Having been extremely guilty of falling into the first-time mom worry trap, I spent countless hours, days and weeks stressing out about many things while pregnant. Would I end up with a *gasp!* dreaded c-section? Would I meet other moms, or be forever exiled into a life of isolation, seeing as how I had no friends with babies. Hell, I had only a smattering of friends who were married! Would my baby fall into the rigid schedule I swore I'd adhere to, and worse, what if she wouldn't fall asleep by herself, the way all the "experts" tell you to put them down. I lost so much sleep, and boy would I like to have it back now! So here's the deal. I'm going to tell you what I WISH people had told me about mommyhood, babies, and the likes. Although, if you're paying attention, you'll learn the moral of the story is that everyone has an opinion, and yours is the only one that matters. Either way, here's my take.
-First off, the dreaded c-section is, well, not all that bad. In fact (and I know this will horrify many), I have every intention of forgoing the VBAC option during my second pregnancy in favor of a repeat c. You still with me? Have you died of a heart attack yet? Maybe it's just a case of the better-the-devil-you-know, but my c-section went great. Yeah, I had some pain. Big deal. I would've had some pain of a different sort had I birthed vaginally, and frankly, I'll take the trade off. Not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with natural deliveries - quite the opposite. Of course they're preferable your first-time out, and if successful, in successive pregnancies. But I'm a creature of habit, and the fact that I didn't bleed at all past day two after giving birth is a BIG selling point for me. That, and frankly, I've already had a c-section. My scar is teeny tiny, so much so that I wonder how on Earth they finagled her out of there. The point? New mommies who have the dreaded "mommy guilt" over c-sections, and soon-to-be mommies take heed: it doesn't matter how they get here, just that they get here safely. If you wanted a vaginal delivery and it didn't happen for you, you're not failing anyone, or less of a woman, or less entitled, despite what some of the moms in my previous moms group (more on that later...) will have you believe.
-Schedules. Oh, schedules. I was lucky from the beginning that A is a champion nurser. While I still stick to my guns on the whole Babywise principle that babies should be fed "meals" when nursing as opposed to being allowed to graze/snack at will, I won't be attempting to follow a regimented schedule for my second. I'll make sure he/she eats as full a meal as possible, but will I feel like I'm failing if my baby is hungry two, or five, or however many hours later as opposed to the precise three. Nah. Life's too short.
-Sleep. Isn't this just the most hot button issue for new moms? Even with a seven-month-old, sleep is a touchy subject in this house. The one thing I will say is that I spent a LOT of time stressing about getting A on a sleep schedule. When she hit one month old and still preferred to stay up late and didn't have a set nap schedule, I was panicked. But somehow, without any type of coaxing on my part, A has fallen into a very distinct two-nap-a-day (*most days) schedule, and her bedtime has slowly but surely moved itself up to 7:30ish. While I can't guarantee your baby will move up so early, rest assured, it won't always want to keep hours even a vampire would balk at. Know that this too shall pass.
-Not only that, but A doesn't fall asleep alone. I nurse her to sleep still, every nap and at bedtime. It sounds more time consuming than it really is, seeing as how I need to nurse her anyhow, and I'd by lying if I made it seem as though I don't enjoy this time. I lay with her, sometimes - if I'm able - nap with her, and it's a nice reminder to slow down and enjoy this time with her. Experts will tell you what a no-no this is, but hey - if you can and are willing - I see nothing wrong with it.
-Moms Groups. I joined one around 5 months pregnant. While I have met some women I'm very glad to know, most of them - including one of the organizers - I could live without. I find them judgmental to a fault. How is it that moms who are open to extended breastfeeding, babywearing and the like preach about how people should be tolerant of their nursing in public, etc (which people should be - I don't disagree with any of these practices), and yet pass judgment freely on those who formula feed or have c-sections or don't feel comfortable nursing in public. It's such an oxymoron to me. I breastfeed and will agree it's best, and will probably keep it up well past A's first birthday if she wants to, but if you formula feed? More power to you! It's not my business. It's not ANYONE elses business. So, Friday, I joined a new mom's group, one that I'm already feeling much more comfortable in. Ladies - if you feel awkward or left out in your mom's group, chances are there is another one in your area. Give it a try, instead of finding yourself feeling isolated. I wish I had done this sooner.
-PPD. There is no shame in postpartum depression. Let me repeat this, and listen very carefully. There is NO shame in having PPD. I'd like to believe that we live in a society where depression is less stigmatized, but that's not always the case. So if you find yourself feeling more blue than you feel is normal, ask for help. You wouldn't feel embarrassed about being emotional while pregnant - thank you hormones! - so you shouldn't feel embarrassed about being emotional afterwards when your hormones are running amok again.
Basically, and most importantly, if it works for you, it's working. If something doesn't work, change it without feeling guilty. And learn to shut down during the long diatribes on child-rearing you may get from obnoxious strangers. Perhaps like this one :)