7 ways motherhood shocked the hell out of me

August 8 | Guest post by NatureGirl
oliver
Photo by Georgia.

Full disclosure: I have been a mother for nearly six weeks now. I didn't think it'd be easy, but when my pregnancy went extremely smoothly I got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, my baby would be easy and being a Mom wouldn't be too hard. Lo and behold, there are definitely a few things that shocked the hell out of me in both regards.

Birth is painful.
I'm not talking about giving birth, I'm talking about after. What I didn't realize was that there are lasting physical effects of giving birth. Aside from the lochia, I also dealt with vaginal pain, stinging, dizziness, ripped stitches, constipation, and weakness. Fun!

Breastfeeding is HARD.
I come from super crunchy granola roots. Breastfeeding was a given! As my mom said to my son, "We just don't let our babies have breastfeeding problems." First it was the latch, then it was overactive letdown, meaning my milk was basically choking him. This results in lots of arching, pulling away from my breast, crying, screaming, biting of the nipple, and did I mention the crying and screaming? Not the lovely mother-baby bonding experience I imagined.

The lack of sleep isn't that bad.
Or at least, it's not the worst part. It gets easier, especially after the first two weeks.

Just because you happen to be an easy going, calm person doesn't mean that your baby will be.
I didn't assume this would be the case, but I really hoped it would be. Boy, was I wrong! We quickly discovered our baby was a screamer, and will cry for apparently no reason at any hour for any length of time. I don't know if he officially has colic, but it is officially frustrating.

A lot of what I thought I would never do goes out the window when sleep deprivation hits.
At 4 am, when the baby is crying for fifth time tonight, and has woken up each time I put him down in the co-sleeper, and then he happens to fall asleep nicely on my chest, or right next to me, all of that talk about not having him sleep in our bed is silenced by the overriding voice screaming that I Just. Need. To. Sleep. However it happens.

The way I understood feminism was wrong.
Now, that is a broad statement. But it occurred to me the other day, while discussing birth control options with my husband, that parenthood is one area of life where most of what I thought I knew was wrong. Until recently, I could go about my life thinking that my husband's and my roles were equally important, and balanced. We both work, and share cooking and dishes, and he does the laundry but I do the grocery shopping, blah blah blah. And then I realized that in my heterosexual relationship, nothing is more unbalanced than having a child.

I carried the child for nine months, gave birth in a 60+ hour labor, am tied to the child like glue due to breastfeeding, gave up chocolate and onions and garlic and coffee in case that's what causing him gas, etc. And then once I'm finally starting to feel human, I will take on the responsibility of preventing this from happening again. Since I'm breastfeeding, most of the options either involve impeccable timing (ha! That sounds like a great idea!) or implanting something in a place that really doesn't want to be bothered right now.

Having a supportive partner is awesome!
My husband wakes up with ridiculous enthusiasm for middle-of-the-night diaper changes. He tells our baby funny stories, and sings him Radiohead songs, and volunteers to help calm our baby any time of night or day. He doesn't say anything when I roll my eyes when our baby starts screaming AGAIN. We talk about how hard it is, but how lucky we are. And having all of that makes it feel so much more manageable.

I hear that it gets better, and I'm sure that it does. Our baby has started smiling, and cooing from time to time. And when I look at our baby, I can't help but think how crazy wonderful this whole thing is.

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  1. Best line: "I don't know if he officially has colic, but it is officially frustrating."

    I don't know if the photo is of the author, but it is a real thing of beauty.

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    • I have an overactive let down and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that this is why your baby is gassy. And you can fix it.
      Because it comes out so forcefully he'll be swallowing air with it, hense the choking at the crying for hours on end. Wind hurts!
      When you feed him latch him on, when your let down occurs unlatch him and pump (I used my hand and a muslin) until the milk slows then re latch him. The difference in his sucking and his mood will be apparent with in 72 hours (or in our case, 12). Dont worry he'll still have the right amount of fore and hind milk. And you'll not have to do it for ever at 3 months they cope with it better and your let down will calm too.

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  2. My little guy is 13 months old, but I remember all too well how hard those first few weeks were. I am legitimately impressed that you had both enough time and mental clarity to write such an insightful post at just six weeks post partum. Go mama! It indeed does get easier and lots more fun!

