Life since bringing Crosby home has been an equal mix of both challenging and rewarding. I often think that many new parents have this assumption that parenthood is mostly just playing with a cute baby all day. Luckily I knew there was more to parenthood given that I have so many nieces and nephews and became and aunt when I was 12. Even with having a lot of experience with kids, I don’t think I was truly prepared for how much life changes after having a baby. Since we’ve been home there have been both peaks and valleys.
The first few weeks were so rough and partly because of the lack of sleep. I think I was so high on adrenaline and just plain excitement the first few weeks that getting little sleep was not as big of a deal as it is now. The early stress was mostly brought on by two things: nervousness of having a crying baby while in public and the fact that I was struggling to nurse. In the hospital we didn’t have too many issues with feedings. Once we got home, it was downhill from there. I was constantly feeding Crosby and he was never getting full. My milk production was never enough for him, despite trying many things. He wasn’t gaining weight the way he needed to, which caused us to have to go to weekly weight checks for the first month. As a result of not gaining weight, we ended up having to supplement with formula. After a while of having to nurse him and then immediately make him a bottle of formula, I was more than ready to make the switch. Not to say there weren’t a lot of tears when deciding to switch to formula- there was definitely plenty of those. I felt like he was doing so much better and gaining weight with the formula. Trying to keep up with both breastfeeding and formula feeding was way too stressful and double the work. Overall it was so much better for my sanity to have him on formula. For the longest time after having to switch I felt so guilty and like people were constantly judging me about my decision. About a month after making the switch I was still struggling and feeling bad about no longer breastfeeding. One day, on the verge of tears, I was telling Steven how guilty and inadequate I felt. I had told him that maybe Crosby wouldn’t have such a bad case of acid reflux (I’ll get to that a little later) if I hadn’t given up nursing. Steven looked at me square in the eye and said: if you were still nursing, Crosby would literally be starving to death. So much truth to this statement.
Side Note: CAN WE ALL JUST QUIT WITH THE MOM-SHAMING??!! There is no rule book when it comes to parenting. At the end of the day everyone is just figuring it out as they go. Everyone is just trying to make sure they have a healthy and happy child. Just because someone doesn’t parent the way you do, or the way you think they should, does not mean that it’s wrong! We all need to quit putting so much pressure on parents (mom’s in specific) and let them do what’s best for their families! The problem with being a new parent (or even parent of multiple children) is that people are so quick to pour on advice and judgment rather than trying to encourage their efforts. I say all of this only having been a parent for a few months now! Again, I’ve only been a mom for a few months now and I’ve already had numerous people make snarky comments to me about having a c-section, not breastfeeding, which formula I’ve chosen to put my baby on, what his daily schedule is, being a working mom and the list goes on! All I can say is, YOU DO YOU! Keep your children growing, however that looks for your family.
For some good (and even funny at times) parent reading material check out: Pregnantchicken.com specifically: http://pregnantchicken.com/other-things-not-to-say-to-a-new-mom/ There is so much truth to this article.
When Crosby was about three weeks old we discovered that he had a pretty bad case of acid reflux. We were just in the process of supplementing/switching him to formula at the time. Feeding times specifically had suddenly become such a struggle. When it was time to eat he would act starved, take a few gulps and then cry out in pain. It was as if it was physically hurting him to eat. Some other symptoms he had that made it clear that he had reflux include: arching his back during feedings, constant hiccups, perpetual stuffy nose, and gagging/choking. Acid reflux in babies is really just due to having an underdeveloped esophagus. When we addressed it with the pediatrician she said that nothing would really make it go away, as it’s just something they have to outgrow. She prescribed him some medicine to help and said some people had luck trying certain formulas. With the medicine we decided to try a gentler formula. It made his feedings worse. Right in the midst of trying to figure out a combination of medicine and formula to use, Crosby developed an insanely bad diaper rash. We took him in to get it checked out. The doctor said that often times when babies have acid reflux and develop such a bad diaper rash it’s usually a sign of a cow’s milk allergy. They had us try Nutramigen formula for babies with cow’s milk allergy. We used this formula and the prescribed medicine for about 5-6 weeks. We saw little results. It seemed to sometimes help, but overall not much. Not to mention, it runs about $40 a can, and we were going through a can every four days. When doing the math, Steven calculated it to cost $8 for a 4 oz feeding… mind blown. Needless to say, with as little as it was helping him it was so not worth the price. After that we were back to square one. We reached out to friends and family who had dealt with reflux to get advice. One thing that several people had said worked for them was switching their baby to soy formula. Not necessarily because of an allergy but for some reason the soy was just easier on their system. I was a bit hesitant to try soy with Crosby because there’s so much scary information out there about boys having soy products. After doing more research, it came down to: if it will make him happy when eating and cause him to grow then why not try it? Honestly in the grand scheme of his life, giving him soy for a few months while he’s a baby didn’t seem like such a huge deal. We decided to give soy formula a try, and we also changed his medicine. We saw amazing results with this combination. It was seriously like night and day with his feedings. That’s not to say that he doesn’t still have some bad feedings every now and again. But after almost two months of struggling, it seriously made him so much more happy to eat. In addition to these things, we take him to the chiropractor which I think has made a pretty noticeable difference. Having him so miserable before was so hard on all of us. I share this story in particular with you because so many babies struggle with this. It’s hard. It’s tiring. It’s stressful. Nobody gets sleep because of bad nightly feedings. Just know that you’re not alone, there is hope! Try different combinations, seek out different alternatives from peers. Trade off feedings with your spouse so that neither of you become too overwhelmed. Advocate for your child, even if means calling the doctor hundreds of times. More than anything, know that it’s just a season and this too shall pass.
