New Parent Syndrome

There is an understanding within the general public that once you have a child, every concern, worry or overreaction is excused with a simple phrase, “It’s okay. She’s a new parent.”

New Parent Syndrome: The irrational sensation that now everything becomes a hazard, every sniffle is a reason to call the doctor and no one can care for your child like you can.

I think it is a very common feeling in the world of parenthood. I recently read an article about how parents are putting more and more pressure on themselves to be the best. Every birthday party needs to be Pinterest-ready, and every toddler needs to be reading, writing and thinking bigger thoughts than what snack they want to eat.

In our struggle to be the best, we struggle to just be.

Advertisements

Lessons from My Daughter: The Honesty of Baby Speak

My little girl turned three months old today.

She is smiling and laughing and cooing at everything and everyone. (I was especially pleased when I brought her into the office and she smiled at my boss. Brownie Points! )

Her babbles, grunts and coos are filled with more emotion than I ever thought possible. She delights in our “conversations” as she tells me her story. And, of course her laughs are full of genuine happiness.

And just as she is discovering happiness and delight, she is also discovering frustration. Her eyes are now beginning to form tears that pool in her big blue eyes. Her mouth pouts in the most heartbreakingly comical way. Her cries, now much louder, are becoming more dynamic in tone and pitch.

Perhaps I can credit my fascination with her developing personality as a symptom of new parenthood, and I will admit that I often image the conversations we will have in the not too distant further.However, tonight I found myself amazed by the genuineness, the authenticity of her young self. She wears her emotions for all to see and she is not afraid to let anyone see her frustrations in not wanting to fall asleep or her happiness of a new smiling.

In my own life, I have often remained very guarded as I weigh the repercussions of honesty. The intimacy of anger, the fear of happiness, the awkwardness of frustration keeps me from sharing those soft personal emotions.

It is with her that I share the goofiness of love and laughter. It is because of her that I am more comfortable with those awkward emotions. Her innocence has taught me to be more honest.

Imagine if we all gave in to baby speak?

Detoxing: Removing the “Busy” From My Life

It took me eight weeks to truly embrace being a stay-at-home mom. To be honest, I’m not sure if I can completely embraced the idea yet, but I am miles beyond where I was two months ago.

Like I’ve indicated within some of my posts, I was a bit of a workaholic. Not only did I enjoy working for pay, but I also enjoyed volunteering in my community. I looked for opportunities where I could positively impact the world around me and dedicated hours that could go to sleeping, relaxing, dreaming, to that cause. I loved projects. I loved late nights and early mornings. I loved to be busy.

In American culture, we often discuss the glorification of “busy.” How many activities can we add to our week? How many hours can we squeeze into our already work-driven lives? What is the impact of this “busy”-ness on our psyche, our health, our relationships?

I’ve always imagined myself to be a writer. As a child, I enjoyed writing short stories that featured my favorite Barbie doll, created an imaginary situation or emulated a recent movie, book or TV show. However, as an adult, I found that I had less and less energy and focus to write. Beyond some scribes in a notebook or a haphazard thought before I fell asleep, all aspirations of “becoming” a writer fell to the wayside. My hourly wage was more than I could make as a young writer.

Before I knew it, I fell into the “busy” lifestyle.

It took my pregnancy for me to realize that I was running at an unsustainable level. I worked two jobs, applied to graduate programs, developed a community band for my hometown’s anniversary celebration. Forget writing. I could barely stay awake to play a video game or watch TV with my boyfriend.

It became my intention to “detox” the “busy” from my life. I completed my projects, reduced my workload and tried to ease into stay-at-home motherhood. I still had great aspirations for my time at home. I planned to clean, remove the clutter that had accumulated, finish some projects, sell old textbooks online, etc. I planned to write and I enrolled in an online master’s program.

After my daughter was born, I quickly realized that it would be much more difficult to complete whatever tasks I thought I would be accomplish while being constantly distracted by the adorable changes in my growing little girl. The clutter remains. Laundry is only done when absolutely necessary. Books remain on the bookshelf and I have finally started writing again.

Despite the fact that I am still enrolled and currently excelling in the one class I am taking, I’ve realized that I did glorify the “busy” lifestyle. I now tell people who ask me when I will complete my program that I am in no rush to finish it early. Again, to be honest, taking a master’s level online course is much more difficult with a little baby than I had anticipated.

I look back on these last eight weeks and I realized that I removed a substantial stress from my life. I move a lot slower now and take real care for my family’s well-being. I find myself embracing the new moment to moment movement of my life. My life now has a sense of fluidity that I have never adopted so eagerly before now.

*These are just my thoughts on my experiences. I know that many parents need to balance work and family. Props to those to do it and do it well. 

Lessons My Daughter has Taught Me: Part 1

It is a pretty standard understanding that motherhood changes lives. I didn’t realize how much until I met my daughter.

The end of my pregnancy was less than ideal. I had decided to leave my job the summer before I expected to give birth and the decision was weighing heavy on my mind. We had wiggled through a number of very expensive hospital bills and I was worried about the unexpected costs of the labor and delivery, in addition to making all other ends meet. It didn’t matter that I completed several drafts of our budget to make sure that we would have enough to cover expenses.

Despite my best efforts to stay healthy throughout my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia at week 33 and was put on modified bed rest. In my best intentions, I had saved the last month of my pregnancy to get ready for Baby. The modified bed rest compounded my feelings of being unprepared because I could not “nest” as I had intended with washing baby clothes, aggressively cleaning my home, or completing any of the food-preparation projects I had collected on Pinterest. Instead, I spent most of my time watching episodes of Sex in the City and reading about the effects of pre-eclampsia on me and my baby.

Because pre-eclampsia can become very serious, doctors often want to induce a monitored labor. Two failed induction attempts later and I decided a c-section was my only option. This was far from my unofficial birth plan–labor at home, avoid pain medication, have a healthy baby and take pain medication after. Instead, I was hooked up to an IV and monitors to make sure my baby was okay.

To be honest, I felt betrayed by my body. Not only did I develop this condition, but my body would not go into labor. Throughout my hospital stays, I felt like I had failed when I could not tell the nurses that I was indeed feeling the contractions that they saw on the monitor. I wondered what was wrong with my body.

The decision to have go through with a c-section came from the mental anguish of hearing babies being born throughout the hospital unit. I just wanted to hold my little girl. Fifteen minutes after entering the unit’s operating room, my little girl was laying on my chest and looking at my face.

I look back at my hospital stay and I am thankful for the four days I spent in postpartum. Under the care of the nursing staff, I bonded so deeply with my daughter. We were our own world. I had never felt love like the tender fondness I felt for my baby girl.

On the last day, I began to feel the tugging of my anxiety return. At the hospital, if anything went wrong or if I had a question, the nurse was only a buzz away. My mind raced to make sure I asked every question. I collected phone numbers to call if I had concerns before her first appointment two days later.

As we walked towards the exit, I felt dizzy. By leaving the hospital, it was as if it was all becoming real. I was walking into my role as mother, protector of this little baby. I felt the responsibility crushing me.

Getting into the backseat of the car, I looked at this little being, wrapped up in a blanket to protect her against the drop in temperature. In almost a moment of understanding, she looked at me with her big blue eyes and wrapped her little hand around my finger, as if to say “It’s okay, Mom. We can do this.”

In that moment, my four-day-old daughter reminded me that I am not alone.