Saturday, January 16, 2010


Don't underestimate how much sleep you need. Having a baby is different than when you were out partying pulling all-nighters and going to raves. Even the last stages of pregnancy often lead to insomnia. Still, no one is ever prepared for how deeply tiring it is to be a new mother. Of all of the adjustments that are required of new parents, sleep deprivation is the ultimate killer.

For the first few weeks after bringing the new baby home, energy reserves and adrenaline can protect from the full effects of sleep deprivation. You may not be sleeping for more than two hours at a stretch but we are so busy getting to know this new little human and so concerned that something terrible might happen to it when we're sleeping anyway that we don't' mind not getting sleep. Then, as the baby approaches her first-month birthday, and you have been deserted by your mother and your significant other, it occurs to you that this lack of sleep thing may not be ending any time soon. A sense of panic starts climbing up your spine and over the top of your skull and you start to panic. Relax and breathe. Like I mentioned in other writings, when you can call in a favor for a baby sitter even for a few hours, take a nap. Don't run errands or clean the house. You need to sleep. And, don't panic. The baby's sleep paterns will change, often dramatically in a little while and it will get easier. The best thing to do is erase from your mind all of the expectations about how babies are 'supposed' to sleep because each baby has its own unique style and even more important, because there will be many things that happen in her early life that will affect her sleep patterns. Getting your child to learn to sleep through the night at three months has no effect on how she will be sleeping nine months from now when she's walking and finds her crib more like a holding pen.

So how much sleep do you need? It turns out that we really do need about eight hours of sleep a night just like you've always been taught. If you are sick, under unusual stress or recovering from injury or surgery you may need even more sleep. Brand new mothers are almost always a little sick, they are definitely stressed out and recovering from anything from a C-section and they are lucky if they get two stretches of two hours of sleep. Also, studies indicate that you need to get eight consecutive hours of sleep a day, not a one-hour catnap every three hours. We depend more than you now on going to bed at night and getting out of bed in the morning to offer structure to our lives. Even the simplest things become mysterious and confusing when you lose that daily punctuation.

We are really so unprepared fro the chaos that a baby brings that we react as though something has gone terribly wrong. If we are not sleeping, if we can't seem to get a shower in, if we feel crank and overwhelmed, somebody must have done this to us. Our plan for motherhood was a graceful transition in which we redirected our organizational and management skills from our jobs outside the home to the relatively simple tasks of taking care of a baby inside the home. In our minds it did not include feeling out of control, unprepared and overwhelmed. No one ever really explained to us that motherhood is like a cruel race. There is no start and no finish, you just run in circles.

The truth is, the birth of a baby is supposed to blow your schedule to pieces, even if it nearly kills you and your significant other. This si nature's way of making sure that we get our new priorities straight. The three most important things are the baby's health, the baby's comfort and the baby's parents' survival. lol Hang in there. I know you're tired and seems like you won't through this but you will. you may want to also consider investing in an over-sized bean bag chair, no one can resist how relaxing they are! Now go take a nap! Sweet dreams!


So, you've survived through childbirth (it was touchy for awhile there..didn't know if you were going to make it or not) and you've brought your little perfect, wonderful smelling bundle of joy home. Having a baby not only expands your family by one, it also stretches it out to include a lot of people who up until now had marginal influence before. Now you get to have grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins more involved in your life. Your baby creates a biological relationship between people who might have had only a passing acquaintance until you're parents and your husband's (or boyfriend, fiance, or invisible body, or whatever the case may be)parents. Your brother-in-law and his wife, whom you never much cared for, are now critically important to you as your baby's uncle and aunt. You want the baby to know then, to be friends with their children and to feel loved and protected by them. And, of course they all have their two cents to add at any given time about how your parenting affect THEM.

Now you're officially part of their 'tribe' since you birthed one of their kin so more attention is paid to you. You are taken more seriously as a member of your significant other's family and viewed with more respect by members of your own. The part of belonging to the family created by your child is great, however, some of the other parts can be more problematic. All of a sudden, everyone seems to care where the three of you are planning to have Thanksgiving dinner or which grandmother you plan to honor with your time on Mother's Day. There will be times when you will swear that it isn't the pleasure of your company they seek but rather only your baby's. This is probably more fact than an illusion.

My advice, stand up for yourself and your baby from the start. There is no point in keeping in side what you want. You are not the only one that loves this baby and is only fair to share however, it is still YOUR baby. Traditions are great and everyone should have a chance to make them so of course you want to make grandparent's happy visiting on certain holidays etc, but you still want to create your OWN traditions.

A great reward is the love of grandparents. They play a huge role in your child's life just as they played in your own. Grandparents love your babies in a free and relaxed way that is impossible for us parents and they love them whether they're not fond of you at all. They also offer a sense of belonging and heritage to children and they are more than wiling to tell embarrassing stories about you to bond with your child so watch out. don't forget, whether it's your parents or your In-laws, grandparents are the only people who will listen to your endless baby stories because they are interested , not just polite and they may even baby-sit now and then....which you WILL need.

This love fest from them doesn't come in a 'baggage-free' package though. These relatives of yours are now concerned with what she eats, where she sleeps, when she's potty trained and how you mother her. They may not be trying to intrude, but all of them will at some point seem to make little passive-aggressive statements that may want you to fun into oncoming traffic. We already know how fragile a new mother's confidence is and there are few things that can threaten it more than the judgment of her own mother-in-law. Keep in mind she really does have the baby's interest at heart but it is essentially YOUR baby so don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. Of course try to count to at least 20 before opening your mouth but if you do it from the beginning than you won't risk bottling it up inside and all of a sudden one day snapping with your head spinning in circles like something that came out of the Exorcist. Also, if you gently lay your foot down from the beginning on decisions than she may be less likely to offer her two cents more than needed. Just remember, these people love your baby and I'm sure they are not trying to discount you as a mother, they just all want what's best even if it's 10 different things.

Friday, January 15, 2010


The arrival of a first baby changes relationships into families. Yes, I am aware that many couples without children consider themselves families and I mean no disrespect to them and I am aware that a high percentage of mothers are not in a relationship at the time of starting their family either. I am speaking generically. For most people, the birth of their baby is the event that moves them into a full-tilt 'grown up' mode. They suddenly care more about the baby's welfare than their own, they feel responsible for the baby's physical, educational and moral development.

