So the baby is out and the pain of birth is fading. You’re being overwhelmed with the sheer amount of love you feel for your little bundle or if you’re anything like me, you’re expecting someone to knock on your door and say “Rightio, times up! Time to hand her back now!”
With the texts, tweets and birth announcements going out and now that you’ve shared your bundle of joy with the world there will be the inevitable and steady trail of visitors coming to see you at the hospital or your home. With all the “congratulations” and the “he/she is gorgeous!” flying around, you may fail to notice that lurking in the background, expectations are already being placed on you by yourself and those around you. I failed to notice and by the time I did I was already being kicked in the ass.
I like all my ducks to be in a row. I write lists for my lists and carry a Filofax. My life will be in disarray if I don’t know what I’m doing at 10am next Tuesday. I don’t like to let people down and I don’t like to let myself down. When, after a 30 hour labor, my daughter was born via emergency c-section you can imagine my dismay after vigorously preparing for a natural birth. Imagine my disappointment when she came out I wasn’t able to successfully breast feed and imagine my surprise when I realized there were all these outside expectations from family and friends.
Instead of being the most wonderful time in my life, it became one of the most stressful filled with tears and I lost sight on the most important thing. My new family. My daughter, my Sailor and me.
When it comes to great expectations, you will always be your own worst enemy. Birth is as unique as you are. No two experiences are ever the same and if there’s one key piece of advice I should have listened to, it’s “go with the flow”. If you’re like me and want to be organised (it gives me a sense of calm to know what to expect), then just research all the possible outcomes. Not just the one you have your hopes pinned on.
Breast-feeding is also pretty fucking hard. Latching, pumping, breast shields, lip ties. It’s very full on. You’re fed so much information on how “breast is best” and you’ve probably come across a breast-feeding Nazi who, in their mind, there is no alternative and who has made you feel like shit for even entertaining the thought of formula. At the end of the day, whether you’ve picked it up right away or you’re standing at a pharmacy counter with a tin or formula in hand and your nips are on fire under your shirt, you do what’s right for your and your baby. If you and your baby are healthy then GOOD ON YOU! Here is a virtual hug from me. You’re doing a good job mama!
As for family and friends, their expectations are theirs. You’re not responsible for how they feel. You’ve just had a baby and that’s all that matters but in saying that, it’s always best to diplomatically set those boundaries now or pay the price later. There’s no need to pander to what other people want of you (mostly your time since you now have a baby attached to you) but if it’s important (and it always is) everyone should communicate this openly and be able to work around you and your bub. Remember though, at the end of the day, it’s your call. You’re the mum.
When people tell you it is the most wonderful time in your life, it is. You might know that immediately. Or, If you’re like me, it might take a couple of weeks to let go of all the bullshit first before one day you look at that little chubby face and it all falls into place.