Eating My Words: Learnings from a First Time Mom

Penny is eight weeks old as of yesterday, if you can believe it! Enter incredibly cliche but incredibly true statement about how quickly time is flying. IT REALLY IS OKAY?!

I think it would just about be the understatement of the century to say that becoming a mother changes you. I know you’ve probably heard and read it a thousand times, but that doesn’t make it any less true: motherhood changes damn near everything about you. I knew this. I mean, I knew that going through the experience of pushing a watermelon through a bagel-sized hole would probably have some kind of effect on me. And I kinda guessed that suddenly being responsible for an entire human life might cause some shifts in my perspective.

So I was prepared for the whole thing where my heart grew three times a la The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and was ready for the profound understanding and incredible love and appreciation for my own mother that would come with becoming a mom myself. But I wasn’t prepared for how becoming a parent to Penny would make me so easily change my mind with regard to things I said and judgements I made during my pregnancy. That I would renege on certain elements of what I thought was my parenting philosophy. That I would find myself doing things completely opposite to how I had “planned” to do them.

Basically, I just didn’t know anything about having a kid, until I actually had a kid.

I mean, while I was pregnant, I really didn’t worry too much about the whole post-birth part of the equation. After all, I was in great shape going into this whole parenting thing, y’know? I mean, I’d been around my nieces since they were both a week old, I’d raised two dogs from puppyhood, I’d read the parenting books and the mommy blogs and educated myself on infant safety and sleep training and baby-led weaning. I had this in the bag!

HAAAAAAAAA.

Yeah. Penelope entered our world, and never before have I eaten so much humble pie so quickly. Consider this my official apology for all the times I was judgmental about basically anything having to do with parenting, in any way, during my pregnancy, Because as I have oh-so-quickly learned, when it comes to trying to keep my tiny human fed, rested, and, well, alive, there is pretty much nothing I won’t do.

Here are some of the things that I thought before, y’know, giving birth:

  • I’ll never co-sleep/bed-share.
  • I can’t imagine possibly loving anything more than I love my dogs.
  • We don’t need a swing, and we definitely don’t have room for one.
  • Soothie pacifiers are ugly! I’m never using them.
  • I’m not going to be one of those parents who doesn’t want to leave her kid with a babysitter.
  • My baby’s going to sleep through the night early, it’s just about getting them on a schedule, right?
  • Breastfeeding squicks me out, so I just don’t know if I’ll be able to do it.

And the reality now that I’m a parent:

  • Co-sleeping: I fracking LOVE sleeping with Penny. Prior to having her, I really just didn’t understand how obsessed I’d be with her, and how much comfort I would get from having her close by. Not to mention how comforting it is for her to have me — well, my boobs, at least — close by, too!

I would have her next to me in bed all the flippin’ time, nestled up to those pillows she has for cheeks every night, IF I wasn’t so petrified that Sean or I would accidentally smoosh her, or suffocate her with a pillow, or smother her with my boobs. Also, we have a queen-sized bed and are king-sized people, so having her in bed with us, even in her DockATot, doesn’t really work too well. Le sigh.

  • Dogs: You guys KNOW how obsessed I am with my dogs. I’ve had Harry since I was 15 years old, and Daxter may be turning 7 (!) in January but is totally still my baby. I used to talk all the time about how I couldn’t imagine loving anyone more than I love my dogs, even once I have kids. But the truth of the matter is that while I 1000% still love Harry & Daxter, I just can’t help it: I love Penny more. Honestly, it’s hard for me to even admit that, really, because I used to be super judgey about people who said this very same thing, but I’m not going to lie to you guys.

  • Swing: We still don’t really have room for one, especially not the huge honkin’ Fisher-Price Cradle ‘n’ Swing that I tried out at my sister’s house and OF COURSE worked like a charm for Penny. She took like a three hour nap in it!

But I tell you, anything — ANYTHING — that will buy you even thirty extra minutes of peace, quiet, or sleep is 100000% worth getting when it comes to this whole baby gig. So guess who had placed an order for one of these bad boys before she even stepped on the airplane to come home? THIS GAL.

 

  • Soothies: I still think these particular pacifiers are ugly as sin, and when you look into the little hole in the middle it makes your child look like a guppy, but of course Penny loves them and thus so, too, do I. At least they’re cheap, lol.

