I wrote the majority of this post June 2, 2012. I found it buried, unpublished, in my list of blog posts. Thought I'd share, since it was very interesting. I should probably do another one of these, since I've learned even more since then:
J is six months old today. My goal for my first year of motherhood was for all of us to make it out alive. We're halfway there (and the three of us are not only alive, but thriving)! In celebration, I will share another few things I've learned about motherhood (you can read my original post here). I blatantly stole this idea from another blogger (now defunct), no lie, but I really enjoyed doing it last time and reading hers, so I'm going to forgive myself my originality fail.
1. Current medical guidelines are not the only healthy way to raise a baby. The medical guidelines you were raised with and your parents religiously adhered to in order to give you the best start are totally different than your current "best practices." The truths about healthy baby raising in another country are different than your current truths. The things that work with your baby now may not work with your next baby. I'm not advocating being totally irresponsible, but don't freak out if you find out that your friend started her baby on solid foods before six months or or co-sleeps or whatever.
2. Some babies cry inconsolably while sleeping. J almost never cries when he is awake, but when he's asleep or just about to fall asleep, he will wail as if in terrible pain. And we sit there at night trying to figure out whether it is better to wake him up (which stops the crying, but then he's awake for the next 30 minutes) or try to rock him or nurse him back to sleep through the cries (which takes almost 30 minutes anyhow). It's weird. I'm 90% sure it's teething pain that he doesn't really notice when he is fully conscious, but that when he's sleeping (supposedly peacefully), he feels it. Apparently this is "normal."
3. Sometimes the troubles with nursing come later. The common wisdom is that once you've made it 6-8 weeks as an exclusive nursing mom, it's smooth sailing from there. ALL of my serious (very serious) problems with breastfeeding happened after that. I pushed through a once-a-day nusing strike for 2 weeks or so. I had bilateral mastitis (breast infection in BOTH breasts) which did not respond to oral antibiotics or the first two rounds of IV antibiotics and so I had to take a major IV antibiotic not approved for breastfeeding and couldn't nurse for 2 days, during which time my husband burned through half of my freezer stash feeding the baby. After that, my supply tanked and I had to use herbal supplements to bring it back up. Then I had ANOTHER round of mastitis, but this time I developed an allergic reaction to the IV. It is a wonder I didn't wean. But here we are. (20 months note: I am still breastfeeding. I should write about that because breastfeeding past one year into toddlerhood is crazy)
4. Babies are made to love their mommies. And vice versa. Knowing how and why bonding occurs and how powerful it can be does not prepare you for the sheer awesomeness of the feeling. I've not yet encountered anything more challenging than parenting--or anything more rewarding.
5. It's worth it to have one parent stay home full time. For us, the parent who is full-time is Appa (that's Dad in Korean). He is better suited to the task, both in temperament and economics. (The only times I wish it could be me instead are when I'm dealing with anything pumping related--pumping is great, but also a big pain in the butt.) Now, we do not make a lot of money, so we have "given up" many luxuries that most Americans take for granted, including baby luxuries like cribs and most toys in favor of co-sleeping and walks outside. But really, the bond that my son and husband have is powerful and awesome. And worth every bit we've "given up."