Wednesday, March 23, 2011

why didn't you TELL me?!

when i had my first baby i thought i was prepared. i had spent much of my life caring for little ones. my two younger sisters, cousins, kids in nursery at church, and most of my junior high and high school free time was spent baby-sitting. i read lots of pregnancy and baby development books. i even read child rearing books while i was pregnant. my husband and i were so excited to be parents. we had all the supplies. we'd done all the research. we had a "diaper genie"...we were set!

we opted for a "natural" delivery and after 30 hours of coaxing and labor we were handed our wet, beautiful, screaming, son. what a moment! it was full of love, relief, adrenaline, and everything changed. just like i thought it would.

that moment is the last time things went as i thought they would. the next 12 months were the most difficult and dark in my life. i had no idea what sleep deprivation could do to a person. how could i not be constantly in awe of the cuteness of my baby? what kind of mother resented her child? i was clueless as to how all these new pressures would effect my marriage and how very differently sonny and i viewed the proper way to care for an infant. no one, no one, no ONE told me how incredibly hard breastfeeding would be. i hated it!

i felt so alone. i felt like life would never be good again. colic, acid reflux, post-partum depression, isolation...i had read these words, but i had no idea what it would be like to live with them. i had only heard others talk about how my life would change for the better. how wonderful things would be. these things were true...they just weren't the whole picture. and i kept waiting, trying, wishing that i could be like those moms.

there were many factors that contributed to my state of mind and my baby was exceptionally difficult, but...i feel strongly that had my expectations been different and had it been "ok" to talk about some of these struggles things may have been better. when i saw this video i resonated with it so much. i love that this couple is not out to share their "horror stories" or "one-up" the struggle of another couple. they are simply being transparent and honest with what they experienced for the purpose of empowering other parents to triumph through the difficulties of parenting. i think it's a wonderful thing to be open and vulnerable with the struggles and failures one has had when entering this new world of caring for a baby.

i think it would be so helpful to tell expectant mothers that want to breastfeed for example, that it
is hard. it would be easier to use formula. but if this is what you want to do and feel is best for your baby than strap on your pack and start hiking. it's worth the view from the top, but boy oh boy you will get tired. you will be sore. you will want to turn back. you may encounter a bear or two. but you can do it. if you dressed and packed for a day at the beach but turned out to be climbing everest, i dare say you'd never make it. but if you go in knowing and preparing for the arduous task ahead, you've got a fighting chance. and oh, the reward of conquering something so great is unmatched.

january 12th 2011
second time around, expectations were much different

so if you're a momma and you tell stories about childbirth and the first year (who doesn't?!) remember to share the things that were difficult too. not in a way to "brag" about what you endured, but in a manner that will give more realistic expectations.

do you know a new or expectant mom? check on her. call her. come over and hold her baby. tell her it's o.k. if this isn't the greatest thing that has ever happened to her. that doesn't mean she doesn't love her baby or isn't a great mother. tell her she will feel normal again. she will have her body back again. she will want to be with her husband again. she will sleep again. tell her the first birthday party isn't for her child, it's for her:) she made it! it is one of the most challenging and amazing things she's ever done and we will celebrate her accomplishment.


Jeana said...

I love this, Kristal!

Kami said...

Well put! We need to be honest and transparent with other women and let them know (and ourselves) that we're NOT alone in our journey of motherhood. Thank you for sharing.

Denee Longan said...

So true!! There were several things that I somehow "missed" with Henri. And yes, breastfeeding IS hard and a huge commitment!! (I wonder how humanity survived before lactation consultants, nipple shields and the invention of formula?!)

Micah and Christa Forsythe said...

I loved reading this.. thanks... after doing two children in a community-less community.... I can say I understand depression, loneliness and all the other struggles you wrote about ALL TOO WELL! I hope you are enjoying your time... this time around! (finally got my internet back!!!)

Tonya said...

What a wonderful blog post! So encouraging and honest. It is so much easier to tackle a job if you know what you are up against, and unfortunately in this world of competition and stepford-mother's who want the world to think they are perfect and that everything is easy, it's hard for first time mother's to understand that parenting is HARD WORK!! But it is worth it. :)

Susan said...

Awesome post! It really is amazing how realistic expectations take away the stress.