When it came to parenting, I am full of expectations for myself. I want to be the very best parent I can be and always try to do the right thing when it comes to my precious baby girl. I did tons of reading before I even started thinking about seriously getting pregnant and read even more while pregnant and continue to read now that she is here. I want to know all the latest and greatest research and make informed decisions about how to raise my girl.
When I set out on this adventure I decided several things; set expectations for how I wanted things to be, knowing full well that life often has other plans, and perhaps I would have to go with the flow. But I got thinking about it last night, what did I expect for motherhood? How did I have it all laid out? And lastly, how is it all really working?
I decided early on that I wanted to practice attachment parenting. I wanted to have my baby with me, on me, as much as possible. To that end I purchased a Sleepy Wrap and located some baby wearing resources. So, what happened? I wore and still wear my baby as much as possible. In the beginning I wore her all the time and now I wear her less as she really wants to be playing and moving on her own. I still use my carriers and wraps all the time and I think that the money I spent was very well worth it. Smug-Baby and I bonded so deeply during her early months and that bond continues to deepen and I feel that my wearing her was instrumental in establishing that bond.
I also knew, without a doubt that I would breastfed my baby. Having been raised by a Lactation Consultant (LC) I knew more than the average bear when it came to nursing. I took a breastfeeding class as I neared the end of my pregnancy and enlisted the help of the LC's on staff at the hospital. Even knowing all that I knew and having my mom as a resource I still needed the help and support of others to get nursing established. Breastfeeding is natural but its not an instinct for either mom or baby. We don't "just know" we need help and love and support. I worried in the beginning because of Smug-Baby's rough start in the NICU, but within a few days of getting her home, she was nursing like a champ. Now that she is older, if she wants to nurse, she tends to just butt her head into my chest or pull on my shirt. When I lay her down in the bed and get myself exposed and ready for her, she giggles and reaches up to take the breast in both hands. She sometimes even rolls her eyes when she first latches on, because she is in such feeding heaven!! Breastfeeding is probably the single best thing I could have done/am doing for my baby as it will set her up for a lifetime of health and it created a very strong bond between us. She looks deeply into my eyes as she nurses and it's like she is looking into my soul and imprinting me in hers. I can't even describe the love and connection that nursing has forged.
Co-sleeping was something that always thought made sense, especially with nursing. I am basically a lazy person and I did not relish the idea of getting up several times in the night to nurse and be sleep deprived all the time. I heard people talking about how you never sleep well again after a baby is born and I didn't want that for myself. Smug-Hub was less than thrilled about co-sleeping, thinking that he might roll on her and squish her! So, we decided that we would use a co-sleeper bassinet, which fits right up to the bed and the baby is right there with you and yet not in the same bed. Well, Smug-Baby never once spent any time in the co-sleeper. When we got her home from the hospital, I spent the next 48 full hours in bed, trying to establish nursing, every 2 hours, all day and night. I was so worried that the bottles of breast milk she had been given in the hospital would make her not want to nurse directly from the source. After those first days, we were so comfortable with her being between us, that she just stayed there. She has slept through the night, waking only for moments to latch on and nurse, since about day 4. I am sleeping less soundly than perhaps I did before, but I am not sleep deprived. I function all day without issue and am not a zombie in the slightest.
Another thought on co-sleeping. The SIDS thing. Doctors are now saying that babies need to be sleeping on their backs with no bumper pad in the crib and no pillows, blankets, toys, anything to reduce the chance of SIDS. Here are the facts - there hasn't been 1, NOT 1, case of SIDS in a breastfeeding, co-sleeping situation where drugs or alcohol were not involved. That means that the safest place for a baby is in her mother's bed, nursing and the mother and father are not taking anything (even Advil PM) that would effect their state of sleeping. Now that Smug-Baby is older SIDS is no longer really of any concern, but it was something I thought a lot about and read a lot about before she was born.
I also didn't want having a baby to totally change my ability to do things. I still wanted to go hiking and biking. I still wanted to see friends and go shopping and do everything that I always did before I had a baby. People told me that this was a crazy expectation and that I probably wouldn't leave the house for months. The truth is that I do stay home more now than I did before, but that has more to do with my not working full time than anything to do with Smug-Baby. I have taken her with me to the movies and to the grocery store. She comes with me when I run errands and when I visit friends and family. I put her in the carrier and go hiking, and put her in the trailer and go biking. I still do everything I normally did before she came along; I just do it with her now.
My expectations of how I wanted to be with my baby have manifested for the most part. What I never expected was to be blown away by how much love I feel for her and how strong my emotions are. I thought I would love her, I thought it would be strong, but I had no idea how much, how strong and even now I can't put it into words!
For the future, I expect that I will continue to put solids on the back burner. I expect that I will do more reading to her. I expect that I will start turning the TV off more. I expect that I will love her more today than I did yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow :)