How my marriage is stronger after having a baby

I don’t have to tell you guys that pregnancy and a baby puts a whole lot of pressure on a marriage. The hormones, the late nights, the lack of intimacy and the irritation don’t really make for a romantic 9 months.

Somehow, you both have this “idea” in hour head that once the baby is here, it would be better, intimacy will be easier because you will feel more comfortable and better about your body. (Ha right?!).

It actually gets harder once the baby is there, your husband tends to feel neglected because he now has to share you with this tiny little baby that always needs you, and when that baby finally goes to sleep, you are exhausted, you don’t feel like putting on sexy lingerie and being sexy.

It takes time, it takes time to get used to the little sleep, it takes time to find out who you are again once you become a mother, you change, your priorities change and your outlook on life changes, and so does the dynamic of your relationship with your partner.

The key is to be patient with one another, both of you needs to find how things are going to work, fathers also feel like they cant do what they used to do because they now have a family, just like moms feel like they have no time to themselves anymore. In my case, this “role confusion” caused a lot of friction in our marriage, we took the frustration out on one another and fought all the time; the slightest thing set us off and we ended up fighting about something that happened years ago.

The point is that any high pressure situation causes fights, and a having a child is like an endless amount of high pressure situations, you just need to find your way around it. We are much more patient with each other now, and we give each other space when we need it, and we don’t take stress out on each other anymore (well most of the time, we’re only human).

Our relationship is just stronger, having gone through the sleepless nights together (well mostly) and the insecurities as parents; have just brought us closer together, seeing your partner with your child does something to your heart, it warms it and melts it at the same time.

It honestly is an amazing journey, it breaks and rebuilds you as a person and as a couple.

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The “mom itch”

Ever notice how once you start doing something with your baby , and you have no free hands, you start itching somewhere ? The mom itch!

As if motherhood is not hard enough already right? Now you find yourself trying to hold a bottle with your chin while trying to scratch your nose with your way too short arm! In reality it is called “phantom itching” but I truly think its the mom itch, it always happens when I am busy with my baby girl, and ALWAYS when I cant scratch !

The moment I stop with what I am doing, the itch goes away! It is so frustrating, and no way to stop it from happening again. This is one of those phenomenas that makes no sense, just like motherly instinct and how you can function on 2 hours of sleep. Yet, all of the above is very real.

This made me think of all the things we as moms go through that no one sees; the emotional turmoil when your baby is crying, hurting or just unhappy, the hurt when your partner goes straight to bed instead of spending some time alone with you, the tiredness that comes with it all. It can be so difficult some days that it feels like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, yet, the next day; we do it all over again.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to keep quiet because I feel like my husband and friends don’t really understand how I feel or what I am going through, and sometimes I just do not know how to put my feelings into words, keeping my feelings to myself just less effort in the long run.

Its like an itch you cant scratch, knowing that if you talk about it; it will only turn into a fight and you will still feel alone at the end of it. Being a mother comes with so many internal struggles that we often don’t talk about to others.

Sometimes , just sometimes, it is okay to put yourself first, to take a moment and give your baby to someone for a few hours and just let it all out, have a good cry, go for a walk , get some retail therapy, read a few pages of that book you haven’t touched, just take a moment.

I am horrible at this, when I leave my baby with someone, I always feel like I have to hurry back, like that person is doing me a favor and therefore I must not push it because maybe they wont do it again then.

In reality though, most people that offer to babysit; understand that moms need a break, and wont even mind if you take that extra half an hour to go for a pedicure instead of rushing back home. For me; this is an ongoing process, I am learning everyday that it is okay to take a minute, some days I feel more anxious than others , but I am getting there.

Take a break, it is so rewarding and just so necessary for a healthier, happier you!

Facts about a C-Section and a newborn I never knew as First time mom

I might have been a bit naive; after all; I do have a “wing it” kind of attitude towards life, so if you are calculated and plan everything out, then this post will be of no use to you, because you will know all these things beforehand, for me however, so many things about my procedure and newborn caught me by surprise, I was so not prepared for this.