All while battling acid reflux, we were gearing up to take Crosby to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City to see a pediatric nephrologist. We had scheduled to have some test run while there and were hoping to have a treatment plan figured out by the time we left. This was going a two-day trip where we’d be not only staying in a hotel with a newborn but we’d be in public with him the majority of our time there. Needless to say, any fear, anxiety or stress we had of him crying in public really quickly went away by the end of this trip. It seems so odd to feel this way, but it can seriously be stressful when you have a screaming baby that can’t be soothed in public.
I’m glad they allowed both Steven and I to be with Crosby while they ran scans. It was so hard to see our little guy hooked up to so much equipment, but he was a trooper through it all. The final results showed no infection or blockage which was such a relief. It seemed that we wouldn’t need to do anything immediately. We would just need to have more ultrasounds, doctor’s appointments and monitor it for the coming months. This was the best news we could have hoped for at this point. Fast forward a couple of months to where we were completely blindsided at one of his routine nephrology appointments by the fact that Crosby’s hydronephrosis is now severe and may need attention sooner rather than later. We’ll have to have more ultrasounds done to see what we need to do to get his kidney healthy. This whole crazy train of medical scares has been both worrisome and stressful, but we’re hopeful that things will work out for the best even if doesn’t go according to our plan! What truly helped us during some of the struggles is community. Having friends and family there to help, listen and just support us has been the best thing for us.
These are just a glimpse into a few of the struggles we’ve had since bringing Crosby home from the hospital. I share all of this with you to say that there are just some things in life that you just can’t prepare for. I’ve had so many friends ask what piece of advice I’d offer them as they’re facing parenthood and each time I say: be flexible. Life doesn’t always go according to a plan you may have built up in your head, in fact it rarely does! So while you might think parenthood is just playing with a cute baby all day, that’s definitely not all it’s about. Just to be real, when you have a baby parenthood looks more like this: little to no sleep. trying to go to work or even just function on no sleep. dealing with an inconsolable baby at times. poopy or explosive diaper changes. baby peeing on everything. struggling to nurse. mountains of laundry and bottles to wash. teething. tears, ALL of the tears from both you and baby. it’s hoping the baby doesn’t wake up as soon as you lay them down for a nap, or better yet doesn’t wake up just long enough for you to shower, do chores or even finish drinking your coffee. It’s: having to drive across town with a baby screaming in the backseat. bickering with your spouse due to exhaustion. trying to make time for your spouse once the baby is asleep but all you want to do is sleep. feeling like you’re chained to the rocking chair when baby doesn’t feel well. Being spit up on a million times a day. having to wear the baby in order to get anything done around the house. feeling like you never have enough hours in the day. hiding in the bathroom to cry because you’re so overwhelmed by life. trying to make time for all of your children/pets. At times, it’s trying and trying and feeling like you’re always failing.
I know I sound like an awful parent but I say all of that to be real. On the flip side of that, parenthood is seriously so rewarding. It’s wanting to stay awake sometimes just to watch the baby sleep. being so proud that you brought that little life into the world. being so excited to see that first smile. cherishing each snuggle. seeing them roll over for the first time. hearing their little voice hold a conversation with you simply by cooing. how excited they get when they see you. being there for moments like sitting up and walking. hearing a sweet little giggle. baby dimples, need I say more?! rocking them while reading them books. praying over them. seeing their first tooth poke through. splashing little feet at bath time. capturing their expression when trying baby food for the first time. it’s seeing how intrigued they are by both the television and pets. being able to dress them in the cutest little outfits. celebrating first holiday’s with them. seeing them start to actually play with toys. watching as they start to build a relationship with grandparents, aunts, uncles etc. Overall just being there to witness this little life you brought into the world grow and develop, makes any stress worth it. The good far outweighs the bad. I try to keep in the back of my mind: “the days are long, but the years are short” knowing that my sweet Crosby won’t be this little forever. Yes, there are frustrating times for sure, but I’m learning more and more that I need to relax and cherish these moments because they’re so fleeting.
You guys, I’m only three months in and I’ve learned all of this! I know that I’m going to learn, grow and stretch so much more in the coming months and years as a mom. My journey to parenthood has been far from ideal at times. At the end of the day I got my sweet Crosby Revere out of the deal which made every heartache, stress, loss, pain and worry SO SO worth it!
This Mother’s Day let’s celebrate ALL of the Mom’s! Whether you’re a mom of one or many, have angel babies or are struggling to conceive…. you ARE a mom and deserved to be celebrated!
Have you dealt with pregnancy, infant loss or infertility? It’s time we start making it less awkward of a topic by talking about it! Has your little one struggled with acid reflux or hydronephrosis? What got you through those hard times? What are your peaks and valleys in this wild ride called parenthood? Feel free to share your story, I’d love to hear it!