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  3. My daughter is 7 weeks today, so I know what you're dealing with literally at this moment. Honestly, I have told my friends that giving birth, sucky though it was, is nothing compared to the first couple weeks where you are totally shell-shocked. But I agree with you…once the baby can DO something, like smile or make eye contact, it all seems much more worthwhile.

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  4. I REALLY feel you on the feminism thing. I have to warn you, I continued to feel that way throughout my son's first year after I went back to work. My husband has really been a true partner as a parent – took on housework because I was stuck on the couch nursing constantly, etc. But there is just no way to deny that women have to carry a child, may breastfeed, may pump at work. My son frequently wanted me because he wanted to nurse. It was just labor-intensive (although for me, totally worth it).

    I will also say that around the time my son got to 9-10 months things just got a lot easier. And now that he is over a year old, it is even better. So hang in there!

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    • In the two weeks since I wrote this, this is what really continues to be a struggle for me. My husband, who is an amazing partner in so many ways, really does not see the imbalance or understand how it is affecting me. I have heard that it gets better, and I look forward to those days, but I also know that because of me going back to work in a few weeks, and my husband returning to school and continuing to work full time, it's not going to be getting better any time soon.
      So for now I'm working on acceptance, which is really really hard.

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      • Totally feel you! My husband and I struggled with this a lot, especially when my son was born because he vehemently refused to use any type of bottle so nursing was the only option. Fortunately I didn't work outside the house but my life had to revolve aruond nursing…how long I could go out with girlfriends depending on when he had last nursed…when I could take a shower/how much sleep I could get/etc. God I hated those first two years (took until then for him to sleep through the night) but now that he's almost 4, we truely do share parenting. Personally, I survived on beer and therapy. Our marriage took a hit but we've come out the other side more appreciative of one another. Good luck navigating this delicate situation!

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      • Acceptance. YES. At first, I can't imagine it being equal, which is hard. What has helped quite a bit is seeing my husband with our niece and nephew – 10 and 7. He's *so awesome* with them, that it reminds me the baby phase is only a short time, and roles will even out over the course of our kid's childhood.

      • Part of the way I feel the inequality is in the way that my husband and I think differently about about parenting and how it affects what we do.

        I am the one who keeps track of what my son is eating and makes the decisions about schedules, and it is somehow my problem to arrange child care even though we both work (I work part-time). Generally my mind is more in it than his. Sometimes I just want him to decide what time my son needs to go to bed and how to handle the latest new phase he's in. My husband can go to work and just work, whereas I feel I am always on call.

        Is this a feminist issue? I'm not sure, but I think no matter how equally we try to share the work, for most people I know the women are just far more invested in their kids, or are invested in a different way.

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        • "for most people I know the women are just far more invested in their kids, or are invested in a different way."

          This hasn't been my personal experience at all, which leads me to think what you're seeing may the result of socialization and/or internalized expectations related to gender roles. I strongly suggest reading this post for more thoughts on the issue: http://offbeatmama.com/2012/04/equal-parenting

    • I totally agree as well, and have in the past been blasted by other offbeat readers for saying something to the effect that the mother/father roles can feel VERY unequal during that first year. My husband is a great father, happy to help whenever he can, but the fact is that when I was exclusively breastfeeding, there often wasn't that much he could do to help. As you said, putting all of that on top of the physical inequality of childbearing, and that first year of motherhood can feel like quite a burden (albeit a welcome and wonderful one). I was repeatedly struck by just how incredibly responsible for this little life I felt… that this tiny squalling meatloaf NEEDED me, and only me, in a way that I had never imagined. It was a bit overwhelming at times. But now, at 13 months, my son is weaned and a total daddy's boy, so it does change with time.

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      • Yes! My son never only took a bottle for a few short weeks, so it's been me, on duty 24/7 for almost ten months now. I had to quit my part-time job because he refused anything but the boob! But now, at this ten month mark he is starting to self-wean, Dad can help feed him dinner, and he sleeps mostly through the night so I can kick back on the couch with my man with a beer in hand and a smile on my face after I put him down for the night. It is crazy unequal these first months, but it does get better, I promise!!!

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  5. The picture in this post is fricking amazing! It makes me want to happy cry with that women.

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  6. My son is just over 7 weeks old, and even as the oldest sibling of six by quite a few years with a single mom it's been… shocking I guess is a good word.

