I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. More specifically, the way us moms struggle with both wanting the hard times in our life with a newborn to pass, and feeling emotional as soon as that time is over. I define a season of time with your baby as a memorable period of time that is marked in your memory with a few key struggles or milestones. It starts off with the pregnancy season, and man is that a long one. For me, my key seasons from there break down to: pregnancy, birth-6 weeks, 6 weeks-3 months, 3-6 months, and 6-8 months. My baby girl is only 8 months, and I am so glad to have so many seasons of life with her ahead of me. But I want to talk today about the ones already gone by.
I’ve realized that the comforting advice most people have given me on my constant struggles with my very difficult little girl is, “This too shall pass.” And maybe once or twice I did find comfort in that. Until I realized that wishing this season away will only bring on a new one with new challenges, ones that I again have no idea how to conquer. Because that’s what motherhood is. Thinking we can’t possibly conquer what’s in front of us each day, and somehow with the love of our babies we make it through.
As I lay here in between breastfeedings feeling the pain of mastitis in my body with my little babe sleeping on my chest, I know that there will be a day when I’ll look back on this time with nostalgia. Breastfeeding has somehow turned out to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but the reason I keep doing it is the same reason I know I will long for it when it’s over- the unbreakable bond between me and my baby girl. As I feel the end of our breastfeeding journey getting closer everyday, I’ve realized how much importance moms need to place on being happy and present in whichever season we’re currently in.
I hear you, mom who can’t remember her last full night of sleep, won’t it be nice when your baby doesn’t need you as much anymore? Will you find yourself watching your growing child wishing they’d curl up in your arms late in the night to be comforted back to sleep? I’m writing this because with all my challenges so far, I’ve been that mom. That mom who’s just waiting for this season to be over. But I cannot waste anymore of my precious time with my baby having that attitude.
I’m going to use this space below to journal about each season I’ve had with Ellie. So many moms I’ve talked to, including my own, just can’t remember all the little things that happened to them and their babies at the beginning. So I encourage you, whatever stage you are at in life take time today to think about the parts of it you will miss when they are gone. Do not dwell on the challenges your child is giving you in this season but rather, embrace them. Take some time out of your day today to appreciate your child for everyhing that they are right now. And if you’ve found your seasons passing too quickly, find the time to journal about yours too. That way even when a season has passed, you will always have memory of it. Here are my seasons so far.
My pregnancy was not planned, but not unwelcome. I took the pregnancy test like I had a couple other times since getting married, knowing it would come out negative, but-UM IS THAT POSITIVE? I was almost numb to it initially, not knowing exactly what this change would mean for me and my husband or what to expect from it in anyway. But once my mind had been wrapped around it I was in full-on mom mode. They say a woman becomes a mother when they find out they are pregnant, and a man becomes a father once the baby is born. For us that saying was 100% true. Looking back I can tell I was a bit overboard as a pregnant woman (foreshadowing of what kind of mother I’d become.) I didn’t eat, or do, anything that any person had ever said may possibly affect my unborn baby negatively in any way, shape, or form. Recently, my husband laughed as I ran across the room picked up and threw our dog in the back yard, screaming at her for nipping at the baby. “Don’t mess with mama bear.” He said.
Well that statement has really been true of me since the beginning of my pregnancy. This overprotective quality can be great in most moms, but as a woman with anxiety I struggled through every minute of every day of my pregnancy. I told myself that she was too good to be true, I almost never was able to visualize actually getting to hold her in my arms. I spent my maternity leave days crying in her rocking chair, begging her to kick me and tell me she was okay in there. My anxiety while pregnant nearly crippled me, mostly because of impossibly hard personal life situations. I honestly thought I would lose her every single day.
Although my paranoia was extreme it really did prepare for what was to come, constant worry over another human being. I’ve worried for her since long before she was born, and now that I know her I know it will never stop for me. And I am perfectly happy with that.
My pregnancy continued to make me think I would never get to hold her as it dragged on and on. Until I was 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant when Elliana Reign was finally born at almost 10 pounds. (That last 8 days felt longer than the entire rest of the pregnancy!)
My only happiness in the pregnancy season was my ultrasounds and checkups. Facing my constant worry and fears and drowning them out in the sweet melodic sound of her strong little heart beating and the sight of her squishy little face and pouty lips in the 3D images.
