What do I do now? I’ll never forget the moment it was time to leave the hospital and go home. A nurse steered the wheelchair into my room to take my new baby girl and me to the elevator. My hubbie, the new proud papa was juggling all the baby gifts and flowers as we bid the hospital room goodbye. Was he as nervous as I was? Our lives were never to be the same.
That was 17 years ago. What an incredibly emotional time. It doesn't help that all these weird hormones are running rampant through your body. I wanted everything to be perfect, just like in all those parenting books and magazines I had read. But as any mom knows, that can be such an impossible goal.
I wish before I brought my beautiful, cherub faced girl home to simply relax, trust myself, and know that every mom, every family has to do what's best for them. One of my girlfriends always said the first kid is like the first pancake, sometimes the edges are too brown or it's not quite cooked in the middle, until you get the griddle just right. In other words, trial and error is not just okay, it's normal.
Before my first daughter was born, I was determined to do everything I could to help stimulate her. I read myriad books and magazines on how to have a smarter baby. I bought a bunch of black and white toys that were reportedly going to help stimulate her learning. I played classical music to my stomach and even recorded myself reading “The Cat in the Hat" and put earphones on my belly. But what I was really doing, was making myself nuts.
When she was born, I was determined to only breast feed her. After all, the literature said breast is best. The statistics showed breast fed babies did better in school and had fewer allergies.But for me, the breast feeding didn’t go so well. I latched her on wrong and well, I don’t have to tell you how painful that is. I reached out to a lactation specialist who helped me heal physically and showed me what to do. I rented an industrial pump and believed that would solve all my problems. But the problem was bigger than that, I simply didn’t make that much milk.
After 2 months of practically parking myself on the coach and trying to feed and pump, I gave in to the many voices around me, including my pediatrician who thought I should supplement with some formula. Poor child, when she finally got that bottle and didn’t have to work so hard to feed herself, she was a happy baby. She began to gain weight and frankly, I was relived to be able to pass her to her dad for a little help. She got both breast and bottle until she was 7 months old. At that point I reconciled with myself that she had gotten her antibodies and other benefits of mom's milk and would be fine.
I wish I had known early on to RELAX. I was so caught up in trying to do what I thought was right, that I wasn’t enjoying the journey, something I was able to do with my next two children. I am happy to report that the 17 year old high school "pancake" is doing great. She's a good student and just wrapped up a part in her high school's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and will soon make a decision on which college to attend in the fall.
It may sound trite, but time flies. They grow so fast. My advice -- relax, trust yourself and enjoy the ride. They're going to be fine and so are you.