It’s January. For many people this means cleaning up the Holiday decorations, putting the house back in order, getting the diet back on track and possibly making a list of New Year’s Resolutions. I’m no different; the tree has been put away, I have ambitions for an organized closet, and I think I can safely say I’ve had my fill of cookies and am ready to eat some vegetables. However, at 37 weeks pregnant, I felt a list of “New Baby Resolutions” may be more appropriate. As I approach the end of what has felt like an interminable pregnancy, I find myself oscillating between feelings of confidence (hey, this is baby number 2; I’ve done this before; I’ve totally got this) and an impending sense of doom (it’s been 3 years since I’ve had a newborn…can I really handle midnight feedings, diapers, and the crying that can’t be handled with “use your words”?!). The following are some of my new baby resolutions (delusional though they may be):
I will recognize that every pregnancy/ delivery/ baby is different.
I am not one of those women who enjoys pregnancy. It simply doesn’t agree with me. However, my son was worth every minute of the nausea, exhaustion, ankle-swelling, and general discomfort. My first labor/delivery story reads more like a cautionary tale: induction, two days of Pitocin induced contractions, failure to dilate despite several interventions . . . one failed epidural (and, thankfully, one successful one) . . . ending in a C-section—where my son’s face was nicked by the surgical incision. Finally, we had the successful delivery of a healthy, 9 pound 6.5 ounce baby boy. And that’s what matters—right?
Now, as I prepare for the delivery of my baby girl, I’ve been grappling with the decision of whether to attempt a VBAC or “just” schedule a C-section. I say “just” because a C-section is major surgery, and some people consider it a cop-out. Like breastfeeding, being a working vs. stay-at-home mother, and having a “natural” birth—the C-section is a polarizing topic. With another child at home, actually choosing to have limited mobility and lifting ability for an extended period of time is a difficult decision. Really, in my opinion, there is just no good way to get a baby out. So I need to choose the best option for me. Every delivery is different…
…And every baby is different. In the past 3 months I’ve encountered the two most angelic babies I’ve ever seen. Seriously. They are calm and quiet—you can actually forget they are in the room. My son was not that child. That’s okay because he’s now a polite, spirited, cooperative, and engaging pre-schooler that can be taken to church and restaurants. As an infant? Let’s just say we spent a lot of time in the back of the chapel and the timing of a dinner engagement was critical. I must remember that every child is different and every child is a blessing. This baby girl may be similar to my son, but she will still be unique. The tricks and manipulations that worked on him may not work with her. So again, even though I’ve done this whole “baby” thing before, it will still be a different and potentially challenging experience. (Or maybe I’ll hit the jackpot, and she’ll come out potty trained, sleeping through the night, and speaking full sentences—in fluent French!)
I will divide my attention as evenly as possible between my children.
This may actually be my most challenging resolution since I have no idea what it’s like to have a newborn AND a child who is accustomed to having undivided attention. A pediatrician I worked with gave the same speech to all the new parents at the child’s two-week check-up. He’d look at the father and say “Dad, the most important thing for this child is his mother, so your most important job is to take care of her.” It seems a bit unfair, but I’ve found it quite true. Dads are great for diaper changes and soothing the baby, but if you’ve chosen to breastfeed? That’s on Mom. Yes, I know, you can pump and the father can feed, but in my last experience (even with my super-supportive, incredibly hands-on, and wonderful husband), a lot falls on the mother. So how do I integrate the feeding/holding/everything with my current activities with my son? A new baby in the house is going to rock his little world. He’s excited to be a big brother, but he hasn’t had to share his parents yet. So my goal—my resolution, if you will—is to be able to care for my daughter and do those things that only I can do, but to also let my husband take over so I can still put my son to bed at night.
I will be kind in my assessment of my post-partum body.
Going into my first pregnancy, I was warned of the effects it would have on my body. Weight gain. Stretch marks. Vericose veins. I was told that even after you lost all the baby weight “the number on the scale may be the same, but ‘things’ aren’t where they were before.” I was so sure these were all unsightly changes that happened to other people. I was going to have a magical unicorn pregnancy! I’d stay active, eat well, put on only the prescribed 30 pounds, and then—by the magic of breastfeeding—the weight would just melt off one feeding at a time. I was delusional. Walking—let alone running—was made excruciating and impossible by terrible piriformis pain. Responsible eating? Really hard to do when you are HUNGRY, working the night shift (I’m a nurse), and there is a Wendy’s across the street. My son is made of scrambled eggs, avocados, and Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers.
After delivering my bundle of joy, I was disturbed to see that my previously enormous belly was now simply large. Despite my knowledge of labor, delivery, and the postpartum “fourth trimester,” I didn’t really realize just how long it took a uterus to shrink back down to its original size. And as for my previously pitiful bustline? I didn’t realize my nipples would also grow. I distinctly recall looking at myself in the mirror, post-shower at six weeks post-partum and thinking “What happened to my body? Heidi Klum walked a Victoria Secret runway at this point, and I’m still wearing my maternity pants!”
I’ve tried to be more conscientious with my diet this pregnancy, but I was pregnant through Thanksgiving and Christmas—and cookies are delicious. My weight gain is still more than I had planned when I started this pregnancy. I haven’t been as active as I would have liked. However, this time I know what “horrors” I can expect to see in the mirror, and I know that with time and effort my body will return (more or less) to the shape with which I’m familiar. So I will be kind to this body that grew a human, and I will not beat myself up about my physical appearance.
I will be realistic in my expectations of what can be accomplished daily.
I’m a Type A person. I make lists. I plan. So the arrival of my first child was a shock to my schedule. How could it possibly take 30 minutes to get out the door? Where did all this laundry come from? Could I fit a hair appointment into this 2 hour window between feedings? When did my life start revolving around my boobs? I used to be able to pack my day with chores and errands and social engagements. Now I felt like a hero if I could make it to the grocery store. I have since been spoiled by daycare, predictable naps, and the blessed attention span of a 3-year old (“Mommy needs a shower, want to watch Bubble Guppies?”) I’m starting over again at ground zero, and I fear I’ve forgotten just how tired, stressed, and dirty I was with a newborn. But instead of bemoaning the situation, this time I’ll know to take a deep breath. Because this time around, I know that everyone was telling me the truth–this stage will pass. It may be followed by something far worse–but that will pass too. And before I know it, this tiny little life punching and kicking inside me will be potty trained, sleeping through the night, and speaking in full sentences (although probably not in fluent French), and I will truly miss having my day revolve around my boobs.