Originally posted on May 25, 2012.
Breastfeeding will take over your life.
I knew that breastfeeding was hard. I’d read so much about latch issues, bloody nipples, nipple confusion, strangers giving you the glare-down when you nurse in public, etc., but I guess I entirely missed the parts of all the breastfeeding real talk where breastfeeding moms said, “OMG I’M SO F****** SICK OF NURSING!” No, I take that back. I read that comment once from a mom who tandem nursed twins. But then, I figured that was because she had two babies, not one. Hoo boy. Kittens, if I’d known that I was going to spend somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of any given day with a baby attached to me quite literally, I would probably not have been so gung ho about EBFing. In fact, I probably would have been shouting, “Bottle me!” before they even put Isla on my chest.
Breastfeeding is extremely time-consuming. Especially for the first couple of months, you’ll feel like it’s all you do. Be prepared. I recommend having a few long-running TV shows queued up. TV, unlike books or the internet, is a no-handed job, which makes it ideal for breastfeeding. I’ve made it through like 4 entire shows since I’ve been out on maternity leave, if that tells you anything. If you’re concerned about rotting your brain or something, trust me, the sleep deprivation is going to take care of that long before TV will even get the chance.
You can’t sleep train (or really ANYTHING train) a newborn.
You can’t. Anyone who says you can is trying to sell you something or has a robot they’ve confused with a baby. Newborns do their own shizz. You’re just along for a ride. Embrace it. You can pretend you’re being spontaneous as opposed to living under the rigid control of a tiny, mercurial dictator.
“You sleep when s/he sleeps” is a load of crap.
You haven’t showered, eaten, done dishes, or laundry in 6 days. You’re pretty sure you’ve been wearing the same pair of underwear 3 days straight, in part because you can no longer tell when days have come and gone and in part because you don’t have any clean underwear. When you finally get that baby to sleep, do you REALLY think you want to waste it on sleep? No. You’re going to…get on the interwebz, and check facebook, twitter, and all of the blogs like you’ve been stranded on a desert island for 6 months (because being stuck on your couch with a baby latched onto you for days on end is sort of like being stranded on a desert island.) Sleep is for people who are okay with the fact that their lives have been hijacked by something that weighs less than 10 lbs. and poops itself. Everything else can wait until the next time she naps. Which will probably be never.
Dr. Google will probably confuse you more than help you.
Your baby won’t latch, her poop is green and the consistency of peanut butter, she feels a little warm but you can’t get a good read on the thermometer because you can’t get her still long enough to take it, she keeps sticking her tongue out over and over again, and she’s got really bad gas that keeps her up all night. Dr. Google will give you 20 different answers for each of these problems, ranging from “YOUR BABY IS DYING!!!” to “it’s perfectly normal,” and you will read at least 20 different Yahoo answers or Baby Center forum pages where judgmental know-it-all moms will insist that the panicky, uncertain moms asking the same questions you’re asking are probably doing permanent emotional damage to their babies.
Thanks for nothing, internet.
Babies cry, and it’s not the end of the world.
One of the most persistent pieces of information I read regarding newborns both before and after Isla was born was that, “You can’t let a newborn cry EVER! You will traumatize them, and they will never trust/love you/themselves and instead be sad until the end of times.” I’m assuming that some of these people actually have children and that when those children were newborns, they really didn’t EVER let them cry for more than a second. Which is fine. Props to them. However, for the rest of us, there will come a point when you realize it’s not going to do permanent damage if you don’t respond IMMEDIATELY to the least cry, snuffle, or fuss, and that if you don’t stop scrambling every time your baby makes a negative sound, you are never going to get anything done or be able to leave your house again.
The first time this really sunk in for me, Isla was screaming bloody murder in her car seat. This was probably our 4th or 5th outing involving the car seat, so I’d started to figure out she wasn’t crying because something was wrong, but because she hated her car seat. You can’t stop the car every time she starts to scream to check on her, though, because if you did, you’d never make it out of the driveway, and you certainly can’t take her out of the car seat if that’s the only thing that’s going to get her to stop crying. So…I kept driving. Even though she was losing it. And she survived. She even still likes me. Who knew?! So I started letting her cry (just a little) at home. If I was folding laundry, I’d finish folding a towel before I went to get her. If I was taking a shower, I wouldn’t jump out of the shower with shampoo still running down my face. I’d actually finish rinsing off, albeit while I peeked my head out every so often and talked to her to let her know I was still around. You get the idea.
Sometimes, she cries, and I let her. Not for long, and not just because, but I’m not going to beat myself up if she cries for a minute while I, for instance, finish doing a #2. Even if the people of the internet swear up and down that this sort of callous selfishness is going to do irreparable psychological damage. It’s not.
Mylicon drops are awesome.
Babies often have gas. Sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s painful enough to keep them awake at night, which means sometimes it keeps you awake at night. Mylicon drops can be the Gandalf that stands between you and a sleepless night. I wish I’d had this on hand when she was born instead of baby tylenol, which I have yet to use.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Do you have any things you learned only after you had kids and were sort of cheesed nobody had bothered to share them with you before?
Erin saysMay 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm
Kudos to you for learning all of this so quickly! I think some of these took me a lot longer to figure out. 😉 Actually I still haven’t tried Mylicon drops but I keep meaning to do that…
I agree with you on all of the above and especially the crying. It’s so unrealistic to expect your baby to never cry – I think maybe some of those people who have mellow babies that don’t cry much anyway? When/if you have a second child you quickly realize that baby #2 is going to cry for a few minutes sometimes, because you can’t be everywhere at once. Second (and third, etc.) children typically don’t turn out to be axe murderers so it seems a little infant crying can’t be that traumatizing…
Katie saysMay 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm
If it weren’t for Mylicon, I don’t think Kellen or I would ever sleep. It’s definitely worth trying. 🙂
ali saysMay 27, 2012 at 9:58 am
I lol’d. for real, in a coffee shop. Many people looked at me funny, but I really really loved this post. Other than the mylicon, which we haven’t needed (though we have needed baby tylenol), every single thing has been so directly applicable to my life.
People told me it was easy to read with a baby…And it is, as long as I’m not using any of my textbooks, all of which would squish Roland flat with their weight and poky edges. Now I have to study/sleep/clean when the baby sleeps.
Amanda saysJune 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm
Oh nursing and sleep deprivation! But what can a mother do, right? I haven’t tried Mylicon, but will keep that in mind (just in case).
Jamie S saysDecember 8, 2015 at 1:53 am
Love it, I especially relate to my life revolving around breastfeeding. And of course, the fact that she will cry… occasionally, when I put her down in her baby Einstein and she is a little fussy, she will wimper like she is about to cry… but then, she gets excited about playing with the toys and forgets all about me so I can go do some dishes quick. Then when she starts again, I often give it half a minute to see if she’s fine and having fun, before automatically assuming she is really upset. Glad to know I’m not alone!
Erin B. saysDecember 14, 2015 at 11:59 am
Great article! I find that while google can be awesome and sometimes helpful, it also can make you overly paranoid and freak out about what may (or probably may not, lol) be happening with your child. I rarely used mylicon drops with my first daughter and in hindsight wish I would have! I have used them way more with my 2nd and it has helped so much 😉