Tonight I sit in my daughter's nursery in my hand-me-down glider chair, keeping a close eye on my sleeping little girl in her very pink rock-n-play. I can't lie and tell you today has been an especially easy day.
For the last five days I've been sick. Sneezy, snotty, hacking, hot mess. No doubt a consequence of only five - seven hours of sleep on average a night, with the hours in various clusters. Because of knowing I needed more sleep, I threw off the baby's schedule (sleep training is hard to establish and so easy to wreck), and thus re-establishing it has been a struggle.
So that's my foundation I'm walking on. Then, throw in a thrush scare (still don't know if it's actually thrush), an inability to self soothe, cluster feeding, and fearing a fever, this mamma is on high alert, exhausted, and perhaps a bit overwhelmed.
BUT, I know the answers to all of the above challenges-- or at least the tips, tricks, and options to overcome each challenge.
I know this because I made myself as educated as possible, and am still trying to learn and understand the best methods of health, wellness, development, and parenting tactics.
Let me be up front with you. Parenting can be real scary, real hard, and incredibly draining (It's also beautiful, rewarding, and a real privilege, but, I digress). Especially if you're scrambling for answers, reactions, and responses. If you don't have a tool, tip, or trick in your belt, how can you solve a foreign challenge with a very tiny newborn who can communicate by screaming?
Your baby will only sleep in your arms, and you haven't had more than a two hour block of sleep since your baby is born. What do you do?
Especially grumpy around five pm, your newborn cluster feeds and your not sure she's getting enough to drink. Should you supplement? Or is she ok?
What just came out of my babies behind??
How often should I bathe my baby? Should I bathe her? What if I drop her? How hot should the water be?
His umbilical cord smells (real problem.... my E's cord smelled awful), is this normal?
How do I breastfeed and pump to store up milk for after maternity leave?
How do I take a rectal temperature?
These are just some of the few scenarios mom's and dad's face.
And there's a million more questions pertaining to labor and delivery, and pregnancy as well.
These are just SOME of the analogies my sleepy, snot filled brain considers when thinking of pregnancy and parenting without education on the topics:
>Deep sea diving without a regulator on your oxygen tank.
>Jumping out of plane with a parachute that will probably work, if you can figure out the appropriate moment to pull the cord, and which cord, and is there even a cord?
>Running in high heels (without training in them.. I know there are people who probably could do this quite well).
>Driving stick shift for the first time, in Seattle, without instruction.
>Attempting surgery with a butter knife, and some twine, and no medical degree.
But there are resources out there for you to breach the topics on pregnancy and parenting before you encounter them so you don't end up like one of the above analogies:
Hospital OBs, PCPs, Peds. and breastfeeding consultants are their for your good. Public Health Nurses are available, sometimes limited by income levels. Hospital classes can give you a one and done overview of many topics. Books and blogs are available for the self starter! And First Choice PRC is available to walk through your journey, educating and supporting you through every step.
So please new moms and dads. From this very tired, sore, sleepy, sick mamma, don't embark on this journey blind. It's not always common sense. Sometimes you don't have the brain power to string two coherent thoughts together, even if it was just common sense... Take a class, talk to other parents, read some books.
You won't regret preparing for the biggest adventure you've ever embarked on.