10.23.2013

.Expectation vs. Reality: Life with a Newborn.

Life as a new mommy has been the source of great joy and love as well as a reality check that I am not wonder woman--shocker, I know. Let's just say God has been gracious to my arrogance..to my oh so presumptuous self. Below are expectations I had prior to Penny's arrival along with our real life experiences. I'll let you figure out which is which..

Penelope's nursery will be finished before her arrival with her closet and dresser fully stocked and ready to go.
Oh this makes me sad. The nursery was not touched, clothes were not even sorted or washed. Friends, I was so sick while pregnant it made me act like somebody else.  I am thankful for great friends and family who provided clean hand me downs for our baby girl to wear in the early days and thankful for my mother who helped gather the newborn clothes and washed them all for me. Someday her nursery will be complete..as soon as I can make up my mind!

After giving birth, I will feel like myself again. 
Pregnancy treated my body in the worst ways possible so I assumed after having Penny my body would celebrate instantly..it did not. More thoughts on this later..

I will love my daughter the moment my eyes first see her.
I love loving people but love for my daughter?..I didn't know I was capable of this kind of love. I have no words for it..it is unlike any other. I am extremely blessed to experience this and the most astonishing thing is my love for Penny only grows with each waking day. It's amazing and beautiful and makes me wonder how much my Heavenly Father must love me..it gives me chills every time.

While in the hospital and the first few days at home all visitors are welcomed! The more the merrier!
Unfortunately, my feelings on this changed dramatically. While I am incredibly honored so many people wanted to share in our excitement and meet our little girl, we planned too many visits those first few weeks. Our house was filled with company starting from the day we got home from the hospital. While Penelope was being passed around and had her picture taken with everyone I felt strange. I wanted her to be in my arms..with me..to bond more. I wanted to get to know her in private. I was jealous other people were holding her and not me. It is hard having company after giving birth. You are exhausted and hurting, along with a million other things, and yet you have company so there is this 'I must host' feeling inside. I felt obligated to smile even when I didn't truly feel it and to serve others when I really didn't want to. Looking back I think it was the lack of sleep and added hormones but for baby number two I think we will be more relaxed with visits and just enjoy our family of four first.

Everyone said I would not sleep but really..no sleep at all? I think I'll be just fine.
Um..they were right. Zero, zilch, nada! I am flabbergasted at the lack of actual sleep that took place in the first months, heck, and even now! Penny had her day and night confused and kept both Adam and I awake at night. Those first weeks were a difficult but joyous transition. Penny was eating every 2 hours and hardly sleeping in between feedings, instead she liked to work out her lungs. In case you were wondering..her lungs are in great shape!

Breastfeeding will be challenging and may not even work for us- And I'm okay with that.
I read blog posts and heard stories from loved ones about breastfeeding while I was pregnant. The majority of these stories and experiences all came to the same conclusion: 'It didn't work for us.' Well, I say this with a heart full of gratitude, breastfeeding has just clicked between Penny and I. More on this later..

The first few days may be stressful but I'll be fine.
I was fine. I was tired. I was happy. But I was stressed. It amazes me how being sleep deprived takes away one's level headedness and ability to remain calm. Adam and I now laugh at who we became at 2am, 3am, 4am, and so on in those first few weeks. One's logic is out the window when there is no sleep involved. Our decision making and lack thereof was comical..not at the time of course, but now looking back it is. Our elevated stress levels were caused by this lack of sleep and inability to reason. Penny's constant lung work out also was the leading factor of this stress. She is so worth it though..

With all of my experience with babies and children, crying will most likely not effect me.
All I can say about this is..in the past, it was not my baby crying. When she screams and cries it literally feels as if my heart is breaking. I spent hours crying while holding my inconsolable baby the first few weeks. It truly sunk in and hurt my insides. I wanted to take away her distress and at times I could but not always. I ached inside when her little voice became hoarse from getting so worked up. It does not happen nearly as often anymore but when it does I feel something inside that my husband does not. I'm scared how I will be when she gets sick for the first time..you can start praying in advance for us!

If I needed help, I would just ask. Simple as that.
Oh goodness am I a prideful person! If I ask for help, I feel like I failed..and I do not like to fail so I do not ask for help. This happened during my pregnancy too and I don't know why I am like this. It is an area God has been revealing to me and working on with me. Little by little, step by step..

