Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why It's Hard to Have an Infant

I know that having an infant is going to be hard, but I'm determined to ease the transition as much as possible.

Before I can brainstorm strategies for easing the transition, I need to identify what's hard about it (recognizing that my perspective is very limited at this point!). Here are some of my ideas:
  1. Exhaustion: Yeah, having a little baby is pretty synonymous with sleep deprivation. But what causes the sleep deprivation? I think it's several different things: not getting full cycles of REM sleep (due to frequent night feedings), trying to keep up with all the normal demands of life (like grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning) while trying to deal with the new challenges of raising an infant, and trying to recuperate from the stress of birth while also "hitting the ground running" with infant care.
  2. Dealing with My Post-Birth Body: There will be a lot to deal with, such as lochia, sore breasts, leaking breasts, engorged breasts, a sore vagina, etc.
  3. Isolation: I'll be going from lots of intellectual interaction and stimulation on a daily basis to immense amounts of alone time with an infant.
  4. Undergoing a Major Identify Transformation: Change can be hard, and this is a MAJOR life change. Huge. My life will never be the same again. Also, I imagine that my relationship with Matt will be strained, due to the exhaustion, the lack of sex, and how much of my attention our baby will consume. These issues are probably big enough to warrant their own category...
  5. Feeling Insecure: I'll be doing one of the most important things I'll ever do in my life, and I'll be totally new and inexperienced.
  6. Trying to Make Ends Meet on One Income: I'll be taking 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, while increasing our expenditures. Eek!
  7. Coping with Unexpected Challenges: We can't predict what kind of additional challenges will come our way (e.g., medical issues with the baby, difficulty with breastfeeding, post-birth issues with me, postpartum depression, etc.).

And please add to the list! Thinking through all of these factors really helps me prepare for the road ahead. It doesn't stress me out more; it calms me to think through the challenges, acknowledge them, and come to peace with them before they occur.

Tomorrow, I'll focus on how to overcome these challenges!

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Rosalie said...

I think that pretty much sums up everything I'm dealing with right now! Including the unexpected challenge of severe silent reflux.

It is great that you're acknowledging them all. There's not any really physical preparation you can do for most of it just mental! Apart from making the house as easy to tidy/clean as possible.
Also freezing a whole ton of food! Best thing I did, but I should have made more since I spent the first two months sitting on the sofa, day and night feeding and holding my baby while she slept (she couldn't sleep lying down).

I underestimated how much I'd need my family particularly my mum, we weren't super close and I felt very self sufficient, but this changed literally overnight!

Nikki Cupcake said...

i think you got it all!

i was very lucky an i found the hardest thing after the baby was born was the lack of adult contact i had. my partner was avoiding us like the plague due to the shock of all of a sudden having a child. and our son was a NICU baby so i was kind of concerned about taking him out for a few weeks after birth which didn't help....

then when it came to my partner and I's relationship i found that if we made time for each other, things were great. i have access to a 24 hour baby sitter so one night a week we made sure we went out, then we made sure that once every other week or so that one of us would go out with our friends alone. this really helped after the baby was born

LauraC said...

Having to put someone else's needs first 24 hours a day.


Carrie said...

Hormonal imbalance. It's huge, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it. There can be a whole lot of crying and other negative emotions. Not all of us had a beautiful experience in the first three months. Be open to watching out for signs that things aren't going as well as you think they can.

#2 due in Feb '11 said...

Ugh. The newborn days. Not fun; between the lack of sleep, painful nipples, crazy hormones and other childbirth recovery issues (I swelled up like a water balloon for about a week before getting rid of all the extra fluid that suddenly had no baby to support), you will wonder how it was that you thought having a kid was a good idea. But this too shall pass. Remember that when you find yourself crying, topless, leaking milk everywhere, holding a squalling newborn. It will get better; I actually laugh at that memory now, partly because its so universal amongst my momma friends. And, its totally worth it. You just hold on tight to your coconut and matt, and remember that this too shall pass, and it does. And then, strangely, when your kid runs off to play without a second glance at you, you'll find yourself wanting another one, wanting to do the whole thing all over again.

Kelsey said...

One of my gal pals has a newborn and is part of a weekly breastfeeding support group. She found out about the group through her lactation consultant at the hospital. Maybe you could find some kind of network like this where you can share experiences with others going through it at the same time.

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