Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The realization that we will no longer be just two.

Patrick and I had a hurried courtship, if one can call it that. We moved in together in early April. I was pregnant by August. In some ways, I'm jealous of the people that live with their significant other/spouse for years before having children. We will never have more than a few months of memories of "just us."

I am starting the third trimester (how did that happen so quickly? It seems like it was just yesterday (o.k. - August 20th) that I found out that I was pregnant). And yesterday, I wept when I realized we wouldn't have much time left for just the two of us. Truth be told, I cry a lot lately. I'm happy - I'm just a "touch" sensitive.

We've had so much happen in the small amount of time we've been together (a cross-country move, me starting a new job, taking the bar, buying a new house together, him starting a new job, getting married) aside from the pregnancy that we've had precious little time to "just be."

Honestly? I'm freaking out a bit. I know that having a child together necessarily changes everything. And... I'm scared. In so many ways we're virtual strangers - learning about each other as the days pass. I feel selfish in a way that I don't want this time to slip away... that I want to be able to stop it - to make the time we have together (sans baby) last indefinitely.

But the gentle kicking in my belly tells me that's not an option. In less than three months (give or take a week or two) we'll no longer be two, but three. And I'm excited about the baby - happy that he's coming, that we'll be a family. But... I'm also petrified.

I don't know the first thing about having a baby. In all the years of infertility treatment, I realized that I know all there is to know about IUIs and injectibles and IVF and PGD.

Shamefully, I have to admit that I don't even know how to change a diaper. I've only done it as an adult once, about seven years ago. Nevermind the fact that we're going to try to use cloth a lot at home and I really have no idea how to handle those. I'm going to give breastfeeding a go, but honestly? I have no idea how often a baby is supposed to be fed. I don't know the very basics of infant care.

And I feel so small and overwhelmed. As much as my family drives me batty at times, I hate that we don't have someone close that I can turn to.

How did those of you with children deal with this anxiety? Did making the transition from pregnancy to parents just happen naturally for you, or were there moments where you felt like this - that you have made a huge mistake in getting pregnant and that you're just not cut out for this parenting business?

What were the biggest mistakes you made at first that you wish you could do over?


daysgoby said...

Newborn wishes:
The first few weeks we were home from the hospital, a lot of people offered to do things for us - whether it was a casserole or watching the baby for a few hours while I went for a walk (what? There was an outside??) or something - and I turned them all down. I wish I'd been able to let go at that point and let people help me.

I wish I'd had more faith in my husband and not assumed that my way of doing things with the baby was the right(only)way, and any other way

I wish I'd had more faith in myself as a first time mom. I'm not going into the whole saga here (I've written blog posts on it before, let me know if you want to read the whole sordid story) - short version: We tried breastfeeding. It didn't work. I spent weeks beating myself up over this. While my child grew happily and healthily on formula and I *knew* deep down that it was okay.

You're going to be great. I promise. And so is Patrick.

orodemniades said...

I'm with you. I gots no baby experience whatsoever...seriously, I've baby sat 2x in my life and she was 4 at the time. Thankfully Mr Oro has some knowledge, and I've already warned him that I'll be freaking out on a fairly regular basis.

I've had to hit the books and I too am overwhelmed. I suggest hitting ebay for books like The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, The Happiest Baby on the Block, THe Mother of All Baby Books , Hypnobirthing (got that one yesterday and it looks good). Talk about a steep learning curve! I figure the first couple of weeks will be the toughest...right? But ask me again in April...

DD said...

We had the nurse from the nursery dept at the hospital after XBoy was born show us how to change a diaper.

I admit that I wasn't too freaked out about becoming a family of three, but I think it's because I didn't use the internet like I do not to freak my shit out.

Regrets? Spending too much time and money coordinating wallpaper and bedding in the nursery. NEVER again.

Nic said...

Is there anyone you know who has a relatively young baby? Ask if you can spend a few hours with them... my niece is ten months older than my son, so I got a bit of a taste of what things would be like by taking care of her.

I would also suggest taking a couple of classes - most hospitals offer them. BFing, infant care and infant safety. They also helped me feel a lot more confident.

That said, whether you do any of this or not, you WILL figure it out! And you guys will make great parents!

Dee said...

Completely normal, all of those feelings, I assure you. Every single one of them. I've been there myself (and A and I were married 9 years before J came along)!

Seconding those who've commented before me, yes, if anyone offers to do things for you--bring you meals, watch the baby, pick up shopping/etc. for you--take them up on it. Infinitely helpful.

I also found it tremendously helpful to prepare several weeks worth of meals and froze them in the last few weeks before my due date. I prepared them in large portions that could be doled out individually 'cause, honestly, you're going to be amazed at how a day goes by and it'll be four p.m. when you realize that you haven't given a thought to making dinner. If nothing else, remember to eat!!

I also think maybe some infant care/first aid/breastfeeding classes may be reassuring, if not helpful. We did find a good deal of humor in the experience as well but it was nice to know that we had "armed" ourselves with some basic knowledge since neither A nor I really had much experience with babies either.

I gave breastfeeding 6 weeks' worth of try with #1 and it was miserable for me thanks to my crap supply. I beat myself up over the decision to stop but you have to do what's best for you. If the breastfeeding doesn't work out, don't be too hard on yourself. And if it does work out, yea!!