C-Section

  • It is quite uncomfortable to be awake and start naked in front of the doctors and nurses in the theater – I don’t know about you , but somehow, being awake for a surgery was scary enough for me, I did not even think of all the little things that would be so intense, for me, once the epidural was placed and they lay me down on the operating table and took my hospital gown off, I felt like I could just die right there! I have never felt so self-conscious and vulnerable in my entire life, it was horrible (I know doctors see it every day, but still, it was so intense for me).
  • Shaking – I did not know that once that epidural is placed that I would shiver for basically the duration of the whole procedure, and I mean, properly, at one point it was so bad that I could barely speak, the only way to describe it; when you are cold, and you start shivering uncontrollably? For me this was what it felt like, just more intense and for longer. I also still had random “shiver attacks” at night for a few weeks afterwards.
  • Back Pain – I did not know that I would have intense back pain for several weeks after the surgery (due to the epidural) this did go away quickly though.
  • Looking after a newborn and recovering from a surgery is no joke – Although I expected as much; I did not realize just how hard it would be; even though you are no longer pregnant, you still cant bend down, or walk without everything hurting, in fact, new areas hurt now But at least you can take some pain medication now.
  • The pain – To be honest; I expected worse pain from it all, but to me, the only time it was ever unbearable was at 1 am the first night, where I thought I was dying, the rest I could handle.
  • Recovery – Recovery for me was much longer than I anticipated, after the first three days, I felt much better and walking around became easier, but my stomach was still very tender to touch and getting dressed was no easy task, my whole body felt stiff for weeks on end.

Newborn

  • Newborn need to lay on their side – Who knew! In the hospital I placed my baby on her back and the nurse told me to place her on her side to prevent choking on milk or spit up, this caught me by surprise because I did not even think about it that way, but now it makes total sense.
  • Newborns need to have 10 wet nappies a day – This is to ensure that they are eating enough and getting enough nutrients from the milk, change your baby’s nappy before every feed (this also ensures that they are more awake for the feed)
  • Not all babies like to be swaddled – Despite what the experts tell you; not all babies enjoy being swaddled, my baby hated it, she was swaddled for about the first 3 weeks and after that she would scream if we swaddled her and break free, she is 6 months old now and still hates a blanket over her.
  • “Babywearing” is not for everyone – A friend of mine suggested that I buy a sling for my baby as it allows you to get more done during the day; once again, my baby hated every second of it, I ended up with three different wraps just to be sure. Lesson – every baby is different!
  • Your baby does not like bath time or getting dressed – I never thought of it like this; but your baby hates bath time or dressing in their first few weeks of life, the reason for this is simple; they are not used to it, now (well my baby hates when I pull anything over her head), but she loves bath time.

These are but a few examples, but maybe it could help you be more prepared than I was, and not caught off guard, although parenthood will always surprise you in one way or another, maybe you can just be aware of the little things.

There is just never a dull moment when you are a new mom, embrace the chaos!

 

 

 

Your baby deserves a happy mom

Babies feed off their moms, whatever mood you are in, your baby feels it too and it changes their mood as well.

Have you ever noticed the days where you are just happy and relaxed how “easy” your baby is? – That is because they can feel our emotions, luckily, as they get older, you can hide your own personal issues and struggles easier from them with a smile, but when they are little, you are the only source for information they have; I was very upset a while ago, just had a week from hell, and I busted out into tears as I was changing my baby’s nappy, and the next thing, she also started crying, out of the blue, nothing was wrong with her, she just woke up from a nap, it was simply because her mom was upset, and that upset her.

I know as mothers we tend to put ourselves second for the sake of our children , and rightly so; but being unhappy in the long run, only affects them negatively, they grow up with a mom that rarely smiles, that is maybe too busy because she is trying to avoid thinking about the things that are wrong in her life (I speak from experience), and one that finds no joy in the little things.

What we don’t realize is that this sets an example for our children, it sets the “vibe” that they grow up in, and it stays with them, think back; you remember how your household was when you grew up, you can tell people whether it was a happy one, or one with many negative aspects.

So make the hard decisions, make a point of being happier and more positive, not only for your baby, but for you as well, live a happier life, cut out what makes you unhappy and keep what does, life is simple once we decide it is, the mind is a powerful thing, learn to use it to your advantage, after all, your baby does not need a perfect mom, just a happy one.

New mom tips for starting solids

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t wait to start solids. It is such an exciting time for both mom and baby, experimenting together, and finding out what your baby likes and dislikes, its messy and its awesome!