Newborns will sleep the majority of the day.
Maybe some do but my little baby rarely slept. She also only slept while being held which is nice but what about me eating?..and showering?..and going to the bathroom? The truth is I was too tired to do anything but hold my girl in those first weeks. I cherished those cuddles and took the time to memorize her little face..I knew one day soon it would be different. I would (and still do) sit and stare listening to her breathing and little sighs. I would inhale her sweet milky breath and rub my lips and cheeks against hers. She needed me to hold her. She needed to feel comforted. She needed to sleep.

Babies will obviously cry but it can't be that bad.
Oh it can be that bad. Like I said earlier, Penny's cries broke my heart. In her newborn days (weeks) Penny was a fussy baby. And when I say fussy, I mean she screamed for hours straight with no breaks. This usually occurred in the late afternoon and during the night. Some days I was strong for her and held her, rocked her, sang to her while other days I could not wait for Adam to get home from work so I could shower and get a break. Adam did his absolute best and for the most part handled her crying pretty well but there were times (and there still are) when he needs to gently set her down or hand her to me and walk away. Let's just say his bathroom breaks and taking the dog out started taking a little longer than normal :)

A car ride will surely calm our distressed baby.
Our poor little Penelope..car trips just make her scream louder and harder so much so she causes herself to throw up. We took a road trip to NJ when she was 7 weeks old, big BIG mistake. The drive up was hands down the hardest, saddest, and most stressful day in parenting thus far. Poor Adam had to deal with both of his girls crying. I sat in the back seat with Penny and tried my best to bring comfort to her when all she wanted was to be in my arms. We stopped a lot. We held her a lot. We cried a lot. I nursed her a lot. This day broke my heart but God worked wonders over night and put it back together and prepared me for the next time..

I will hate changing poop diapers. I will always hate poop.
I was a nanny for 4 years..I changed too many diapers to even guesstimate. The funny thing is it's different now. When Penny poops, it's still gross in every way poop is gross but it doesn't bother me. If I get a little on my hand, no big deal I'll just wash them. It's better. Still gross but better.

My little newborn will probably scream during bath time.

To our delight, little Penny has loved her baths since we took her home from the hospital. It was one of her few happy places in the first weeks and still is today! Getting her out of the warm water on the other hand..oh dear!

Adam and I will get along just fine during the early days and with decision making.
You have a guy and a girl. Both not sleeping. One with hormones. You do the math. Remember how I wrote about sleep deprivation? It caused quite a few disagreements and made communication (something we are very good at) extremely difficult. All of these disagreements occurred in the wee hours of the morning when we were clearly not ourselves. The biggest qualm I remember was about the swaddle blankets. Was it too tight?..not tight enough?..warm enough?..too warm?..too close to her nose and mouth?..too low on her shoulders?..oh goodness, did those things cause this momma to overreact and fret. We finally bought the 'Miracle Blanket' after a suggestion from a friend and it solved our issues! We stopped using it around the 3 month mark when Penny started rolling to her side and even her belly.

I'll be able to take care of myself and clean the house during nap time.
Have I mentioned yet how Penny is not the best sleeper?.. Nap time usually only happened when she was cuddled in my arms. Awesome in the most important ways but the house..why hello dirty dishes and laundry, you're still here? The truth is the house does get cleaned but holding my baby girl always wins. Always. Weekends make great cleaning days when Daddy is home to play with Penny.

Adam and I will still go out to dinner and continue our date nights with Penny.

Date night? I barely remember what you are..Sadly Adam and I were way off with this one. We truly believed when Penny was a newborn she would sleep in her carseat allowing us to go out with her but this did not happen. We tried a few times and each attempt ended abruptly with a screaming baby and stressful drive home. Nursing during these early weeks made it tricky to plan how much time we had in between feedings. Her feeding schedule would change day to day. It seemed every time we went out she rarely made her usual 2 hour mark and expected to eat as soon as she woke up. There's a "fun" TJ Maxx story to share..if you ever see Adam, just ask him about it :)

I will still love my dog and treat him like I have always treated him..he's my first baby after all!
..I do still love him but I had a real baby and she's--how do I say it?..BETTER! Poor Colden has missed his long belly rubs and games he used to play with me. During the first few weeks I did not want to touch him in fear of getting his germs or whatever on me and then onto Penny. Adam kept reminding me I just had to wash my hands after petting him but I took it to a whole different level..I didn't want his germs getting under my fingernails because I had to sometimes put my finger in Penny's mouth a bit to detach her from nursing. Yeah..now looking back it sounds silly but at the time I was adamant. Thank goodness my father and husband were here during the first days home because my mind was so far from Colden. Oh you mean the dog still needs to eat?..and to be taken out? Whoops. When Adam went back to work he actually had to call or text me reminders about Colden. I am happy to report things are leaning towards getting back to normal with him but things have definitely changed.

