Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Things I Wish I Had Done Differently Raising Our Babies (2/5 in First 4 Months Series)

As always, these blogs are just about me and my family and what worked for us. I'm not so naive as to believe that everything we do is right or if you do differently than us, it is wrong.  All families and children are different.  I do not judge you or anyone else negatively if and when you choose different routes with your children.

Things I wish we would have done differently:

With Hartly, I wish I would not have been so hard on myself.  

I had a traumatic birth with him that left my body broken and depleted.  I wish we would have known that was not normal and I would have gotten help sooner. I wish I would have taken care of myself the first few months, after his birth, resting and healing.  Hopefully this will not be an issue for most people (although, with most birth mothers, it does take a minimum of 6 weeks to heal and start feeling normal again, so go easy on yourself). 

Do not worry about fitting into your old jeans the first few months. Need I say more.  This should be obvious, but for many woman it is not.  In many ways I feel like my injury was a blessing in discuss... err... that may be going too far.  Let's just say I feel like I found the silver lining in my chronic pain.  I worked out 8 times a week (easily) before I got pregnant with Hartly.  I continued, at much more reasonable pace, much of my pregnancy.  I was a workout junky. I was fully intending and planning on being right back in the gym/running/dancing/fighting weeks after birth.  At one point I went to a chiropractor a few weeks post birth because I couldn't feel my left leg and was in constant pain.  He told me the dreaded news that it would likely be 4-6 weeks before I was healed.  I nearly had a panic attack at this!... 3 years later and I have only just began jogging again a few weeks ago.  And I still do physical therapy for my injury.  At the time 4-6 weeks seemed like a life sentence.  Little did I know.  But I got to really be with Hartly.  I couldn't go to Krav.  I couldn't go for a run.  It was, literally, impossible.  So a lot of the time I know I would have spent back in the gym, attempting to recapture my strength and physique, was spent enjoying my sweet baby. And, as everyone has heard (but wait until you experience it), it goes really, really fast.  Especially the first two years.  Every day brings a new miracle/trick/milestone.  You blink and you miss it.  I am thankful for that part of it.  That is not to say anything against a new Mama catching a break for themselves to go get their sweat on.  I just know my personality and I think, in many ways it was good for me.  Screw the jeans! Seriously. You just made a person!!

Sleep when baby sleeps is great advice with the first one (does not work quite as well with second one).  In retrospect, I wish I would have done that more with Hartly.  I felt guilty sleeping so much.  Now I know that is nuts. If you give birth, especially (but with adoptive parents too), it is exhausting (physically, emotionally and mentally) having this new tiny person enter your world.  SLEEP whenever you can! And, (which we, thankfully, did do) sleep with baby (Some say co-sleeping is dangerous, Dr. Oz Co-slept with his kids. Do not co-sleep if you are overweight or have been drinking, or are a smoker, for obvious reasons. But more about co-sleeping in future blog...) 

Nothing better

Papi and baby

Not impossible, but rare with second baby (unless you pass out from exhaustion)

A word about Breastfeeding - oh breastfeeding.  Again, someone mentioned something to me before Hart's birth that I rolled my eyes at, but later clung to like a life raft.  One of my kid's (at school when I was teaching) dad's warned me about the breastfeeding Nazis. I had done the research.  I knew breast was best and by God, come fire, come hell, I was going to breastfeed my boy.  I didn't want the fear of him getting cancer at age 35 because I hadn't breastfed him.  We were going to bond and nursing was going to be amazing.  And it can be and is for a lot of women... just as pregnancy and birth can and often is for most women, it was not to be so with me...  I believe, now, this was due to the fact that I was so injured and hurt that I had nothing, physically and nutritiously left to give Hart after he was born... but I tried, tried, tried.... 5 lactation specialists, 2 breastfeeding centers, nipple guards, ointments, special baths and compresses, boxes of teas and tonics and food changes and even light laser therapy on my breasts, Thrush the whole time (google it), 3 different breast pumps and one case of mastitis (google it) later...  I finally threw in the towel.  And I cried and cried and felt like a major failure.  If I knew then, what I know now. I would have tried for a week or two and then I would have contacted my local branches of donor moms: Eats on Feets: and Human Milk for Human Babies These groups are awesome resources. Tayo will be 6 months in two days and, except for his first two days of life when he was in the hospital and they required him to have formula, he has been 100% breastmilk fed all due to the awesomeness and generosity of amazing mother's who donate.  If I had known about this when I had Hartly, I absolutely would have stopped much sooner and gotten donated breastmilk for him.  If nursing works, that is awesome, but if it doesn't, do not feel bad and understand you can still give your baby the very best without beating yourself up.

Walk in Memory of one of Tayo's Milk Sister who passed and her Mom pumped for us for 3 months!
Do not underestimate how much you mean to your baby - your voice, your touch, your eye contact, your smell, your swaying, you songs and shushes... biological or not, you are what baby needs most.

Do what feels right to you!  For every decision you make on every single thing for your baby (products, breastfeeding, diapers, co-sleeping or not, circumcision or not, hospital or not, drugs or not, sleep schedule or no schedule...) there will be a group of people that feel the complete opposite... and strongly... with evidence of why what you are doing will ruin your child forever. Please, I implore you to strike a healthy balance.  It is not good to be so closed minded that you are rigid, inflexible and will never change your mind on any choice.  On the flip side, when you do make a decision, and you are happy and feel that it is working for you, family and baby, be okay with that decision and do not feel guilty or like a bad parent. I love listening to what others do and what works for them.  I read a ton. I research a bunch.  And then I take what works and feels authentic and good to me and I leave the rest. I don't always pick right the first time. And what worked for Hartly, doesn't always work for Tayo. And I have my guilt moments for sure.  But they are much fewer and further apart this second time around because I know that I love my boys and do whatever I think is best for them.

For Tayo specifically ... it is still early so I am sure hindsight will come later.  I will say this though - although I am not sure how I would handle it differently the next go around, I'm hoping I will be less on the attack.  Adoption is a very sensitive area and there is so much unknown and incorrectly presumed about it in the general public.  Once Frank and I started versing ourself on the topic and going to seminars, reading books and speaking with Birth Parents, Adoptive parents and birth children with adoptive siblings and adoptive children... our eyes were forever changed. I am, through and through a Mama.  And I was (and honestly speaking I am sure I still am and always will be to some extent) just so scared of people saying things that would hurt my children.  I am not scared of mean, bad people saying stuff that is nasty... it is sweet, kind people using an unintentional phrase or asking an unintentionally emotionally harmful question that scares me. I am not, by nature, a confrontational person and I hate upsetting or hurting people's feelings or making them feel bad or uncomfortable (especially when I know that what was said was an innocent mistake).  I just want so badly both of my boys to always know and feel 100% loved and protected.  This is just impossible.  But it doesn't change my desire to protect and shield them for as long as I can.  I discuss this more in depth in another blog post titled Tayo.  And I have edited and re-edited this post many times.  I still haven't gotten that perfect balance.  I worry about being too lackadaisical and not defensive enough of my children and speaking their truth... or being too aggressive and offensive in my explanations and worries.  Currently it is still too Mother-Bear strong.  So, I would hope next time around (and in the future with Tayo), I am able to strike a better balance.

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