What I did not know is that babies actually don’t like food the first time you give it to them (ha ha), its new to them, so it’s up to you to now teach your baby to eat food (how weird is that, we don’t think of it like that, I mean we love eating, and need it to survive), for babies, they only need their milk, so learning to eat these new things is a very big change to them (and their tummies, but we wont talk about solid food diapers on here).

My baby girl had butternut as her first meal; she full on gagged. I laughed so much at her, now, two weeks later, butternut is her favorite meal of the day.

This is our plan, and how we started solids.

PS. In no way am I saying that this is the best meal plan, and that it would work for any baby, all babies are different, and moms have different goals, this is just a guideline for new moms that want to start somewhere, try this and “tweak” it to suit your household and your baby.

Introducing Solids

Little fact that I did not know going in to this – Your baby might not like what you give them the first time, they simply are not used to it and must learn to eat it first (like red wine, olives and whiskey). Keep giving one food for a few days just to make sure and to ensure that your baby is not allergic to the specific veg or fruit you are giving him/her.

I have a blender/steamer at home so I make my own veggies (the only reason for this is that we live 70 km’s from the nearest town, so making my own is just easier), it was such a great day and so exciting, she did not think so though and hated every bite, but it was a start and I felt so proud that we had reached this point.

Here are some tips to remember;

  • Start with only one meal a day
  • Usually two hours after a bottle and when they are in a good mood to try something new
  • Don’t add any sugar or butter to your food if you make your own (babies’ tummies are sensitive)
  • Introduce a new veggie/food every 3-4 days
  • In the beginning; these veggies/foods need to be pureed, no chunks or pieces (these can be introduced a month or so later)
  • You can also start with baby cereal, many moms believe that this is easier, as the rice cereal is mixed with the baby’s milk, and this is a familiar taste for them, so they enjoy it more.
  • Try to stick to basics, don’t add too many ingredients to your baby’s food as they start out, one veggie at a time in the beginning is more than enough for them.
  • Enjoy it, don’t let it stress you out and don’t force feed your baby, this will only result in vomiting afterwards, and your baby not enjoying feeding time in the future.
  • Start giving your baby sips of water after a meal, some babies don’t like water, but just a sip or two will get them used to the idea (in summer, keep a bottle of water in the fridge so it is cold, this also helps soothe irritated gums when teething)
  • There is no need for snacks in the beginning, but teething biscuits are a great start (its messy, but try and let your baby have fun with it, you can always change their clothes afterwards- this teaches your baby to hold food and place it in their mouths themselves)
  • Fruit, Dairy and meat are only introduced a month or two after starting solids, the reason for this is that your baby’s tummy needs to develop enough to digest these foods (once again, all babies are different, and if you feel that your baby is ready for fruit a little bit earlier, feel free to try it)
  • After a week or two (depending on your baby) you can introduce a second and third meal a day, and before you know it, your baby will have a routine and will even get excited once they see their food being prepared.

Have fun with this, it is such an exciting time and remember that every baby is different, some babies will like baby cereal more than others do – after all; they are also individuals.

The things that keep mothers up at night

Its 2 am and I can’t sleep because listening to the monitor; I am not sure if my baby has now turned on her stomach and can’t turn back!

This is but only one example of what keeps me up at night, there are so many nights where my baby is sleeping soundly but, yet I am wide awake with no sleep-in sight. It is like a whole new world at night, one filled with paranoia and anxiousness, it’s like an alternate universe in the early hours of the morning.

If you find yourself here, nothing will make sense, everything that seemed okay during the day, now takes new shape and threatens to destroy the next few days. I personally stress about the most mundane things at night, the moment the lights go out (no matter how tired I am) it starts; do I have enough bottles for the next day, did I take her food out to defrost for the next day, does my husband have clean clothes for work, do I have clean clothes, maybe my baby is too hot, too cold, maybe she is still hungry because she never finished her bottle, maybe I should start feeding her more now that she is older, is her awake time enough, maybe I should adjust that, should she be sitting by now, when will she start crawling, should I help her roll over more often- this list goes on and on, and it also goes on and on in my head.

I have always been a classic over thinker of note, however, now that I am a mother it is ten times worse than before, and there is just so much that I can now spend my time overthinking on.

