It was a slow process, but overtime, I created so much that is beginning to be of necessity now as I have recently signed two new contracts with the state and it was so amazing to say, “I CREATED A JOB FOR ME!”. That is utterly FANTASTIC! I will be blogging about my business experiences soon! Do you have something that you have been working on overnight or on your own time? Maybe its a dream, maybe its self care? What are you sacrificing to lift yourself up and give yourself fun?
I also, like last night will stay up listening to my favorite playlist, while dancing and cleaning at the same time. I was able to clean my entire kitchen and I’m telling you that I went APE SHIT on it. I was having fun, reorganizing and cleaning off crud- I even cleaned the inside of my microwave, and oven. And yes also sprayed down my cabinets and now everything smells of lovely pine. You know what, I stayed up till 1am, and then I woke up at 5am (couldn’t go back to sleep honestly), but I got up to write this blog! And I am having the time of my life on 4 hours of sleep! Yes, I will probably suffer later, especially since its THAT time of the month, but, that was my choice, and since I’m an adult, I can do whatever I want with my own time.
Though I will say that there was a series of maybe close to a week where I had a minimal of two to three hours of night rest while working on my business and my husband was not very happy with me, because of the risk of getting into an accident and driving around with a small child. I can certainly understand where he was coming from, but I knew that if I ever felt too tired for driving, I would find a ride from a friend or just not go to work. That doesn’t eliminate the fact that there are a TON of other risk factors that could also be bad for me selecting to not go back to sleep- (Such as catching a microwave on fire at my workplace) while trying to simultaneously make instant brownies and run a social event with a dance at my workplace. You know we all make mistakes, and its ALLRIGHT! That part of being human. When I see people flipping each other off because they are not going fast enough or accidentally made a wrong choice- I don’t flip them off, I take a breath and say, “I know they are capable of mistakes like me and I forgive them.” (Tangent) Do you do the same? Do you think about what the other person is thinking about when they are going slow? Are they hurt, are they sad, are they lost? They certainly are having a rough time with someone else on their case about what they are not doing…lol thats my road rage ramp- I used to drive 500 miles in a job and it just made me wish I can an electric sign that I could flash on the back of my car, that would display the words- “Humans make mistakes”. lol Or maybe I should make a sign that says, “Sorry I am in your way, but please don’t get too close because I have a family that depends on me to survive.”
1 Negative: I was told to sleep when the baby sleeps (HA HA HA HA HA)…How else is the laundry, dishes, house going to be clean? My husband helps out, but when he is at work, I see the clutter and over a period of time it drives me up a wall! Hence, I would loose sleep to work, but then our baby would wake up and I would need to refocus all of my energy back to the child. Especially with breast feeding. I believe it was every two hours initially that I needed to feed my child, that is craziness! Sadly, it was more painful than imagined and my supply SUCKED! It seemed like my boobs were hudge, but I had a TERRIBLE time getting the Latch technique mastered, however since I also had terrible gall stones and related pain in my chest, It was very difficult for me to provide for my child. This adds an additional layer of stress to not being able to feed your child. So we did the formula thing. After having my gall bladder out, I am hoping the next time we have a baby, I can try again and hopefully be more successful at breastfeeding. But I do not miss pumping- that was a ONE OF A KIND EXPERIENCE TOO lol and its NOT for SISSIES!
Anyways, I did get a bit of postpartum depression in which the doctors claimed it was because I wasn’t resting enough and trying to take on the world- well NEWS FLASH- I’M SUPER MOM! I learned that I had to ultimately give up all of my time to raise my child and it was challenging, but thank god for precooked home made meals and microwaves! My mother’s motto is…” If you can’t microwave it, it ain’t worth cooking!”.