It's astonishing to realize that through your child, you and your mate (if you have one) are now related. Even though the relationship is not biological, it is deep and powerful in the way it unifies two people in the protection and love of the third, and one hopes brings a new level of commitment. People say that after having children you can almost have a new respect for the Mafia. You can respect and admire any group that says, "You hurt my family, you hurt me!" because that's how you feel about your children. Mothers are completely capable of physical violence where their kids are concerned and won't think twice about it. It's tribal and primitive and wonderful to feel so connected tos something bigger than just you alone. It can also be frightening, frustrating ad fatiguing, so don't be surprised if your transformation from relationship to family doesn't take place smoothly and instantly.

Change of any kind is upsetting to most people, and the changes you undergo during pregnancy and parenthood are nothing if not startling. All you have to do is look at a picture pre-childbirth to see the biggest change. If you think that having a baby doesn't change your relationship, you're delusional.

-when a couple have gone through a delivery together, the ideal result, besides having a perfect baby is a deeper appreciation of the parents for each other. It doesn't always happen and you shouldn't think you've been seriously gypped if you don't think you felt it, but it goes something like this: the mother is in love with and grateful to everyone in the delivery room who didn't let her die when she was certain she was going to and for presenting her with the most precious baby in creating. If morphine was involved, that blanket of love will extend to all of humanity, until of course, the medication starts wearing off. If Daddy was particularly compassionate during that time, or if she is as sentimental as most new mothers I know the she will feel great love for him at that very moment. The father, in return is usually thunderstruck by having seen his wife go to battle against unseen demons and emerge with his precious baby. The euphoria doesn't last forever, this is where I suggest you remember to ask for an expensive gift or favor you've been wanting for awhile while he's still foggy. While you're in the hospital you may feel like you have left the planet temporarily and are in your own little world By the time you leave the hospital, charged with the task of raising this tiny baby, fear and panic will have broken the magic spell by now.

MUTUAL MISTRUST-at some point soon after you have brought your new baby home, t will occur to you that maybe, just maybe, your mate isn't up to the job of parenting your child. Don't think that your mate doesn't have worries of his own. He is bound to wonder how a woman who loses her purse seven times a day can keep track of his child. He will wonder how a woman who hates to cook can provide for an infant. And, he may feel that given your present fragile emotional state, you will not be able to deal with any emergency involving the baby. You must keep two things in mind when you're having these doubtful thoughts. First, they almost always stem from your own gigantic self-doubt. new moms can be so intimidated by our awesome responsibilities that we want to know that someone bigger, smarter, calmer and better than us is ready if we drop the ball. The logical person, next to Superman is our mate. Remember, you are up to the job! You will make it up as you go along just as every other mother has been doing. The second thing to remember is that most of these doubts will fade with the passage of time, partly because you both will calm down a lot over the next year.

BABY OBSESSION-mothers and fathers are known to succumb to the charms of their baby, often to the exclusion of everyone else. Mothers are most susceptible to this private love affair, probably because of all sorts of biological reasons but fathers too can fall in love head over heals. In the old days, before the baby was born, the love moved in a straight line between you and your mate, now the relationship is triangular. The baby takes ups o much of our emotional time and attention that often the only way we express our love for each other is as parents. You know distinctions are getting murky when you and your husband start calling each other 'mommy' and 'daddy'.

-having a baby raises the stakes in the relationship game. We tend to stay longer and try harder to work troubles out to provide a stable family for our baby. Let's face it: even though we all get married or have some kind of commitment at sometime, with the intention of it lasting forever, statistics show that lots of us change our minds later on. While it is always painful when a relationship goes sour, we all know that we do have that escape hatch of leaving. That hatch get much tinier and harder to open when a baby is born into you relationship. No matter what happens in your love life, with your mate, you will always be connected by this child that you share.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Many women don't even recognize that they have Postpartum depression or fully understand it. The name itself is quite confusing. Depression, meaning feeling sad and hopeless is only one of the many ways this altered emotional state can manifest itself. If your feelings are strange and unsettling to you, even if you're not a full blown cut and dry case, you still may have the TEMPORARY condition of postpartum depression. Here are some symptoms to look for:

1. Feelings of Inadequacy-this is bigger than the garden-variety feelings that you are a nobody because you can't seem to get the bed made before your husband comes home or because you still haven't lost your pregnancy weight. This refers to a belief that this job of being some one's mom is too big for you and that you'll fail. It also applies to comparing yourself to all the other new mothers you know and coming up less-than every time.

2. Difficulty Making Decisions-not even talking about the hard decisions, like when to wean the baby or what college to send her to, I'm talking about not being able to decide whether to go out or stay in, buy broccoli or cauliflower, get dressed or stay in bed.

3. Fear of Being Alone
-this is pretty similar to the feelings of inadequacy. There's a lot of hormonally challenged new mommies that don't want to be left alone because that means they are alone with the baby that they aren't sure they can care for.

4. Fantasies of disasters of Bizarre Fears
-this is pretty much having disaster daydreams or nightmares that the baby gets hurt in your care. Perhaps that you don't put them in the car seat properly, lose them, accidentally drop them off a balcony, etc.

5. No Interest in Previously Enjoyable Activities-for quite awhile after the baby is born you won't have time for activities you previously enjoyed and you don't really have any interest in them. Near the end of the first year if you still feel a general lack of enthusiasm about everything including your former pleasures it may be cause for concern.

6. Breast Feeding Problems-please don't automatically assume that just because you have a hard time mastering the art of nursing that you're suffering from Postpartum depression. It's a tricky task. Ninety-nine percent of the time, breast-feeding problems are just that: normal responses to something very challenging to learn. Some women do however have a difficult time relaxing enough to allow their 'letdown' mechanism to work so the breast can release milk and this can be a sign of Postpartum anxiety.

7. Headaches, stomachaches, nausea, muscle aches-OK, so with motherhood naturally comes aches and pains and tons of bottles of ibuprofen. What you should e suspicious of are recurring aches and pains that seem to be unrelated to any known illness or injury.