Unfortunately, this is not a habit that is easily broken, telling a mother to relax and stress less over their child Is like telling a bunny to stop hopping (it is the only comparison I could think of, don’t judge), it is like a new part of me that I never knew existed, all reason leaves the building and I find myself in a constant state of worry.

The Fix

Although there is no “off switch” to being worried about your child, there are certain coping mechanisms to ensure that you don’t drive yourself insane with unnecessary stressing and anxiousness; the first for me was to make an effort to ensure that I have time for myself each day, dad takes our baby girl and I have a cup of tea and just concentrate on my breathing.

My best friend is a medical student, and she educated me on what stress can actually do to your body, most of us don’t even realize that stress can have serious physical consequences if we do not get a handle on it; when you stress too much, your body basically goes into a constant state of “survival mode” – which elevates your heart rate, and that causes that feeling inside of you that makes you feel rushed and anxious (like you have to be somewhere and do something, you can’t just sit still).

In order for your body to calm down, you need to take a break, stress can have serious health consequences, such as; your intestines don’t work like they should, have you ever felt bloated when you are stressed out? – that is exactly what stress does to your body (one of the things at least), and if you want to live long and see your grandchildren, now is the time to stop, take a breath and have some much deserved “me time”.

I know this is not easy if you are like me, I am a busy body, and somehow feel guilty if I just sit around and do nothing, but, like any habit in life, it takes time to break it, and time to form new healthy habits.

Practice makes perfect!

So go and get busy doing nothing, you deserve a break!

Angelique

 

 

The Bond Between Mother and Baby After C-Section

Everywhere these days you see people favouring natural birth, the benefits for both you and baby are endless; recovery, your babies’ strength and the thing we hear mostly is that the bond between you and your child is so much stronger because you both went through this process together.

The problem with this is that life does not always work out the way you expect it to, life happens!

And it is statements like above that make women feel like less of a mother because they had to have an emergency c-section or opted to have one instead of natural birth, women are bullied and shamed for making this choice instead of going the natural way (it is the same with the whole debate about breastfeeding vs formula feeding).

The fact of the matter is that having a c section does not lessen the special bond between you and your baby, I had a c-section, and from the moment she was born there was nothing but love, I still had my skin to skin, I still breastfed for about 8 weeks, she still cried for her mommy and she was still comforted by me. In no way did I ever feel as if my bond between my child and I was not as strong as I hoped it would be, in fact; it surpassed everything I thought it would be, the love I have for her is indescribable and in no way did the way she was brought into this world, affect that love.

I admire women who gave natural birth, to me, having had a c-section; I can’t imagine how incredible that whole process must be, and how amazing and proud you must feel afterwards for having done it and bringing a healthy baby into the world.

But for me, in that moment they cut me open, nothing else in the universe mattered but my baby being healthy and okay, how it happened did not matter to me, how far along I was at the time didn’t matter, how many toes she had did not matter, if I was going to breastfeed did not matter, how much she weighed did not matter, all that mattered was hearing that  first little scream and knowing she is okay, in that moment; I couldn’t care less about myself, when I heard that first cry, the biggest sense of relief washed over me – my baby was okay and now I can breathe.

I have read so many stories about women who are distraught and so disappointed because they ended up having an emergency c-section, and they really wanted to give natural birth, and this breaks my heart, it happens so often where society places so much pressure on moms to do things a certain way, what they think is best for you and your baby, and then when a woman can’t do it that way, due to whatever reason, we immediately feel like we failed as mothers.

I am here to tell you that it is okay, you did your best, and your baby is here, that is all that matters, what they eat or how they came into this world will not matter to them when they grow up, what type of parent you are will! Whether you were there for their first heartbreak, and how you treat them when they make a mistake, whether you spent time with them growing up; these are the things that will matter to them as adults and what they will pass on one day to their own families and relationships.

We must stop focusing so much on these small things and focus on raising humble and kind little humans that we can be proud of, and be parents they can be proud of, in the end these are the only things your children will remember about you when you are gone, not whether you gave natural birth, or had a c-section or breastfed or formula fed.

Be proud to be a mom, embrace it, and be the best you can be every day, and I promise you, it will be enough.

Angelique