Survival Mode

Well, kids, it’s officially been a month since I gave birth to my beautiful and funny daughter. It was a whirlwind of a few weeks. I had to be induced at 39 weeks because of my gestational diabetes. So a whole week was just taken from us, they just took it. I was told for a long time that I was going to have 40 weeks to prepare for our baby. It was a quick labor and delivery and a wonderful outcome. Our daughter, Eva, was very healthy, a great weight, and perfect when she came into the world. For the next couple days after having her we stayed at the hospital. We lived in a bubble of nurses, room service, and constant help/attention. Then our 48 hours were up, we put Eva in the car and headed home. For the first time it was just the three of us and it was terrifying. Who thought it would be a good idea for us to have a baby? Who allowed this?

It’s been a month and a lot of things have happened. I have learned a lot of things. And I realized a lot of things. Here are just some things that I have learned, realized, or came to Jesus about.

-What everyone says about being a mom is true. I thought that being a mom was something that would be easy to imagine and day dream about. It was. I thought that those day dreams would be comparable to what being a mom was. It wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong. You get a sense of it, but until you’re there you can’t appreciate it as much (and for continuity, I do believe non parents do “get” what it is to be a parent. That’s not what I’m saying ;)) I was told so many things about how I would feel and act. So far, they are pretty much all true. All of them and I love it.

-You can do things. One thing you do as a mom is sacrifice yourself on the alter of baby. The first four days we were home with Eva I probably slept five hours all together. I felt like I had to hold her because she would think I was abandoning her. I didn’t shower because I thought it was unfair to make Tim watch her for 15 minutes by himself. I barely ate because…well…I had just given birth and had no appetite. Then when I became on my own with Eva with no help I realized something. I can do things. I can take a shower. I can eat lunch. I can take time to check email and Facebook. I can write a blog post. I know once she starts crawling it’s another ball game, but right now I can do these things.

-We all have war stories about pregnancy and labor. I was induced. My labor was eight hours and I pushed twice because Eva came out so quickly. You would probably say I had an easy labor. At least that’s what other moms have said to me. While I understand I didn’t labor for 50 hours or have her stuck, I still went through labor. I used nitrous oxide for pain management but had a broken tank for half an hour. I had contractions every two minutes from the beginning of my induction to every 30 seconds for the last two hours. And even if I didn’t, I still went through labor. As a mom tribe we need to respect what each of us goes through. It’s all difficult. It’s all draining. It’s labor. It’s pregnancy. The important thing is, we got here. We got through it all.

-It was so much harder than I thought. Being home with a newborn outside the hospital bubble is so hard. I knew it would be hard from the second we decided to get pregnant. I knew that but what I didn’t understand was how difficult this would be. We had been home for about a week and I broke down. I was over exhausted. I was emotional. I was nursing and in demand of a seven pound meatloaf 24/7. Eva won’t sleep in her Rock N’ Play or Pack and Play. It’s me or Tim or nothing at night. It all hit me. I felt like I was being sentenced to a prison term not being welcomed into the wonderful parent club. You have this blob who demands so much from you but can’t speak to you about things. It was just hard. But again, everyone was right. We hit the three week mark and things got so much better. If you are at this stage, please read me carefully. It will get better. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s about to get so much cooler because your little person is about to start becoming a person with a personality. It’s insane.

-Take the help. I heard it in all my classes. I heard it from hospital staff. I heard it from family. I heard it everywhere. I had this ridiculous notion that if I accepted help from anyone I was admitting that I couldn’t be a mom or a good mom. That I was admitting that I wasn’t ready for a baby. I thought I would be admitting I was a failure. So. Far. From. The. Truth. As I said, this is hard. I had Tim to help for a week and a half. Then my sister for a week and my mom for half a week. I will tell you right now, I am so thankful for them. I had just given birth and was nursing. I had to sleep. I had to eat. I had to have a break. Without them I would be so much worse off right now. I’ve also been going to a breastfeeding support group and am part of a mommy group on Facebook. I’m learning and have learned that it’s not admitting failure, it’s declaring that you love yourself and your child so much you are willing to do anything to make sure you are on your game to take care of that little one.

-Let your husband (or partner) be a parent. “Why don’t you want to go upstairs and take a nap?” “Because if she gets fussy I want to be here to calm her down.” “Well…that’s not fair to me. I’m her dad, I need to calm her down too.” This was an actual conversation we had the other day because I was exhausted, Eva was sleeping on Tim, and I should have gone upstairs to sleep. Once again, I unnecessarily sacrificed something of myself for reasons made up in my head. Tim is a wonderful father. I need to let him be that as much as he lets me be a mom.

-Survival mode is real. I needed to hear this. I needed to know that I wasn’t the only mom in the world that felt like I was in this survival mode with a newborn. When you hear, “Do whatever you have to to have a calm and happy baby.” you literally do everything (within reason) to keep that baby happy and calm. Pacifier before three weeks? Yes, please. Let her sleep on your chest because it’s the only way to calm her? Fine by me. Have your husband rock in glider akin to space training to get her to stop crying? If that works, sir. If that works. You are literally just trying to make it to the next day of survival, rinse, and repeat. Parenting is hard and a challenge every day. Survival mode is the only way to get through.

So, overall this past month has been a whirlwind. We came home with a beautiful, smart, and funny baby girl. We learned what true exhaustion is. We realized that life is something that we can’t control and sometimes that’s okay. We became parents. It’s been an amazing month and I’m so excited to see what the next chapter has in store for us. I have learned a lot already and have my notebook ready for the next class. I just have to get through the survival mode pre-requisite.

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A photo taken by my sister when she was down. I feel a good representation of what parenting is.

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