Birth- 6 weeks
This season was marked by trying to breastfeed, trying to taking care of her while I recovered my pummeled body, and long, long baby naps. Aside from my own pain and recovery, this was really an easy time with her. Thinking back on how much my newborn slept really makes me miss that time! She woke at night every 2 hours to breastfeed and stayed the same during the day. My only real problem at this time was that the nurses in the hospital gave me a nipple shield to use. I spend the second night in the hospital sobbing crying because Ellie wouldn’t eat. I hadnt slept for 2 full days at this point and then there it was. The nipple shield. This would prove to challenge me for months to come, but we’ll get to that later. Ellie also had jaundice, which can be common. But I had no knowledge of this at all. So as a first time mom this seriously worried me! The adjustment period to sleepless nights wasn’t hard for me because I barely slept as the giant pregnant watermelon person I was. Lots of friends and family organized bringing us meals and I had so much help. This season was one of huge adjustment, and a whole lot of happy!
6 weeks-3 months
6 weeks. That’s all it took for my baby to learn to start sleeping through the night! This baby thing was going to be a breeze ,wasn’t it?! Well, just when you think you’ve got them figured out, your baby goes ahead and switches it up on you. But for this time, she was an angel. Sleeping in her rock and play every night from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m. This time period was marked by adorable milestones like cooing noises, trying to hold her head up, trying to sit up, and her first laugh. This is the time we really started seeing her little personality and it was such an incredible blessing. She was gaining weight on track and exclusively breastfeeding. Another golden season, but the one to follow would not be the same story.
Ah, where to begin with this season… My little angel baby got sick at 3 months old it eventually turned into bronchiolitis, which kept me up checking her breathing patterns all night every night. Every night for 3 months I gave her her bath, her eczema cream, her nose drops, used the nose Frieda, put on some baby Vapor rub, cleaned out and ran the humidifier and started the diffuser with essential oils to help her breathe. I ran myself ragged taking care of my sick baby, maybe that was why I got so sick too. After months I was given antibiotics and started to improve. If only it could be that easy for babies.
Around 4 months we slowly started introducing solid foods. She loved it and thought everything besides peas was absolutely delicious.
One night we sat at my parents house, having dinner and letting them help us with the baby. We had given Ellie Zarbee’s cold medicine a few hours before. Suddenly, Ellie projectile vomited her last meal all over my mom. Which wasn’t too unusual, she has done this quite a few times. But this time, it didn’t stop every couple minutes she would start up again getting sick everywhere until she had nothing left. She continued gagging and coughing even when her stomach was completely empty. This is when we called the nurse hotline and they advised us to take her to the children’s hospital to ensure she doesn’t get dehydrated. After a few very scary hours, we did a breastfeeding trial, she kept it down, and we went home. I thought to myself, it had to be the cold medicine, right? Until the next time it happened. Ellie has now had these violetly sick reactions 4 times. Each time I am just as worried as the last time. I spent these 3 months listening to my baby cry, cough, throw up, and breathe raspy breaths. So you can be sure that when the doctors told Ellie started dropping rapidly on the weight chart that I was more than a little overwhelmed.
I breastfed my baby every two hours for up to 40 minutes each time. I was going crazy spending all of my life stuck on the couch with my nipple shield and boppy. I could supplement her with formula or pumped breastmilk, if only she wouldn’t vehemently refuse every brand, shape, and size of bottles. And I was so nervous to give her solid foods, not knowing what was causing her reactions. I worried over her day and night. I cried myself to sleep watching her, knowing that despite all my efforts I was failing her. This time I lost almost all of my joy as a mother and felt the season I was in would never end. But that’s what seasons do, they end.
I had come to a decision. I couldn’t keep trying my futile methods of nipple shield weaning or offering bottles just to have them refused. My babies weight gain had come to a halt and I had to try something else. So I made the choice to revise Ellie’s lip tie. The doctor let me know I could choose whether to have the procedure done on her lip, her tongue, or both. I’m so happy that I was able to discern as a mother that she needed her upper lip revised more than anything, because she couldn’t flare out her upper lip at all.
We waited for her bronchiolitis to clear before having the procedure, which was probably more terrifying for me than for her! A couple weeks after, her lip was healing up nicely. Suddenly, she decided she didn’t need the nipple shield anymore. It was a game changer for us both. She started eating 5 minutes every two hours instead of 40, and she will now even take the occasional bottle. I’m taking her to allergists and gastroenterologists to determine what her allergies may be. And she is thriving on her weight gain which is all I hoped for on those 3-6 months old nights. We had the blessing of taking her to Disneyland with my entire family.
Seeing her grow and exude happiness in this season has made me appreciate how far she’s come. How far we’ve both come. I’m so thankful we have so much time ahead of us right now. She just started crawling, and I am embracing all the change that brings. I love the season of life she is in right now. And I’ll be just as happy when the next one arrives.