Lesson in First Time Motherhood #2: Routines are Important

I truly underestimated the power of routines in a baby’s life. I’m the kind of person that loves to have every day a little different and likes the surprise. The surprise loses its luster when you go from an 8-5 job to 24 hours per day job. I was so tired I thought I was going to die. My husband was so frustrated he couldn’t think straight. How did Charles Dickens put it? “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” We were so thankful for our little bundle of joy. She made the most amazing little noises and warmed our hearts to the maximum extent. Now, if she would only sleep.

I didn’t read any parenting books and I don’t regret it, my philosophy is “my baby didn’t read that book” however, I do love a good research project. I research A LOT and that includes using the parenting books I have on my shelf. I do consult books and I Google. I Googled and found some sample schedules on Babycenter.com. I found the one that was the closest to what my baby was doing right then and just went with it. I also ask A LOT of questions as stated in the previous post of my sisters as well as my mommy friends.

A bedtime routine will save your sanity. My child loves to sleep. (I know I’m pretty fortunate) But I think she loves to sleep because she knows what’s coming. When it’s time to sleep through the night she gets a bath, a story, and a nighttime prayer all before she is laid down to sleep. Every night. The time of night can sometime vary depending on what we are doing but most of the time it’s at 7 pm. This whole routine queues her to knowing that it’s time for bed. My mother told me to do this and it was genius.

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 I love when she sleeps. Zzzzzzz…

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Lessons in First Time Motherhood: Lesson #1 Breast Feeding is HARD!

I was asked “What is the most difficult part of being a mom so far?” Breastfeeding. Hands down. No arguments. My husband agrees with me and he’s not even the one doing it!
Breast feeding was one of my non-negotiables going into parenthood. I planned to be a stay at home mom which means that my role changed from making money to conserving it. It was and is important for me to keep my milk flowing to conserve finances. Formula isn’t cheap!
Before I gave birth I spent countless hours watching You Tube videos, reading online forums and asking questions to my lovely sisters about breast feeding. I’m so very glad that I did. You can ask my sisters, I asked and continue to ask A LOT of questions about breast feeding and quite frankly I’m still not an expert.

The #1 lesson I’ve learned is: Breast feeding is something a Mom and dad have to be proactive about. (yes I said dad too) There is a small window of time where you can fool your body into thinking your baby needs more milk than it does. I found this little supply and demand trick extremely useful as I had to give Moriah a bottle to supplement her feeding because she had a hard time latching on for the first few weeks of her life. When she was first born I never gave her formula. I stocked my freezer full because you never know what could happen. And if you’re planning on going back to work after you have a baby and want to give your baby breast milk you REALLY need to be proactive!
My little bits of advice for first time mom’s is buy all the supplies. Get it all. I had a Brest Friend AND a boppy and I used them both. I had wonderful sisters who stocked me full of things I didn’t even know what they were and it was so wonderful to open up my drawer and see everything that I needed just waiting for me. I had no idea what a nipple shield was, or storage bags, or covers, or pads, the list goes on. I have used every single bit of it. True, I used a majority of it in the first 3 months of her life but I used it all. In my opinion, breast feeding supplies are not where you want to conserve your baby budget.

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Daddy: the champion bottle feeder.

Another lesson I’ve learned in this new motherhood experience is: Daddy’s are a big deal. I never thought I would have needed so much help from my husband and I’m very thankful for my husband’s servant heart. I would never have succeeded in breast feeding if it weren’t for his constant support and encouragement. I really thought when it came to breast feeding the responsibility would fall completely on my shoulders and I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was right there with me. While I held our upset hungry daughter he was right here to keep my frustration at a minimum. The lactation nurse taught him how to put together the breast pumping equipment and how to clean it while we were still in the hospital. She also taught him how to suck up the colostrums that I pumped out into a syringe and then expel it into my breast shield so that Moriah could eat it with little effort on her part. It came to a point where trying to eat was burning too many calories and she was losing weight at a rapid pace and needed to be bottle fed. Bottle feeding was his responsibility as I was again, hooked up to the mechanical parasite (aka breast pump).

Another shock: babies lose weight after they are born. I didn’t know that, but it makes sense as they are learning how to eat. One of the nurses on the night shift felt my pain as I struggled to feed my baby and went to get me a breast shield and I’m so thankful that she did. Most mothers don’t even know what a breast shield is and that’s a good thing. It’s really a last resort type of thing, and that’s because you will have to re-teach your baby how to breast feed if you use it as regularly as I had too. Moriah was small, had a shallow gag reflex, and wasn’t born through the vaginal canal. All things that were stacked against us, thankfully she was never jaundice. That was really the only thing working for us. That was truly a miracle.

Despite all that was mentioned above one bit of advice I got was spot on. It’s totally worth it! I was going to breast feed her if it killed me (and I think it almost has several times, but that may be another post). There’s nothing like the bonding time you get with your child. It’s a little piece of heaven on earth when your little one stops feeding, looks up at you and smiles as milk drips down both sides of her face. It’s like she’s saying “Oh wow, my mommy is so pretty and I love her so much.” After 3 visits to lactation consultants after we left the hospital and two visits to the chiropractor to give Moriah adjustments to get her to have the sucking reflex. She’s now 8 months old and breastfeeding. She’s distracted, but that’s because she’s 8 months old. Breast feeding is messy, painful, frustrating and can be incredibly difficult but I still maintain that it’s totally worth every hurdle you may face. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to drinking my Mothers Milk tea.

 

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Milk Coma’s are so adorable.

A Baby’s First Lesson in Sharing

 

After I heard the doctor say Cesarean Section my first question was “Can I still breastfeed?” I had told myself over and over during the pregnancy that I wasn’t going to have a C-section so I never researched what happens or how that procedure would affect my ability to make milk for my daughter.

The advice for first time mothers that I give is “decide which things are the most important to you and focus on those”. There is a lot of information out there about child birth and raising kids so I find this to be helpful advice. It is easy to get overwhelmed, if you decide what is important to you then focus on those items. For me, it was breastfeeding. I was going to breast feed my daughter if it killed me. I was determined and hearing that I was going to have a c-section freaked me out! It turns out that having a C-section in no way inhibited me from breastfeeding my daughter. I had other challenges, but I was determined.

After several meetings with lactation consultants, a chiropractor (for the baby), and constant support and encouragement from my family, I am now able to breastfeed my daughter, which brings me to the reason I’m writing today.

After my final lactation appointment the nurse suggested I look into milk donation. I started researching and the stories tugged at my heart. I couldn’t even imagine how helpless I would feel if I was (for whatever reason) not able to produce milk for my baby. I want to give her the best and knowing I couldn’t would make motherhood that much more challenging.

So today, the little miss and I head out to make a donation. I’m so thankful I have the ability to ease another mother’s worry by providing her baby with my milk.

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All in all, Mo and I donated a little over 5 gallons of milk that will go to babies who need it. I’m so thankful that I was able to donate.