Saturday, August 9, 2014

Overcome your Pregnancy Fears: Am I Ready?

In June I shared part one of a series on overcoming pregnancy fears. In it I talked about birth and body image, concerns that were at the top of my stress list during pregnancy. And what you look like after having a baby matters, but there were other fears--deeper, haunting ones--that I just plain avoided thinking about. 

Can I be a good mom?

Will I know what to do?

Am I ready?

The question of my ability and readiness to be completely responsible for a tiny human being was not only scary, it was embarrassing. I wanted to just be a "natural" at the whole mom thing. I wanted to sail through my pregnancy, 100% confident and excited about the newborn that was about to enter my life. 

But to be honest, thoughts of caring for a new baby filled me with as much confusion and worry as it did excitement. And, duh, that's to be expected. Becoming a parent is not comparable to any other experience in your life. 

I guess it's pride that makes us choke down these insecurities instead of asking for help and realizing we're normal, flawed people. So swallow your pride with me and be reassured that you can do this. 

1. You don't have to love everyone else's kids to be a good mom. 
During my pregnancy, there were times that being around children filled me with expectant joy. There were also times it filled me with dread and guilt. I would hold a friend's baby and after several minutes think, "This is nice, but would get boring after a few hours. What if I get tired of having my baby around? What if I regret having a baby?"

I would see a group of loud elementary-age kids bounding through the halls at church and hate that all I felt was tired and mildly annoyed by their presence. Pregnant women are supposed to love all kids, right? That's why they got pregnant in the first place!

I would remind myself: I am having one baby, not ten fifth-graders. And that turned out to be a good mantra. My son is now 15 months old, and I have adored him at every stage so far. He is my son, and that makes a difference in a way you can't anticipate. 

2. You already have everything your baby really wants and needs. 
As I registered for a bunch of products I’d never used before, as baby showers came and went, and as I read article after article about what I needed to buy, panic definitely set in for me. All I knew was that I needed stuff. A lot of stuff. And what exactly I needed was not really clear; I just knew I wasn’t prepared enough.

Adding to my fears was the fact that we lived in a one-bedroom apartment at the time, so even if we had enough money to buy everything we supposedly needed, we didn’t have the square footage to store it. 

Basically, I needed to prepare very strategically for something about which I knew very little. Hmmm.

If you are nodding your head in frustrated agreement, I offer this to revive you from your panic attack: In those first few months, toys and bouncers and all the other gear will matter very little. Here’s what you’ll be doing a lot of:
  • Nursing (or bottle feeding)
  • Changing diapers and jammies (and, therefore, doing laundry often)
  • Rocking and cuddling Baby
It’s pretty simple. Your baby wants you. The newborn phase is most of all about bonding with this brand new little person. And even though at times it will feel never-ending, this phase will be over before you know it.

Meeting a newborn’s needs is exhausting, but it isn’t complicated. So stop fearfully going over your registry and follow this next point of advice:

3. Prepare for the little things. 
In my experience, the things that will matter most to you with a newborn are small, everyday needs. If you’re nursing, you’re going to be nursing a lot and at all hours of the night. Put together a basket of easy-to-eat snacks and keep a large water bottle by your glider, because you will be hungry and thirsty all the time. Like, mama bear emerging from hibernation hungry.

You’ll also want nipple cream (you can find great natural ones) and nursing pads. I had stocked up with disposable pads when I was pregnant, but I found them to be itchy and uncomfortable. My doula gave me a sample pack of Bamboobie washable nursing pads, and they were great. I hadn’t realized how much I would need nursing pads, during the day and overnight.

Make sure you come home to plenty of nursing-friendly pajamas and comfortable clothes to wear around the house. Your body is still recovering from birth, your tummy is not back to normal, and trying to find something to wear can be a pain. Make it easy on yourself and set out clothes that will make you feel good, not self conscious.

You already know the drill when it comes to diaper changing: diapers, wipes, ointment. Check. The other necessity to keep with your diaper supplies for all those middle-of-the-night diaper changes: zip-up bodysuits. Cute newborn outfits are great, but with constant diaper changes, I preferred to keep Josiah in something warm, comfortable, and easy to put on and take off. Zippers are infinitely easier to maneuver than snaps when you’re running on about zero hours of sleep. Stock up on at least 10 bodysuits so that you don’t have to do laundry constantly.

Fellow mamas, what little things were most important to you during the newborn phase? What will you prepare for next time?