Wowzers! My first month as a mom has already flown by and as exciting as it is to watch Axl reach each milestone, it is also quite sad to have to say goodbye to the itsy bitty ‘extra-prem’ clothes that he once fitted into! I decided that instead of telling you all about the products that I have been trying, today I’d rather tell you all about this past month and what I have learnt.
There is nothing appealing about a c-section. As a lovely doctor, at the hospital, put it; “you have two doctors, slicing into you, lifting and pulling up all of your muscles.” When I was pregnant, I sometimes thought that at least if I had a c-section, I wouldn’t feel those contractions that everyone told me about! However, looking back – I am so relieved that I chose natural. Firstly, a few things that I was told during my time in hospital – new studies show that babies who are born through c-sections are more likely to have lung problems like asthma or water on the lungs and later on in life, can suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. I am not sure how true this is, as it could have just been another scare tactic that the doctor used, on the woman in the next bed. However, I am more grateful, as my healing time was next to nothing and that I didn’t need to stay in hospital or ease myself back into eating a normal diet. That’s right, I walked out of hospital the very next day, went shopping and even had sushi for lunch. I only felt slightly bruised and in the week to come, my body felt tired – but I was more than able to take care of Axl and do everything that needed to be done.
No matter how old you are, it is always nice having mom around. I was lucky enough to have mine visit for my first week. She made sure that I ate healthily and took all of my medication and when I got really nervous and started asking, “is this normal?” She was there to provide the comfort. I had a good giggle though, because daily Axl’s clothes would come home freshly washed. Turns out, my mom was taking his clothes to my gran for washing. Point of the story – mom’s will always be your mom, even when you have your own children.
Quite frankly, I felt that my ability as a mother would be defined by this duty. You see, whilst pregnant, everyone that I met or knew, who had recently had babies, do not breast feed. I was brought up that breast feeding is the ONLY option and when attending the government clinic, you are told the many benefits to encourage it, over formula feeding: Breast milk has been proven to be much healthier for baby, it also prepares him/her for her future diet and is less likely to be a fussy eater as the flavour of your milk changes with your diet – so he/she will be used to different flavours. Baby is less likely to experience problems with his/her stomach and the breast milk helps in building a stronger immune system. It increases bonding time with baby and mom, it’s free (formula is expensive!!!) and best of all… it helps you lose that mommy-weight! And something that I didn’t know, but think I should tell you, for the first-mommies-to-be. During your first week of breastfeeding, you hear about the sore and tender breasts, but what everyone seems to forget to tell you is, you experience serious period-cramps, as breastfeeding stimulates your uterus and helps it shrink back to size. When I asked why others were not breast feeding, it came down to the pain. I waited… and waited… and am still waiting for the pain. Sure, when your milk comes in, it can be a little uncomfortable but that versus child birth – give me all the engorged boobies! No, seriously. If you are expecting a baby, you really should try everything in your will to breastfeed. Persevere through the sore, leaking nipples. Gosh, this may be TMI – but I even had blisters! After you first week, you get so used to the power surge feeling, that you get when your milk comes in, and the sore nipples are long forgotten! I know that sometimes, even I think that formula would be so much more convenient, I wouldn’t need to reconsider my outfit choice, several times in the morning, I could just give a bottle whilst in public or through the night instead of constantly pulling my top up, oh and the leaks can be embarrassing too – but that is part of it all. You will soon realize the convenience of expressing, which breast pads to use and that your baby doesn’t care about which outfit you wear, after all – that’s the only person who matters, anyway!
This is one of the harder lessons that I learnt after becoming a mom. You see, something happens after you hold your little bundle for the first time, you open your mouth and you hear your mom. You hear yourself saying things like, “don’t touch his face.” or “have you washed your hands?” and “make a noise one more time and you’ll have your voicebox shoved so far…” – yeh, I will leave that one out. You shouldn’t feel bad though and no one should try making you feel bad. I am a people pleaser, but now I have decided that I can’t be that any more – I live to keep myself, hubby and Axl happy – that is all! People are going to be unhappy about how you bring up you children, they’ll disagree with the morals you teach, the religion you bring him up on, even the nappies you choose – and that’s fine, they can do that, just don’t let it upset you. At first, you will get upset about it, you’ll worry because this person is annoyed or that person made some sort of comment but at the end of the day, you are mom – you know what is best for your baby, you are solely responsible for his happiness and well being because when push comes to shove, if your little one gets ill or is crying because he is unhappy or uncomfortable, you are the one who has to deal with that – no one else, so I believe prevention is better than cure!
