How did I get here and What Comes Next!?

Posted on | February 23, 2010 | 7 Comments

There should be a map to Motherhood that hospitals give you when you give birth. Just a little road map, tucked into the bag with the seven free samples of formula and the pink and blue striped hats. It doesn’t have to be much, just something that outlines the major points for you.

It could start simply with tips on how to get your baby home from the hospital. You know, a user-friendly guide to driving slower than Christmas and staying off of main roads. Maybe they could even provide back routes to your house or a police escort. I’m not asking for much, but something to get me from “It’s a Boy!” to alone in a room praying to anyone that you don’t fall asleep standing up or get so tired that your arms stop working and you drop the baby onto the hardwood floors. You’d think they’d WANT to provide a little assistance.

I hadn’t even had the “pleasure” of having J over night when we left the hospital. It was policy for the nursery to keep him overnight unless Husband and I were willing to sign a release, guarantee that the lights would stay on in the room all night, and guarantee that either myself or Husband would stay awake all night to watch the baby. I get it from a legal standpoint, but geez. I was already wary about having him all night, a simple “no, we’ll keep him” would have been fine. No one needed to freak me out about what the reasons were for all those guarantees. (Were there a lot of problems with baby thieves?!?!)  So when I got home with J, I’d never experienced his mind-numbing midnight cry before. Thanks, hospital folk.

And then there’s the formula. They gave me like ninety pounds of formula. Enough to feed a small army. But no one gave me any instructions on breastfeeding or how much to give/how often to feed. They just slapped a thin strip of plastic on my boob and said “here, have a nipple shield. Good luck weaning him off this sucker. And woe to you if you travel anywhere without it!” No one told me that I’d be returning to a hospital some three months later with a sick baby who was sedated only to wake up and want nothing to do with that thin strip of plastic. Breastfeeding a three month old vacuum cleaner for the first time is awesome. Thanks again.

Nothing and I mean nothing that was said to me at the hospital that gave me any real life advice on how to deal with this whole motherhood thing. I get that no one can prepare you. I get that. But I wish someone had just been honest with me. Why is it that no one told me that I’d be right here, six months later, wondering if I’ve done ANYTHING right so far. I have a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night, despite the fact that my doctor says he should. My son may or may not be B12 deficient and it may or may not be because of my decision to breastfeed, but no one’s told me if I’m supposed to stop that. I have a baby who hates to sleep in his crib but love love loves to sleep cuddled up to me and that is apparently a “no no” with my pediatrician. There are so many things I do at home that are apparently “no no’s,” that I’m scared to be honest with the doctor about how things are going.

And what are all these “developmental milestones” the doctors keep giving me? I feel like I’m supposed to be walking around with a calendar shaking my finger at J and saying “You’re 28 weeks and you’re not making the ‘b’ sound… get your head in the game!” Are these things created just to destroy our confidence a little more? Do I really need a piece of paper that tells me to worry because J sits up but still doesn’t roll over? I have other moms on facebook who keep posting that Little Miss Special and Young Mister Fabulous are “Only five months old and already saying ‘Mom, can I have another block to top off my sculpture?'” I’m lucky if J says “madahouabonelareaonhlkdfa.” Mostly he just sounds like I probably did when I opened gifts at the baby shower… “Oooh! Awwwww.”

I have questions, you know? And I don’t have anything to consult about those. Like is it a problem that J still eats on demand…even when I supplement with formula? I don’t know how much to feed him so I just feed him when he cries. I don’t know how to get him to sleep at night, so I just feed him to sleep. Seriously, my kid is going to have a food issue when he gets older! It’s gonna take a chocolate cake and a pound of butter to get him to sleep.

Does it matter that I feel completely helpless 99.9% of the time? Is it normal? Does it go away? I’m haunted by the idea that it doesn’t. And I don’t have any clue what comes next. Teething? Great. What do I do with that? When does it start?

I just feel like there’s so much information out there and I don’t know which portions I actually need. Couldn’t the hospital have just told me what to Google and when? Maybe just a little list to save me from Googling non-existent symptoms that lead me to believe my son is in need of an exorcist or is suffering from respiratory failure?

Forget the map. Clearly that is asking a lot. But maybe they could stuff a special package, sort of an emergency stash in the goody bag. A little “Do Not Open Until You Need Two Hands to Count the Circles Under Your Eyes and You are Totally Out of Fluid to Create New Tears.” And on that terrible, horrible day, when nothing is going right and you think the whole world is going to collapse… you open that special package. And it’s awesome, whatever it is. Maybe baby-safe Xanax or a bottle of expensive wine. Maybe it’s just a soundproof box like they use in the Miss America pageant. Maybe it’s a gift card to your favorite store… but Dear God let it be something besides a list of vaccinations that were given at the hospital, a thousand free samples of Desitin, and a bomb shelter’s worth of Enfamil. Seriously. Why can’t the hospital bag be full of all types of discounts and fun things for new moms? Wouldn’t that be a great marketing tool for people at Starbucks and Baby Gap? Nice little trinkets and free coffee coupons for brand new moms. I would have loved that.