    What surprised me the most is how very hard it is in ways I never would have imagined, and how easy it is in all the ways I did. Lack of sleep, crying (admittedly with the exception of weeks 3-5 he's a fairly calm baby though), diapers, carting him around, being at his beck and call… it's all okay. I even enjoy a lot of it. Sitting home alone with him for six weeks was hard (we have no cable, and just moved into a house that was still being worked on after being gutted so the only useable room was our bedroom). The completely unexpected crippling fear of losing him was harder. I'm finally starting to ease up on the latter, which I blame on hormones and some really scary medical things my little sister recently started going through drawing my attention to how fragile people really are.

    I also didn't expect to be so anal. Having such a large family I've always been so laid back with babies, all the "mommy war" stuff seemed silly, since I'm by far the crunchiest member of my family. Breastfeeding was important to me, but not something to be all preachy about and I didn't think twice about my sister not trying with her son. So when I wasn't able to produce more than 3 oz a DAY despite HOURS of pumping and nursing and everything else, I didn't expect to feel like such a failure. It kept me up fighting tears for HOURS. I'm getting over it now.

    I'll second the smiling thing though, even if the first one I saw was directed at his elephant mobile and not me, it's INSANE how much easier it seems when you can get an expression or a coo back for your efforts. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Man, do I feel you on the crippling fear of loss. I knew about SIDS, but I never expected that I would be so incredibly afraid of it. It was absolutely terrifying. The night we came home from the hospital I was a complete wreck, and I sobbed to myself with fear on several occasions. I had no idea that was coming. Upon confessing my fear and sadness, one of my friends simply said, "That isn't going to happen." And that honestly helped. And then I bought one of those AngelCare baby monitors. So at least I could get some sleep and not worry so much. But yeah, never saw that part coming.

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    • Nikky wrote: "So when I wasn't able to produce more than 3 oz a DAY despite HOURS of pumping and nursing and everything else, I didn't expect to feel like such a failure. It kept me up fighting tears for HOURS. I'm getting over it now."

      Reading this actually made me get all weepy… I had the same problem with my son (he even sucked a whole layer of skin off one of my nipples in his desperation to breastfeed) and of all the things I have done "wrong," NOTHING has made me feel as much of a failure as this. I admit he's now 10 and on occasion I still cry… until this point I really thought I was alone in this. Thank you for sharing your story and letting me know that there are others out there who understand.

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      • I wanted so badly to breastfeed, too, and it just wasn't in the cards for us. (I lost a layer of skin on my nipples too! And they were a lovely shade of super-bruised purple!) I feel more guilty about not being able to breastfeed than any other "failure" I can recall about my daughter's first year of life. I'm hoping it fades with time.

        • I had a hard go with breastfeeding too so I exclussively pumped which was also super hard. When I stopped at 6 1/2 months a part of me felt guilty but I was hormonally feeling better and mentally it was way better for me too. Which means it was better for my baby. Don't beat yourself up, your baby deserves your best – a happy mom.

  7. I have a 10 week old, and for whatever reason, I don't know if it's my age, my lucky lottery winner easy baby, or the fact that I finally gave up on the misery of unsuccessful exclusive breastfeeding efforts after 6 weeks, but I actually find motherhood, so far, is less difficult than I expected. Please don't throw things. I mean, yeah, it's hard. The other day, our baby somehow managed to projectile poop all over our dog's face, when we were at someone else's house, and then the dog ran into the living room in the midst of our hosts while I chased him yelling, "He's got poop on his face!" That was hard, the clean up was hard, the laughter was hard, and we all napped hard afterwards, including the dog. But seriously, there were many times during the first four weeks where it was seriously, intensely hard. But overall, and now that we're essentially out of the woods of the major adjustment, I find being a mom to be awesome, and not intensely difficult. And I actually expected it to be that way, and I was right. I'm just weighing in because for 9 months I read article after blog post after book explaining how incredibly impossible everything would be, and it just hasn't been my experience. However, let me throw most of the credit to my husband, my mom and mother in law living in town and helping quite a bit, and again, my very mellow baby.

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    • hahahahahahahahahahahaha! Poopy dog! I haven't laughed that hard in ages, I have tears in my eyes

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    • I'm trying terribly hard not to laugh at your poor dog as I bounce my 4 week old on the fit ball to keep her asleep. Don't wake the finally sleeping baby!

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    • Totally. We hear so many horror stories about how bad motherhood is. I also found it not nearly as hard as everyone made it out to be. Am I doing something wrong?

