Moming

Being a first-time mom is INSANE! No, I am not being dramatic, it really is; I read every book you can think of, felt so prepared for this new little bundle, I was a little bit older (27) and I though I am a little more stable in my life and more mature, so therefore; I can handle this and pass with flying colours.

The reality looked like this;

Breastfeeding

What!?

Living on a farm in South Africa, I had no access to pre-natal classes and mom friends, all the farmers in the area told me that “it comes natural” just relax and don’t stress because your milk will go away (I don’t know about you, but being told not to stress because something bad will happen, in fact, makes me stress).

The day my baby girl was born was exciting and overwhelming, I was a mom, and it was the best feeling in the world, latching didn’t happen the first time, but I was told to just keep at it, and it will get easier.

It did not.

I ended up pumping every two hours; slept for an hour, and then fed her, then pumped again, I was beyond exhausted (I also had a c-section), I was adamant that I will only give my baby breast milk because I was told that this is the ONLY way to do it. I pumped for 7 weeks, while trying to get my baby girl to latch every other day. Then I watched a YouTube video on latching, and wham! She latched, and I felt like the best mom in the world, till this day, this was my proudest moment. All went well for about 3 weeks.

Chaos

Because I pumped form the start, my supply was not as much as I would have hoped for, we managed, but I could see that my supply was dwindling, I went to my doctor and she gave me a pill that makes your milk supply increase, this worked so well for us.

Then the unfortunate happened; the area we live in is prone to political unrest, and protesting in our area started, we would go to town, and could not get back home due to people burning tires in the road, this was so scary while having a 3-week-old in the car. This happened a few times, and as a new mom, hormones flying high, this stressed me out so much, I felt like I am supposed to protect my baby and give her the best life possible and I couldn’t, it felt like everything was out of my control.

As luck would have it (even on those pills) 3 days later my milk supply dried up, just like that, over night.

The guilt that followed was unexpected, I felt like I failed my baby and as a mother, this is the most important thing for a mother; being able to feed her baby, so not being able to do that, brought on so many issues and regrets, the reason for my supply drying up is debatable; whether it was the stress, the pumping, or just a combination of all the above, I will never know.

We ended up giving formula, and I was amazed at how much more relaxed I was, and how content my baby girl was.

 

Hormones

I want to write this part with so much respect, because postpartum depression is so serious and so hard, every mom should take this seriously and seek help in any shape or form you see fit, but talk, don’t be ashamed of it, because I can promise you it happens more often than you think, all women just don’t feel confident enough to speak out about their experiences.

Although I never had postpartum depression; I definitely had a case of the baby blues – it took me roughly 2 months to feel like a person again. I did not feel like myself, I was emotional, irrational, paranoid, sad, lonely and misunderstood. The worst part about it is; I live around people that don’t think this is a thing, that don’t really believe in psychology and what it has to offer.

The good thing is, there are people to help, talk to a psychologist and work through this, for you and for your family, don’t suffer in silence with the hope that it will pass.

Sleeping

Okay so by now sleep deprivation is a term you are well familiar with, and you have even googled it a few times, but that is not the sleep I am talking about; I am talking about your baby’s sleep.

The first few weeks are not that bad (sleep wise) newborns tend so sleep when they should (well some babies anyway), but as the weeks go by; your baby now has difficulty falling asleep. For me, this was the biggest challenge, my baby girl only napped for 30 minutes at a time, and woke frequently at night, we even got a sleeping consultant to help.

The problem with sleeping is that your baby can’t do without it, they need it to grow, to recharge and to be able to interact with the world out there, the moment they don’t get this much needed sleep, they become overtired and overstimulated and this is something every single mom out there knows well – hell.

I have tried everything under the sun, baby wearing, rocking, singing, pacifier, swaddling, co-sleeping, own room, sleep training, block out curtains, white noise, no toys in the cot, sleep routine, routine in general, played with awake times, you get the picture, we tried everything you can think of. Some days we though we won, and then at night everything would just start all over again.

The moment you think you got the handle on this, then they are going through a growth spurt of a leap or teething or well, just a bad day.