8. Nervousness, Shaking or Trembling-the combination of your nerves, lack of sleep and exotic hormone cocktail you're on can make you as jangly as too many visits to Starbucks. Don't' be frightened but do be careful around the baby; we don't want anything valuable to get dropped and broken. Also, don't compound the problem by drinking beverages with caffeine in them, no matter how much you think you need that boost. It is also a good idea to call your doctor if this starts happening to you so that he or she can rule out infection or hemorrhaging.

9. Compulsive Behaviors, Checking and Rechecking things-once again, there is a thin line between ordinary neuroses and problematical ones. I don't think there's a mother out there that hasn't obsessed that the baby will stop breathing if we don't pay attention to it every minute. How much hand washing is too much? How many times did you check to see if the kettle was off. Some double checking is common but if you're becoming obsessive about it, the people around you have probably noticed and they will tel you.

10. Avoidance of the Baby-this is the scariest manifestations of Postpartum depression. This is the one that shames moms, makes them feel wicked and feel like they'll never be an adequate mother. Many mothers turn the baby over to a nanny, loved one or family member when this is very serious. the babies are often just fine but the mothers are dangerously depressed. The longer they keep their emotional and physical distance from the baby, the harder it is to close the gap. This is not about how much you love your baby, it's about how much you doubt yourself.

We are disillusioned with how pregnancy and childbirth is suppose to be. We watch movies of a mother giving birth and the next scene she's wheeled off to go home and already nursing and everything is wonderful. This story is responsible for more Postpartum depression than you can imagine. Maternity wards are crying right this minute because they feel the have failed in giving birth because nothing wen according to this story. Depending on where you live and what hospital you deliver at you have about a 20 to 40 percent chance of delivering your baby by C-section. That simply means that for about 1/3 of women, the little fairy tale birth story is dust. Some us labor for what feels like weeks and we're so exhausted by the time we're supposed to push that a nurse has to sit on our stomach to help get the baby out. Several of us fall apart and start accusing our husbands of creating this torture for us in the first place. And where is the part about whining and weeping in fear and pain? Giving birth is painful, messy, hard and unpredictable but the stories we treasure during pregnancy include none of that.

Help is as close as a phone call. Start with the nonprofessionals first. Hire a sitter. If you can't afford one beg a grandma or friend to take care of the baby for at least a couple of hours. My recommendation for those precious hours is to nap, but if you feel that a drive in the car or a soak in the tub would make you feel better, then knock yourself out. Whatever you do, however, do not waste this chance at recapturing your sanity by doing the dishes or running errands. Most important, don't feel guilty about taking a break from the baby. It's important to have some you time, even if that you time is with the baby. Make plans to go for walks everyday with your friend down the street. Walking and talking provides the perfect therapy. There's no doubt that fresh air, a change of scene and dropping unsightly fat all contribute to an improvement in our emotional state. When you exercise your body releases endorphins and you just get happy. If you can add a little bliss to your life through the natural release of chemicals in your brain, you may be well on your way to finding your way back to well-being. Hang out with your girlfriends, especially the one's with babies too. One word of caution, if you find that you have acquired a friend in a mommy who makes you feel like you're in a parenting contest with her. Dump her and her perfect baby immediately. Any woman who seems to have everything under control at all times is lying to you and to herself. You need a friend who knows that real acceptance and friendship are only possible between two living, feeling, honest human beings.

Ultimately the solution may include a prescription for Prozac or Zoloft. This prospect may intimidate you or even offend you because of opinions about these drugs that you made before you understood how disturbing lasting depression could be, but if you're suffering you may understand the need for these. Throughout the entire experience of Postpartum depression one of the most important things you can do is to avoid isolation. Whether you just stay in touch with your old friends, make new one, go to a mommy and me class or connect with moms and grandmas that have already been through it. You are not alone in this!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Nearly every woman who gives birth to a baby (and even many who become mothers by adoption) gets some form of postpartum depression. There are three types of new mothers. There is the type who gives birth and resume their lives with confidence, clear thinking and enthusiasm. The kind who gives birth and wishes that a fairy godmother would make the baby disappear and restore them to their former life and then there's the rest of us.

The first group of new mothers, the ones that breeze through like nothing happen are either incredibly lucky or incredibly unobservant. The second and third group really can be grouped together as one, just at different levels. Some women don't notice their symptoms of postpartum depression until their baby's first birthday. I think it is that we just start factoring in our altered states and feelings as normal. Postpartum depression is a lot like being drunk....looking back, there can be blackouts. Postpartum depression is like PMS, just on a grander scale. Friends might suggest that your hormones are toying with you, but you feel persecuted and misunderstood by your friends, not betrayed by your estrogen levels. I don't know if we have such a hard time diagnosing this completely normal condition because we don't want to see it or because we can't see it. So many new mothers are completely unprepared for any feelings other than happiness after the birth of their baby. Everybody is so full of congratulations, they expect you to glow with maternal satisfaction, and, truthfully, they don't really want you to tell them otherwise. Most women would rather sleep than talk to anyone and not tell anyone that they cry several times a day or that they secretly resent the toll the baby is taking on them. Heaven forbid a new mother should speak the truth about how she is, or is not adjusting. There are several reasons why it remains one of the womanhood's deepest, darkest secrets:

The Shame of it all

First, there is a lot of shame attached to feeling less than perpetually elated by becoming a mommy. Mention postpartum depression and the first thing people think about is a woman who doesn't want or love her baby. People unfamiliar with this condition usually fail to understand that loving your baby and loathing your life can be done simultaneously by new moms. Ultimately, not only are we ashamed to talk to other people about our feelings, we are also ashamed to think about them. Don't think for a minute that husbands, mothers or mothers-in-law are any more enlightened about postpartum depression than the rest of society. Unfortunately, not talking about how we feel makes most of us feel worse. It would be such a relief to purge ourselves of our less acceptable thoughts because at least 50 percent of them would disappear into the ozone as soon as they were uttered. About half of our negative thoughts are just that, thoughts. They are not opinions or beliefs. But they get scary when we hold them inside of us for too long because then we can't tell the difference between what we really feel and what we can imagine feeling. I am not saying that all mothers feel miserable, depressed and disappointed after giving birth but it is common for a bit of 'down' feelings and it is common that we feel that it is unacceptable to talk about it with anyone for fear of being judged.

The fear of it all

Another reason that so many of us fail to recognize postpartum depression in ourselves is that we are afraid of it. We are afraid that if we have it, our behavior is completely out of our control. In our own hysterical way we think postpartum depression is a sin. Since new mothers need to feel in control of the universe in order to protect their fragile babies, the worry that we, ourselves, may be the one uncontrollable factor freaks us out. Don't be freaked out and calm down. Your baby is absolutely safe in your loving care. You will devote your life to ensuring his happiness and well-being. Postpartum depression is actually a piece of cake for the babies, but it can really be tough on the mommy. Just remember, if you are caring for your baby, loving him and giving him attention, he will probably escape unaffected by your guilt about eventually going back to work or how resentful you are that you haven't slept in a lying down position in more than three weeks. In other words, relax as you go through your changes. You'll soon become the person you recognize as you and the baby won't have noticed a thing.

One of the most striking symptoms of postpartum depression is an utter lack of optimism. Some new mothers just can't imagine any time in the future when they will not be tired, or sad, or forgetful or anxious. The demands of caring for a child, usually alone in our society are so repetitive and unrelenting that we measure our days in diapers changed and feedings. Sure, the books say you will soon recognize a hungry cry from a bored or hurt cry and you probably will, eventually. In the meantime every cry gets your blood pressure into the triple digits and your adrenaline pumping like I don't even know what. Then there's the baby's first illness; projectile vomiting alone has been known to make a mother lose her mind for good. There IS an end to this tunnel. Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest bogeymen in a mommy's life. We have very little control over the baby's growth, however, and many aspects of postpartum depression actually have more to do with YOUR growth so let's move on and give your growth a jump start. A good place to begin is by clearing all the misconceptions about postpartum depression out of the way. There are five myths about this.

MYTH 1: Normal postpartum depression, also known as the baby blues, occurs three or four days after giving birth and is usually little more than a one-day unexplained crying jag. The truth about this? Sure you may get weepy shortly after giving birth since that is when the most dramatic change in hormone levels occurs, but that is NOT postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is when you haven't slept in two months, your baby is going through a growth spurt and you worry that you're not making enough milk, you are not eating much of anything with nutrients, you are still overweight and then the whole family comes down with the flu.

Postpartum depression can be prevented by keeping a good and positive attitude during pregnancy. Truth? Yeah right. You can try and try all through pregnancy and maternity to be as positive as can possibly be but you can still feel the effects of postpartum depression, except now you can add disappointment and self-doubt to the experience. Pregnancy and motherhood are incredible physical and emotional upheavals, no matter how thrilled you are to become a mother. Your marriage may be changing, your looks definitely are and if you think that your job is to stay grateful, happy and content through the water retention the vulnerability, the fear and the invasion of the body snatcher, it's no wonder you end up depressed.

Postpartum depression is a figment of a woman's imagination; there are no medical justifications for it. Oh really? They used to say this about PMS and cramps, too. I guess it took more women insisting that people without uteruses might not know what they were talking about in this area. As a matter of fact, all of pregnancy and new motherhood are hugely affected by our biology. As soon as we become pregnant, our hormones combine with our genetic programming to make us hopelessly devoted and fiercely protective of this new little life. Then, when the baby is born, add fatigue and inexperience to the equation and everything just multiplied.

MYTH 4: Postpartum depression is just that; feeling depressed after having a baby. ha ha. That's a very narrow view of the landscape. Postpartum depression is a catch-all phrase for all sorts of emotions and behaviors that are new and unusual or more intense than before you had a baby.

MYTH 5: Once you get postpartum depression, there is nothing you can do about it except wait it out. Nope. If you feel like you are having trouble coping with motherhood, the first and simplest thing you can do for yourself is ASK FOR HELP. Do not feel ashamed about needing i; you weren't intended to do this alone. Humans are a tribal breed, and nature never intended for you and your baby to survive without the assistance of the other women in your tribe. Whatever you do, do not take a passive approach to your unhappiness and do not pretend it doesn't exist. There are so many thing you can do to get back on track; it may be as simple as getting more sleep or exercising, it might be so stubborn as to require medication, but there is help out there. If you think that you and your baby are supposed to get through this first year isolated from the rest of the world, it's no wonder you're crazy.

Monday, January 11, 2010


There is no feeling more compelling, distracting, fulfillilng euphoric, miraculous and terrifying all at the same time. For some mommies the infatuation begins even before they lay eyes on the their baby, for other moms, the emotion embraces them gradually. After your baby is born, you will frequently wonder what in the world you used to do to fill your time.

You already know how beautiful your baby's mouth looks when he is sleeping. The way it makes a perfect bow and how it suckles as if something delicious were i there. You play with his fingers when you feed him, you smell the fold in his neck every time you burp him, you rub his bottom every chance you get as if it were Buddha's belly bringing you blessings. lol All babies are beautiful, just to varying degrees, and in any contest, yours is the most beautiful of all. Of course! Not only is your baby a thing of beauty, it has undeniable charisma too. She is just so darned adorable, in all senses of the word. She feels good in your arms, she smells heavenly, she looks at you as if she sees into your soul.

One really good trick for keeping our attention is a baby's ability to change with every passing day. At two weeks of age, the baby you hold in your arms will have no resemblance to the newborn that the hospital photo service shows. Then the round and dimpled baby you hold at four months is yet another baby. new babies are born with one head or hair, then ose all that hair and grow in an entirely new color and texture. Caucasian babies keep you guessing about their eye color fr as long as nine monhts.

For now and the rest of your life, your job as a mother is to love your baby simply for being. Your baby in the future may not always love you back at times but that doesn't matter. A mommies love never changes. No child will ever grow up and genuinely thank you for the way you stayed awake all night to make sure the kindergarten chicken eggs hatched safely, or for yelling at the t-ball coach who called him a 'daisy picker in right field'. Your adoring love is based on your acceptance of your role as a mother to ensure that this little baby gets well launched into the world.

Another universal effect on new mommies of Baby Euphoria is a radical skewing of perspective. It begins in pregnancy but comes into full bloom after delivery. No events, local or global are witnesses and evaluated with any intellectual distance. Everything is appraised for its ability to touch your baby's life. Not only is all news and information digested in the skewed Mommy Prism, but it is also filtered through a colander of emotional and maternal reactions. For example, once a woman becomes a mother, she identifies with all mothers. New mothers love all babies (not as much as they love their own) even if they are strangers. I am certain that there are still thousands of mothers who have not recovered from the saga of Susan Smith, how she rolled the car her children were in into a lake. We were so heartbroken for her those first few days. We cried for her pain, then to find it was she who killed them was the ultimate betrayal to the rest of mothers. The Mothers' Criminal code is this: All people who intentionally hurt or disappoint children must serve time n prison. All people who commit sexual crimes or worse against children must be executed, preferably within five minutes after hey have been apprehended.

