Giving birth for the first time, being a new mom and bringing home a tiny little newborn baby is one of the scariest things I have ever done. Now being pregnant with my 2nd child I can look back at some things and have a really good giggle.
The first night in hospital the nurses kept wanting to take my girl away to the nursery, you’ve got to be kidding me right? No I want my baby with me! Every time she so much as let out a squawk they would come in and ask to take her and I would refuse.
My husband stayed with me the first night and the poor man was absolutely exhausted as he stayed awake pretty much the whole way through my labour from Thursday afternoon until Saturday evening! I also think in a way labour and birth is actually harder on them as they probably feel so helpless watching us in so much pain and distress?
So at about 3am on our first night as parents he was fast asleep on the double bed in the hospital room and I was in the hospital bed because my legs were still numb from the c-section. I wanted to change our girl’s nappy but her things were just out of my reach, I tried calling my husband to wake him up to help me but he was dead to the world. I wanted to call a nurse but that little button thingy was also just out of my reach.
What I could reach was a jug of water and a glass….. so I poured a little in the glass and threw it over my husband… nothing. I did this a few times… nothing. Eventually I just chucked the whole jug of water on him…. and it worked. Then I told him off for not being awake to help me and for not waking up! Oh my poor husband, sopping wet, exhausted and being told off at 3am for sleeping.
After being in labour for 2 days and then having an emergency c-section I think I must have been pretty blotto those first few days in the hospital. I remember my husband visiting often and just dozing off while he was talking to me. The other thing is that I lost all sense of time, I just slept, breastfed, changed nappy, slept again.
I didn’t know if it was morning or night most of the time. I just remember that it seemed like visiting hours just crashed upon me without warning and every time it did I was breastfeeding and then suddenly the room was full of people looking at my baby (boobs!). Most people walked in and realised I was feeding and respectfully avoided looking but there was one time when older family members of my husband came to visit and I think they probably didn’t realise I was feeding and came right up to look at the baby… like really close before realizing and I just sat there feeling exposed and silly!
I had read or heard somewhere that the hospital won’t let you go home until you have had your first poop after birth. I still don’t know if this is true…. but when the nurses came to me on day 3 and asked if I had gone I said “yes most definitely, no problems there”. Of course I hadn’t and I had felt the need to but I was too scared to push because my stitches were so sore! But the thought of not being allowed to go home made me lie and say I had. It took more than a week before I could make that first poop!
The one thing that stands out for me is that I was so scared of doing something wrong and I thought if something went wrong with my baby and we had to go to hospital I would need to know everything about her to report to the doctors. To solve this problem it made perfect sense to me to keep a book on her changing table and for about the first week or so I recorded EVERYTHING in it, when she pooped, what it looked like, when she peed, when she drank and for how long, her sleeping and waking hours….. and if hubby changed her and didn’t write in the book I would get in an absolute panic. Looking back now I can just cringe and laugh. Am I the only crazy neurotic, crazy person who did this or is there just one other mommy that can relate?
Things that I now realise are so small seemed so important, but then again I can laugh now, but when you become a mom for the first time you just don’t know what is important and what can slide. I remember second guessing everything I did and always being worried about my girl! Was she getting enough sleep, or was she sleeping too long? If she was sleeping too long do I leave her or wake her up? When I winded her do I pat or rub her back? The nurses showed me how to bath her in the hospital, but I was so blotto and out of it that when we got home I panicked I was doing it wrong… it’s a bath how wrong can you do it, wash the baby! But those sorts of things consumed me in the beginning.
Something that made all of this harder is that everyone had to give their piece of advice to me and there were a few things I was fine with doing …. until of course someone told me “Oh you mustn’t do that….” and then came the panic again! Looking up information in my many books to try and find the answer. My girl was a major feeder, she loved to eat and she did not mess around. She had a latch that would make the tears of pain squeeze out of my eyes and she would suck hard and enthusiastically, it was quick though, less than 5 minutes per side and she would fall off me asleep and content.
My husband came home from work one day and informed me that a lady at his office said I MUST feed for at least 20 minutes per side….. and I thought well like how? So like the dutiful mom wanting to do everything right I tried to make her feed longer, but she would just fall asleep after having 5 minutes a side. I look back now and think why do people hand out all this useless info? Each baby is different and some babies feed for 45 minutes, some for 5 minutes. Some eat without any nonsense like my girl did and some babies latch and play around and suck a bit and then mess around… what is wrong with that?
I remember often calling a close friend of mine that had her baby about 3 months before me and asking her all sorts of questions when I was in doubt, which was like um every day all day! There are some friends of mine that had babies a few months after me and I must say my phone rang quite regularly with questions about how often does a breastfed baby poop, how do I know she is uncomfortable, how do I know she is eating enough… all the questions I asked my new mommy friend in the beginning.
Something that really was a problem early on is that so much has changed since my mom/ mother in law had us! So we are told to put babies to sleep on their backs, but our moms were told to put us on our tummies to sleep. They were told to make us drink water from early on and I was told no water until baby starts solids…. My mom doesn’t live near us so that isn’t a problem, but my mother in law does and of course that was even harder to cope with.
What she remembers from looking after a small baby contradicted everything I had read and was told and I felt very uncomfortable with being assertive and saying “This is my baby and this is what I was told and no, she will not be given water”. Instead I was nervous and unsure and scared. Over time this has changed immensely and we have learnt how to work together well and be honest and straight forward which is really awesome. I am sure so many new moms struggle a lot more with this. I am fortunate to have a wonderful mother in law that I can really talk to and rely on for support even if we knocked our heads a little bit early on.
There is a big difference though between a family member offering advice to me and a stranger in the shop stopping me and telling me I am doing something wrong, now here is where my blood boils. The lady in the shop that came up to me and tried to take my crying baby out my arms with the attitude that I don’t know what I am doing…. well maybe I didn’t know how to comfort my baby properly yet, but that does not give you a right to touch my child! Then there was the incident in the shop where I reached up to get something off the top shelf, turned around and some lady had taken my baby out the pram and was cuddling her! I think the entire of Checkers heard me screaming at her…. I don’t know if I am psycho mom or have a severe anger problem but don’t touch my baby! I would never walk up to a stranger’s baby or child and touch them, never mind pick them up. Even with my close friends I have always asked if they mind if I pick up their baby.
My advice to moms that experience this is to open your mouth and don’t feel bad to mouth off. It is wrong and unacceptable behaviour and you have the right to demand they leave your baby alone. Also don’t hide the fact that you’re going to wash your entire baby over right in front of them… the fact is you don’t know where their hands have been, get out those wipes and get washing.
Even now that my child is older I get people all the time telling me things, like when my girl was just over a year and when we got to the mall she was fully dressed with socks, shoes, a blankie, a bottle and a cuddly toy in her pram with her. 20 minutes later I get stopped by a woman that tells me off because my poor child has no shoes or sock on, what sort of mother am I?
I am the type of mother that spends her days continuously putting socks and shoes on my child. It is frustrating enough already without someone coming and giving their unwanted opinion! Where are those socks and shoes now, well I honestly don’t know, the bottle, cuddly toy and blankie are gone too. Her cupboard is filled with lonely socks and shoes because the partner was chucked somewhere while out.
All I can say to the new moms and the moms to be, just trust yourself and relax. Yes you might do some things wrong in the beginning, so what? I sincerely doubt anything you do will be so bad it will be life threatening to your child or dangerous. You are a mom, you were born to do this. Trust your instinct and stand up for yourself and what you feel is right for you. Within a very short time everything will become second nature and you will be confident, just get through those first few weeks in one piece and all will be good!