I made a list of rules before I was even pregnant, and I was sure that I would not break them.
- I will not use a playpen— it’s like a baby cage!
- I’m not going to breastfeed. It will be too weird and invasive!
- People with babies that don’t sleep are doing something wrong with their planning and scheduling. That won’t be me. I’m a master at keeping an agenda and my baby will be too!
Imaginary Rule #1
The first rule I broke when my daughter was about four months old. It was the longest holdout on my “rules” with the playpen. I refused to put one on my registry. And even after being gifted a gently used one, I held out on putting it together. Once my little darling starting moving more, she didn’t want to be held as much. I broke down after multiple mishaps trying to baby-wear. And I discovered the joy of being able to contain her in a safe place. As an added bonus, she loves the little bit of freedom she gets and has room to explore! The best part about our playpen is that it condenses down to an easy-to-carry backpack that I can take with us.
Imaginary Rule #2
I had no idea what it would mean to me to breastfeed my baby. Up until I was in labor, I knew I would try breastfeeding, but I had no idea if I would be able to stick with it. I was so afraid of sharing my body and all of the things I had built up in my head about what it meant to be a “crunchy-mama.” My prenatal centering class, my cousin, and just about every online group was shoving breastfeeding down my throat. But I had no idea how I would feel about it. My fears about not producing enough, my milk not being nutritional, and someone finding it weird that my baby ate off my boob plagued me. The worst of all the fears being that I found it too much to breastfeed her and that I would let her down.
The second my little girl nursed on her own after our traumatic c-section, I knew she would guide me to her needs. I now understand that fed truly is best and that everyone’s journey is their own. I was so busy comparing myself to other moms before I had my baby that I made up all of these fears in my head. This is not to say that breastfeeding has been easy for us. I have never been able to produce enough to pump. And it has become a constant and needy journey for both of us. But I’m proud to say that (with a little help from once-a-day supplementing) we have made it eight months strong! I don’t know when we will stop breastfeeding. But I do know that we will make that decision together.
Imaginary Rule #3
So we come to the third rule…sleep. (Oh, sleep. How I have missed you, dear friend. We haven’t seen each other for almost ten months because you started leaving me around my third trimester.) To say I was wrong about how a well-rested baby has something to do with the schedule you keep is an UNDERSTATEMENT. We have tried everything from the crib to co-sleeping. I swear my little one runs on pure elf power.
Sometimes she can go on four hours of uninterrupted sleep. And other times 20 minutes does the trick. Every night is a new . . . ah hem, adventure? My husband and I live with a daily struggle of sleep deprivation. With every trip to the nursery, I remind myself this season is limited.
The Aftermath of Parenthood
Needless to say, I’ve broken all of my “rules.” Being a mom has taught me that I know very little about a lot of things. And that I can do more than I ever gave myself credit. (Like currently typing this . . . one-handed, midair, on the floor of our nursery while my daughter climbs on me like a jungle gym.)
And you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing.
Originally published July 2019.