The arrival of a baby into your life is more extraordinary than being invited aboard an alien spaceship, and in many ways it is like a close encounter with an extraterrestrial. No one on this earth is as interested in your baby is you are! I'm sorry to tell you that but it's true. As miraculous as the birth of your own child is, you didn't exactly invent childbirth and people will not be eagerly seeking you out to hear the latest story of every eye blink and every smile. Every little thing about him, from the way he has 'stork bite' marks at the nape of his neck to the way he gazes into your eyes with his tentative focus and wobbly heat, is just short of miraculous. Not only do you notice every single thing but you delight in relating it in great detail. I don't mean to take away from your fun but when someone asks how the baby is doing...a simple one or two sentence answer is appropriate. Not a play by play of the last few months.

Absentmindedness begins in pregnancy but it reaches its full and glorious bloom after the baby is born. Sure even non-mothers occasionally lose their keys, but I bet they don't lose their cars as often as mommies do. We also lose our ability to understand logical relationships among people, places and things. For example, you can open the door to the refrigerator and actually wonder what is keep ins uch an appliance. You forget how to get to the elevator in a department store you've practically lived in and of course get lost in a parking garage we've been parking in the same spot since we were teenagers. It's quite common for new mommies to have trouble completing simple tasks because they forget what they intended to do long before they have taken two or three steps in any direction. You will come out of this fog! Later when the baby is older and the hormones have lifted, you will find that your brain damage is directly attributed to your lack of sleep. There is only one effective way to deal with your new affliction of absentmindedness and that is to become a creature of habit. Immediately begin training yourself to find homes for everything you use on a regular basis. Your car keys always go in the bowl on the table, the diaper bag always hangs on the doorknob of the baby's room and your purse always is closest to the garage door. Another weapon against absentmindedness is to write everything down and make lists. If you have to, keep a tiny notepad in your purse at all times.

Ask a new mother whether she wants her mate to help in caring for the baby and she will of course say yes but when it comes down to actually sharing the job an amazing number of women all of a sudden become very stingy. Perhaps new moms are secretly terrified that Daddy is going to be at least as skillful at childcare as we are. Where does that leave us? Perhaps they feel they could miss out on something during that five minutes someone else is changing the diaper. The big goal is to teach your child to get by in the world without you, not to guarantee that all her needs must be met by mommy. There is no such thing as too much help in motherhood. You may be experiencing Baby Euphoria but you still need help sometimes, you are only human.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


It really does hurt to have a baby. You probably had a pretty good idea that getting the baby out was going to be a bit painful but I'm sure you didn't imagine that there would be so much stretching, bruising, tearing and bleeding. However, you did get a perfect, beautiful baby out of the deal so at least the reward was worth it.

Let's start with talking about your head. Your hair of course is a mess. Hopefully you have had a chance to wash it at the hospital and it wont be much of an issue until ti starts falling out in clumps in a few more months. We'll talk about that later. Some women have their faces swelling up like cabbage Patch dolls in the first twelve hours after delivery. Their cheeks get round and their eyes were so puffy that they have no peripheral vision. It will go away. Be sure to have ice packs handy before you come home from the hospital. One for between your legs and one for your eyes. Frozen peas in my opinion are the best! Some women will push so hard that they can break blood vessels in the whites of their eyes. Keep in mind that little blood vessels and capillaries are concentrated on your face and you may notice that you have constellations of little star burst on both of your cheeks.

As full of water as your facial tissues may be, your lips and mouth will almost certainly be bone dry. You are deprived of water from the minute you enter the hospital, so it may have been hours since you've had anything cool and wet to drink so you may find yourself with lips so cracked they might just fall of your face. Keep a good lip balm at your side at all times. Fruit juice that first day can help get your blood sugar back up after hours of hard work and no food too.

Chances are you probably have a headache. Not only did you not eat for hours, you receive pain medication on an empty stomach which pretty much leads to a hangover headache.. Sleep and food are good prescriptions but fluids are the most important thing. The first sign of dehydration is usually a headache.

Let's get back to the hair. Pregnancy gives you a thick head of gorgeous hair. I'm sorry, it's not yours to keep. Your hair will fall out in clumps, usually when you're most feeling depressed about how you look. The fallout can seem massive but you're not going bald. People looking at you may not even be able to tell. Your body is just releasing the hair follicles that it held on to so tightly during pregnancy. You hair may also change it's characteristics. some go from blond to brown and others that have always had bone straight hair all of a sudden have curly hair.

Most of us carry our tension in our neck and shoulders. This is compounded after childbirth, especially from sleeping in a hospital bed with one of those cardboard pillows (hopefully you read my other writing that said to bring your own pillow from home). You're going to want a heating pad handy. If you had 'back labor' then I don't even have to begin to tell you about how sore your spine probably is. Some women had their babies pushing so hard against their backs that their tailbones bruised. These can take months to heal but it will eventually go away. Do as much stretching as you can. Yoga is the cure of all evil. I know you have a new baby but even if you can squeeze in 5 minutes of yoga stretches it will help more than you know. If you can familiarize yourself with a few routine of movements prior to childbirth it will come in handy right now.

Let's talk about your breasts. for the first several hours after giving birth you will have the same large breasts you had at the end of pregnancy. You may notice a little leakage and you may not. It' like a milkman comes and delivers milk. On the second or third day after delivery, the milkman never comes unnoticed. first yo may experience tingling in your breasts, almost like you need to scratch inside your skin. This sensation will be compounded by the feeling that your breasts are becoming progressively warmer and warmer. In a little time as a couple of hours, your breasts can nearly double in size. If you are fair skinned you will see the major vein networks and my be able to distinguish the milk ducts leading to your nipples. You may not know that the milk doesn't come out at the tip of your nipple like on a baby bottle. It comes out of several holes all around the nipple like a sprinkler.