I am sure as a little girl, you’d take your baby doll to your mom for her to wrap up. When you grow up, you learn that, that fancy wrap is called swaddling and is one of the most powerful things that you NEED to learn in you first month, or preferably before then. Look at your tummy and think of how cosy and warm your little bean must have been, in there. He felt safe, calm, protected and cosy! Now, he has to deal with this dreaded openess! Say hello to the swaddle! I found that Axl would often just cry and cry – I would try rocking him to sleep, shushing, singing and just about every other thing (including the craziness which is called white noise) and nothing seemed to help. I’d try burping, changing his nappy, feeding and still – he was unhappy. Turns out that babies need to be put to sleep before they become emotional and over tired, and the best way to do this, is to swaddle! Swaddles provide the comfort and warmth that the womb once provided and once you get into the routine of swaddling to put little one to sleep, he will relate the two actions together and fall into a deep sleep, more easily.
I count my blessings each and everyday, for having a boy. I grew up with majority of girls and realize how over emotional they can be. Plus, who wants to worry about every pig in the neighbourhood, dating their princess. However, the lack of experience with boys showed up very quickly. Firstly, you need to actually lift their testicles and clean up under there! This is not a conversation you have with your husband, nor is it something they teach you in sex-ed – but it is something you realize with that first poo-bum, because that stuff gets everywhere! And secondly, circumcision – to do, or not to do? This was probably one of the hardest decision that I will admit – I could not make and am grateful to have had a hubby to make it for me. After reading up on the topic, I found myself wiping back my crocodile tears, questioning my ability as a mother and calling my husband horrible for forcing the decision. Articles suggest that dad and son’s should look the same, to avoid confusion, that circumcision is healthier and that you will worry less about things like infection. You would think that all this makes it easier, right? WRONG! Nothing takes away from the fact that you will hand your son over to some stranger, who will take a blade to your precious little boy’s penis! However, after many tears – I put my pride behind me and we went to the doctor. If I am honest, (which I refuse to admit to my husband) it isn’t that bad, I had coffee during the procedure, which takes a few minutes and before you know it, you have him back in your arms. If this is a decision that your are struggling with, too – think of it like this; this is one tough time, vs. the monthly bad moods that come with daughters.
TIP: If you’re expecting a boy, remember that you have to have it done within the first 2 weeks of your baby-boy’s life, as he will require no anaesthetic or stitches, they just use ponado and numbing cream.
My husband and I battled through the first 3 weeks, but I noticed how recently we just make do with the little sleep we get. We do love a Saturday afternoon nap and I am eternally grateful for the times he asks if he can take Axl, who wakes up at 5am, while I sleep a little longer. Although, it seems silly because thinking about, Axl wakes up 2 or 3 times a night and we are not up for all that long, as most times he falls asleep feeding, in bed – and I do too – but interrupted sleep is far worse than no sleep at all. Your body does adjust and the sleep deprivation headaches pass, so hang in there! Once you have the lack of sleep conquered, you will slowly learn when to fit in time to do mundane tasks like eat and go to the loo!
Coming from a person who was brought up with the attitude, “if you want something done, do it yourself.” This is exceptionally tough to learn! Don’t ever believe that you are any less of a mom when you want to ask for help – you are not! Try thinking of it like this; I am asking for help, to gain some energy, to be the best possible version of myself for my baby. Husbands cannot read minds, as much as we expect them too, so don’t get frustrated when he does nothing. Think back, and ask – did I tell him or ask him to do it? More likely than not, you haven’t. As much as he hates to be a softy and admit it, he loves your little one just as much as you do and wants to be the light of their universe, too! Don’t try to do everything on your own, ask for help and be grateful when you receive it. The other day, I needed the loo so badly, and ended up having to take Axl’s car seat with! I really wished that Darren was at home, as he’d gladly take him. I have learnt to make sure I feed and change Axl before handing him over, so I can steal a few minutes to attempt things like putting on deodorant or showering! Don’t get me wrong, dad’s have their own list of weaknesses, for instance – Darren freaks out with poo-bums as he is scared he gets it all over, but then – I prefer when he dresses Axl as he handles that like a pro. Include him in your routine, try expressing so that he can bond with baby too and acknowledge when he does something well, don’t get upset when he does it wrong instead, correct him in a polite way so that next time, he will know how. Most of all – say thank you. So, babe – thank you for every single thing that you do, for all the support you give and when I feel so damn unpretty – for saying that I am still beautiful and that I am an amazing mom. I never quite knew just how much I love you until I saw how much you love Axl.