Monday, May 23

Keeping it Real

After a particularly difficult day with the little one, I thought it would be as good a time as ever to write a post I've been meaning to write for a few weeks now. I titled it my "Keeping it Real" post because I want to make sure that I don't gloss over all the hairy details of the first two months with a newborn and make it seem like it has just been blissfully simple. It has not. Another blog I've been reading lately suggested the value of writing down the good and the bad with each child so that you aren't tempted to look back on those newborn stages with rose-colored glasses and think, "It is so much harder with this second (or third or fourth or whatever) child than it was with the first one" because we tend to forget or minimize the worst parts. So I narrowed it down to a list of the top five frustrations I've encountered during the newborn stage with Brock.
  1. NO SLEEP: Ok, this one is no surprise. I knew I would be getting a lot less sleep with a newborn baby, but I didn't realize how much it would affect me. I'm a big lover of sleep. I could still do the teenager thing and sleep til noon on Saturdays if I didn't have anything else to do, and I can take a nap at any time of day. But for the past two months I've been running on generally no more than 2 to 4 hours of consecutive sleep at a time. I may have gotten 6 straight hours one or two nights and that was amazing, but for the most part it probably averages out to 3 hours at a time. When I'm tired, I'm more irritable, more emotional, and more impatient and none of those are helpful when dealing with a newborn. As a matter of fact, I'm betting that if I was able to get a full night's sleep every night, there would probably be a few less items on this gripe list. But I am so longing for the time when Brock starts sleeping through the night consistently because this 3 hour dining routine is a killer.
  2. CONSTANT SELF-DOUBT: This one is probably the most frustrating for me. I am used to feeling confident about my decisions because I usually try to make well-informed ones. I generally don't question myself or worry that I'm doing the right thing... or at least I didn't until I had a baby. Maybe it's because there are a million and one parenting theories out there and one gives you a guideline that another theory will say is completely wrong. I let Brock cry it out and I worry that he's going to feel like I abandoned him or that there's something physically hurting him that I'm unaware of. I hold him or rock him to sleep and worry that I'm spoiling him or preventing him from becoming independent. See what I mean? I don't know who coined the term "mother's intuition" but I don't think I've developed it yet because I never feel certain that what I'm doing is the best thing. 
  3. NO RESPONSES: I know one person who doesn't give me much input about whether I'm doing a good or bad job, and that would be the baby himself. Newborns just aren't very responsive. When Brock finally smiled for the first time I saw the light at the end of our newborn tunnel, but it's still a really long tunnel and we're still in it. It is hard work developing a relationship with someone who won't look at me, laugh at my hilarious jokes, hug me back, or give me even the slightest verbal or nonverbal affirmation that all my efforts are worth it. Is it so wrong of me to want a little more than the crying, eating, sleeping, pooping system we currently have in place? 
  4. HYPER-SENSITIVITY: What I mean by this is that I have become keenly aware and very sensitive to criticism when it comes to the subject of my parenting skills. This probably relates to the constant self-doubt and my insecurity about whether I'm doing everything right, but I get really internally frustrated when people question what I'm doing. I'm learning that most women over the age of 65 don't like to see babies with bare feet even if it's 90 degrees outside and the baby is otherwise fully clothed. I'm learning that lots of people do not like to hear a baby make any noises when they're asleep because it must mean they're uncomfortable or in pain or need something. What I have yet to learn is that everyone is going to have something to say, and I will drive myself crazy if I personalize everything and assume they are all questioning my parenting ability.
  5. LITTLE CONSISTENCY: I try to be as consistent as possible in my parenting techniques but my son does not return the favor. One day he eats on a clockwork schedule and I know exactly what to expect because he goes right along with the plan. The next day the schedule gets shot to pieces and Brock comes up with his own plan (today was one of those days). Some nights he goes right to sleep when we lay him down and others he decides to cry and fuss at us for an hour. A lot of days I feel like we take one step forward and then two steps back. There is just no certainty with a newborn, and as I should have remembered from our birth experience, nothing goes according to plan.
So I feel a little like a negative nancy after this post. I'm not trying to whine or complain because I am very grateful to have this little boy and I do love watching him grow and change every day. It can be a very rewarding experience in some ways, but I just have to be honest that the newborn stage is definitely not my favorite. The more he is growing out of this stage, the more excited and confident I become. Don't get me wrong, I love him more than anything else in the world, but I do not love the stage of newborn-ness. And I hope it's ok to admit that. Every day that he is able to focus on my face a little more or smile in response to my smile or give a little giggle, I feel a little happier inside and a little more certain that Brock is indeed a human being.

Let me just close by saying that a lot of this post has had a tongue-in-cheek tone to it, and I don't want anyone worrying that I'm suffering from postpartum depression and at my wits end. I am so happy with my little family and feel very blessed to have what I have. Brock really is a very good baby and Blaine is an incredibly helpful husband and I could have it so much worse, but it is a huge adjustment introducing a baby into your life. It is sometimes one of the scariest, most intimidating, most unrewarding, and most physically demanding things that I think I will ever experience. But as the cliche goes, I would (and will eventually) do it again in a heartbeat!


  1. hahaha Shelby, you always make me laugh. You are an amazing mother and you are doing everything just fine! All these things are completely normal to all new moms (that's what I've seen). Praying it won't be too long before Brock is sleeping through the night! Call me if you need a nap and I will come babysit! :)


  2. I just wanted to say, I could have written this post with Kaylee! Expecially the part about self doubt and being sensitive about what other people say even if it prob. wasn't aimed at me. You are completely normal!!!!! Newborns really aren't all that fun, but let me tell you, toddlers are! There is sunshine at the end of that tunnel!! And it is easier to not be so doubtful (still working on sensitive, ha!) the second go around, but still hard. We are waiting on our newborn tunnel to end too. Hang in there!