Dear Post-Natal Self,
Welcome to motherhood. It is a wonderful privilege, but it’s definitely something you have to work at.
Babies do sleep a lot in the first few weeks. But they also need to eat. When Daniel isn’t waking up enough to feed, ask a medical person for advice. Daniel will be admitted for mild jaundice 2 days after you come home. This is a life saving couple of days despite having Mum around offering assistance whenever she can. The nurses and midwives are so helpful and you’ve gotten over the initial shock of birth enough that you can now take in some of the advice they are giving you about feeding. They want you to start him on formula straight away and have you pumping to get your milk to come in. Ask if you can give him your milk first. He takes it and it feels so good to be able to give him your milk. Don’t feel stressed about offering formula. Fed is best. As long as he’s getting some of your milk, he’s still getting the benefits.
Listen, rest, absorb, cuddle, smile, enjoy the hot home-cooked meals and focus on learning the new skills that motherhood require. Don’t worry about cleaning the house. Get over your fear of offending hubby and tell him what you want and need. Tell him to make you tea, and wash the dishes/baby bottles/clothes. Tell him to have skin time with Daniel and enjoy watching the boys bond together. Take those family photos because he doesn’t stay that small for very long at all. These are some of your favorite memories.
Breastfeeding. It may be natural, but it’s not easy. Try all the positions. You’ll be referred to a feeding/sleep clinic where you’ll have one-on-one time with a midwife, and you will eventually find out 8 weeks in that Daniel has lip and tongue ties and that’s why breastfeeding is so painful. You find that lying down isn’t as agonizing after initial attachment as most other positions and can get an idea on what it’s supposed to feel like all the time. You try and get the ties corrected, but the local specialist says he has plenty of tongue movement and doesn’t require correcting.
You decide to pump instead of breastfeed. This is ok. Do what makes you most comfortable. Make sure that the flanges are the right size, as the first pump you buy has a size too small for you. You don’t realize initially and your supply decreases because of this. Play around with settings on the pumps, play around with different pumps. You’ll start out with a single electric pump, and progress to a double electric and eventually a manual for when traveling. It takes a lot of effort to add the extra steps of pumping along with the feeding sessions and to try and sneak sleep and cuddles in somewhere, but it eases your mind in regards to having the extra anti-bodies available for when immunizations are due and you keep pumping until 5 months with a small freezer stash saved for the next couple of immunizations.
Don’t worry about losing the weight straight away. You will lose the baby weight 16 months postpartum and are excited to make the next baby soon.
Wonder weeks. Get the app and the book. They have been life-savers when Daniel is unusually grizzly. They will tell you what new skills he’s learning and approximately when he will be the worst, and it’s pretty close give or take a week.
You love being a mum. You love all the smiles and seeing all the new skills Daniel’s learning. Sometimes it’s tough balancing sleep but they’re right. Sleep when the baby sleeps. At least at first. As you recover and get more used to the routines and requirements of Daniel, you’ll figure out you can sleep one nap together, and then do all the things in the next nap. But make sure you sleep enough first. Sleep will regulate eventually and you won’t feel as tired after a couple of months.
Don’t worry too much about attending all the mother’s groups. You have plenty of mum friends that you re-bond with, and love spending time with. Don’t feel all the pressures of finding mum’s within 10 minutes from home.
You’ve got this. Go with your gut when something feels wrong. A mother’s intuition is always right.
Love Always, Me.
I first met Tiffany through a Facebook group of fellow foreign women married to Korean men, long before we had our babies. She’s the kind of warm person that envelops everyone, making them feel safe and welcome from the start. Watching Tiffany’s calm, patient, go-with-the-flow parenting style motivates me to try a similar approach with my little Queen. Thank you for sharing your story Tiffany.