Hi again, and thank for you for sticking around. As I continue my journey I thought today I would share with the main struggles I faced with my little one in the first year. Again, these are my struggles, every mom will have her own and there is no right or wrong to it. But I hope reading this it will let you know that you are not alone, and maybe find something useful that may help you on your journey.
1) The road to recovery
I had a long labour, and to me it felt like an eternity! I remember it all starting at around 1am on the 15th of February. I knew they were contractions and not false alarms but I didn’t see the point in waking up my husband or mother just yet. But by 5am the house was awake and it all began. Me thinking the 15th would be the day! But nope, not until 16th morning did my little one finally decide to make an appearance with a lot of intervention and help from some amazing professionals. So, considering my labour was long and complicated, my recovery also took a bit longer than we all bargained for.
The first 6 weeks of my sons’ life I struggled to leave the house. I could barely walk, sitting and standing were suddenly the most painful tasks in the world, and going to the toilet? Oh Lord don’t ask! The reason being I had an episiotomy. But not just because of that alone, I was also recovering from 2 epidurals AND a spinal block. I know right, holy shit indeed. And for me this was hard. As much as I look at myself as a strong woman whose pain threshold is relatively acceptable, when it comes to things like this… OUCH OUCH OUCH!!!
My mom, bless her soul, helped my husband and I out through the first 2 months while I got back on my feet. And my dear husband spent his paternity leave bonding with our baby and making sure I was ok. I spent a lot of the time either in bed or lying on the sofa. Mom and hubby made sure baby was washed and changed and all that good stuff till I found the strength to get into it. I was just there as his feeding machine.
My recovery took a while, but it was made much easier by my two little helpers. Looking back now, I know if we ever do have another child, what I would want from the hospital would be different to make my recovery a little easier.
2) My 100% breastfed baby
Now this subject gets a lot from all sides. And honestly, my opinion, there is no right or wrong. Whether mums choose to breastfeed, bottle feed or do a combination of both, in the end it is all about what keeps your baby healthy and you happy and healthy. It has to suit both of you, your lifestyle, and as long as your baby gets what they need who’s to judge?
I chose to 100% breastfeed my baby. Meaning no bottles and no pacifiers at all. Just me. And yes it is bloody hard, but it is also extremely personal and is so rewarding for me.
The struggles that come with this territory go down 2 categories. The first your husband. What I mean by this is that you understand early on that you will be the one doing all the waking up through nights and days. I couldn’t expect my husband to wake up at 2am and feed him now could I! So I accepted that. I knew I was the only who would be able to pacify him in his cranky moments because I chose to not give him a pacifier. I was his human walking pacifier whenever he needed it. So again, daddy time was cuddles and playtime and mommy was there for the serious, cranky, hungry, sleepy moments. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.
The second category is that of family. Now, when I had my son, I was hoping for alone time with him and my hubby to bond and become a family…but your extended family will have other ideas. Being of Indian origin, the concept of personal space and allowing a new mom to recover in peace and quiet is somewhat of an alien concept. So the questions of bottles had to be answered multiple times. Explaining why no one could baby sit because he would need me every couple hours. Making people understand that breastfeeding isn’t some weird strange concept but a natural part of becoming a mother. Giving them facts on breastfeeding and the benefits it has for the mother and for the baby. The willpower it takes to not breakdown when you get questioned about every decision you make is immense.
Now I know you’re thinking but my mother was with us for the first 2 months. Yes she was, but you see my mom is a neonatal intensive care nurse. Jackpot right? Who better to have at home with me? And she is the biggest advocate for “Breast is Best”. So, I had to learn to just drown out the noise and tell myself that I am doing what I chose to, and what I felt was best for my baby.
3) Sleeping habits
What I have observed so far is that babies who get bottles of formula tend to sleep better and longer than those who don’t. Am I right? Because I chose to completely breastfeed my son I had to get ready for sleepless nights, and even now though he is 11 months old and solids too he still doesn’t sleep through the night.
When a baby is at that new born phase they wake up every hour or so, their tummies are tiny. This then graduates to every couple of hours, then every 3 hours. Then when they get to about 4 or 5 months it stretches to every 5 every hours. This is how my son was anyway. And as I introduced solids and water to him the feeding has come down gradually to where he now only feeds early morning, around 10pm and in the middle of the night. But this hasn’t helped with his sleeping. The amount I used to stress myself out and have endless conversations with my mom and dad about what I could do to help him sleep better just led to anxiety. So I’ve decided, no more stressing about it! Just give it time, take it a week at a time, a night at a time, and just let him grow and learn naturally. Anyone else out there face this? Share you thoughts or any suggestions you have, they are always welcome.
4) Terrible colic
How heart breaking is it to watch your weeks old baby deal with trapped wind! Oh how I cried and I had never been more grateful that my mother was there to help. From Infacol to gripe water to baby massage, whatever would work! It would mostly happen at night of course, because who needs sleep?! I would fall asleep on my moms’ bed and she would just pace up and down the hallway with my son in the dark, gentle bouncing motions and little pats to help him burp or fart out the trapped air. And whenever he needed a top up feed I would get a nudge and be ready to feed. Its such a painful thing to watch your baby go through, but thankfully 2 weeks later we started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and his little self was able to burp up much easier himself.
5) Eating and the weaning process
This topic too has a lot of sides to it. Baby led, spoon fed, combination. The information that gets thrown at you is just mind boggling! And where do you start?!? I remember endless calls to my health visitor for advice and guidance, reading numerous recipe and weaning books to help me through this. The do’s and don’ts can be daunting. So I did what suited us best, a combination of the two. He would hold solid food and I would feed him the rest.
I am not particularly one for big messes, so the idea of every meal time turning into baby messy play didn’t quite appeal to me. But the one thing I did do through this process is to cook all his food myself. Only now have I started introducing packaged pouches and other bits for babies to him.
What made things easier for you?
These were my main struggles, the things I found slightly harder to deal with but got there in the end. What you realise about yourself through this journey is that you have a lot to give. You as a mother can never do wrong by your baby. Instincts kick in you didn’t know you had, and whatever it takes to ensure your little one grows happily and in a healthy way you will make happen.
I hope this was a little useful to you, and I would love for you to leave your thoughts for me to read. What did you struggle with and what helped you?
Until next time xoxo