Saturday, April 28, 2012
Firstborns and Life Lessons Learned
I did not immediately fall in love with Elizabeth from the moment she was born. It took time.
I remember sitting in the back yard at a girl friends house while our children played when I made my confession. I thought for certain she would be mortified, but instead she admitted she struggled at first too.
I was 27 years old, I had gotten pregnant in December, married in January and moved from my friends and immediate family to Wichita, KS from Oklahoma City, OK and I was terribly sick throughout my pregnancy. Plus it meant no more spur of the moment trips (at least not for a while), no more just going whereever, whenever I wanted and it was closing a chapter in my life that I'd had begun to enjoy in my mid twenties. Suddenly my life was changing, everything I'd done, known and been was changing. I was no longer just me, I was a part of a small fledgling family, I was sick, I was exhausted (I was in labor for 15 hours, who wouldn't be exhausted), and I was in pain. Suddenly, there was this tiny little being who expected me to take care of her. Everyone was happy. I was just tired and needed a few moments to rest. I got it - my mom and sister fought my husband over who got to hold Lizzie first while I rested. Then after an hour of resting I was ready to hold my daughter.
I had enjoyed her growing inside me, aside from the morning sickness and gall bladder attacks taht sent me to the hospital every other week. Chris and I had enjoyed watching her grow inside of me, talking to her and suddenly there she was. As I looked at her, I wondered, shouldn't I feel this great maternal bond? It wasn't there. At least not instantly.
The bonding came as I nursed her, cared for her, changed her, bathed her and snuggled with her at night. It helped that Chris worked third shift so when he came home, he would take her for several hours until she absolutely needed her Mommy and then he would bring her to me. Did I struggle with some depression, yup, but I also learned some things. So here is a short list of things I learned.
1. It's okay to tell the people who love you, to please back off. They mean well, but sometimes well meaning people only stress you out more. When I was figuring out breastfeeding, Mom was a staunch anti-bottle NAZI! No kidding, she had good intentions but she stressed me out so badly that it robbed me of the joy of nursing Elizabeth. So when I was expecting Beka and she started again, I sat down with her and told her I knew she loved me, the girls and the baby growing inside me, but I needed her to back off because I wanted to enjoy Beka more than I had Elizabeth.
2. You do not have to let people in the delivery room. If you are a cranky person when you are sick or hurting - allowing anyone other than your spouse might not be a good idea. I love my family, but they annoyed the crap out of me when I was in labor with Elizabeth. When Beka was born it was the doctors, nurses, and just Chris and I. It was a much more pleasant experience (of course, not being sicker than a dog helped as well and it was only a four hour labor instead of the 15 hour labor that I experienced with Lizzie).
3. Every pregnancy really is different. I was extremely ill with Elizabeth, compounded by a bad gall bladder and stress I was more than a little hesitant to have another child for a year. Then I realized I didn't want Lizzie to be an only child (Sarah didn't live with us at the time). By the time I got pregnant with Beka, I had a lovely, uneventful pregnancy. I had some morning sickness, but once it left (and this time I did leave), it was great and I felt pretty great.
4. Hormones - no one is more of a hostage than the pregnant woman. No matter how much your loved ones joke. I am a pretty level headed, objective person but when I was pregnant with Elizabeth my hormones were all over the place. I cried at the drop of a hat: "Oh look at the dead cat at the side of the road" (accompanied by sobbing), "Oh the guy in the movie said he loves her!" (accompanied by sobbing) "I don't know why I'm crying." (accompanied by more sobbing and frustration which meant even more sobbing). I was a hot mess - minus the hot! Chris was good about it all. With Beka I knew I wasn't in control, I had accepted it and learned to deal with it. I even had the topper of our pick up truck fall on my head and yes, I cried, but it wasn't the "WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME WHY AM I SOBBING LIKE A MORON?!!! sobbing, it was ouch that hurts and I frustrated because my husband should be here helping me and I can't make the stupid truck work (By the way I made him come with me after that every time).
5. Babies are cute and cuddly but they grow up into toddlers who will tick you off, amuse you and make you so nuts you could pull all of your heart out in one swift swing of a pendulum. Toddlers grow up into preschoolers who also do all of the following - and the trend continues I think until you die, or they die - it depends if you let them live long enough to hit adulthood and even that is a coin toss at times.
6. Even those of us who are pretty level headed find that after we have children we find it is easier for us to cry. I still cry when watching Ice Age with the girls when the mom hugs her baby and jumps over the edge of the falls to save her and her baby. And don't get me started on Meet the Robinsons. But worst is I found myself crying over Strawberry Shortcake one day - as soon as it registered, I started laughing hysterically at the irony.
7. Listen to your instincts. If you think something is wrong with your child - trust your gut. It is better to spend the co-pay and go to the pediatrician and discover nothing is wrong than to not go and your child become sicker.
8. Your mom may be right, but she will still annoy you when she tries to tell you something is wrong with your baby. Listen to her, at the very least investigate it to make her be quiet and go away. But when she is right, eat your humble pie and tell her she was right, then if she holds it over your head, ask her how she liked it when Grandma did it to her. Just kidding. Sort of.
I am excited to meet all of our new cousins and babies. They are a lot of fun, but best of all, I get to give these babies back! :D
Have a good week.