Down to your belly. Yes it looks like a big lump of risen bread dough. It's still fat but probably looks worse than when you were pregnant because it was hard and smooth and now it's all lumpy and folded over. Don't cry. this will improve everyday. Most people say crunches. I say yoga. Yoga strengthens your body and stretches and does wonders for your mental clarity. If you have a C-section, your belly will have this lumpy consistency and an incision. You might notice that the skin looks yellowish underneath the dressings but that is just the stain from the Betadine solution. Not only does your belly look pretty bad, but it might be tender to. Since you have no muscle tone in your abdomen at this point, your tummy is at the complete mercy of gravity. If you roll onto one side there goes your belly. If you had a C-section, keep this gravity thing in mind because it can hurt a lot to do anything that tugs a the incision. Just lay a pillow over your tummy and remember to press the pillow against you gently whenever you stand, roll, or cough or sneeze. The pressure helps!

Don't bother with mirrors if you can avoid them for a bit. Especially for the few hours after delivery. You don't want to look at your skin until the swelling has gone down and the bruising has faded. All of this water retention will however remedy itself within the next few days. You may know about night sweats. One night soon you may awaken to find that you not only have sweated enough to turn your pj's into a dishrag but enough to have soaked right through your sheets. These sweats will happen several times in the next few weeks. You may just want to sleep on a beach towel so you don't have to keep changing your sheets to add to your pain and tasks. Cotton is your friend when it comes to your wardrobe.

Finally don't judge your recovery time based on anyone elses or what you have heard. Every women is different, every situation, delivery and pain is different so your body will heal at it's own time.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


You've made it through the hospital stay and you finally get to home after your baby has been born. You have been waiting for this moment for 9+ months. You get to show the baby the wonderful decorating you've done in his or her room, introduce them to the family dog, lay her on your bed and take her picture and try out that rocking chair that wasn't in your budget but you bought it anyway and you're glad you did. By the way...rocking chairs are easy to find at garage sales for a couple dollars and can always be re-finished, painted etc and make great gifts for yourself or someone else having a bundle of joy! I took up garage sailing this past summer and I can't believe the treasures that can be found! Hopefully you have already stocked up on things as diapers, sanitary pads, bottle water, toiled paper, juice, etc because you are not going to want to leave the house now for a few days.

Going home with your baby is like entering another planet and life on earth you won't quite feel a part of for awhile. It's rhythm or concerns won't be yours. If you don't feel like having visitors during this period it is your right. Some women can't wait to have people over and others just want to be alone in baby land. You want to devote all your attention to getting to know this new human being who has settled in your midst without having to worry about making yourself presentable to offering a little something to eat to your guests. You need to rest, recover and adjust for the next couple weeks

Leaving the hospital isn't just a blink of an eye event. It takes a bit of time. First things first, you want to take a shower! If you haven't taken one yet since the baby was born this will feel like a huge gift. If you feel like putting on makeup and styling your hair, go right ahead but you are in know obligation. Something people may not tell you is that a new mother's thermostat is out of whack for a few weeks after the baby is born and may lead to a lot of perspiration. It may be a good idea to wear a soft cotton knit fabric home from the hospital because even the smallest tasks will work up a sweat.

After you have yourself ready you need to get the baby ready. The baby doesn't care if he or she stays in their hospital outfit but we all know you have an outfit picked out to take them in so slip them into their perfect little onesie and have fun.

No matter how great you may feel, you will not be allowed to walk out of the hospital. You have to be paraded out in a wheelchair. You can try to argue but it's just like talking a meter maid out of giving you a won't work so suck it up, stop complaining and enjoy your ride out. The hospital's insurance policy requires that they make every effort to keep you from falling down or dropping the baby while you are on their property and that job is given to a orderly or nurse's aide so the fast you can find one, the faster you can go home. There seems to be 10 other mothers waiting for this person at the same time so factor in about an hour for this task.

You may only live five minutes from the hospital but believe me, time stands still and it may be the longest five minutes of your life if you have a crying, hungry baby in your car. I advice, even if baby is sleeping, wake baby up and insist on a meal prior to leaving the hospital. If baby is full upon entering the car you may get lucky and he or she may sleep all the way home and don't forget you will need a car seat! It is of the utmost importance to put your baby in a car seat and to position the car seat correctly. No hospital should allow a baby out of its care without first making sure the parents have a suitable car seat and that it is fastened properly. If you're not sure if you positioned it correctly, ask someone, they are happy to help. Also, by car seat I don't mean just any car seat, I mean one that is designed for newborns. Tiny little babies cannot sit upright and they cannot support the weight of their own heads. They need seats that help them in a semi-reclining position. Read the manual that comes with the seat, they are more complicated than you'd think. Infants must always sit facing the back of the car no matter how much you think they would prefer seeing the scenery as it approaches. If your car has passenger side air bags, DO NOT PUT YOUR CHILD IN THE PASSENGER SEAT. No matter how frantic of a mother you are and think you'd prefer to have your baby up in the front seat with you...just don't do it. The explosion of an inflating air bag can seriously injure a baby or small child.

Have a barf towel or blanket ready. If you took my advice and fed the baby before leaving the hospital and a burp is inevitable you will need this. Spitting up does not generally mean that the baby is carsick. It is fairly normal. You will also need a pacifier. Hysterical crying can have a significant influence on the mommy Richter scale. No parent, especially a brand new one is humanly capable of continuing to drive a car in a focused and calm manner with wailing little creature piercing their eardrums. Please remember, use a pacifier when needed and don't feel bad. Just because you use when doesn't mean you will have a four year old with a pacifier you may have gossiped about before at the park. No matter what happens on your drive home do not take the baby out of the car seat while it is moving. This may seem like common sense to most of you but it still happens. If you feel the baby needs to be held, pull the car over in a parking lot. The baby could be hungry again, need to be changed...could be anything and you may try everything but remember and keep in your head 'crying never killed anyone' and it won't. Babies cry, that's what they do. Sometimes music can help. They say babies hear while in the womb so if you traditionally listed to certain music or songs, this could be soothing to the baby to hear something familiar. Babies also have what is known as the traditional 'shutdown mechanism' and instinctively react to sounds like loud music, hair dryers and vacuum cleaners and go right to sleep.

Lastly, on the drive home, stay calm and be confident. You may suddenly start to sweat and feel that you are overwhelmed and what were you thinking. Don't worry, you know everything you need to know for the moment. You will learn to go with your gut and ask for advice when needed and make the rest up as go. This is why grandmothers are often better mothers to our children than we are, they have already gone through the trial and error phase. Take a drink of your water, I know you're dehydrated and know that you are going to be magnificent. You baby is going to think you are the world and a hero. YOU are some one's mother! Your precious memories about to begin. Welcome home!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


So, you've survived the hospital admittance and you have gotten the delivery out of the way. Now you get to enjoy your wonderful stay in the hospital after the baby is born. Most hospitals now allow you to keep your baby with you in your room at all times if you're capable of caring for him or her. Meaning, as long as you are not feverish or high on painkillers. haha. Give yourself the option of keeping the baby with you or letting the nursery staff care for them while you attend to a quick bath or sleeping for a 45 minute nap. One of the most common fears of new mommies is about turning their babies over to the care of the nursery, in fear that the nurses ond duty secretly go against your insistence on breast-feeding and will disregard all orders and sneak some formula into the little one when the viewing room shades are drawn. It does happen I've been told but not all of the time. Some times babies are just given sterilized water from a bottle when they seem to need help quieting down because they understand the last thing they need is a baby not hungry when the mother is trying to get the hang of the whole nursing thing.

A good justification for rooming in is to get to know your baby and to practice your mothering skills with the safety of a medical setting. This is a very wise and pragmatic choice, especially if you allow yourself to send the baby back to the nursery fro a few hours if the responsibility is still too much for you. Just watching your baby sleep is a miracle, perfect and dumbfounding. You can watch her breathe or flutter her eyelashes with fascination. And don't forget the smell! The smell of a newborn is the most perfect smell that you can never get enough of. It is intoxicating.

Like a good hotel or a cruise, your hospital will probably offer other services or activities to make your stay more fulfilling. As soon as you are coherent, ask a nurse whether they offer any infant care classes and if they do, limp yourself down to one. At this point you probably don't even know what questions to ask but the professionals what answers to give you even if you don't know you need them. If daddy can come too, better yet still, especially if he is going to be there to carry out his weight in this parenting thing.

If you intend to breast-feed your baby, you might find the assistance of a Lactation Specialist very valuable. Don't be surprised if nursing is much more difficult than you imagined it would be. It can be as frustrating as learning how to ride a bike and much more painful. Thank goodness there are specialists that can help you. These people will also give you their number to call after you've gone home because some of the most exciting breast-feeding emergencies occur long after you've checked out of the hospital.

Another hospital service that you may enjoy is their photographer who takes those adorable newborn photos. They are wonderful to have because your newborn will never look that way again. The pointy head, the splotchy skin and swollen eyes will disappear. If you choose to not use this service that's okay too. Your newborn will much more adorable in a week! Before you leave the hospital be sure to ask them if they have a 'hot line' that you can call if you have questions or concerns after you get home. Most hospitals and birthing centers have advisers taking phone calls 24 hours a day to help new parents. Not every 'emergency' requires a trip to the pediatrician. Sometimes reassurance and a bit of advice is all you really need.

There is no way to predict how you will feel about having visitors after the baby is born. Some love having people come by and other women feel anxious, overwhelmed or disappointed about their birthing experience. The last thing they want at this moment is to have to put on a party face and amuse guests. There's a lot of expectation leading up to delivery and when it's over some women just feel exhausted. THIS IS YOUR TIME! IF YOU DON'T WANT VISITORS, DON'T ACCEPT THEM! They will get over it.

Before you check out, take some time to ask someone with authority which 'stuff' you are allowed to take home with you. Be assure that all the toiletries, will be billed to you whether you use them or not, so take them. Some of the most immediately valuable supplies that hospitals often provide a donut pillow to sit on, throw that sucker right into the suitcase without even asking permission (it's not the greatest thing to go and buy at the drugstore). Also ask if you can take home the little T-shirt and blanket that he wore in the hospital because they make good keepsakes. Diaper bags, etc are also common giveaways. The most important thing to take home with you, besides the baby is the nasal aspirator. That's the blue little rubber bulb that you use to suck mucous out of the baby's nose. It's a wonderful little thing since the baby can't blow his nose or sniff yet. You can buy one at the drugstore but the hospital one is usually better. You also may want to stock up on the obstetrical pads that nurseries use to clean the baby during a diaper change. You may or may not know that you don't use diaper wipes on newborns because the chemicals are too irritating to their skin. a clean washcloth that has been dipped in tepid water works great too. If your baby is a boy and has been circumcised, you will also need a good supply of gauze squares to protect him until he heals. You can easily get these at the drugstore but sometimes with a new baby it's tough to get to the store and if you didn't think of this before's just some thing you need.

There's also, of course a ton of paperwork to take care of before your bundle of joy can enter the real world. The delivery doctor will begin the process of registering your tiny human when he fills out the certificate of live birth. Then, later, when you are in your room, several papers will be given to you to fill out. Some of this can be taken home to do so if you want, just ask someone which papers NEED to be filled out while you're there. Don't forget you also need to get a Social Security number for your baby. Instead of going to the nearest federal building, sometimes the nurse can give you the forms you need. Next stop...home!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Hospitals are scary and by far the least favorite place of most people....unless you're a doctor, nurse or in the field. There are endless hospital procedures and rules that to us seem ridiculous but to those enforcing those rules aren't silly at all. Certain people handle certain things. Food people handle food, Laundry people handle nightgowns and housekeeping handles vacuuming at the one time you find to sleep. Please don't ask the anyone else to bring you food or ice chips besides the designated person. It just wont make it to your mouth and you'll just frustrate yourself by having to ask again. The nurses are the backbone of the hospital. They are wonderful angels that seem to have a halo glowing around their heads as they help you walk to the bathroom, they know where to put ice packs and give you a run down of what you need to do to get you through the first two days as a mother. If you need to vent and feel the need to be bitchy, take it out on anyone except the nurses. You need them! The baby starts to cry, ring for a nurse. Your stitches hurt too much to bend over the isolate to change the baby's diaper? A nurse can diaper a squirming baby in a blink of an eye. Can't get the baby to feed off both breasts instead of just one? Call the Lactation Specialist. They'll fix it. (You may not like it, but they'll fix it). In desperate need of fresh ice for that pack you're keeping between your legs to relieve the soreness and swelling from all that stretching and stitching? Politely ask the nurse...they understand and they will help.

An important thing to do no matter how busy you are or how silly it seems to you is sign up for the tour of the maternity ward. This tour will give you the important knowledge of how to enter the hospital when you are laboring and how to proceed directly to the relative calm of the labor and delivery ward from the emergency room. And please, make sure all your paperwork has been done in advance. Let me repeat, MAKE SURE YOUR PAPERWORK IS DONE IN ADVANCE! Your obstetrician's office will probably give you a simple little pre-admission form sometime in your second trimester. They will then forward it to the hospital for you or tell you how to send it in yourself. It also wouldn't hurt to call the hospital about a week after submitting this form to make sure they received it and ask if they need any additional information.

After check-in there are generally two paths into a delivery room. The one you take is largely determined by whether your doctor has admitted you into labor room after examining you in his or her office or if you have come directly to the hospital without first being examined by your O.B. If you haven't been examined prior sometimes you will be examined in a holding area called triage. If your labor looks like it is progressing toward a dilated cervix, you will be awarded a labor room. It it is questionable or if your cervix is still tightly closed you might be sent home for a few hours to see if anything develops.

Your labor room also may be decided by your insurance, timing and who knows what other deciding factors. You may be in a quiet room all alone without even a TV after or you could be a nicely remodeled facility with windows, a TV, a telephone and even a chair for your guest. If you hae a scheduled C-section or any complication then it's right to a surgical suite for you.

One major difference between delivering vaginally and by C-section is that, since the C-section is a major surgery, you will need tos pend some time in a recovery room where surgical nurses can monitor your blood pressure and other vital signs. After a couple hours you will be moved again and this is where you get your room on the maternity ward where you will get to know your baby and recover for a couple of days before entering the real world. Even if you delivered vaginally and without incident in a birthing room, you'll be moved shortly after.

Maternity wards are called the happiest place on earth. There's nothing but beautiful babies lined up in plastic bassinet like beds and wrapped up tight. There may be a more traffic on this ward than you would normally like but everyone is happy and loving and don't' be surprised at the grand parents that will stop to see your baby as well as every other little miracle. When you are feeling up to it, take a stroll down to the nursery windows where they are lined up peering at the babies and you'll practically get a standing ovation as you point your little angel out in the crowd. This is a rare moment in motherhood where everything is perfect and sweet.

There are private and semiprivate rooms for new mommies. If you think you're going to do a lot of random entertaining keep in mind that privacy is scarce even in a private room. Someone can come in at any time to check your pads and stitches no matter what you're doing. There are a few things you can bring with you that may make you feel more at home like a special pillow that doesn't smell like hospital disinfectant, a blanket can be helpful too. A bathrobe and some slippers are essential. Bottled water is another luxury you may want to bring a long. The water they leave in those little pitchers taste just like the plastic it is sitting in. You will need a lot of water, especially if you're breast feeding so ask someone to pick you up a six pack. Another essential...your hairdryer. Presentable, dried hair just makes you feel refreshed and more important. This has nothing to do with taking a million photos in the next 24 hours. We all know you just feel better if you can dry your hair rather than leave it wet or dry it with some garbage dryer that barely blows any air. Lip balm is the last essential ingredient to your hospital stay. You will get chapped lips but remember to bring the balm that doesn't smell all juicy and rosy. Babies are sensitive to smells. Do not bring candles, jewelry, toiletries in glass containers or your favorite pair of jeans (sorry, they will not fit yet!).

In most cases even after a C-section you will have some time right after birth to count your baby's fingers and toes and introduce yourself. the delivery room nurse will usually weight and measure the baby in your presence, often while your doctor is doing any necessary repair work on you. Then, the baby disappears. The daddy usually goes to the nursery, the obstetrician goes home to sleep and the nurse moves on to to see other laboring woman. The primary function of the nursing staff is to observe he baby for the first few hours after this or her birth. Statistically, the most serious health problems that are not identified immediately after delivery will become apparent within the first twenty four hours of life. The baby will be given a bath and then given the standard issue uniform of newborns and then swaddled in a blanket. They will also be given antibiotic drops in their eyes. This is done to kill any stray bacteria that the baby may have picked up as he exited your body. They also receive identification bands in the nursery. After all this, the baby will be put into a clear sided plastic bassinet and parked alongside all the other new babies. Tomorrow we'll continue and talk more about your room and board stay in your luxury sweet at the hospital.


So, you suddenly find yourself a mother (well not exactly suddenly...assuming you have known about it for a few months or so). You can survive motherhood. Being a mother is a miracle. It is the greatest event you will ever experience, even if you're still at the very sore stage that you're not really too sure about this. First let me say congratulations if you are a new mother (or not so new mother).

Since we've been children, we have an idea of how being a mother will be. That picture in our mind didn't include stitches, bruises, sore bones and everything else. There's milk coming from your breasts, a lot of tears coming from your eyes and your head is probably a little foggy. Your life as you knew it is over...yet your life has just begun. Having a baby is like entering a carnival fun house, except this fun house is actually your home. The first year of motherhood is a lot about making yourself comfortable in your own home. You will feel the aftershock of motherhood in many ways including your sex life, shoe size, bra size, career and car choice. Nothing will ever be the same. It may be more difficult but it will certainly be more wonderful.

Don't spend one more calorie of energy worrying about what an amateur you are at parenting and whether you are capable of taking care of an infant. Most mothers wouldn't hesitate to bite off their own arm if it would provide comfort to their crying babies but ask them to treat themselves to a bubble bath or an afternoon nap and they think you are just ridiculous. It's like a race you just keep running in a big circle where there is no start or finish line...just a circle to get through each and every day a little smoother. Take a break now and then. You deserve that bubble bath. The laundry will still be there after your 20 minutes in heaven. Trust does not do itself and all cleaning will wait for you. It's very predictable in that way.

The first year of motherhood can knock us all on our butt and almost over the edge but there's always someone that's been through it to offer guidance and advice. You will learn to live on little or no sleep and you will learn to get the nursing thing worked out. It's no surprise your husband, boyfriend or non existent lover is feeling little or no are the mother, you get all the gifts, good and bad. Someone once told me, 'Don't stand when you can sit, don't sit when you can lie down and don't stay awake when you can sleep.'