Liam is going to be nine months old tomorrow. That means that he's been out almost as long as he was in, and honestly there are definitely days that I feel lost, wondering what the hell I am doing. I once told my friends that the first week I was a mom, I just felt like a really good babysitter--I did dishes, wiped down the counters, did the laundry, I even got up with him during the night. The fact is, it didn't really seem real. It didn't really occur to me that I was really a mom.
I think reality hit when Liam was around two weeks old. Liam's billirubin was kind of high when we left the hospital, but not high enough that he needed any type of phototherapy. It did mean that we had to go in and have it checked the day after he got home and again at one week. By the time his two week check up came around, we discovered that he hadn't gained any weight from the appointment at one week. I had been sick (and was too stubborn to realize that it was because I had tried to do it all), and my milk production was down. I walked out of the appointment into a wet, sloppy snowstorm. By the time I climbed into my car, my pants were soaked. I got home and called Craig, only to find out that the roads to the lodge where he worked were closed, and he didn't know if he would be able to come home that night. I promptly changed into sweatpants and laid down with Liam to take a long nap.
Fortunately, Craig was able to make it home that night and my milk production did recover. I was able to nurse exclusively until Liam was about five and a half months old. That experience did teach me a really important lesson, though, ask for help when you need it. So many people had offered to help in those few days postpartum. I'm not sure why I didn't call them and ask for help. A few days later when a girl who I used to babysit showed up and offered to help, I said, "Can you just watch him while I take a shower?" When I came upstairs, she had him swaddled and napping in his swing. He had done just fine in somebody else's care.
Another thing that I quickly learned was to trust my instincts. While I was pregnant there were a couple of times that I rushed to the walk-in clinic because I had read something on WebMD or I allowed a coworker's concerned, "Are you sure it's not labor?" to convince me that I needed to go. Then, when I really was in labor, I allowed a nurse's lack of concern to convince me that I wasn't really in labor. I need to remind myself on a regular basis to trust my instincts. Deep down, I know that Liam is happy and healthy, but sometimes I allow myself to worry about little things. I need to remember to trust my instincts and know that everything is alright.
Finally, find a parenting style that works for you -- whether it's being a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, attachment parenting or using the Ferber Method, or a combination of them. Do what works for you, and don't listen to the critics. I'm pretty lucky to have a pretty supportive group of friends and family. When I do get criticism, it's usually from somebody who's last child was born in 1980 or somebody who's never had kids. I sometimes have to step back and remind myself of that and move on. There's no need to debate my choices. I've done what works best for me and my child.
The truth is, you don't need any of my advice. You, too, need to do what's best for you and your child, and deep down you know what's right, what's going to work. No book, or elderly lady in the grocery store, or website is going to have all the answers. Sometimes that's really disconcerting, but you just have to trust yourself. Everything will be okay.