by Lauren Froelich
My little boy, my firstborn!, just turned one and celebrating this big milestone (for him and his parents!) has caused me to reflect on the last year and think about what I’ve learned and what I want to do differently next time. I’ve included my list of “lessons learned” below, but I’d love to hear from you…what have you learned?
Next time around I will remind myself…
1. Take it easy those first few weeks! I’m not someone that naturally relaxes well, or that naturally lets people take care of me…not a great combination for postpartum recovery! At one point just a few days after Daniel was born, my husband had to actually ban me from the kitchen because if I went into it I would start cleaning, doing dishes, etc. Looking back I can see how silly that was; I should have embraced the time of resting, letting my body recover, and snuggling with my newborn. Next time around I will gladly spend those first couple of weeks resting and snuggling a newborn. Dishes?! They’ll be there later!
2. Take breastfeeding one day at a time, and don’t despair. My son was born with a tongue-tie so breastfeeding started out painful and very discouraging. I remember crying to a lactation consultant a few days after Daniel was born and she kept telling me, “Honey, in four weeks you’ll be nursing, talking on the phone, and cooking all at the same time!” At the time I didn’t believe her, but after we had Daniel’s tongue-tie fixed, nursing slowly but surely got better and better, and now it’s something that I really love and treasure. Next time I will do my best (amidst all the hormones) to be more patient with myself and my baby as we learn the dance that is breastfeeding.
3. Be confident! Make decisions based on what’s best for me and my baby, and not what other people say I “should” do. When Daniel was about eight months or so he went through a period of time where he wasn’t sleeping well at night (thank you holiday travels, teething, and a winter cold!). He was up probably every 1.5-2 hours, and after what felt like months of this I was so exhausted that I broke down to my husband at 1am one night and said to him, crying, “How am I supposed to wean Daniel by one if he’s still nursing every 1.5-2 hours at night??” My husband just looked at me and said, “but Daniel doesn’t have to be weaned by one…” Such a simple response, but talk about a heavy burden that was immediately gone! I had gotten this idea into my head that Daniel had to be weaned by one, and it felt like this deadline looming closer and closer. Hearing that he didn’t have to be weaned at one gave me the freedom to take our time, and as long as we’re all thriving – great! It was a good wake-up call to me that I do want to hear advice and insight from other people, but I still need to make the decision that’s right for us.
4. I am not at my best at 2am. No matter how confident I am that whatever I am thinking or feeling when I am up with Daniel at night is true, I have learned that about 95% of the time, by 10am the next day, I will know that it was actually pretty ridiculous. I think next time around I will create little cards to put in the nursery that say, “(Insert child’s name) is a really wonderful little baby and you’ll remember this in the morning. (Insert husband’s name) is not out to get you, he just can’t breastfeed. (Insert your name), you’re not failing and everything will be better in the morning.”
5. Lists can wait. I am a list person and very task-oriented, which is usually pretty helpful. Looking back on the last year, though, I know there were too many times when I was more focused on getting through my list instead of just being present to my son. This last year has gone by so, so fast, and I imagine it will continue this way. I don’t want to miss out on seeing him learn something new or watching him explore the world because I was too focused on getting through my list for the day. Now…I’ll probably always have a list, but at the top of every list will be, “Be present to my children” and if I don’t get through the whole list for the day that’s ok. The list can wait.