Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Baby anxiety

I found this on a blog I love and got a kick out of it! Glad to know I'm not the only one feeling the way I feel (and I'm sure Jay has felt this entire time) Enjoy and smile.....

From a reader-
I am currently 37 weeks pregnant with my second child (another boy!). My first, Jack, is three and is the light of our lives, although we're finding out that three is a challenging age. Envelope pushing is his hobby, I think. But he's funny as all get out and we're left in stitches most of the time.
Anyway, I'm writing because, frankly, I'm scared out of my wits about having another baby. Tell me that I didn't just screw up a good thing by getting pregnant again, even if it was a totally planned pregnancy.

(me with Isaac and newborn Abbey)
Well, all I can do is tell you how I felt.

With every single baby, but the first (because I was clueless), I had TOTAL new baby anxiety. When I'd find out I was pregnant, I'd be overjoyed and blah blah blah, and then morning sickness would set in, my house, schedule, EVERYTHING would become more and more unraveled and I'd just panic. What the heck did I do? I can't handle the kids I have already, I'd think. Why did I think adding another to the mix was a good idea?

And then during the second trimester I'd feel all good and Pottery Barn Kid-ish, where I'd picture everything going so smoothly and color-coordinated and smiley.

And then during the third trimester I'd be huge and tired and crabby and impatient, especially at the end. Those last two weeks (and I mean weeks 38-41...many girls don't get there, and let me tell you, it takes you to a whole new level of pregnancy), I'd really be freaking out. I would look around at my house, at the toys I'd have to kick to the basket, because I couldn't bend down to pick them up. At the laundry basket I couldn't carry. At the meals I didn't have the energy to cook. At the same time I could have pulled that baby out myself. Better out than in, I'd think. I'd be haunted by those words weeks later.

And then again...those first 2 weeks after the birth I was still on a high. "Oh look at me, losing weight, and handling it all so well, and I'm dressed cute too, with my baby in the Bjorn and my clean shiny toddlers at my side!"

And then CRASH, sleep deprivation really catches up, my milk comes in, my mood crashes down, my appetite can't be satisified, my weight goes right back up, my clothes are all dirty, maternity pants are my only option, my husband can't do anything right, and don't even think about touching me mister, a trip to the grocery store sets me back days, a shower is my biggest accomplishment, and I would think, "I am a miserable no good mother and everyone else does this better than me."

I followed this exact pattern every single time. You'd think I'd learn, don't you? Everytime I'd say, "Oh it's not going to be like last. I'm really going to lose that baby weight right away, I'm really going to stay on top of that laundry, I'm really going to be super sweet to my husband even though I want to say a million sarcastic things about how he gets to sit down and eat lunch and go to the bathroom by himself. I'll make sure I have cute post-baby clothes, wear earrings and makeup and have great meals all set up and that will change everything."

And it never did.

The only thing that changed is that I stopped being so hard on myself for feeling this way.

Stop fighting these feelings and most importantly stop feeling like there is something wrong with you for having them! Maybe some women handle all this new baby stuff, and ups and downs, and back and forths, without merely a bat of the eye. Or maybe they just say they do and really don't. Who knows, and who cares.

The most important thing you can remember is that every stage of bringing a new soul into this world does NOT last forever. I know that in the midst of morning sickness, or the last trimester or the first 3 months of adjustment I would forget this. I would think, "I can't do this forever!" forgetting completely that I didn't have to! Things would change, get easier, or just get to be a new normal. Change isn't change when you get used to it...when it becomes regular.

You are afraid that your routine won't stay the same and your schedule won't either?
You are right, it won't.
You will need a new routine and a new schedule.
With the experience you gained with your first newborn, you will have that much more knowledge to add and find more quickly what works and doesn't for you.

