Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wouldn't it be nice: November

Ahhhh maternity leave...12 weeks off of work, no cares in the world, just total baby bonding bliss...


I really didn't know what to expect with maternity leave. The part of me that is used to working nonstop thinks I'm going to be wildly bored. And the part of me that is tired of working nonstop, thinks I might love the opportunity to slow down for a bit.

But I am worried about feeling like I have enough to do. I know the whole "taking care of the baby" thing will fill a majority of my time, but as a naive first time mom, I do wonder sometimes how hard that can all be. Surely between the feeding, napping and diaper changes there's still ample down time right? I mean, I'm eliminating at least 40 hours of obligations a week...There can't possibly be that much baby poop (I hope, I hope)!

But then again, I've heard the horror stories of stay at home moms- never getting sleep, or even a chance to pee, let alone take a shower. People say the first couple months are totally exhausting and overwhelming and that it's accomplishment just to make it through each day.

I'm sure that as with most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, so I'm interested to find out what my experience is. I'm such a planner it's hard for me to jump into a new experience with no idea where I'll fall on the spectrum. But the one thing I have heard consistently is that the time goes quickly, so regardless, I want to make sure I savor it, and make the most of it. The question is just what does "make the most of it" mean?

Is it spending all day snuggling my little baby bundle, or taking advantage of the free time in the day to get things done? Can it somehow be both?

No one has the answer to that, but I recently read about an idea that I really liked...so much so that I made it my resolution for November. I found an article about being a new mom (unfortunately I can't remember where I saw it...It might have been from Rookie Moms- a great source for clueless women like me!) that talked about giving up the idea of a to-do list...Because in the crazy first days of caring for a newborn baby, it can be self defeating to set your goals too high. That much life change is overwhelming, and having a list can lead to a sense of failure if you're not able to manage everything as well as you think you "should". (In general the very concept of "should" becomes a bad word in the world of mommy-hood. Too much room for negativity and guilt).

They suggest instead of crafting to-do's, focus on recording your "I did's". Imagine the sense of accomplishment of being able to cross everything off of your list at the end of the day...Because you wrote your list at the end of the day. And only included things you did! Sure, it's kind of cheating, but who's going to argue with 100% success rate?!

So in the month of November, as my girl and I settle in to our brand new lives together, I'm trying to cut myself some slack, and take pride in what I do get done...even if that's just keeping the little one alive (not exactly a small task). Problem is I am a HUGE to-do list person. Mostly it's not bad, because it keeps me motivated and organized, but when tasks linger day after day it does lead to stress and a feeling that I should be better. That's not at all how I want to remember these precious few weeks with my daughter, so I'm attempting at least a temporary view shift, and will aim to focus more on my successes than pie in the sky goals. Sure, I'll have tasks that need to get done, or projects I want to attempt, which is fine- but hopefully I can relax a bit and settle into the pace of being a new mom. If some days I cheer just for getting out of bed, then so be it. (and some days I think I'll stay in bed on purpose...productivity be darned).

Piper has been home with us for a little over a week (we came home last Sunday) and I've already seen the need for the new mindset. I mistakenly thought I would waltz right out of the hospital without issue but it's taken me longer than I expected to heal. I expected to spend the first week focused solely on my baby's needs, but I've found that I needed full time care and attention too. As a result, I've had to morn the loss of some postpartum dreams I didn't even know I had. It was so hard for me to readjust my expectations, and realize that not only was I not going to be supermom, I would have to ask for help with everything. It was a struggle for me not to feel like a failure when I couldn't hobble across the room to pick up my daughter, and had to leave the bulk of her care (minus the feeding) to Dustin or my mom. I cried daily, wishing I could just sit up to feed and burp her, sad that I couldn't have people over to meet her, upset that I didn't have the energy or the stamina to do the simplest of tasks, like bathing or dressing her. So I had to make a choice, instead of beating myself over what I couldn't do (which in the short term, included almost everything), I had to focus on what I could do. I ate healthy, drank tons of fluids, tried to sleep as much as possible, and fed her every couple of hours without fail. That may not have been my ideal to-do list in the beginning, but it was the best I-did list I could muster.

And so far, Piper is just fine. She gained a pound in just a week, confirmation that I was at least doing something right. Dustin got some valuable Daddy-time before he returned to work, and my mom got to spend a ton of time with her granddaughter, as well as taking care of me, (which she swears she enjoys). And for my part, I've learned a little bit about being vulnerable, and accepting help from others. Imagine that- motherhood taking me on a journey I didn't anticipate, and teaching me lessons I didn't expect. Something tells me there's much more of that to come.

So all that being said- here is my "I Did" list from today:
  • Feed and change Piper by myself- I managed to do such impressive tasks as sitting and standing, which allowed me to burp her, take her to her room to change her, and even nurse her from a chair, rather than bed. Thank heaven for small miracles.
  • Take a nap- I didn't prioritize sleep enough over the last couple of days, and ended up exhausted by early evening. Today I shut an US weekly (the self control!) and took advantage of Piper's nap as a chance to take my own.
  • Dry my hair- and not just the front. I went the extra mile, using a straightening iron and skipping a headband- hot mama!
  • Try cloth diapers- We want to give cloth diapering a shot, but with me out of commission, it didn't seem like the ideal time to start. But today we had some downtime, and enough energy to give them a try. We haven't come even close to mastering it, but we're at least attempting it.
  • Leave the house- this was HUGE. I missed both of Piper's first pediatrician appointments, which broke my heart, but I was in no shape to get in the car or sit in a waiting room. Up until today my only trip outside the house was to see my doctor and beg for more drugs, so any sort of voluntary outing was a big accomplishment. My mom helped me out (no driving while on Percocet!) and we mastered such firsts as packing the diaper bag, and using the car seat. We spent a blissful hour at Target, purchasing no less than $200 worth of goodies, and generally restoring my sense of being a normal human again. Retail therapy for sure.
  • Eat pie. C'mon, every list needs a gimme.
So that's November's focus- a goal to have fewer goals. It may be harder than I think, but I have a feeling that is the new theme of my life. And I'm ok with that.

1 comment :

  1. I would just wait for Megan to fall asleep so I could go back to playing video games. So you have me beat already.

    And while my 'paternity leave' was during the summer when school was out and Megan was three months, I made sure to think of some reason to get out of the house everyday. Even if it was just to the library, the coffee shop, gulp, even buy groceries. Otherwise I would go stir crazy and/or end up in my pajamas all day long. And Jill did not like that look. At all. :)