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stranger danger.

November 11, 2010

This week, I found out an old co-worker of mine was going to be visiting her sister in another state as she had just recently had a baby and was finding herself in a situation of UTTER CHAOS!  From what I was told there was no family nearby,all of her close friends were childless and she had a nazi of a lactation consultant in her ear all day.  So I put two and two together and figured that poor girl was probably relying solely on Google and The Learning Channel for all of her baby knowledge.  That just won’t do.  So I took 5 minutes and wrote her a letter.  And since I have never met this woman, you can only imagine how strange it must have been for her to read.

Dear Nancy’s Sister,

You have no idea who I am, but what you may not know is that we are very close and intimate sisters in motherhood.  And as cheesey as that sounds, it really isn’t.  We all have this unbreakable bond that holds together the very fiber of our being while we struggle to understand the dichotomy of both loving and resenting the challenges of being a mother.  Without the bond of other mothers, I shudder to even think of such a thing, we might as well close up shop and call it a day.  That being said, I understand you are dealing with a few very common, yet mind numbing, struggles of new motherhood.  Although it imperfect, below you will find a short, succinct list of new mother to-do’s from my point of view.  Enjoy.

1. Everything you do from this point on will eventually kill your baby.  Or at least that is what Google and your neighbor and every book you haven’t read will tell you.  It took me several weeks to figure this one out.  Even the nurses are in on it.  For example, when I took my son in for his vaccinations, the nurse told me to give him a dose of baby Tylenol one hour before his appointment.  Upon my arrival however, the attending nurse informed me that by dosing him with Tylenol BEFORE his vaccinations, I was in essence signing his death certificate.  Of course she still went ahead with the shots so I’m pretty sure she’s a dirty whore who just gets off on disturbing the brain chemistry of new mothers.  But you will find this everywhere you go.  Don’t dare feed the baby formula, he’ll become malnourished and die.  Don’t lay him on his back, he’ll chock on vomit and die.  Don’t lay him on his stomach, he’ll randomly stop breathing and die.  Don’t expose him to other people, he’ll catch dysentery and die.  Don’t keep him indoors too much, he’ll become socially awkward and die.  Don’t let him let him sit in his bouncy chair too much, he’ll strain his neck and die.  Don’t hold him too much, he’ll never learn to live in the wild on his own and will surely die.  See what I mean?  Everyone is an expert at your baby except for you.  Do yourself a favor now and stop Googling crap.  Find a mom that you trust and who you can see takes regular showers.  She knows something you don’t.  Follow her around.  Call her.  Ask her as many questions as you can.  Write them down and reference them as much as possible.  But for all things good and holy, don’t ask for a second opinion.  It will be contradictory and it will kill your baby.

2.That being said, trust your own god forsaken instincts.  Albeit nerve wracking, you can trust yourself as a mother.  You are naturally ingrained with certain know-how’s.  I’m not gonna say that some of the things you do won’t be wrong.  They will.  But the chances of it being life threatening are slim.  Also first born children are meant to be test dummies.  They know it and so do you.  You’ll do better on the next one.

3. Don’t take breastfeeding so seriously.  It’s a great thing, I won’t deny that.  But not everyone is  made for it.  Not everyone enjoys it.  Not every baby likes it.  And this isn’t 1965.  The formula they put on the shelves isn’t dried up monkey poop anymore.  It’s actually fortified with all kinds of vitamins and goodies that even YOU can’t produce.  So if it isn’t working, don’t keep beating yourself up over it.  Your kid doesn’t care.  And in the end, if he’s gonna be an idiot as an adult, it’s gonna happen no matter what you feed him now.  Don’t pretend that there is a magic elixir in your breasts.  Nothing fixes stupid.  Also, the bright side to not breastfeeding is you can drink and eat whatever you damn well please.  For me it was cheap wine and Mexican food.  For you it may be Hooters wings and an unhealthy amount of Diet Coke.  If there is a positive side to feeling like a feeding failure, it is probably only that feeling of freedom.  Oh and your kid won’t forget who you are just because he isn’t tethered to your chest.    I wish someone had told me that when I had to give it up.  So now I’m saying it to you.  You are still the kids mom no matter what body part you do or do not stick in his mouth.

4. Embrace the pacifier.  I remember preaching to my husband before our son was born that we would be a strict, no pacifier house.  He bought into it, so much so that when we were in the hospital he was certain to let the nurses know we would in no way be utilizing the pacifier.  Yet each time they brought him from the nursery, the elusive “nuk” was always in his crib.  No matter how many times we asked them if they were using the pacifier while he was away, they would always deny deny deny.  Now I understand why.  That kid screams all the time when he’s not eating.  I imagine they used whatever safe measures necessary to keep him plugged up.  It took me about 3.5 minutes to use the very same tactics when we got home.  My life hasn’t been the same since.  If you aren’t using a pacifier, I want you to really ask yourself why.  If it’s because you read some book that told you it would confuse your kid into not liking a boob. Laugh out loud and go take a shower.  Kids aren’t as dumb as books would like you to think.  They like to suck.  They don’t have self soothing skills until 4 months or so.  Until then it’s up to you to keep them calm.  When hugging, singing, rocking and reasoning don’t work, try the paci.  Your life will change.  But I will warn you, there is nothing more frustrating on this planet than losing a paci when you need it most.  Nothing.