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      • For me, I'd heard so many horror stories that I think I was over-prepared for it being really really awful and found myself pleasantly surprised. I think your impressions can very much be related to how your expectations have been set.

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  8. Hi
    Um, I also consider myself a feminist but 2 kids later, I glumly went to see a nurse about birth control options. Glum not because I so desperately want another baby but because I don't like BC pills. Or any other contraceptive method. So I reluctantly took the nurse's prescription for yet another pill that might not significantly impact my life when she said :"You know, if you're done, your HUSBAND could be the one to do something about birth control." Duh! I hadn't even thought of that!!!
    Definitely something I will push for when I know we're done babymakin!

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    • Happily, my husband wholeheartedly agrees to a vasectomy when we are done babymaking. I am currently pregnant with our second boy, and although we both SWORE we were stopping at two, we both have that nagging desire to maaaayyyybe try just once more for a girl :). But then, snip snip for sure! After watching me recover from childbirth, he says it is the least he can do.

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      • condoms are still an option as well. I know sometimes its hard to 'go back' to them, but started using condoms after like 10 years on the pill and i'm pretty happy about it.

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    • My hubby got a vasectomy because I can't use any BC other than condoms and frankly they suck! It it awesome! The procedure is quick, he healed quick, and now nothing to have to remember or worry about!

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  9. I can totally relate to this post, I have a 5 week old and certain things were more shocking than others. But the three biggest things on that list is 1) breastfeeding is hard 2)once you are sleep deprived, things you thought you would never do- for me, the pacifier- my saviour! 3) Recovering from birth is hard (even when you ended up with a c-section, like me!)

    Great post… and hang in there. Also- I had the pregnancy from hell, so I get what you say about feminism as well. Hard to be "equal" when he doesn't have to vomit for 8 hours straight then head to work, or have nosebleeds, or stop being able to walk for more than 15 minutes at a time… it ain't equal when its your body doing the work, and you are still "expected" to do all the other work!

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    • I've heard that c-sections are harder to recover from. It's an actual surgery

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      • I think it really depends on the situation. I had a c-section, and I think I got the easy end of the deal. That's in part because my baby was breach, so my surgery was scheduled and I never went into labor. I had no infections, and everything went swimmingly (the only part of the pregnancy that did, really). This also means that I didn't have to deal with any of the more painful aspects of recovering from a vaginal birth, such as tearing, hemorrhoids from pushing, stitches in my lady parts, etc. There are plenty of people that have a super difficult recovery from c-section, too. So my point is not "c-sections FTW!" but rather, it is a unique experience for everyone, and trying to compare experiences if not a useful intervention. It's all hard!

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      • this is true. i had a c-section with my first and it hurt badly to wear the most giant maternity pants that i owned. i was in tears because it hurts so bad. my mom told me "YOU DON'T HAVE TO WEAR PANTS, HONEY!!" i was on narcotics for pain.

        second baby was a vbac and the recovery was cake in comparison. i got tylenol and advil… nbd!!!

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  10. The BC thing makes me nuts. Remember to take this pill at EXACTLY the same time every day, while having a brand new baby? Or put this piece of metal all up in your bits… Not great choices.

    I opted to do nothing till my cycle started up again, then went back to taking my temp daily. Worked for me through college, why not now?

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    • I have never gone the temperature route, and at this point I am terrified of becoming pregnant. So I caved and opted for the mini pill. I set a daily reminder on my phone to help out my unreliable memory.

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      • It takes some getting used to, that's for sure. Helps that I started doing it before I was actually "sexualy active." It was a little weird to get back on it after baby though, since my cycle changed from 28 to 38 days. But it worked out.
        Of course, I didn't hurt that I was trying for another one not too long after my cycle came back.

      • You might research different methods of natural family planning. These practices involve both husband and wife, so there's shared responsibility. Also no harmful chemicals in your body ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Just wanted to add a bit of info. An alternative to the pill or an iud is an implant (mine is called nexplanon). It goes in like a shot in your arm, and other than some itching at the site I haven't had any other side effects. Might be singing

  11. I have more of the physical responsibility of parenting, but my partner has taken on the lion's share of everything else. On days I was so touched out that just breastfeeding is all I can do (all… yeah, only 12 hours of it…) he's the one who had the energy to play with the baby without resentment, to change three poopy diapers in a row, to refill my water glass when the idea of getting off the couch was too much for me.

    Probably the most surprising part of the early weeks of motherhood for me was how little I was able to do besides feed the baby. I wanted to (and to some degree expected myself to) play host to my guests, or at least make myself food, and it just was not gonna happen. My husband really stepped up and did literally everything besides breastfeed.

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  12. I don't know if any understanding as feminism really qualifies as "wrong", but my understanding of it is always changing and developing. If anything, motherhood has made me even more pro-feminism. Admittedly, childbirth and raising a newborn are a bit biologically unequal and unfair for the mother. But that inequality is magnified and made much worse by patriarchy and the social atmosphere we live in – the father is probably back at work right away so can't help as much with other chores, breastfeeding in public is frowned upon, very few places are child or family friendly, a huge amount of pressure and shame is placed on mothers for every decision we make, the communities that new mothers have to help and support them are small or non-existent, etc. Pregnancy and the first year of motherhood would most likely be challenging no matter what, but if our care giving work was socially respected and supported I think it would make a world of difference.

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    • Good point! No matter how much our personal lives and choices defy traditional gender roles and responsibilities, society as a whole supports very traditional roles. You are absolutely right, and have helped me to have a little less personal frustration with my husband and his freedom.

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    • I agree with you — pregnancy and motherhood have made me more feminist in all the ways you describe — and they have also opened up in many so many inner dialogues about "sameness" vs "difference" when it comes to equality between the male and female sexes anyway. It's all a lot of stuff I am not good at articulating yet. But parenthood has both complicated and strengthened my feminism.

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    • I'm really curious about whether "breastfeeding in public is frowned upon" is something you (or any other commentors) have personally had trouble with. Before my daughter was born, I was mentally gearing up for battle in that respect. I've been (pleasantly) surprised how much of a non-issue it has been. Maybe it's just where I am (major city on the east coast)?

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      • I don't know. I live in Kansas City, and have breastfed in public many times here and throughout small towns in Kansas while on a road trip, and I've never even noticed someone giving me the stinkeye. Have even breastfed at the table in a restaurant while giving my order to the waiter/waitress…no problems other than perhaps more direct eye contact than usual ;). Maybe I'm just oblivious, but I never even use a nursing cover. Just whip out the boob whenever and wherever I need to. Takes a little getting used to but really no biggie.

    • I have felt this inequality, too, but what I hadn't considered is how difficult it was for my husband going back to work. He was gone for 12 hours, so he had very little awake time with our baby and he felt guilty for leaving everything to me throughout the day. Although I am tied to the baby through breastfeeding, it's such an amazing blessing to be able to spend each day with her and see all the new things she does first. My husban misses out in a lot of ways.

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      • Yeah, I have to remind myself that working his ass off in the office for 9+ hours on little sleep and then coming home to a crying baby and cranky wife isn't a picnic for my husband either.

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  13. Great post – this has been exactly my experience. For me, the emotional stuff has been easier than I expected, and the physical stuff has been harder. I was worried about post-partum depression, and about the pressure of an entirely new life in my hands, but I've been able to stay really centered so far. I was not prepared for how long it would take to recover from a routine vaginal delivery. And I definitely was not prepared for how difficult breastfeeding would be. I thought we were OK after we got past thrush, flat nipples, and mastitis. But my little guy also has extreme dairy sensitivity, so I have to be really careful about what I eat.

    Oh, and for the birth-control curious, I got an IUD and I love it.

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  14. I adore this essay!

    And I totally hear you on the gender roles thing. We, too, had a very egalitarian relationship until our baby arrived, and then…. wow, so much was ME! We now call that the "biological stage of parenting" — and once breastfeeding ended around one year, we ended up having a more egalitarian system again.

    I was really worried with our second child, now eight weeks old, about the return of some of the resentment I sometimes had towards him, even though I loved pregnancy, found birth amazing, loved breastfeeding (after a very bad start), etc.

    Fortunately, this time, it isn't as unequal. In terms of the baby, our roles are definitely gendered, but he does so darn much with our first child that I feel like we are co-parenting more than when we just had one infant. I simply cannot imagine how much harder this would be for me without all that he does with our son!

    Thanks for a great essay!

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  15. Off subject a bit, but when you mentioned that thing about cutting out foods due to the kiddo having gas from breastfeeding, i recalled when this happened to me! i got down to essentially bread and water, and the little guy's gas was extremely unbearable to be around, as well as painful for him. i introduced formula at some point, but it was the same thing. i switched to lactose free formula about the same time he totally self-weaned from my boob, and no more gas! he was just super lactose intollorant. he's 4, and totally grew out of it. still scratching my head that the lactose in my breast milk made him so ill, but was happy to have found a solution, as well as having a normal diet again!

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  16. It sounds to me like you are doing a great job – for me one of the big challenges around parenting has been being willing to flex my preconceived notions around how I will parent in order to meet the needs of my specific children.

    I think the whole biological thing gets better, and I'd tie that aspect to to birthing your children more than being in a heterosexual relationship. I would imagine that lesbian partners who choose childbirth experience a similar dynamic. Likewise, my kids were adopted as newborns and as much as I felt wistful about not being able to breastfeed them I didn't feel at ALL bad about the fact that there was nothing I could do for them that their dad couldn't. Being able to split nighttime wake-ups and feedings is awesome. And from what I've seen after kids wean in bio-mom&partner relationships things can become more evenly split as well.

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  17. I'm interested that nobody seems to consider the diaphragm as a realistic choice of contraceptive. No hormones; no iud; no more of a disturbance than a condom to put in (I would say less), but you don't feel it at all once it's there; no surgery. It's the form of birth control I chose when I decided I'd had enough of the pill over nine years ago, and I would never go back. I wonder why it isn't widely popular. Anyone have any wisdom?

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    • Well, here in Canada it's quite hard to find a diaphragm, although I guess that's caused by its lack of popularity.

      I think they are unpopular because of their relatively low success rate, as well as the fact that you are supposed to use them with spermicide, which is irritating and increases your risk of getting STIs. Also, spermicide is more or less not sold anymore here in Canada (for the reasons I mention above).

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    • My doctor actually never mentioned it as an option, and i forgot to ask her about it. And I forgot about that until just now! I'll have to ask her now.

    • Diaphragms have 15-20 pregnancies per 100 women using them for a year. Which makes them great second methods to increase efficacy, but not so great as a single method of birth control.

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  18. All.Of.This.

    Every word. I was at an ICAN meeting last night where a wise woman with years of experience and membership in our local birth community said something of beauty and I'm about to botch it but it was something like this:
    We spend 9 months preparing for birth, a single event in our lives, one of great importance but a single event none the less, and virtually zero time preparing for life with a newborn.

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    • Ha totally. I remember very similar words of wisdom about weddings and marriages; it hadn't occurred to me that they apply to having babies as well!

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  19. Another delightful post that reminds us how we're all different. And our children are all different.

    My son is a little over two now, so I've forgotten A LOT of this stuff. But sleep depravation was always the hardest part of having a newborn and now having a small child.

    I was lucky to have a fairly smooth recovery and an easy time nursing, but my son is just not a good sleeper. He's super easy going, he just won't sleep through the night without some sort of comforting. Oh well. This too shall pass. (;

    Good luck!

  20. I can rrelate on most things. The first two months were almost the death of me! My son is soon to be 5months and i am stilll breast feeding exclusively and I am finally over the resentment of my husband getting to sleep and not me. He is the best though he did get up to change diapers and try to let me sleep but he made things worse! So now only I get up unless he needs a diaper change and I'm not as frustrated. Yes the bbaby is glued to mme still and I have yet to go out alone (unlless its to the store really quick and even then I'm worried) because he doesn't take a bottle (even the expensive bf'ing ones) unless he's dieing of hunger and sometimes not even then. He will not go to slleep unless he has had the breast.
    yes im tired because every time he turnss a month he eats endlessly every hour. But I have learned that this is what I chose and I just spend my feedings looking at him, smellling him and being grateful. As for my husband i try not to worry about what he does to what I do. It's not fair. He would do so much more if he ccould & I really try to appreciate what he does do. Which I have to say I'm pretty lucky when I look at my friends and people I know.
    it took me almost three months to be ok and some days I'm still on edge but i pick my battles. I dont have to do anything but take care of my son if I dont feell up to it. Keep thinking positively. And let the husband thing take its course but don't let it consume you. Look at what he does..not always what he doesn't

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    • I've been there and just want to tell you that it does get better and in the future you might even switch roles! My son is 2 1/2 now and after more than a year of not really needing much from his father, he wants him ALL THE TIME. As in, sing papa, kiss my hurt, change me papa, etc. When he wakes up from a nightmare he wants to go to papa's bed, and doesn't mind much that I'm there too. It's helping me have some perspective as I care for a new little one 24/7.