Now

Figuring everything out and getting to know your baby takes time, and this is not something you want to hear because you need your life to get easier and to go back to normal or just to feel normal as soon as possible. The reality is, it does take time. My baby girl is 6 months old this week, and I am honestly only getting the hang of this now, I am apart of countless mom-groups, have family that help me, am constantly researching, and it still takes time.

But I can honestly say that it does get easier, I feel more like myself now, our baby girl is easier, and I even think that it might be because I am more relaxed, my hands don’t start sweating the moment I hear her cry, I don’t start panicking if she does something new, I don’t freak out over spit up anymore, and I don’t stress as much to take her somewhere.

In short, I think my hormones have finally balanced out.

Don’t laugh – its real! hormones after giving birth is crazy, I cried so much for no real reason, overreacted about everything (my poor husband), and I was just so stressed out everyday all day. This has since improved a lot, I can now take a breath because I know my baby is okay.

This phase in our lives makes me look forward to the next one, because I know what to expect, I know the ugly side of a lot of things now, and know that everyday is not always amazing and sunshine and roses all over the place like a lot of moms would have you think, but in the end, it is more than worth it; the rewards of being a mom are amazing, it takes over every little part of you and gives back so much more.

To all the newbie moms out there – you hang in there! Don’t let people “mom shame” you for doing anything, and it does get easier!

 

Advertisements

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.

How my marriage and baby has made me less selfish

Before I met my husband, I lived alone for 7 years. 7 years of doing what I wanted when I wanted, I made the food only I like, I watched the shows only I like, I went to bed whenever I like, and I came home whenever I wanted too.

Marriage

After I met my husband, we moved in together quite quickly as we were doing the long-distance thing and we just missed each other way too much; so after only 6 months of dating we moved in together, a month later we got engaged, 8 months after that we got married and a short 3 months after that we were expecting our precious baby girl. To say we moved fast is an understatement, we just both knew the moment we met each other, that this was it, we were soulmates and why wait.

This short amount of time together did not give either of us much time to adapt to one phase before moving on to the next, so you can imagine that a lot of fighting went on through all these big changes in our lives. For me, the biggest challenge was not being alone anymore, or well, at all!

It might sound silly, but I literally had to learn to now take my husband into consideration when I did things, and it just was not as easy as it sounds. At first, I really struggled to put myself second, my dad always calls it the “I Problem” – which is exactly what it was, I just did not know how to put my own needs second and depend on someone else to meet them.

This was a huge challenge for my husband and I; we had to both learn to be with someone else, and to take each other into consideration, I had to “let” someone be there for me, and share the decision making (which was not easy). This was such a learning curve for me, and we really had to work hard at it; to change little habits and to basically change the way we have both been living before we met.

Then came the biggest change of all. . .

The Arrival of our Precious Baby Girl

I though marriage was a big change, boy was I wrong, having a baby is so intense and places so much pressure on any relationship, and yourself. Being less selfish for my child however, was not hard at all, in fact it came naturally.

The first six months after she was born I didn’t really have any clothes or shoes that fit me properly (you know that awkward phase where your maternity clothes are too big, and your pre-pregnancy clothes are too small) and it didn’t bother me one bit. I had a messy mom bun (let’s not kid ourselves, I still rock it most days), no makeup and slippers where the only item in my closet that actually fit my still very swollen feet.

It is not like I decided that I will be less selfish when I have a baby, it just well, happened the moment she was born. Becoming a mother changed me, don’t get me wrong, my personality is still in tact (thank goodness) and I still like the things I used to like before I got pregnant, its just, its hard to put into words; it is like you are looking at this tiny perfect human, that grew inside of you, and was apart of you for the better part of a year, yet you never got to meet until now, you loved him/her before you even met, and that little bundle is still apart of you, depends on you for everything. It is the most intense feeling in the world, the most intense love I have ever felt in my life.

This is the definition of true love. This love fills your heart and leaves no room for a shred of selfishness.

“For you are wonderfully and fearfully made” – Psalm 139:14