Wednesday, February 23, 2011

If I could do this thing over...

If I could go back just two months in time, I would do a few things different. Number one, I would have read a couple of books about parenting strategies. Honestly, I was so concerned about labor and delivery and breastfeeding that I mainly spent my time studying up on these two topics. I figured I knew how to take care of a baby -- I've been around babies all my life!
As it turns out, I didn't even need all that information about labor and delivery or even breastfeeding, for that matter. What I really needed was a guide to how to make sure this new little person in my life was given all that he needs to be a happy, well-rested, well nourished baby so that I could be a happy, well-rested, well nourished mother who didn't absolutely lose her mind.
Granted, I know all new mothers go through the "baby blues" but I think my "blues" have lasted a tad too long. It seems that the waves of self-doubt and inadequacy keep crashing ashore and by the end of each week, they build to a crescendo. I had hoped to have Andrew on some sort of daily schedule by now but we've been working on it and have yet to even come close.
I talked with my doctor about it on Monday when I went for my six-week postpartum visit. He gave me a prescription for an antidepressant. I took it that day and felt nauseas the rest of the day and then was plagued with insomnia that night -- which is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a new mom because she is so tired!
So, I haven't taken it since. I felt fine yesterday. I feel OK today. But I know the end of the week is coming and I'm not sure how I'll feel on Friday.
I used to think post-partum depression was a crock of poop. Then, I had a friend who had it and wound up in the hospital and I realized that maybe there was something to it afterall. Now that I've experienced the waves of emotion and mood swings for myself, I know that it is a real condition. I'm not sure I have PPD. I think I'm suffering from the normal hormonal shifts that all women feel after having a baby -- add that to my unplanned cesarean -- factor in my failure to breasfeed -- and then layer on the "colic" problems -- pile on the lack of sleep --top it with the fact that I don't have a support system here and all my loved ones are far away and you get -- well, you get one crazy Mama.
I remember reading about PPD and the baby blues in my pregnancy books and thinking --that will never happen to me because I've waited so long for this pregnancy and I have wanted to be a mother for so long I will just be happy no matter what. I've learned that's not quite the way it works. Andrew is a miracle. He is the most precious gift I've ever been given and I love him more than I can say. I want to be the best mother I can to him, but many times I feel like I'm failing him.
In an effort to become the mother I want to be, I've busied myself during the past week or so reading books about parenting during any spare moment that I have. What I've learned is that one book will say you can't possibly spoil a newborn baby so rock your baby to sleep if you like and the next book will tell you rocking your bably to sleep is bad because you teach him he can't go to sleep any other way. According to this book, Andrew is suffering from the effects of "accidental" parenting.
What is a parent to do? I don't know. Greg, who rarely ever says a cross word to me, even when I'm at my worst, told me in a very loud voice "stop reading books and let's just figure this out on our own."
And perhaps he is right. I just wish I had entered motherhood a little more prepared to take on such challenges. My newborn care class told me how to meet the physical needs of a baby -- feeding, changing, bathing. It didn't teach me how to deal with some of the less obvious but perhaps more important facets of mothering. Maybe these things can't be learned in a class or by reading a book. Maybe it's just trial by fire.
For now, we are taking it one day at a time. I feed Andrew when he seems hungry. I try to help him go to sleep when I think he's tried. I talk to him, play with him and try to make sure he's getting all that he needs to learn and grow. But somehow it doesn't seem like enough.
It would be easier for me if we had a daily routine. I don't know if babies know anything about that. I've been trying to do things at roughly the same time every day so Andrew and I can know what's coming next, but it isn't easy. One day, he's up at 5 a.m. the next he sleeps til 6:30 a.m. and that first feeding pretty much determines how the rest of the day is going to go.
Meanwhile, I am constantly comparing Andrew to my great-nephew Wyatt who has been on a very regular schedule since he was Andrew's age and has been sleeping through the night -- by that I mean he was sleeping from 9:30 p.m. until 6 a.m. since he was two months old. Now, he's 9 months old and he sleeps from about 7:30 - 8 p.m. until 7 a.m. All his mom has to do is put him in his crib, turn out the light and walk out of the room. While, it's taking us about and hour (or more) to get Andrew down for the night. We are still waking at around 1-2 a.m. for a feeding and then we're up again between 5-6 for another. I keep telling myself that Andrew is not Wyatt and he's going to do things in his own time. I beat myself up for wishing Andrew would sleep like Wyatt or eat and nap on a routine like Wyatt.
My mom says give it time. I hope she's right.

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