Seven Things I Learned Having a Baby

Monday, September 8, 2014

First, let me be clear, this is not a birth story. Whenever someone asks to hear The Birth Story I raise an eyebrow, half smile and say something like Well, it was long. But I'm just so happy our darling girl is here and that she's healthy and I'm healthy. Because that's the truth. The other truth is this: I don't like comparing birth stories with other women. In my opinion, it's like swapping war stories and can quickly become a game of one-upmanship. Not to mention I find the entire practice a little obtrusive and somewhat ostracizing. Bottom line: I dislike birth stories. Instead, what I would like to share are a few notes I jotted down in the bleary hours after Amelia was born. Things I have learned from my experience as a new mother.
1. Hospital Bag Essentials—Before I went to the hospital I could not motivate myself to pack a bag. I knew it was one of the things I was suppose to do, but the task daunted me. The Internets were full of advice about what I should pack, but even still it seemed like an insurmountable job. Fortunately Amelia was 10 days late, which meant I wasn't pressed for time. Finally, I threw a few things together and ended up making two bags. One for me and one for baby. And what did I use out of those two giant bags? THREE things. My toiletries, my essential oils (peppermint for headaches and lavender for relaxation), and my brand new robe. That's it. Four and a half days in the hospital and that's all I needed. Lesson learned? Don't stress the hospital bag.

2. It's Okay to Ask—Alright, I don't know that this is something I learned, but it's more like something that was reaffirmed to my core. By nature I have what you'd call an assertive personality. I hold to the opinion that it never hurts to ask. Which is especially true when going through the trenches of labor and delivery. For example, after being under the care of several attentive and kind nurses, I had the misfortune of getting a nurse that simply didn't listen to me and caused me unnecessary pain. I immediately knew that this particular nurse was not a good fit for me. Upon this discovery I quickly asked if she would find me a replacement nurse, which she gratefully complied. Ultimately, my comfort was worth a few minutes of an uncomfortable request. Similarly, it's okay to ask friends/doctors/consultants about why something isn't working or why what is supposedly natural isn't happening for you. Asking does not equate ignorance. In fact, asking is really about empowerment.
3. Trust Your Body—I repeated this mantra throughout my pregnancy and right into the delivery room. Although it seems like a simple statement there is power in trusting what is right for you. The more I tuned into my body, listening and responding to what she needed, the better my body functioned for me. For example, a couple of times in the hospital I rejected pills simply because I knew I did not need them. Similarly, this practice is what made me confident that even though I was  induced I knew I could birth my baby without a cesarean delivery. Trusting your body is trusting yourself.

4. Bonding is Intimate—Again this may seem obvious but I am beyond grateful that I had some one-on-one time with our daughter before the well-wishes of family and friends. For this reason we only had two family members visit us while I was in the hospital and asked that friends wait until we were home before visiting. Limiting distractions enabled me to bond with my baby. This is also why, in the hospital, I made the deliberate decision not to look at or do anything on my phone whenever Amelia is nursing.
5. Recovery Takes Time—After experiencing two major health challenges in my recent past (one in 2011 and the other in 2013), I know a little about slowing down and letting time heal wounds. Putting your body through the rigors of childbirth also requires great care in the recovery process (which can vary a great deal from woman to woman). While I knew I wouldn't be back to the gym overnight, I had no idea about many of the difficulties that would follow having a baby. It's emotional just as much as it is physical. Luckily Ken has helped me through a lot of the recovery process, as have short neighborhood walks.

6. Meals are Little Miracles—Now that I know, really know what the first days and weeks of hallucinatory newborn fatigue feel like, I'm convinced that the BEST gift, apart from sleep, new parents can receive are home cooked meals delivered right to your doorstep. One day, after having spent time back in the hospital for some additional blood work, we came home to a plate of muffins. They tasted like ambrosia and nearly made me cry with gratitude. Between having family in town and thoughtful local friends we have been nourished well by the generosity of others.
7. We are Divine Beings—No matter what you think about the existence of God or a Supreme Being, I can honestly say that I feel more convinced about the divinity of our souls by being allowed the opportunity to birth another person into this world. Becoming a mother, with all the accompanying mental and emotional energy it produces, convinces me that we are more than just flesh and bones. When I look into my daughter's eyes I am certain we come to this earth trailing fine fragments of that inherent divinity from which we are born.


  1. This is beautiful. Truths applicable for everyone, not just new mothers. "Asking is...about empowerment." "Trusting your body is trusting yourself." Words to live by! (And love those adorable, wrinkly feet!!! I hope you have that one printed up and framed somewhere.)

  2. Oh, I love this! Being a mom for the first time has it's own unique challenges that you will never have to face again, with that being said, there are things you learned that will change the experience you will have in the future. I am so delighted for you in this grand new adventure. There is nothing in the world like having your own baby, to hold and to love. If there is anything you need or would like to chat, I am always here for you.

  3. I love how deliberate you are in recording these precious moments. Thanks for sharing these with us!


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