Having a baby changed my life. (bet you never heard those words uttered before.) The irony is it’s totally true. I hate clichés in prose and in life and although there are different interpretations and some experiences are easier than others; the baseline remains constant. It’s the hardest thing you will ever do…period. Every inch, every second spent since June 9th has changed me into a different human being. The world’s brighter, experiences feel richer, emotions run deeper (if that’s even possible for me) and I’ve made it out of the fray and lived to tell this tale to you.
The first couple weeks were so difficult, it’s almost hard to discuss. It sucked in short and even though I love Stella more than I could ever imagine possible, I felt so unprepared and unqualified. I kept looking for a time out button somewhere to just take a 2 minute break but alas this person I worked so hard to get was here, my number was called and I was out on the field indefinitely. Overwhelming simply doesn’t cover it. I felt blue, exhausted, awkward, ugly and not able to live in the moment. Who was I, what had I become? I kept thinking “but the books and the people I talked to used words like amazing, blissful, simple and easy when it’s yours.” My expectations were so far off it’s not even worth detailing. Each day felt like a year and the nagging feeling of failure was a constant companion. I had met my match, motherhood was here and I wasn’t sure it was for me. But then I woke up one day around 3 – 4 weeks in and felt better; albeit the leap was small and low to the ground but it was progress. Miraculously the proverbial light appeared. She cried less that day, small victories were attained and dare I say, I began to get the hang of it.
Which brings me to my long-winded point. Life can be spent living in the notion of black and white, good or bad, 1 or 100 but there is a middle; a gray area if you will, that exists and boasts good weather and yummy cocktails. As of late, I am allowing myself to visit this area more often. To be a constant work in progress, to not have all the answers, the control, the perfection is not only ok, it’s necessary. Up to this point, I always told myself, don’t let anything you do define you. Keep reaching, never settle, always give 500%, think out of the box, practice first in, last out and follow your shot. Now I’ve embarked on something I want to be known for. A great wife and a “show and tell” worthy Mom. The highs and lows are higher and darker than anticipated but the every day is pretty damn amazing. Yep I went there. The word that eluded me for so long in my new world of mommy-hood has landed and been assigned. I get to mold this little human and teach her what I can, while she still wants to listen to me. My husband and I get to watch a mash-up of ourselves navigate the world hopefully with my rhythm and his charisma.
I felt compelled to write this down because in my obsessive googling whilst still pregnant and in the first couple days post partum, if I had stumbled upon this little blog and known there really was someone out there feeling just as I did, potentially the light would’ve appeared sooner. I would’ve been able to handle how awful I was feeling knowing it was fleeting and concretely things were going to get easier. Women lie to each other, everyone puts their best foot forward and perception is hardly often reality. Consider me the attendant behind the customer service desk at Mommy World, telling you I know how you feel and can whole heartedly promise it gets easier and better each day. (keep repeating that to yourself at 2am when they still won’t sleep or stop crying for that matter) I worried about the difference between “baby blues” and post partum depression and desperately hoped this too would pass. If you can get out of bed and don’t feel like harming yourself or your child, most likely it’s the former. Be diligent about chatting with your OB about it regardless but eventually it leaves the building. It did for me and now I can share some pearls I gathered with you.
First Month Musts:
1. Wake up and shower if even for 2 minutes. Bring your baby in the bathroom if you have to but SHOWER to start your day.
2. Get a calendar and cross off each day at the end of it with a big X. For some reason it helps build confidence knowing one more day is in the books, accomplished and done.
3. Watch HAPPIEST BABY ON THE BLOCK, the 5 s’s are your friend.
4. Ask for help. Ask for help. Ask for help BUT also spend enough time doing it yourself. If you farm everything out, your only prolonging the rookie period.
5. Have no expectations for anything, your birth plan, your baby, yourself, your partner or your family and friends. People will let you down and you might let yourself down as well. Set the bar on the lowest rung.
6. Know your bump will go down eventually. I’m at 3 months and it’s still around. Each week it gets better.
7. Talk to your spouse, boyfriend, partner or friend about how you’re feeling and be brutally honest. Also chat with your baby about it. I told Stella many times, Mommy is feeling rough today but know I love you and we’ll get through this together.
8. Try to ease back into your old social routine as early as possible. Take them on walks and meet up with friends. Even if it’s for 5 minutes, you have to start somewhere.
9. Go on food adventures. Ralph and I would put Stella in the car and she would scream cry until she fell asleep and we’d go to different food institutions around Los Angeles. We always got it to go and brought it back home to eat but just the excitement of semi doing something social felt like the best, booze filled dinner party ever.
10. Go on multiple walks a day. Even if you make it around the block it’s a victory.
11. Colic is bs, it’s likely acid reflux. Check the infant GERD checklist and if your baby has a lot of the symptoms ask for a prescription of compound PREVACID. It worked wonders for us. I hate medicine and we waited 2 months to give it to her but she was in pain.
12. Stock up on BIO GAIA probiotic drops at Walgreens. They’re expensive but they work so well on their tummies for gas and overall discomfort.
13. You will not feel like this for 18 years. New problems arise just when you figure out answers to the former but nonetheless you’re better, smarter and faster than you were yesterday.
14. Know your baby is going to scream, wail, cry and turn purple. Don’t think this means you have to stay in your house. Get out, it also always seem louder to the parents.
15. Try to keep it light. Babies work off your energy, try not to get too worked up. (self grade: F for me on this point)
16. Burp them like a heartbeat. Pat pat, Pat pat, Pat pat. It works.
17. Set up stations around your house and use those every day to entertain or placate your baby. Do them in different rooms if possible. Station suggestions: Activity Mat, Swing, Mirror, Crib, Mat/blanket on the floor, Pack n Play, Bouncer, Your lap, Lounger, Changing Table cushion.
18. The uglier the better when it comes to mobiles or hanging toys. This one is hard for my design aesthetic but it’s true so embrace it.
19. If you’re breastfeeding start pumping and storing milk right away. I didn’t and playing catch up when they’re eating more is difficult. Use the rule of 2’s. 2 hours at room temp, 2 days in the fridge, 2 months in the freezer.
20. Know it’s normal for your baby to: cough, sneeze (multiple times), grunt, growl, choke while eating, snore, make weird noises in their sleep, drool, chew on their hand and feet, cry when you change or dress them, have crossed eyes.
21. Babies have a crying language and it actually is pretty true for Stella. Neh means I am hungry, Oww means I am tired, Eh Eh means I have a burp, Eairr means gas.
22.Sing, talk and read to them as if they completely understand from the first day you bring them home. Get real close to their face while you’re doing it so they can see your expressions.
23. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, introduce a bottle by 4 weeks. One a day filled with pumped milk is a great way to get them acquainted, allow your husband or someone else to bond through feeding and if you don’t they won’t take one when or if you go back to work.
24. Cry when they cry, sleep when they sleep, laugh when they laugh.
25. Buy the BREST FRIEND and wear it to feed at night. It serves as a shelf and lord knows that helps when you can barely keep your eyes open.
I would love to connect with any of you soon-to-be or new moms. I told myself I would never be a stroller strider or go to parties and only talk about my kids but I get it now. I am one of you, we are all in this together.
This is not a black and white world
To be alive I say that the colours must swirl
And I believe that maybe today
We will all get to appreciate The Beauty of Gray
LIVE – The Beauty of Gray