When I was pregnant, I had sweet dreams about my early days of Motherhood. Visions of beautifully medicated labor, peaceful and easy nursing and a flat post baby tummy danced in my head. But Motherhood is messy, unpredictable and full of unpopular choices. Here are the things from my first year of motherhood I won’t apologize for (and you shouldn’t either).
1. Having a C-Section
I’m not sure how this myth about medically unnecessary C-sections came about, but I can assure you they weren’t giving them out at my ob-gyn office. I know this for sure because I begged for one. My baby was extremely Frank breech, meaning his head was under my left rib cage, his butt was squeezed down onto my cervix, and his feet were smashed into my right rib cage. By the last few weeks, every move he made took my breath away. The pain was excruciating. Despite a scheduled C-section at 39 weeks, no one would give in to my tears, hysterics and desperate pleas to get that baby out of me sooner. By the time my water broke at 38 weeks, 0 days, I was so relived that my pregnancy was finally over that I didn’t put one single thought into the massive abdominal surgery that was headed my way.
And it hit me like a freight train as they wheeled me into that OR.
Yes, I had a C-section, but I can assure you that I didn’t “take the easy way out” when it came to bringing my child into the world. Nothing was scheduled for my convenience (2 a.m. is definitely not my best look); I didn’t get a bonus tummy tuck out of the deal; and I sure wasn’t in a glam OR suite. Instead, my bits were shaved by a stranger, I had a spinal block that brought immediate relief but it’s own set of potentially life threatening complications, and was cut, stretched, pulled, yanked and essentially disemboweled, all while my arms were strapped down, crucifixion style, in a sterile operating room. My scar is pink and raised and still tingles in the oddest way.
My son was delivered, flopped over a curtain for a quick viewing, and promptly taken away. I wasn’t able to cradle him in my arms until many minutes later, and then he was actually held by my husband. But, he was healthy, I could have never delivered him vaginally and I never felt pain, making my C-section birth my ideal birth story.
And in case you’re wondering, not one single detail of my birth process disappointments me, so I’m not sorry about it (except the part about the damn ob-gyn not agreeing to that C-section at, like, 37 weeks).
2. Formula Feeding
There is so much positive talk around breastfeeding, so many calls to support breast feeding mothers, and a shift to support breastfeeding in all forms and locations; but where is the push to support mothers who formula feed? Or at the very least, to not shame us for using anything but breast milk. Let me be very clear: I strongly believe that fed is best—I support breastfeeding, donated-milk feeding, formula feeding, whatever it takes to ensure your babe is nourished—but I can assure you that not a single lactation consultant will be invited to “assist” me when my next baby is delivered. The shame and guilt that was placed on my experience left me feeling jaded, offended and defeated.
As it turns out, I had medical reasons that prevented me from producing milk (at all, like, not a drop) but not a single person suggested that I may not be able to breast feed due to issues beyond my control until I had long “given up” attempting to nurse and pump. I should never have felt, or been made to feel, that I “gave up” when I made the decision to exclusively formula feed my son. Bottle feeding was, by far, one of the best things that happened to us as a family. My husband was able to jump in on some of the feedings, giving me more time to heal, and him one-on-one time to bond with our infant. Our son has been incredibly healthy, I don’t regret formula feeding for one single second and I won’t apologize for it.
3. Crying It Out
We moved our son to his own crib, in his own room, when he was exactly 13-days-old. My husband was returning to work and we all needed some sort of schedule and routine. We were planning to implement “Moms On Call’ on day 14 of the babe’s sweet little life, so the timing was perfect. He slept better in his own room and so did I. With the video monitor next to my face I never missed a single grunt or squeal, but was able to refrain from leaping out of the bed and running down the hall to get him at every movement. “Moms On Call” implements a simple structure and bedtime routine that includes a minute or two of crying it out at that age. Our baby slept through the night at 10 weeks, we still use “Moms On Call,” and yes, we still let him cry it out for an appropriate amount of time. He’s never slept in our bed (with the exception of one time in a hotel, but that’s a story for another day) and has always gone down for naps/bedtime while he is still awake. It works for us, plain and simple, sorry not sorry.
4. My Husband’s Baby Bath Time Routine
My husband does bath time and bedtime. He has every single night since the baby was born. Why? Because I asked him to. When I was pregnant, I asked my husband to make it a priority to be home from work to do bath time every night. There may be times that my husband has to take a call or send emails post baby bath, but he and I decided long ago that bath time would be a daddy thing. People always comment how lucky I am that he handles that part of our day, but in all honesty, if he didn’t spend this time with our son, what time would they have together? He works incredibly hard, for which I am so grateful, and he deserves some one-on-one time with our child. Our child deserves that, too. I use the time to do dishes, start dinner, un-trash the play room, breathe, etc.
So basically, we all deserve it, so I’m not gonna even pretend that I’m sorry.
5. Traveling Without The Baby
Having a baby can wreck a marriage. So much change, so many shifts in priorities, a new division of attention, resources and workload. Leaving our baby in the incredibly capable and loving care of grandparents, and traveling without him, is a needed relief in our marriage, even if we’re headed to a wedding or work trip. Every time we’ve traveled without him, people would ask me “oh, is this your first time away from him?” and I would detail our travels without him, usually to an expression of judgement. We deserve a chance to focus on our marriage, to focus on one another, and to spend time remembering why we choose to do life together. Our son has learned how much his grandparents love him, that his mom and dad will always come home to him and that his parents love each other. Our plan is to continue to travel sans kids throughout our marriage, if only to guarantee ourselves an opportunity to sleep past 7 a.m. once a year. And I’m still not sorry.
I’m not sorry for any of these choices. Why should I be? We are all happy and healthy and whole.