Sep 16, 2008

What to expect when you're expecting

For me, going from not being a mom to being a mother-of-one was world-rocking. It wasn't like Nathaniel was a tough baby ... on the contrary, he was a great baby. He adjusted to scheduling really well, and he slept through the night at 8 weeks. But it didn't help matters that my husband was traveling 36 weeks a year at that point. I just didn't do well with the massive sleep deprivation, and being a single mom most of the time made it even worse.

When our second son was born, I thought maybe things would seem twice as hard. Funny, though ... it actually ended up feeling half as hard. I learned my biggest life lesson during those first weeks after Nick was born: Having realistic expectations makes a big difference. For most first-time moms, I think it's nearly impossible to have realistic expectations of what your "new normal" will feel like. I certainly thought it would be rewarding, but I severely underestimated how tied down I would feel ... going from living life completely free to living in two-hour increments, or less. On no sleep.

During the first three weeks with Nathaniel, I felt like I was living in a vacuum. He ate every two to three hours, and I was pumping in between. He'd wake up to eat at 1 a.m., for example, and I'd spend 15 minutes trying to get him to nurse on each side. At 1:30, when we were both perturbed in the extreme (and he was still very hungry), I'd supplement with a bottle. At 1:50 I'd burp him, change his diaper and put him back down.

Then I'd hook up the pump and pump for 15 minutes and take it downstairs to store it in the fridge. By the time I got back in bed it was about 2:30, and another 10 to 30 minutes would pass before I fell back asleep. If I was lucky, he'd sleep past 3:30, possibly until 4 a.m. If I wasn't lucky, he'd be awake after I'd only been asleep for 15 or 20 minutes. WHOA, NELLY.

It wasn't that no one had warned me about the lack of sleep ... it's just that no matter how hard you try to prepare an expectant mother for that reality, it's impossible to understand until you experience it yourself. I made it Three Whole Weeks nursing, and then I threw in the towel and went to bottle only. Ranks up there in the top five decisions I’ve ever made.

So, the second time around, with Nick, I was totally prepared for the reality. I wasn't looking forward to that part of it, but I was prepared. And that made all the difference in the world. From the very beginning, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. (With Nathaniel, when people mentioned a light at the end of a tunnel, I wanted to kick them in the teeth.) I tried nursing again, made it two weeks, went to the bottle. With Jake this year, I tried nursing, made it one week, went to the bottle.

I feel like with each subsequent child, things have gotten easier to handle. Not easier, just easier to handle. It’s all about my expectations and knowing when to quit in order to stay ahead, and the most important thing I’ve realized is, it’s totally worth it.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...