Pay attention to what works and what doesn't.
If going to a playgroup makes you all crabby and out of sorts, you toddler tired and your baby fussy, then don't go for a couple months or forever if you want.
If it makes you feel energized and happy to go, then make it a priority.
Start thinking about what makes your day easier and what makes your kids peaceful.
Stop thinking about what others outside your family want, need, expect during this time.

If it makes you stress to have a dirty messy house, most people would say, "Oh we'll just have to get used to letting it go."
Well, I'm the same way, and I tried to be laid back about it, all it did was make me miserable and panicky and depressed.
I gave a couple of very specific jobs to my husband so that he could help me, and I made keeping my house cleaned and straightened a priority. I found places for the new baby things, and I made sure to pick up a room whenever I got a chance.
It was the only order I had in my life at that time, and I craved it.

You are afraid that you won't have as much patience?
You won't.
You will be tired.
Who has patience when they've been up all night?
But you know what?
Every first child needs a little less patience in his life.
And he will share the importance and love and thank God for that.
When I think of how much my husband and I were both in my first son's face all the time, I think probably the best thing that ever happened to that kid was his baby sister.
Don't ever ever entertain the idea in your head of "poor Jack". Every kid can see, sense, smell, pity in his/her mother's eyes and not only does it scare the crap out of them it's a recipe for disaster. The smart ones will manipulate like crazy because they can. This could lead to never ending behavior issues. No pity!

Here are some practical tips:
With each of my babies, I handed over the bedtime routine of the older ones to my husband. Maybe the kids had to get used to that at first, but we were very consistent with it and in days it was no big deal. He did bath, books, bed, whatever it took, so that I could either go to bed early, feed the baby peacefully, or maybe even run around the house and pick up if I had a burst of energy. My husband also would give me a break after his work day...he'd take the kid(s) outside or just keep them entertained for a little while so I could shut my brain down and just be with the baby.

Keep the things that don't have to change as consistent as possible. Mealtimes, bedtimes, etc. At the same time, lighten up a little too. You have to find that new schedule, and this might mean tweaks to the old one here and there.

Start now saying "OUR baby." Everytime. Include your son in picking outfits out, giving baths, putting on diapers, almost everything. Ask him what he thinks. Brag about him so he hears you. Not "he's handling it so well" like it's a shocker, but little specific things. It's so hard but make an effort to spend time with him alone, even if it's for 5 minutes on the floor. Ignore jealous attention getting behavior...the bigger deal you will make of, the more it will continue. Pick your battles. If you feel guilt or pity, like I said, you will wallow and whine and NOT be self-assured and matter of fact, which is what all kids need.

Don't do things that stress you out. If I had a pediatricians appt. then the rest of the day, sometimes the rest of the week, I did nothing. Anticipate your breaking point, and try to stay below it. Make changes, be brave!, say no, cancel plans, don't feel pressure to keep up with what it seems like everyone else does.

I know everyone says "sleep when the baby sleeps" but I never ever could! The more I'd try the more I'd stay wide awake with the pressure of trying to get my "one and only chance at sleep". Sometimes I would just sit and relax, but what made me feel best, was catching up. Straightening up, running through the house and doing a quick vacuum or something like that. That would give me the peace of mind and more energy.

Most importantly, remember those that have gone before you in this motherhood journey. I would sometimes think of my grandmothers, mothers of 7 and 9, and how just down-to-business, matter-of-fact they were, and with tight times, and very few of our modern conveniences to help them.

I once asked my Grandma Beilein, with desperation, after I had my first two and just felt so overwhelmed, "How did you do this with 9 kids?"

She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "Well I didn't have them all at once!"

"That's it", I thought? That's all the advice you are going to give me?

And to this day, I think it's the best thing I've ever heard her say.

You learn, you grow, you find your way as a mother, one child at a time.
Being a mother of one is different from two, and from three and so on and so on.
Be open to the change, and that means not beating yourself up along the way.
You can listen to others, read books, ask advice, but really it's YOUR journey.
Listen and trust yourself most of all.