I have only been a parent for seven months. That doesn't sound like much, but it is a whole new type of school. And boy do I wish they had a textbook for it. Here are some of the lessons I have learned.
Intro: Being a mom is pure bliss..... There is not much more rewarding then making your baby laugh, and smile. When they reach for you because they know YOU are THEIRS. Those moments when they are sad and they look around the room searching for your face. Watching them grow and enter new stages is thrilling. Being a mom is indeed pure bliss. But it wouldn't be the schooling I discussed earlier if I was not learning. Here are the courses I have taken in the last 209 days to be exact.
Lesson 1: Being a mom is (super) gross. First you have the spit up. Ryks has had reflux since he was 3 weeks old. I feel out of place when I am not wearing a nice white milky patch (or lately, orange, green, or whatever color of vegetable or fruit he ate) on my clothes. I decided a long time ago that I wouldn't change my clothes after he spit up. Going through 15 outfits a day isn't super realistic, for me at least. Judge all you want. :) You learn to love the smell of rotten milk and dried up food. It's delicious. Then you have poop and pee. Blowouts, and getting squirted are just another part of this blissful ride. However, all the sudden you become fascinated with your babies poop. Is it the right color? is it too thin? too hard? "dang it! he is constipated! grab the apple juice!" (maybe i'm the only mom that does that............awkward.) The last thing I will mention is that you shed. I don't know if it is from pregnancy hormones or what but I am losing my hair. Literally I should be bald. Yes, I am admitting this, but whenever I put Ryker on the ground I put a blanket down so that he doesn't get my hair in his hands. It's that bad.
Lesson 2: When you have a baby that wakes up every two hours you become... exhausted? that might be an understatement. I can honestly say that Heavenly Father has blessed and carried me beyond what I can express. I have not slept longer than four hours since Ryker was born, yet somehow I can function like a normal human being. At least I hope I do and I am not just delusional. I have been nervous to sleep train because of Ryker's reflux. However, I mentally got to the point where it was time. I have heard so many things, such as...having your baby cry it out will cause trust issues later on. Or, it kills their brain cells. Being a Social Work major I am a sucker for these types of studies. But it has gotten to the point where I need the sleep to be a good mom during the day, and quite honestly Ryker needs the sleep too. So last week we started. (I am also a sucker for all of the SIDS studies so I try to follow them to the T) I didn't want Ryks sleeping on his tummy. I didn't get bumpers. I don't like loose blankets in the crib, and so I just use sleep sacks. Alas, I gave in to the stomach sleeping when that is literally the only way he would stay asleep for longer than 10 minutes. Then, when we started sleep training I discovered....My kid is a wild child. He would start rolling and bang his head against the crib and get his feet caught in between the openings. Another rule broken, I ordered bumpers. Three nights ago we started the real training. That night was pretty rough, but not bad compared to others. He cried a total of an hour and a half. How much has he cried the last two nights? Not at all. He slept for six and seven hours straight. HOLLA! When he wakes up I go in and give him his binky and he goes right back down. Moral of the story.....moms know their babies. Studies are generic and bundle all in one. Yes they have value. But babies are not generic. They are one of a kind and moms know and have an intuition for them that is more powerful than studies. Trust yourself.
Lesson 3: Breastfeeding is wonderful, but isn't the easiest task. (Quick plug in: I am not in any way hoping to knock formula feeding with this portion of the post. There is not much that I hate more than when people judge how another mother chooses to feed her child. That is simply between mother and baby. Being a mom is hard work and I personally know how it feels to be judged when you are simply doing the best that you can).
I chose to breastfeed Ryker before he was born. I am one of those extremely fortunate women that could be half cow half women. In fact a lot of the time I feel like I am 3/4 cow. Anyways....At first it hurts. Dang bad. When they latch and you get those insta tears and that toe curling sensation. Then you get the hang of it and another challenge comes up. For instance, for us it was Ryker's reflux. Wow I am bringing that up a lot. However, he has had to eat every two hours and still most of the time does. It is hard to do or schedule anything when your reason for existence is to feed your child round the clock all day every day. Sometimes we would need to feed every hour. It just depends. Then you get the questions and comments from people saying, "maybe he spits up because you feed him too much." "Are you sure he is getting enough?" "Why don't you supplement with formula?" or some other comment that just feels like a punch in the stomach to a new mom.
If you breastfeed you get aquatinted with quite a lot of super comfy situations. You know the feeling of feeding on a public bathroom floor because you are too embarrassed to feed out in public. The backseat of a car becomes rather familiar. Feeding while standing is a super great workout for the biceps. I got the opportunity to pump ALL THE TIME because I am gone part time for my internship. It is hard wanting to get so many ounces from pumping in the bathroom during a 5 minute break in hopes that your baby will have milk for the next day when you have to leave them again. To the lady that asked, "wouldn't it be easier to just give him formula?" yes, it would. However, I made a commitment and I want to stick to it as long as possible. Breastfeeding is a teamwork sort of a challenge. Support is definitely ideal.
Are you ready for my favorite breastfeeding story so far? One early morning Addison and I went fishing. We were at a nice isolated area and it was time for Ryker to eat. It was sooo early and seriously nobody was around. So I whip out the girls in preparation for the feeding. After a few short minutes a boat full of fisherman come whipping around the bend....Just my luck. I am sure they weren't expecting to get breakfast and a show that early morning, but they got one for free!
Lesson 4: This is my current lesson that I am studying for and not quite ready to take the exam. You have to be comfortable in your own skin and know that your love for your baby is all that matters. People have opinions, and judgements that simply don't matter. Church was not ideal yesterday for Addison and I. Ryker is super busy and insists on standing on the chair next to us holding on to the back and staring at the people behind us. Well he spit up everywhere. On the ground, on the chair, all over himself and I. TWICE. I was so embarrassed that the people behind me where wondering what I did to make him do that. Obviously not a rational thought, right? Why would that even go through my mind? Then Addison was watching him while he was sitting on the ground and he fell over and hit his head pretty hard. He started crying, and so Addison took him out. I sat there just knowing people were judging us for abusing our kid. HA! What the heck is wrong with me? Parenting is hard. It will always be hard. Mistakes are made. Parents are mortal and definitely not perfect. Why then am I so scared of messing up and learning?
Along with this, I need to learn to stick to my guns. Tell people the way I want something, and let them know when something bothers me. I have a tendency to back off when others are around and act like I agree with what they are saying, when in my mind they sound completely off base. I am the mom, it is now my role to fill. I sound more pathetic than I really am....hopefully :)
Lesson 5: I would not trade any of the other lessons for anything. The small sacrifices I have to make for my sweet boy are nothing in comparison to the joy and happiness that he brings me every single day. Being a mother is my richest blessing and nothing compares. Slobbery kisses, toothless smiles, happy smiley eyes, big ears, busy body, and the best little hugs in the world are what I live for now. Parenthood is a ride for sure. It is not a school for the weak.
Here is to the lessons of the terrible twos, puberty, and the beaming teenage years. Boy howdy am I excited :)