Sunday, April 18, 2010

7 things I've learned about myself in 7 weeks of parenthood

Victor @ 6.5 weeks

In the last couple of months since having Victor, I've discovered a few things about myself as a mother. Some of these things aren't the all-is-wonderful (or proper/correct) notions that some mothers have (or feel like they should have), but it's how I feel at the moment and my feelings are true, which is important when it comes to motherhood and parenthood. I don't think that it's fair or accurate to anyone to make being a parent seem all lovey and sunshine and rainbows, because even at this young, sweet, innocent age, it certainly isn't (not that only complaining about it is a good thing either; nothing bothers me more than mothers who are constantly complaining about how hard being a mom is...umm, hello, you CHOSE to have a child, suck it up!). Anyway, sorry, rant over.

So here we go:

1) My patience level since having a baby has...stayed exactly the same (meaning I don't have much).

This is something I feared before having Victor; that my patience (or lack of it) would get in the way of how I am as a mother. People kept telling me while I was pregnant that once I had my own baby, my patience would grow. Well, so far it hasn't (or if it has it's been very little.) As completely ludicrous as it sounds, I often lose my patience with Victor because he's not behaving 'rationally' (meaning he's crying and won't stop). It doesn't take much for me to get frustrated with him and start feeling like I'm going to lose it, so I think that it's going to take some work on my part to get better, because I know that as he gets older, my patience will be tested way, way, way more. Of course I don't let my anger or frustration get out of hand, I walk away from the situation if I have to (this is where Dan-and point #4-become invaluable), but there will be times where I won't be able to walk away and I'll have to learn to be more patient with my son and the trials that he brings my way. It's going to be one of my biggest challenges as a mother, I know this for a fact, but I'm more than willing to work on it.

2) I don't love-or even like-breastfeeding.

Now, working in Public Health for 3 years has definitely convinced (aka brainwashed) me into knowing that breastfeeding is the best possible thing I can do for my baby; that doesn't mean, however, that I do (or even have to) like it. I'm not sure if it's me or him or what, we just don't mesh that well I guess. I would say that it's tolerable (even calm and enjoyable) only about 50% of the time, the rest of the time I'm frustrated and wishing I could be doing something else. This usually happens when he's fussy and is having a hard time latching on, or is coming off 20 times in a feeding, screaming for no apparent reason, and making a HUGE mess on himself and me. Having to use a nipple shield isn't helping matters at all, it makes things even more frustrating since it takes more preparation/work than just feeding him normally would (luckily he's starting to feed once in awhile without it, hopefully by the time he's 3 months old he won't need it anymore.) Like I said, it's the best thing I can do for him right now so I will continue to breastfeed him exclusively until at least 6 months and aim to breastfeed for a year, bu for me it's not the blissful, bonding experience that some mothers claim it is. I prefer to connect with him in other ways, and I won't miss it once the year is up.

3) Speaking to my baby in French has been easy.

I wasn't overly concerned about this, but there was a part of me that wondered if I would be able to speak to him exclusively in French; so far, however, it hasn't been an issue at all. In fact, I'm starting to find it strange to speak to other babies (for example my friend Sara's little guy Eli) in English! When I'm talking to Victor and I don't know a word, I simply say it in English and move on, I don't stress about it because I'm sure as time goes on and I get more and more used to it, my vocabulary and comfort with it will grow as well. Now, learning to speak in a normal tone of voice might be a bit more challenging, since I'm so used to using my pet/baby voice when speaking in French, but I'm sure it'll be fine. The more difficult challenge will be finding books/shows/toys/activities/groups that are in French that we can both enjoy, because I don't think I'll feel comfortable switching to English with him in any situation, which is how I want it to be. I'll worry about that when he gets older though.

4) I can handle hearing-and letting-my baby cry.

I've heard of some moms who have said that it physically bothers them to hear their babies cry, or that it makes them feel bad and they feel the need to comfort their babies right away in order to stop the crying...not me. If he's crying, I can handle it. I mean, I always try to get to him before he gets too upset, but it's only because I know that the the more I let him cry, the harder it will be to get him to calm down, so that's why I do it, not because it bothers me one bit. In fact, if I try to comfort him and he just keeps crying, I will let him cry in order for me to calm down and regain my patience (see point #1 above). It's not the ideal way of doing things, but if I need the break, then he will just need to 'cry it out' for a few minutes. In the end I don't think that it will hurt him that much (I would say I do 'attachment style' parenting only 75% of the time, the other 25% of me is pretty tough.)

5) I depend on Dan way more than I thought I would (or than I should).

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't know what I'll do once my husband goes back to work. It's been such a relief and a blessing to have him home with me during these first few critical months. We've been acting like such a fluid and cooperative team, it's going to be extremely hard on me once he's not around during the days. From changing diapers to staying up with him at night; from passing him off when he's fussy to simple things like getting me a glass of water when I'm breastfeeding, Dan has been absolutely perfect. I guess I knew I would depend on him to some degree since I always have personally, but I've ended up needed him way more than I thought I would (or that I really should...dare I say I've been spoiled/lazy?) I need to start getting into the habit of doing things by myself, getting more organized so that things run smoothly on my own, and getting used to being alone with the baby for long periods of time, because otherwise it's not going to be easy (I'll report back on how I do with this one next month.)

6) Broken sleep isn't so bad.

Now, I'm pretty lucky because Dan helps out a ton, especially late at night, but even still, so far having only broken sleep hasn't been so bad. There have been a few times where I've felt tired, but for the most part I manage, especially during the day and in the mornings. My worst time is probably between 8pm and 1am, this is when I start to crash and where Dan comes into play. He will stay up with Victor while I head to bed at around 11:00pm or so, and most of the time I don't need to wake up until 3 or 4am (and then every 2 hours afterward), which is wonderful. I've gotten quite used to only having 3-5 hour stretches of sleep, and I think that as long as I can have at least one long stretch, I'll be ok until he starts sleeping through the nights...whenever that will be.

7) While motherhood isn't 'my destiny' or sole purpose in life, nor my absolute favourite thing in the world, it's pretty amazing.

Enough said. Even with all the frustrations and learnings and lack of sleep and messy clothes and poochie stomach, I think that being a mama has been really fun and cool so far, and I can't wait to watch him grow.

(Oh, bonus point #8-I have no issues with my baby 'growing up' or getting older or anything like that, I totally don't want him to stay like this forever. I want to see him grow and learn and become a little boy and then a moody teen and then a handsome young man, to me the excitement of seeing his life develop outweighs any sadness I'll have at 'losing' my baby/child. And time isn't flying by, at least not yet, but that may change.)

So that's that, my feelings at being a mom @ 7 weeks. As I said before, things are going really well, and I'm very happy :)

Be back later with some more pics and maybe even a-shock!-scrap layout.

Until next time,



Anonymous said...

It's like hearing myself at your age/time in life. And so I know for sure... Victor will grow out to be an outstanding young man 'cause he has the best mom!!! And I don't say this to "comfort you" or something, I truly feel it!

Bettyann said...

It is very refreshing to hear your point of view about being a mother..take care...

Anonymous said...