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  21. For me the lack of sleep *is* the hardest part. It's what's making everything else hard for me. My twins are 10 weeks old and getting up every 3 hours to feed them, change diapers, etc is killing me. Only getting 2 hours of sleep at a time for 10 weeks now? I feel half dead and wonder how anyone ever does this whole having a baby thing more than once! No joke.

    3 agree
    • Same. It's like a slow form of torture. My daughter is almost two and a half years old and she still doesn't sleep through the night. At the peak of it, she was getting up 10+ times a night, every single night. Even now she only sleeps a solid, full eight-hour night 2 out of every 7 days. I went back to work when she was 11 months old, and the challenge of working, parenting my other child and being a halfway decent partner to my husband (who works night shift, and therefore can't help during the week), all on two or three hours of sleep a night? Forget it. Most days I feel successful if I remember to put on pants.

      As for birth control, when my daughter was 18 months old and there was no end in sight to her sleeplessness, my dear husband made himself an appointment for a vasectomy. There's no way we could add another child to this mess!

  22. For me the lack of sleep -is- the hardest part. It's what's making everything else hard for me. My twins are 10 weeks old and getting up every 3 hours to feed them, change diapers, etc is killing me. Only getting 2 hours of sleep at a time for 10 weeks now? I feel half dead and wonder how anyone ever does this whole having a baby thing more than once! No joke.

    1 agrees
  23. For me the lack of sleep -is- the hardest part. It's what's making everything else hard for me. My twins are 10 weeks old and getting up every 3 hours to feed them, change diapers, etc is getting to me. Only getting 2 hours of sleep at a time for 10 weeks now? I feel half dead and wonder how anyone ever does this whole having a baby thing more than once! No joke.

  24. Great post and congratulations on your new baby. As a mother of two and someone who has also had (has!) overactive letdown I thought I'd suggest that your baby's gas probably isn't food related but simply related to swallowing a lot of air when eating. It gets better as the baby learns to deal with the flow and as your flow regulates (at 6 weeks things are still working themselves out boobwise). Good luck with the rest of this fabulous journey!

    1 agrees
    • Yeah, could be swallowing air, and could also be an imbalance of foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk (the milk that comes out first) is higher in sugar and therefore more likely to cause gas. Ina May Gaskin suggests in her Guide to Breastfeeding to pump or express a bit of milk before latching on. The your baby won't have to try and guzzle the brunt of the letdown. Lots of other suggestions on kellymom: http://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/fast-letdown/

  25. I have 5 kiddos 15 to 7…try to enoy the little moments and the frustrations…on my kids birthdays i sit with them and tell them the story of their birth sweet funny things about them and even some of my frustrations…they love hearing about the journey that we have taken together things that r just heirs and mine.

    1 agrees
  26. Your baby is crying because he doesn't like Radiohead! Lol Seriously, my daughter is 25 and she still doesn't sleep through the night but her brother started to when he was 6 weeks. They are all so different.

  27. Loved this post. I was also completely caught off guard by almost all of this. Thankfully, my mom was able to take off some time from work to help me deal with the shock.

    Just an FYI–There are many more prevention of baby options than just timing and implants. Talk to your doctor, but I found that using a diaphragm was an excellent option for me while I was nursing. It's more hassle than a pill and can interrupt the "flow" of things, but overall I liked it.

  28. I have a 10 week old son, and I went through some post-traumatic stress from the birth: I pushed for 4.5 hours, he had to be vaccuum assisted, I suffered a 3rd degree tear and multiple lacerations in my cervix close to a major artery. Needless to say, my low-risk pregnancy quickly ended in a couple of blood transfusions after labor.

    But the hardest part is breastfeeding. Not only the 24/7, nipple soreness, oversupply, overactive letdown – but also the physical element of having giant breasts (only sidelying tends to work with us). Normally I'm a 32C, now I'm a 32F – and I'm a petite skinny girl and having larger hips – I still can't fit into my clothes because either A) my boobs are too big or B) my hips are too big or C) wearing dresses is a no-go. It's also hard to find supportive nursing bras. So I'm still wearing elasticy clothes (I'm a SAHM). This makes me frustrated because I still don't feel myself yet.

    I think i'm suffering from vasophasms, which makes it really uncomfortable when he nurses and I want to stop soon so I can have at least a year of feeling myself before we try for another. Oh, and vaginal dryness from breastfeeding FUN.

