Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Surviving the early days of parenthood

So, my plan for keeping things quiet over here while I wait patiently for baby's arrival isn't quite going as I'd hoped. Well, except for the waiting part. There is a whole lot of waiting going on. Everyone is heading off to Edel this weekend, and I'm still sitting here, very pregnant, with nightly early labor that fizzles predictably as the sky turns light.


I know. Patience. I'm just tired and grumpy. And if I can't be in Austin with my friends, shouldn't I at least be holding a baby?


Anyway, since I can't put coherent sentences together, The Amazing Kelly from This Ain't the Lyceum has graciously shared some words of wisdom on surviving the early days of parenthood. She's always funny, of course, but also a wise mothering role model for me. Enjoy her post...and if you have some extra prayers for patience and stamina, I could really use them about now.


And...if you have special intentions or prayer requests, feel free to send them my way. You can leave a comment here, on the blog Facebook page, or send me an e-mail. I'd love the chance to pray for any of you in the coming days.





While Abbey is busy gestating I wanted to stop by and offer some deep thoughts on parenthood during those first few weeks once baby arrives home. I think it’s fitting that Abbey’s blog is entitled “Surviving Our Blessings” because that’s exactly what being a parent looks like from the get go: it’s a matter of survival. Yours and your child's. As a new mom, or dad, you’re dealing with a lack of sleep you never imagined possible, and yet somehow, while stumbling through your day, incoherent and with the speed of a one legged zombie, you’re still responsible for keeping another tiny human being alive.


I vaguely remember people telling me before my first child was born about needing to feed a baby through the night or new parents being tired, but I seriously put these ominous threats on par with being faced with the prospect of pulling an all nighter in college. And then I had my daughter and I quickly realized the issue wasn’t with having to wake every few hours to feed her, it was that she had the audacity to eat and then not go back to sleep. “What kind of horrible game is this child?! You’re changed, fed and cozied up to your mama in a very overpriced pillow top mattress; what’s with the waterworks?!”


Of course, the lack of sleep and constant screaming (from the child and I) would create a bit of tension between my husband and I; two people who usually never argued or raised our voices. Things my good natured hubby and I would fight about at 3 in the morning after not sleeping for several nights included:


Me: WHERE IS THE NIPPLE SHIELD?!

Tony: RIGHT WHERE YOU LEFT IT! WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME?!

Me: WHY CAN’T I NURSE MY BABY LIKE A NORMAL WOMAN?!

Tony: YOU ARE NORMAL! WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME?!


(ten minutes later) 

Me: SHE’S STILL CRYING AND SHE’S BEEN EATING FOR-E-VER WHILE YOU’VE BEEN SLEEPING!

Tony: DO YOU WANT ME TO GIVE HER A BOTTLE THEN WHILE YOU TRY TO REST?!

Me: AAAAAA! NO! FORMULA IS THE DEVIL! I’M SUCH A HORRIBLE MOM! (sobbing)

Tony: THEN AT LEAST LET ME HOLD HER FOR A BIT!

Me: SHE’S STILL CRYING! YOU’RE HOLDING HER WRONG! AAAA! NO, NOW SHE CAN’T BREATHE!

Tony: SHE’S FINE! STOP YELLING AT ME AND TRY TO REST, DAMNIT!!!!


While my husband would go off on vacation everyday, i.e. work, I would flounder through my mornings trying to remember a basic hygiene regimen that would at the very least get the smell of baby poo and vomit off my body for ten minutes. Afternoons were a blur. There are large chunks of my life from that period of time I simply can’t remember. Some useful facts that would be helpful to remember when you find yourself in a similar position, a.k.a. the newborn zone would be:


Take all the naps. Baby sleeping? Nap. Baby playing contentedly in swing/ on mat or in crib? Nap. Feeding the baby? Nap. When not to nap: while driving the baby, bathing the baby or during an attempt to get a night out with your spouse.


Accept all the food. Casseroles? Thank you. Slab of cooked meat? Thank you. Weird ethnic food created especially to help milk production? Looks very interesting. Thank you.


Accept all the help. When people ask how they can help, tell them to come clean your house, pick up your groceries, sit with the baby so you can take a long shower and SHAVE YOUR LEGS. Heck, anything on this list would rock your world. Never, ever, ever turn down help. You are probably a hot mess right now. Please, let someone help you. And if you live far from friends or family, hire help. You’d be surprised at how affordable getting your house deep cleaned once every other week actually can be. Plus paying someone to babysit your child for two hours does not make you the worst person on the face of the Earth. Promise.


Talk to all the moms. You can even try talking to your own mom or grandmother. Any friends with babies? Call and talk or email regularly. No friends with babies? Find some moms at playgroup or online through a friendly chat group or message board. Does a woman with only a small dog try to talk to you like she understands what you’re going through? You don’t need to talk to her. Try to remember to not smack her in your sleep-deprived state.


Say all the prayers. Pray for yourself, your husband and your new baby. Try a few quick Hail Marys uttered throughout the day. As you sit and feed your child, maybe try a morning offering. I know if I want to guarantee I’ll quickly drift off to sleep, I start saying a rosary when I lie down.


And always, just try to do the best you can, or at least 65 percent of your best. When my first was born, baby powder was considered okay, but by the time my fifth was born, they told me it could cause asthma so don’t you dare use baby powder!!! I was sternly reminded with my first and second to LAY THEM ON THEIR BACKS TO SLEEP...ALWAYS...forever and ever AMEN. But by my last three, the nurses in the hospital were laying them on their sides. And by then I’d met moms whose colicky kids only stopped crying on their stomachs! *gasp!* Plus, the Bumbo. How the mighty have fallen; once the registry gift of the century, it is now nothing more than a carefully molded piece of pure child abuse. So anyway, just try your darndest and realize what you’re doing is probably going to be considered a hazard at some point now or in the future. Frankly, it a miracle any of us survive the first 18 years of our life. But here we are, not only alive, but responsible for the next generation. 


We can do it. You can do it. Baby powder inhalation risks and all.