*sigh* Sadly no one asked me what I thought should be included. Stupid Hospital.The only useful things they gave me were drugs and giant maxi-pads.


7 Responses to “How did I get here and What Comes Next!?”

  1. amy
    February 23rd, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

    i know you will still worry, because thats what mamas do, but IGNORE YOUR PEDIATRICIAN. My almost two year old doesn't always sleep through, and didn't AT ALL until well after a year. Cherish the time….its catch up from missing him during the day.

    Eat on demand. What other mammal feeds on a clock driven schedule?

    And milestones are only guidepoints. Smile politely, and nod that everything is right on schedule and do whatever the hell FEELS best.

    My advice for what it's worth. You will look back in a year and laugh. I promise.

    Also, the B-12 thing sucks. But think of all the OTHER benefits he is getting from the mama milk that he couldn't get from a powder. You are awesome. You rock. Just go with that 🙂

  2. t.bird
    February 23rd, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

    don't forget the mesh undies they gave you- those things are awesome 😉

    and alas- we have to be like men in this motherhood things- instruction? what for 🙂

  3. Ms. Diva
    February 23rd, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

    Here is how I judged EVERYTHING the first few years!! I don't see many college students…..have a binky, have blanket, not potty trained, demand eating(well, ok, teenagers are demand eaters and teenage boys will eat you out of house and home!!), sleep with mom and dad, etc. My mom told me if what I do is from my heart, I will be ok. And so will you. I rocked my son to sleep every night for the first three years of his life, in my arms rocked him. He is 15 now and I do not have to rock him to sleep any more :)! I also had him in a front baby carrier and had him next to me all the time (yup he slept in a family bed for a long time!) I don't have him next to me all the time anymore – in fact he would like it if he saw his friends more and me less! He had a clamodown reflex and I couldn't breastfeed him, it about killed me to breastfeed him for the 3 months I did, he eats just fine now. This is long I know and I'm sorry. But really, you and your son will be fine!! I sat in the backseat with my first on the way home from the hospital and was upset with her father (a police officer) for going to fast!!! I don't sit in the back with ANY of them anymore!!! 🙂

  4. Rebekah
    February 23rd, 2010 @ 2:08 pm

    Hang in there!

  5. Cybil
    February 23rd, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

    I remember when they were kicking me out of the hospital with my first child. I BEGGED them to let me stay. I said things like, "Are you crazy letting us take this helpless infant with us?? We don't know what we are doing!" Nobody would listen – they just threw us out! ha ha!

    I think I was on the phone with the pediatrician EVERY SINGLE DAY with my second! It was like starting all over! You wouldn't have even known I had an older child – it was like a totally new experience, like I hadn't learned anything.

    I am with Ms Diva! Whatever you are doing IS RIGHT! You don't realize that right now, but eventually you will. J is going to turn out perfectly.

    The sleeping all night thing is tough! I had friends tell me that I was a total hard ass because I let one of them (can't remember which one) cry it out a few nights in a row.

    I did read one book with my second child that I thought was really interesting. I saw this woman on Oprah, and was willing to try anything to get the second one to sleep. Here is a link to the book on Amazon.

  6. notmommyoftheyear
    February 23rd, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

    OH MY GOD. I loved this post. You are so absolutely postively 100% right. Noone tells you anything, all parenting decisions are based on what a friend does or did do, what you read in a book, or what a doctor tells you. Oh, and quite possibly all three of those people say different things. It's insanely frustrating because all you want is to do the right thing, but you have no idea what that is.

    Oh, & PS. your hospital wouldn't let the baby stay in the room with you? That's absurd.

  7. The Mommyologist
    February 24th, 2010 @ 12:31 am

    LOVED this post!!! All of the reasons you gave are the whole reason behind why I started my blog! I got so sick and tired of these moms saying, "Everything's Perfect! Everything's Just Great!" etc, etc. All I really wanted is for moms to be honest with each other about just how life changing motherhood really is, especially for our generation. I just firmly believe that if women were honest about things not feeling normal and things being hard, then it wouldn't be such a shock to other moms when they were having the same feelings of being overwhelmed, etc. I am following you now and really looking forward to reading more of your posts!

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