We will certainly have a newborn photo shoot done with a professional photographer.
This one makes me extremely sad. I wanted more than anything to have beautiful pictures taken of Penelope her first days here. I wanted a photographer to capture the precious moments shared between daddy and daughter..of how tiny she was in my arms..the list goes on and on. We did not get this done and now my little 6lb baby is 4 months old. Why didn't this desire and expectation become a reality?--I saw so many newborn family shoots on Pinterest and blogs and facebook..why didn't it happen for my new family?...The answer is simple: It was me. I was too exhausted to do it. I was lucky to get a shower in, how could I all of a sudden get my hair and makeup done and find a stylish outfit that fit perfectly? I had too high of expectations planned and did not have any energy to execute them. It was me.

I am ready to deal with baby spit up.
My experiences with babies have taught me to always be ready for spit up. What I wasn't ready for was baby throw up..how silly of me to think the spit up I've seen was a baby throwing up. You can imagine my shock and horror when my teeny tiny newborn projectile launched what seemed like buckets of milky liquid onto my neck, chest, lap, and bed. It truly looked like a water hose was turned on full blast. I was absolutely mystified over what happened and my heart broke for Penny who was shaking, crying, and soaking wet. This sad scene has happened numerous times and it continues to catch me off guard. Penny and mommy are thankful for warm bathes and clean sheets.

I will be a protective mother but nothing too intense.
This one makes me laugh and has Adam rolling his eyes. I really believed I would be a 'chillaxed' mother..boy, was I off! I am extremely over protective of Penny. You may not sense it when you are around us because I play it cool but my insides are feeling it. I always knew there was a bit of a 'germophobe' in me but did not realize the intensity of it until I had a baby to care for. I am that mother that hopes and wishes you would wash your hands before holding her but do not always verbalize it. I am that mother who sanitizes her baby's pacifier all the time. I am that mother who does not let doggy things touch baby things. I am that mother who lint rolls dog hair off of baby's things. I am and will be that mother who fears sickness and the flu so we will stay home..a lot. I am and will be that mother who puts one too many blankets on her when it's cold. There are two Luv's commercials that really made me laugh out loud because sadly they are 100% talking about me! (12) While I do not think I'll ever be that loose with baby number 2 or 3, it speaks to me :)

I will melt every time Penny smiles at me.
How do I even attempt to explain what her smiles do to me..they just slay me. She started giving us real smiles at 5 weeks old and has been going strong ever since. It's magical how one smile takes away any stress or exhaustion instantly. My little girl is the most beautiful thing and I truly cannot get enough of her.


I now know I could write a list like this for every stage of parenting. The good news--God is good, so very good and graces us with a new sunrise and precious baby smiles every single day. Amen!

Life with a newborn was a challenge and it stretched Adam and I to be the people and kind of parents God desires us to be. We did not always rise to the occasion but with support and encouragement from one another, and the Lord as our rock, we were (and still are) able to look forward to each new day with Penny. She is our absolute joy and we are proud of her. She is our baby..we would do those early newborn days over and over again just to soak her in more..and smell her more. Adam and I are blessed beyond measure, thank you Father!

3 comments:

  1. Oh Katie! I am so sorry I was not around as much during this stage of Penny's life when it seems like all you needed was a friend to say "Katie, give me her and go take a shower or nap!" I love you dear friend and I can't wait to finally meet her on Sunday!

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  2. Love this post. Your honesty is wonderful. :) Our little girl is 2.5 weeks and while it sounds like she and Penny have some differences (Kenley hates bath time with a screaming passion but snoozes in the car!) I am also slowly tackling my own feelings of expectation vs. reality. I become a hormonal mess when she is cranky; yesterday she threw up forcefully and I almost had a breakdown even though it was only once and she has been fine since. My poor husband doesn't know what to make of it all. I think the biggest thing for me has been not shutting Rick out when I get stressed. For some reason I just retreat into myself and worry. I'm learning. We all are. Being a mommy is still the most amazing thing and yes, the biggest blessing God could ever have given us.

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