I can easily tell you what my most difficult obstacle as a new mom was: comparing myself and my baby to everyone else and their baby, as well as trying to follow the “baby rules.” By baby rules, I mean things like, “babies breastfeed every two hours,” or “your baby should or should not be doing this by this time…” those types of things.
What really sticks out in my head is the challenge of nursing. Again, I will mention the “baby should nurse every two hour” rule. See, my baby did not follow this rule. My baby wanted to nurse all day long. When I say that, I feel like people think I’m exaggerating. I’m not exaggerating, my kid loved the boob, whether it was for food or comfort, I’m still not sure, but I’m telling you I was on my couch all day long with a baby on my boob for about 4 months. The good thing was that at least she slept all night early on. But man, I’m telling you, if I got 30 minutes between feedings, that was GOOD.
It really took a toll on me emotionally, especially because I would compare us to others. I would see pictures of people walking their newborns around the neighborhood in a stroller, or going out to lunch with their newborn, people DOING THINGS with their new babies, and me, I couldn’t leave the house with my girl because she would just scream her head off. Nursing her was literally the only thing I could do to get her to stop screaming. I don’t know if you want to call it something like colic or what, all I knew was that nursing was the only thing I could do to get her to calm down. So, month after month of this, I definitely started to feel lost and upset. The worse part was that I felt like no one could help me or relate to me. I would find myself texting every mom I knew about my situation, and everyone would say, “oh, no, my baby wasn’t like that.” Hearing that makes you feel like you are doing something wrong, especially in regards to nursing when there are all of these “guidelines” to follow. I was finding myself Googling every little thing, wondering if my kid was abnormal. There are even doctors told me I should not be nursing that much. Now, that doesn’t make anyone feel good about what they’re doing.
It was one friend who I ended up texting, probably in the middle of the night, who gave me a wake up call. All she said was, “Jess, just go with your gut, do what you think YOUR baby needs.” It seems so, so, simple, but in this society, it just seems like there are right and wrong ways to be a mom. You see pictures of people just loving life as a new mom and it can make you compare yourself and wonder if you are not doing a good job. But really, it’s all about doing what’s best for YOUR individual baby, and all babies are different. So I went ahead and did just that, with a more level head, and stopped worrying about what others were doing and saying. In the end, I think my kid has turned out pretty darn well.