5. Cry.  I know books and doctors will tell you it’s not healthy to do it.  But it is.  It’s only unhealthy when it’s paired with an overwhelming desire to put your baby into a sock drawer and leave the house.  If that is happening in your brain, please by all means call your doctor.  But if you just need to cry, do it.  Right now.  Stop reading and just cry.  It is imperative that you give yourself at least one block of time every day to go away from it all and cry.  If you don’t, your fluids will back up inside your skull and it will begin to water log your brain until it turns to oatmeal and seeps out of your ears.  Trust me on this.  I would call someone to come watch my son while I showered and napped, just so I could have a few minutes of uninterrupted crying.  It feels wrong at the time.  But as soon as it’s over, it’s as if you never had a single problem in your whole life.  I personally went through a serious adrenaline surge after giving birth.  It lasted a week.  I felt constantly as if I was just wrapping up the Boston marathon.  So crying was an amazing release.  Don’t feel guilty or let people who have never had a baby tell you that you are depressed.  Keep a close eye on yourself to be safe.  But give yourself some room to be emotional too.  Babies, as much as you love and cherish them, suck the life out of you for a few weeks.  And you deserve to be mourned.

6. Experienced parents will make fun of you for being obsessed with anti-bacterial soap.  I don’t know why this is.  But you will hear the words “just wait till you have the second kid” a million freaking times.  It is a necessary evil I still don’t understand.  I think it may be their devious way of shifting guilt.  They stopped washing their hands 2 years ago when they had their second child so their unclean insecurities drive them to laugh out loud at you.  Don’t stress it.  In the mean time, their little Suzy has Chicken Pox for the 12th time this year, while your little one is safe and sound in his little immunity bubble.  Remind yourself that they don’t get to decide how you protect your kids.   Amen.

That’s pretty much it.  Everything else you will figure out on your own as time goes on.  My last word, that some people don’t agree with is this.  Don’t ever wake a sleeping baby.  Let him sleep at night as much as he wants.  Feed him when he wants to eat.  Hold him when you want to for as long as you want to.  And, if you love yourself at all, cherish every single nano second with him, so that when he grows you can say you never rushed him to be bigger or older or reach another milestone.  Today is a milestone and you recognized it for what it was.  That’s the only way I know how to avoid regret.

Goodbye forever,

An anonymous sister in motherhood.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2010 11:47 am

    I really wish someone would have written me that letter back in 1998. Maybe you should write a book! I would read it and give it to everyone I know that is having a baby.

    • November 11, 2010 6:54 pm

      Thanks Shannon. I wish I had the time to write out my rent check, let alone a book. But it sure is fun to think about maybe happening some day.

  2. Nicole Sneed permalink
    November 11, 2010 1:44 pm

    I agree with Shannon…you should definitely write a comedic book about motherhood! I would buy it. 🙂 For now I’m glad I can read your experiences on here, so it gives me a view into what to expect, with a humorous twist to it, which I desperately need! I think this letter was very sweet and considerate of you, and I’m sure she will appreciate it and likely show it to other new mothers she knows.

    • November 11, 2010 6:56 pm

      Nicole, the person I wrote this to actually did reply via her sister to let me know she’d be sharing it with all of her friends as they began having children. Maybe I’ll become an email forward sensation! Fingers crossed!!

  3. Denise permalink
    November 11, 2010 10:08 pm

    People should give this letter at baby showers instead of gift certificates to Babies ‘r Us. My favorite (and so very true) point: “And if he’s gonna be an idiot as an adult, it’s gonna happen no matter what you feed him now. Stop pretending there’s a magic elixer in your breasts.”

    AMEN!

    • November 12, 2010 10:52 pm

      I read 200 pages of a breastfeeding book before I realized that the author believed her boobies were wizards. Dumby me. That’s what I get for reading books.

      • Denise permalink
        November 13, 2010 1:21 pm

        What? Are you saying I should reconsider naming mine Dumbledore and Tonks?

  4. Barb permalink
    November 12, 2010 11:57 am

    love, Love, LOVE this!!! Laura, you nailed it! From a mom of 30 years, this speaks volumes. I remember those first few months. Keep listening to your wise counsel…it has paid off! Enjoy that little guy!

    • November 12, 2010 10:52 pm

      Barb, you have no idea what that means coming from a super mom like you. 🙂

  5. jen permalink
    February 23, 2011 4:23 pm

    I love this…I had to check it out after I saw you post it on nicole’s page….you are an amazing writer with great humor!!! So true 🙂

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