#3 The Fun Part of Being a Parent:
I never realized, how fun it was to be a parent! I love teaching my child about the world around her and reading to her! I point out objects in the pictures and play mental games with her to help her learn to be interactive with different elements of visuals. You honestly, have to make most things fun, to engage your child anyways, so why not make it silly and laugh. My sister is writing a book entitled, “Teach Your Children to Fish” and I think that I model her in saying that you have to teach your children to have fun with their environment. I am the kind of parent that gets on their hands and knees at the play place at the mall and plays hide and go seek with her- she is naturally shy like me and may need encouragement to engage in such a new world. I have no problem pretending to be a bear and say, “Rawr! When I go to give her the, “Bear Hug” and Rawr when I hug her (this was invented by my husband btw). He also has this funny monkey run that he hops around the floor on all four’s too and our daughter loves to chase and be chased by him. Why not, make parenting fun!? My happiness for being a parent increased immensely when I saw our daughter smile-it was a life changing event and I haven’t stopped making her grin. We go to the mall, mostly for her to play with the other kids- I do love to browse too but I don’t have time to try on clothes when she is with me (its very hard to do to be honest). I can take the stress out of it by waiting till I have my own time to do it. There are women that buy and return, but I absolutely cannot stand to return something unless I have too. Its just not worth the time or effort for me, so that helps to curve my spending.
Where do you go with your kids? What do you teach them? I really try my best to limit my child’s t.v. time, but to be honest there have been a few recent nights where I had to let her watch it for a while to be able to relax, have a conversation with my husband, work on a class, or my own business, or to connect with others. Its OKAY to let your child VEDGE! However, what I am really firm about, is her cell phone screen time- I absolutely limit her time on the phone and no she does not have her own or use our ipad for games/t.v. When we go out to eat, we put them down for the most part, and we interact with each other. We play bedtime games where I say, “why? did the little man go running up the mountain?” as I use my two fingers to run them up her arm and then I say, “Because the big elephant was chasing him!” and I make a fist and move it up her arm in a soft bouncing motion! She laughs and says, “Again! Mommy!” Its a silly but repetitive bedtime tradition that alerts her that we are getting close to sleep and it eases the tension of having to transition from our bedtime story to our one more hug, one more kiss before falling a sleep.
Positive #2: Getting to go places and letting your child do things their way!
Isn’t it fun to revisit old child hood places that used to bring us join with the excuse that its, “for our children”. I loved going to the butterfly pavillion when we were in Colorado and also the zoo. I also love bringing her into work with me or going around to interact with people. I let her pick out food at the grocery store and give her lots of choices so that she has that sense of control. I’ve noticed as a parent when around other parents that they get upset when their children acts out of order and I find it funny sometimes. I mean if your child wants to go up the slide (as long as no one else is around), who cares? They are not breaking the law, let them go barefoot outside and walk in the grass with your supervision. Do you allow yourself to be a kid as an adult?
As I am sitting here writing this blog, I am letting my child place scotch tape on the wall. I know for a fact that certain people would discourage this non sensical behavior, but its not hurting anyone and she is learning to ask, and complete a task. Its kind of telling a kid to paint a fence with water-its not going to hurt the fence-so why does it matter? When Children have choices, we can prepare them to be independent and are showing them that we respect their point of view and that they have a crucial role to play. Like it or not, but they are growing up whether we like it or not. Why not let them develop the rapport with us and develop respect for each other even as toddlers.
1 Negative: Having to Constantly Adapt to Changing Behaviors and Diets
It can be stressful as a parent to adapt to begin with in changing the sleep patterns as well as learning how to feed your child, get them into a routine for meals, naps and play time. Just when you think you have something down, they go and grow up on you and you have to learn new techniques. For the most part I am learning that positive encouragement is very important with reinforcement to help curve behaviors. Also, knowing what may trigger a behavior is helpful I I learned about this in psychology classes) where you figure out what might cause a behavior and try to either remove the item or redirect away from it and energy plays a large role in motivation. Learning to talk like them, helps to develop stronger communication skills and children learn by mirroring behaviors. It has taken three years of constant reinforcement, but finally our child is starting to understand the rewards of following through with directions and consequences to her actions, so she is getting simple treats for eating her meals or also a fun event. Using Pavlov’s conditioning technique and as a music therapist, I am using songs to help encourage her to make appropriate choices with meals, potty training and sharing. Learning is way more fun when its fun and not forced, plus making music is very motivating. She loves to strum a Ukuelle while I sing and play the guitar. We sing and dance to her favorite song, “10 little Indians” and use it as a reinforcement reward for her appropriate behaviors. If you are interested in learning more about music therapy please visit this website: