My mom is such a good sport, she said I could post this photo.
Because today is my birthday, I asked my mom to write about what it was like for her to become a mother on this, the anniversary of the day it happened.
33 years ago today my life changed in ways I could never have imagined. I remember walking out of my house and taking a good quick look around, because I knew when I came back home a few days later, my house, and my life would never be the same. I was about to become a mother for the first time. I was excited, but also terrified. What skills did I have to do this??? I had 2 sisters who had children, but neither of them lived anywhere nearby. To bottle feed, or breastfeed? Who knew? Would you be a girl or a boy? what color would your eyes be? Your hair? Would you be healthy? Would I know how to read your every signal that something was wrong? Would I be a good enough mom? All of these thoughts, and many more raced through my head. All I knew for sure was that you were about to enter the world, and soon, because my water had broken at home.
Your Dad was a wonderful and calming birthing partner. We had taken Lamaze classes together. He was my rock, telling me to breathe and relax when every part of me wanted to run away. The nurses were efficient, but I was still scared to death. Dr. Bourke arrived, and I was finally able to relax. He is the voice of calm and reassurance that I so desperately needed. He came and went throughout the day, each time telling me I was doing fine.
Many many many many hours later, you finally arrived. As soon as you were born,the doctor laid you on my stomach, and the first thing you did was smile. How delighted I was when you smiled and you had deep dimples, (which I still love today). The second thing you did was to pop your thumb into your mouth. I said, “Oh no!’ The doctor told me that you had most likely done it the whole time I carried you, so it wasn’t a new thing, and you probably wouldn’t stop anytime soon.
You chose to come into the world at 4:40 a.m. I find this funny now, because, like your Dad, you are not a morning person.
You have made my life incredibly richer and more wonderful because you are in it. You again changed my life last year in ways I could only imagine by making me a grandmother for the first time. I know other people who have been grandparents for quite some time who always gushed about their grandkids, and I can honestly say I didn’t quite understand what the big deal was about. Now I can fully understand. there is something so special about a new little person coming into the world that is a part of someone YOU have given birth to. I now know for sure that a part of me will continue to live on. It also helps that she looks more like me than you or your brothers ever have!!!!!
I just wanted you and the whole world to know how very special you are to me. I continually marvel at how my love for you can grow and change all the time.
May this day be as special as you are to me. I look forward to seeing you again soon. Distance may keep us apart, but my love for you never will. I love you.
If you can only have one goal for the first year of your baby’s life, I firmly believe it should be to make it to the other side with a happy and healthy mom, baby and family. In my case that meant a few things: eating as much chocolate as I wanted for the first 5 months, taking long baths with my Kindle, relaxing our standards about how clean the house needed to be, and talking to other parents online and off. But the biggest sanity saver was saying “yes” almost every time someone offered us help.
Friends and family brought us food, my mom stayed with us for several weeks and cooked and cleaned, and Neil’s mum regularly visited and took the baby while I napped. Not only that, but when I asked my friend to bake muffins because I needed quick and easy breakfasts, she did it.
It’s easy to isolate yourself when you have a baby, but the people who love you do genuinely want to help. Let them share the burden and accept their offers, even if that also means asking for what you need. It will make those difficult first months a little easier, so you can be a better parent to your new baby.
Even before we had the baby, we knew we would swaddle her. Not only is swaddling one of the “5 s’s”, but it worked like a charm for all the parents we knew. We were very lucky to have some large swaddle blankets given to us, but after a couple of months, our little monkey was already busting one or both arms out. Luckily for us, I had something on hand to try.
More than just a sleep sack, the Halo SleepSack Swaddle has wings attached. All I had to do was stick the baby in it, zip it up and then fold the wings over her arms. The wings have huge pieces of velcro on them, so they stayed so secure that our girl couldn’t bust out until she had outgrown it. And for babies that don’t like their arms swaddled anymore, you can just wrap the wings under their arms.
If I could only recommend one item to new parents, this would be it. It saved our sanity on many, many a day and night and we loved it so much that when she outgrew the small size, we went out to Bo Bebe to get her the next size up.
Someone asked me recently if I was blogging my parenting tips and that reminded me of two things: I have a blog and I said I would start mommyblogging. Turns out that running around after our kid takes up most of my time, but I do think it’s worth doing this because at some point we’ll have a second kid and I won’t remember any of this so I would like a record, even just for myself. So… on with the show.
As you may have guessed from the name of this post, I believe there’s a grand conspiracy happening in the parenting world. I discovered it after Tessa was born and now I even take part in it. If you have kids, I’d bet real money you’ve done it at some point too. I’m talking about the pervasive notion that parenting a baby is amazing.
Parenting my daughter really is amazing. But a more accurate way to say that would be that for me, now that the colic is over and Tessa isn’t a newborn anymore, being a parent is amazing except when she’s teething, screaming, overtired, exploding out of her diaper, or biting and/or scratching while nursing. She’s a happy, curious kid who’s currently in a great stage where’s she’s figuring out her body and exploring the world around her. She’s silly and funny and we’re both highstanding members of our mutual admiration society. But for those first few months? She was awful.
I didn’t realize Tessa had colic until she was a little over two months old. The first week of her life, she was lovely and cuddly and sleepy because she was recovering from being born, and it was only a couple more weeks before my mom came out from Ontario to help us out. After another few weeks, my dad and brothers came for the holidays so we had plenty of help and I was able to get reasonable amounts of sleep, even if some of it happened during the day. But two weeks after she left? Everything started to fall apart and I was stuck at home for days in the middle of a cold snap with a baby who screamed for several hours a day.
We tried everything we could think of except the chiropractor: gripe water, Ovol, cycling her legs, massage, skin-to-skin nursing, and probiotics. After three straight weeks I was falling apart. I cried with my baby and felt like I was a bad person because I didn’t enjoy being a parent. Aren’t babies supposed to be wonderful? Doesn’t everyone love parenting babies? I knew toddlers and teens weren’t fun, but everyone always looks so happy with their baby.
Finally one day I was able to turn to my husband and say “I’m not okay.” And once I said it to him, it got easier to say it to others. My mom flew back out here to help me for another six weeks and when I mentioned it on Facebook, I was overwhelmed by the encouragement I received both publicly and privately. I quickly learned that I wasn’t the only person who had a terrible time with their newborn, and that’s when I learned two things:
If you’ve won the life lottery and managed to have the mythical easygoing newborn, congratulations! I can’t relate to you and I am a little envious. But for everyone else like me, I just want to be the first to say I understand. You’re not a bad parent, and you’re not a bad person. The first few months can be excruciatingly difficult, especially with your first child when you don’t know any better. But millions of people do it all the time, and so can you. You will look back at that time and have wisdom to share.
I promise it gets better. Just look at us now.
To all the people who are still subscribed to this blog, hello! It’s been a long time. This post is mostly to warn you that not only am I going to try to return to blogging, but that the focus of this blog is taking a huge shift.
In October of 2011 my life completely changed when I gave birth to my daughter. Like you would expect, my sleeping schedule went out the window, and my days were filled with feeding, changing, and basically just keeping this new little person alive. Parenting a newborn is sort of like being a life support system, and I really couldn’t comprehend that until I was in the middle of it.
When I was pregnant, I often told people that I thought having a baby would be the hardest and best thing I’ll have ever done. 4 months into the experience I can say that I underestimated both ends of that spectrum. I was talking about some of that recently with Sona, my good friend and former boss. Yesterday she gently nudged me back into blogging, pointing out that not only would it be good for me to talk about the challenges of the early days of parenting, but it might be good for other new parents to read too. So here we are.
In the spirit of keeping the blog focused, I’ve taken down all of the old posts except the ones that were personal. To everyone who wrote film or book reviews for me over the past couple of years, I apologize for not consulting you before taking down your posts, but I’m sure you understand given the drastic shift in the direction of this site, and you’re more than welcome to republish them on your own sites.
So that’s basically it. I hope you enjoy my future posts and if anyone would like to contribute their own stories or experiences about parenting, please send them my way at tara (at) versusboredom (dot) com.