    The SIDS thing – OMG I freaked out for weeks, and still do.

    This all being said, the crying has subsided, he now laughs and smiles freely and his feedings are a little longer – if only he can sleep in longer intervals at night so i'm not so exhausted – this thing called motherhood is pretty great.

    Now if people can back off on the "breastfeed OR YOU WILL BE SHAMED".

    1 agrees
  29. I feel for ya sweetie, I really do! Try thinking of it all as an adventure where you get to have tons of Joy – more than mere fun- and you get to grow up at the same time. Parenting is a Rite of Passage that begins with the birth of our first child. You are aware, so be grateful and just set aside any pre-conceived notions and Love it all! The misery as well as the sighs of relief.
    I have survived 3 teenagers and all I can say is you aint seen nothing yet!! Check out 'Attachment Parenting'. One day you will look back and say, what happened? Where did my babies go? Trust me, you will.

    1 agrees
  30. Thank you for sharing. Congratulations on your new baby, I hope things get better soon.

    I just wanted to say regarding contraception, I am currently on the contraceptive injection, which has been such a blessing for me because my memory is too bad to rely on timing or taking something everyday! I checked if I would be able to continue with it in the future when I have a child and want to breastfeed. I found Family planning experts and a host of organizations, including the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, consider the birth control shot to be compatible with breastfeeding. So that might be an option for you.

    1 agrees
    • Hey all! We're actually running a question post about contraception and birth control on August 15th.. so please contribute all of this info there! It will be much appreciated! ๐Ÿ™‚

      PS: I don't mean that you need to remove it from this post, just asking that you reiterate what you've said here ON the future post. Thanks!

      1 agrees
  31. I forgot to mention, my son has been rolling over since he was 3m old. then at 4m he learned to roll completely over and has been rolling over the whole house ever since. THAT surprised me. My daughter didn't do this til 6m. He now worm crawls & low crawls at almost 5m old. He's also wanting to sit up and does the tripod thing. He's so active that I don't know what to do most days. If he's not constantly stimulated, he's fussy. He figures out toys so fast and is over them. Never liked a swing and Loves his eurgo carrier. So the only way to soothe him sometimes is to go for walks. Once we do he's pretty calm.
    Does anyone else's child do or have done this?! I heard boys are more active then girls but I think this threw me through a loop and so it stresses me out so much some days.
    We have started him on food at 4.5m because of his hourly eating some days and I have started pumping but since he doesn't take a bottle we are going to try a sippy cup. He tries to grab our food or cups, did I say how egar he is?! LOL.. He's still the love of my life!

  32. What an honest post! I could have written this, and sometimes still could. My son is 17 months old and though I love him to pieces, my expectations of me as a mother were not really that close to the reality. Being a parent is HARD and I don't think enough people are honest about that. Of course, it is also pretty wonderful and amazing and rewarding, but those things don't negate the fact that it is really difficult at times too.
    I remember my Mum telling me, when she came to visit when my son was 3 weeks old, not to wish the time away, and that things would get better. At the time I felt like throwing stuffed toys in her face, (just as I did when she said the same thing during a terrible sleep regression we experienced at 9 months), but once the insanity of those first few months had died down, I finally understood. Now I try to take each day as it comes and enjoy discovering my toddler discovering the world instead of being impatient for him to say more than 6 words and stop taunting our dog and cat and throwing things on the floor etc.
    It is a journey, a fabulous, crazy journey, and, to quote my Mum, it does get better. Enjoy the ride, and remember that expectations are there to be broken.

    2 agree
  33. I have an overactive let down and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that this is why your baby is gassy. And you can fix it.
    Because it comes out so forcefully he'll be swallowing air with it, hense the choking at the crying for hours on end. Wind hurts!
    When you feed him latch him on, when your let down occurs unlatch him and pump (I used my hand and a muslin) until the milk slows then re latch him. The difference in his sucking and his mood will be apparent with in 72 hours (or in our case, 12).

  34. Holy Moly!
    I am kind of icy and unmoved, but this actually made me cry. My husband and I are trying to conceive. I am sick to fucking death of all of the earth mother wonder that I hear a lot about. I am afraid and I want to know that my fears are founded.
    I also love the last part about the best partner and it's great.
    Thank you!
    Also, I second (third, fifth?) the amazingness of this photo.

    2 agree

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