August 9, 2006

Should I have told her?

I have a friend who is going into the hospital tonight to be induced/helped along with the delivery of her baby. She is due 8/19, but is going early because of her gall bladder. Hands down, this has been one of the most difficult pregnancies I have witnessed. So to say that she is "ready for this baby to just get here already" is a bit of an understatement. When I talked to her last night, I just felt like I had SO many things to tell her, bits of assvice, things to share. I remember my own last days in mid-October last year, standing on the Presipice of one of the biggest journeys of my life. The excitement. The anticipation. The gut-wrenching fear. However, I tried to keep my Pearls of Mothering Wisdom to myself. After all, isn't that part of the fun? Discovering all the Wonders for yourself? But here's what I would have liked to tell her......

That when you first see your baby you might be so pumped up on drugs and adrenaline that it might not be like one of those scenes in all the movies and television. You may be shell-shocked and think "Wow, what a sweet, adorabe baby. She's mine? For real?"

That bonding with your child is a life-long process. It doesn't happen just because you breastfeed or hold her or kiss her or wipe her butt or carry her in a sling 24/7 or co-sleep with her. It's a lifetime of Shared Experiences beginning with many of those things I just mentioned.

That you can never, ever take too many pictures of your baby.

That you will feel so vulnerable and exposed when you realize exactly how much of your heart is wrapped up in your daughter. It may even terrify you. Furthermore, you will have to swallow the frustration over the fact that you can't completely protect her from every disaster.

That sometimes in the wee hours of the morning you will doubt your Love but don't dwell on it or feel guilty about it because 8:00 am is just around the corner and somehow, someway Love gets a boost at precisely that hour.

That breastfeeding is one of the most painful, frustrating yet ultimately wonderous experiences you can have with your baby.

That taking a nap curled up with your baby is a Peaceful Calm like no other. Also? Having one cat curled up in your knees and another against your back is just Gooey Icing.

That taking a shower, putting a minimum of makeup and wearing decent clothes EVERYDAY is crucial to your self-esteem. Letting your appearance go by the wayside is a Slippery Slope that is best avoided.

That you may look at many of your former hobbies with a casual, detached curiousity. Like, " Hmmmm, I used to actually HAVE TIME to count stitches and rows? I'm lucky to get a scarf done these days." Don't fret over Lost Hobbies - you'll have time for all of them again someday - just pick the most important ones for the time being.

That being a Good Mother is all about Ideas, not Answers. Get Ideas from ALL of your friends, then mix n' match according to your baby.

That some Baby Topics are best left Un-Googled.

That in the beginning, you will want to change her outfits several times a day because she is just TOO DAMNED CUTE in all of them.

That your relationship with your husband will change and morph into something like it's never been. You will see sides of each other that you never knew existed but this doesn't have to be a Bad Thing. I've seen you and your husband - you will probably be closer than ever before.

That while I appreciate your offer to sew me a baby sling while you are on maternity leave, I know very well that your maternity leave is going to FLY by. I would rather you just enjoy these early months with your daughter.

That in the first few weeks it's best to unapologetically focus on yourself and your baby. Concentrate on getting all healed from the delivery so that you can get to 100% more quickly. Don't be a Dumbass like me.

That when you are healed 100%, try to get out of the house every single day. Even if it is to just pick up bread or milk. Damned Straight, sitting in a house all day with a baby can do a serious number on your Mental Health.

That it is imperative to surround yourself with Good Mothering Examples - the sort of gals that are GOOD for your Mothering Self Esteem, the sort of gals who don't COMPARE and don't COMPETE. If you find yourself in a group that Compares and Competes, get the fuck OUT. Stat.

That just when you think you have it all Figured Out, your baby will Change the Rules. And they tend to give little to no warning. They are Sneaky like that, those babies.

That ultimately, YOU KNOW YOUR BABY BEST. Can I say that again, for effect?? You know your baby BEST. Also, notice that I said she is YOUR baby. So, gracefully accept advice, wrap your brain around it, put it in your Back Pocket for later consideration and then do what YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH DOING. This will sometimes even include your doctor. And often, your mother-in-law.

That even the Darkest of Days are worth it for moments like these:


Anonymous said...

That is some of the best (and most true) advice on babies and mothering that I have ever read. I hope your friend will read that and take it to heart. I wish I would have had someone around to tell me those things before I had Zach.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Management is pissed in that first shot. Hey, is he getting tanned forearms?

There are a lot of things I don't relate to about having children but Arun's runaway adorableness + your joy over him has set the tick-tock of the clock.

Anonymous said...

That was great advice (and so true about the Google thing). It did my weary heart good to read your words of wisdom and reminisce about those early days (or was it daze?) - especially after the day my dear daughter and I just had. Thanks for a smile!

Diana said...

You summed it up perfectly. It is staggering and stunning, this love for your kids. I remember feeling as though I'd been kicked in the head when I first held Colin. The world actually physically shifted. I've lots of people I'd happily die for, but my kids are the only ones on the planet I'd kill for. And that truly shakes me to the core.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

She will probably read it eventually. I am glad I wrote it out for ME because it will be nice to remember years from now (refer to Wordnerd for insight on that!)

Yes, he is getting a little tanned despite my best efforts on slathering sunscreen on him at every opportunity. sigh.

Hmmm, it sounds like you had the same Stupidity I had. If I could do it all over again, I would have definitely pampered myself more. I kept calling the doctor because I was so concerned that I wasn't healing and her response every single time was "Quit doing so much." For sure, my doctor knew me very well.

YES, Friends Don't Let Friends Google Baby Topics. No good will ever come of it, otherwise!

I was a little shocked myself to discover how easily the Mother Bear Hackles can be risen. I am honestly surprised there isn't more vigilante action on the part of parents against sicko predators that seriously harm children.

Yes, I read your post and thought it was so sweet! :-) Except my baby son is never going to leave me or grow up. NEVER. Okay, maybe.......sniff....sniff....

FFF said...

That is some great advice. The piece I would have loved to have known before I had my baby was the piece about YOU know your baby best. You just have to trust your instinct. When my pediatrician blew me off as a nervous new mom, I took my son to a pediatric ENT, and sure enough, he had a breathing issue that needed to be resolved. I am so glad I went on my gut!

By the way, Arun is so cute! He looks just like my little guy--although he might win on the hair, but just by a smidge!

Anonymous said...

Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.

Really well-written, Cagey!

Jenn said...

Oh those are ALL so true!!
Especially the one about how you can NEVER take enough pictures of your baby.
And also about the terrifying feeling of not being able to protect them. That one is a doozie!!