I can’t be the only one who looks back at their first go at being a mom and thinks, ”Wow, I would do that so differently now.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I am not proud of my journey becoming a mother nor that I think I did a terrible job, but I can’t help but cringe a how unprepared I was for the realities of having a baby . I read the books and took the classes, but I feel like none of that addressed things that would have actually helped me or gotten me through the many ruts. I thought I was so ready and that it was going to be (ugh, cringe) easy. I have a fast paced job, with people depending on me around the clock. How hard could a baby be, right?
Hindsight is always 20/20 (ew, that feels awkward to say now…), but here are the things I have promised myself I would do differently next time I have a kid:
Take time off BEFORE maternity leave
I worked up until the day I gave birth. In fact, the day before I had Blair I was at work, with my leader, addressing performance concerns at one of my stores. I thought to myself my whole pregnancy, “I’ll rest once the baby is here.” Seriously, what the heck was I thinking? Please take this advice: if you are pregnant, take a week off before actually having your baby to rest, sleep, get your hair and nails done, and really just take care of yourself, as there won’t be much time for that in the beginning (in what will feel like ages). The only vacation I took was going to Aruba when I was 10 weeks pregnant, and looking at this picture from that trip makes me regret not relaxing by the ocean more when I had the chance.
Labor at home for LONGER
As soon as I woke up feeling contractions, I started timing them. My plan all along had been to shower, blow dry my hair, shave, really get ready, and then head to the hospital; but my anxiety got the best of me. I quickly showered and off we went. I wish I would have taken my time, relaxed in the shower, and blow-dried my hair. I ended up in labor for 12 hours before pushing for 3 hours., and some of that time I could have labored in the comfort of my own home and more naturally (we ended up using Pitocin and my water was broken for me to move things along).
Not become an EP’er
Being an exclusive pumper is something that drove my PPA and PPD through the roof. I was already feeling inadequate because I sustained intense injuries during labor and couldn’t take care of myself alone, but made myself feel even worse because my body just wasn’t producing much milk at all. Blair was hungry and impatient, so I had to start supplementing early on while I pumped obsessively trying to build my supply. I pumped exclusively for 7 months, and I will not do that to myself again. If breastfeeding is not in the cards for me next time, I am not going to force my body into exhaustion just to feel like I am enough.
Accept MORE help with LESS guilt
For some reason (PPA/PPD, actually), I just couldn’t accept help. I needed it desperately, but I felt an enormous amount of guilt just thinking about not spending every waking hour with Blair. Isn’t that what I should do? Isn’t that what good moms do? At least I thought so. I was so stressed about being unable to breastfeed that I wouldn’t let anyone feed the baby so that she knew who I was. So I got no break, never had time to rest, and was stuck doing everything. Next time, I am going to ask for help so that I can get more sleep, which is monumental to my well being (props to those who don’t need a full 8-9 hours of sleep to function; I wish I could be like you). And next time, I won’t feel guilty for wanting alone time.
LEAVE the house
I literally can count on one hand how many times I ventured out with Blair during my maternity leave. Not only was I terrified of germs and illness (let’s put it this way- it’s like I was born for COVID times ahead of time), but either I was hooked to a breast pump or stressing to keep Blair on her perfect schedule. Next time I am going to take her to Target and let her look around. To Starbucks and enjoy a drink with her on my lap. To a friend’s house to visit and talk while the baby naps. Just leave the house and not be scared that a late nap or feeding outside the normal environment is going to throw her off and harm her.