Honestly, you'll know what's best though there will likely be much trial and error in those first weeks. No one ever says how scary and intimidating those early weeks can be when you're home with (your first) newborn...every one always says it's wonderful and so on--and it is--but that's not to say that it's not hard and that you'll wonder what the hell you've gotten yourself into, but it's all very normal, I assure you.

Sorry, I don't mean to be all "Debbie Downer"-sounding on you but these are just some of the things I wish others had told me before the baby came home.

Oh, and when people tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps, yes, they're on to something. I didn't do that the first go'round--you know, there was laundry to do, television to catch up on, dishes to be done, and so on. But really, all of that can wait. Get rest as often as you can; you'll need it. Dealing with a baby at all hours is tiring, and you may find out why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture, but this too shall pass :-)

You and Patrick will do great and be great parents. There is a learning curve, yes, but I've got no doubt that you'll both make short order of it.

And now that I've (sorry April) scared the daylights out of you, I'll return your blog to its regularly scheduled programming.

I assure you, though, it's all good, all of it.

Scoutj said...

Oh gosh. I just wish we could sit down and hang out for a while and talk about all of this. I don't feel well enough to write it all out. We should talk soon okay?

And know, that I think our kids have brought T. and I closer together. If anything? I wish we had them even sooner. :)

MsPrufrock said...

I don't think I completely realised the two become three issue until after P was born. When she was three weeks old I realised I hadn't had an extended hug or cuddle with my husband since before she was born. Given that I was going through a lot hormonally, I really, really missed that comfort and reassurance. That's one thing I'd do again - make sure to have some physical contact, no matter how basic, with my husband in that immediate post-birth time. I know it seems silly, but it was indescribably wonderful to lay in his arms again after such a long period of only having physical contact with the baby.

I was very similar to how you are. As you know, I'm 4000 miles away from family, and I had no idea how to change a diaper either. In the hospital the midwives were kind enough to show me, as well as teaching me how to bathe her. I didn't even know how to HOLD a baby properly. It's funny that you can have such a history of infertility and baby desire, yet you have no practical knowledge. You'll get over it quickly, cliche as that sounds. I repeatedly read before P's birth that you just "know" what to do, and I doubted it more and more each time I read it. Amazingly, they are right, at least when it comes to certain matters.

Breastfeeding...well, we all know how that went for me, so we'll just skip right over that part. I will say that it can be a lot harder than you would be led to believe, so if it's problematic for you please, please PLEASE don't beat yourself up about it.

Negative as it sounds, I suspect you will have a moment or two when you wonder if you're cut out for parenthood. I think it would be a bit odd if you didn't.

You knkow where to find me if you ever want some reassurance. I'm occasionally quite good at it I think!

Jenn said...

Hell I had moments like for three months AFTER they were born.

I wish I would have just relaxed (I know, I know) more and realized that we will all survive this somehow and that a lot of the little things are just that, little things.

Plus, a nurse in the hospital can show you how to change a diaper, babies eat approx. every three hours, but can be as often as every hour or so if you are nursing. Sometimes it feels like they will never actually STOP nursing, especially in the evenings.

Also for nursing, I found the book "So that's what they're for" to be very helpful. I have a copy if you want it, I'd be happy to send it to you, just send me an e-mail.

Helen said...

The nurses at the hospital will/can show you everything. Honestly, they are (generally) so patient and they don't judge. They taught me the best ways to burp babies, and how to be with them in general. So breathe deep, it'll be ok.

In general, most newborns tend to eat when they're hungry in the beginning, which tends to (not all newborns of course, but mine were like this) be about every 3 hours.

Regrets? Masses. Hundreds. Thousands. I worry I've broken us. I didn't take enough photos the day they were born (only about 10 or so). I over-dimensioned on many things at home. I bought an armload of Dr. Brown's bottles, which turned out to be a very expensive lesson in bottles with too many parts that didn't prevent colic.

There will be regrets.

But they'll hopefully be hidden by something better.

Helen said...

And one more thing-I know you'll feel like you want to be prepared before The Big Day, but the truth is you'll get some kind of spider senses while in recovery in the hospital, and it all sinks in and makes practical sense when you see him for real in your life.

A said...

Thank you all from the bottom of my shriveled up bitter little heart. Your comments made me believe that this fear will pass, and we'll manage to get through this eventually.

Zippy said...

One lesson learned--don't think the breast pump is only useful once you go back to work. My wife ended up with mastitis because little X wasn't drinking enough initially. She was in tears, thinking she'd have to give up breastfeeding when I urged her to check with the breastfeeding consultant at the hospital. She told my wife to use the pump to help drain her breasts, which in turn would help supply. The relief was immediate, X soon drank more, and all was well.

How often to feed? Believe it or not, Julian will likely tell you himself. X would start rooting at my wife's chest when he was hungry.

And remember to flip his bottom lip out if he's not latching. Kids will sometimes tuck that lower lip in too close, making for poor suction.

Cloth diapers--hope you have better luck than we did. We even used the Drybees that act much like disposable diapers, but in the end, it was too hard to keep up with the additional laundry.

Bottles--When you get to that point, buy one or two of each and see which he likes.

And remember: No matter what you do, the odds are exceptionally high that Julian will turn out just fine. Just give him your love and watch him grow.