Adventures in Parenting

Now that O is walking a lot of people have commented “now the adventure really starts” because finding out that you were somewhat unexpectedly pregnant, buying a house, unanticipatedly being admitted to the hospital and being told things were not going as smoothly as you had been previous led to believe clearly does not qualify as an adventure. Urgent, unplanned c-sections, two weeks in the NICU, a month of struggling with breast feeding, mastitis, six nearly sleepless months, a year of emotional roller coasters, no, those aren’t adventures either.

Adventures are only exciting happy mile stones, the baby coming home, the first solids, sitting up, rolling over, crawling, walking, first words, getting teeth, trips to visit the grandparents. Adventures are the Happy Things that make it to the blog, not the late night anxiety attacks, or irrational crying fits when you get home because someone told you “you don’t look like you just had a baby!” at three months post-partum.

Installing a wall-mounted baby gate properly is an adventure. Getting a wiggling baby into a car seat, is an adventure, navigating the aisles of Babies R Us is an adventure. Adventures never include late-night nausea while breastfeeding because you lost too much weight and are too exhausted and stressed to eat enough to support yourself and your milk supply. Introducing a sippy cup is an adventure, not the realization that now that you’re eating enough not to feel nauseous that none of your clothes fit properly because you’ve gained back the 10-15 lbs. you’d lost.

Motherhood is difficult enough without the well-meaning commentary from others. New mothers are bombarded with articles and input, what to eat, what not to eat, milestones, safety information.

There is a very fine line between being helpful and being intrusive, a friend posts on FB about symptoms during pregnancy, do you e-mail them with a personal story that might terrify them, or leave it be. The NYT article about the dangers of walkers, do you forward it to a friend who uses one, or does that put you on the same obnoxious level as the people who send the scary pseudo-science articles about how vaccinations cause autism or the importance of drinking water during pregnancy or your child will be gay?

Comments on appearance are also a tricky area. I lost quite a bit of weight immediately post-partum, but being told I looked like I “couldn’t possibly have just given birth” were not helpful. I didn’t give birth, I had an unpleasant c-section experience, retained quite a bit of liquid (about 35 lbs), was pumping breast milk 8-10 times a day and wasn’t really eating enough. I would not recommend that as weight-loss regime.

New mothers also don’t really enjoy answering questions. “Is the baby sleeping through the night?” If you’re really interested in learning about pregnancy, birth, and child development get a book. Most days mothers don’t want to talk about diapers, sleep, solids, or developmental milestones.

If you really want to irk a new mother ask “are we -insert activity here- yet?” Well, seeing as I’ve been eating solid foods for 26+ years and until recently I was doing a GREAT job sleeping through the night, I don’t really think you’re asking about ME, by “we” you mean the baby. The baby is OUT, it is no longer an intricate part of my physiology. ME, yeah, I’m eating solids/walking/using words… the baby? Ask about it separately. And my name is NOT MOMMY, I am NOT your Mommy, please don’t refer to me as such. I am the baby’s mommy.

Above all else, NEVER ask “how do you not go insane being a stay at home mom?” Until you’ve walked down the hall way at 3am drugged out of your mind on painkillers, dizzy from blood pressure medications, with traces of poo & spit-up on the only pair of (maternity yoga) pants that fit you really shouldn’t ask. It isn’t a sanity thing, it is how do you get through the day. Some days you don’t, some days you curl up on the sofa and have a hulu marathon and watch every episode of “Remington Steele” available. Other days it is only sheer force of will that gets you out the door to buy groceries, or to check the mail.

When sleep gets better and the pain dies down, the need for human contact and grown-up conversation drives us. Most of us had lives before we had babies, some of us still keep up (or try to keep up) with world affairs, politics, things beyond the confines of the nursery. I don’t subscribe to “Parenting” magazine I subscribe to “Vogue” and “Entertainment Weekly“ (free airline miles). There are only two parenting-themed blogs in my RSS feeder.

I had a baby, it changed my life, some days for the better, some days for the worse. I love the little fellow, wether or not I always like being around him, that’s a different story.

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