  • Babysitters: Um, it took a LOT of mental and emotional effort just to be willing to leave Penny with my own parents for the amount of time it took to go to see a movie. Who the hell knows when or if I’m going to be okay with the idea of leaving her with anyone else! Turns out I am VERY ATTACHED TO MY BABY. Who knew.

  • Sleeping through the night: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLLLLOLLOLOLL ::laughing crying emoji::

  • Breastfeeding: I’ve been breastfeeding Penny since she was born (with Sean giving her the occasional bottle of pumped milk) and chuckle when I think back to my comments about breastfeeding icking me out. From the first moment, it really has felt like the most natural thing in the world to me!


My views on feeding your baby in general have actually not changed since becoming a parent. I believed then, as I believe now, that a fed baby is the most important thing. So whether you exclusively breastfeed, exclusively pump, supplement with formula, exclusively formula feed (or whatever combination above you choose!), the “right way” is whatever works for you and your family.

That said, I didn’t realize how much I had internalized the whole “breast is best” sentiment that seems to run rampant through the comments section on Facebook and on mommy bloggers’ Instagram pages.It was this pressure to breastfeed that made me feel like it wasn’t an option not to at least try to do it… for which I begrudgingly admit I am now mildly glad, since I do enjoy nursing Penny. But it also made me develop a resistance to the idea of using formula. I was extremely upset at the idea of having to supplement with formula when we were dealing with her jaundice issues, and was determined to be able to provide pumped milk for the additional feeding we had to do as part of her treatment.

I recognize that I have gotten lucky in the breastfeeding department, but I still I think I caused myself a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety over not wanting to use formula — and for no reason! Formula is perfectly healthy for babies, is incredibly convenient, and can be a literal lifesaver for many parents.

I have since given Penny formula a few times (like I said in my last post, having a little bottle of the ready-made stuff while traveling ended up being a really good idea) but still felt a twinge of guilt doing so. And WHY? I’m still working this one out.

Anyway, this list is really just a small sample of the learnings I’ve had since becoming a mom, and I’m sure that the list will only continue to grow and grow. But hey, that’s a big part of this whole parenthood thing, I’m told — learning on the fly, rolling with the punches, and just continually trying to do our best.

0 Comments

  1. Larasays:

    I could have written this all myself (though not nearly as eloquently)…well, minus the soothie part, A decided she hated them when she was about 3 weeks old and we’ve been Team Tommee Tippee since!

  2. Karensays:

    Lol, these are great! I’ve had the same experience… And I’m still eating my humble pie through Ben’s toddlerhood and beyond! I used to think I would neeeever use an iPad as a “babysitter” for example.
    I agree about the pets too. I used to think I loved my cat more than anything in the world… And I do love her.. But I would totally throw my cat at a horde of zombies if that would protect my child. (But good thing zombies aren’t real!)

    The list just grows!

  3. My kid is eight. My list now also includes these “never” things, that I do ALL THE TIME:
    – go to McDonalds
    – feed her non-organic foods
    – let her have more than 20 minutes/day of screen time
    – let her drink soda
    – curse in front of her

    Things I do that other people think are overbearing:
    – she still isn’t allowed to spend the night at anyone’s house
    – she doesn’t have a phone, instagram account, or snapchat

  4. Brookesays:

    Oh yes, I learned as well to never say never when it comes to parenting.

    When Mayla was born we had to supplement with formula and the mom guilt associated with it was RIDICULOUS! Like I didn’t even want to tell my in-laws because I felt like a failure. It so silly how strong the opinions are when it comes to feeding your baby and how you do let that affect (effect….mom brain) your life.

    At the end of the day, as long as it feels right, do it.

  5. Polinasays:

    I totally went through the resistance to formula phase. I hated the thought of it when the doctor suggested it at her first check up, and even at 3.5 months when It became necessary to supplement for Baby L. I went through all the emotions possible and had major mom guilt. Now? I can sleep at night.

  6. The formula vs. breast and all the other judgy parenting things are on the list of why I’m not looking forward to becoming a parent. I totally internalized the “breast is best” thing and have silently judged friends who formula feed. Who cares? Is the kid alive? Happy? Healthy? Great! I 100% know that I will be the “whatever you want, little one, just go the fuck to sleep” parent.

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