You can tell any expecting Mom to try not to expect too much, but that's like telling the sun to stop shinning. I know that after I finally let go of my fears regarding labor and delivery, internally telling my Son that it was OK for him to be born, he finally decided to come. I know that feeding my Son on demand, resting when I felt like it, and taking his cues has helped me and Colin to have a better relationship, and has made him a happier baby.
I didn't know it, but my Son is a, "High Need" baby. After ten months of mothering, I took a look at the Dr. Sears website, and read a whole lot on the subject that fit my child. Colin was, "High Need" from the get go. He didn't want to sleep in the hospital bassinette, only in my arms or his Daddy's arms. He continued to not want to sleep alone when we got home. It wasn't until he was four or five months old that he started sleeping in his crib. During the day, he wanted to be held as well. I was only able to leave him in the vibrating Boppy chair for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time before he wanted to be held. The Jellybean Sling I purchased became a boon, allowing me to carry my child and do the chores around the house I couldn't ignore. Even now, ten months later, he's still a, "High Need" baby. He will play on his own contentedly from time to time, but in the last month he's had a cold and became clingy once again.
High Need babies just need more. It can be taxing, and often people don't understand, or sometimes approve, of how you care for your child. It can be frustrating and disheartening to have a lack of support, especially during the times you feel overwhelmed and stressed out. It's confusing to me especially, to have other parents disapprove or not understand my parenting style and choices, because I feel that parents should especially understand. Not every baby is the same, not a single one. Every baby is different, unique and individual. I feel that the only things that babies have in common are their basic needs i.e., diaper changes, the need to be fed, held and sleep, but even those differ from baby to baby. Some babies want to eat more than others, or must have a particular environment to eat. Some babies crave more touch than others. Some babies are perfectly content to be on their own for stretches of time, staring up at a colorful toy or mobile, some babies can only stand being put down for a couple of minutes. Some babies can stay in a dirty diaper for a bit longer than other babies. Some babies sleep soundly, others erratically. To bring it all home, you and I are not the same, why would our babies be identical, or need identical care? I don't need the same things you do. I don't learn the same, or feel the same ways you do. Experience shapes and hardens us, but that doesn't mean that it is experience alone that makes us who we are. Science has recently shared with us that, while nurture plays a large part of the human experience, nature is not to be scoffed at, and in fact deserves more respect and consideration than previously thought. I'd say that my baby, and all of the other babies and Mom's I've come to know since I embarked on this adventure called Motherhood, show me heavy support that theory is most likely correct. I just wish that this theory and its evidence were shared more widely and gained more interest among all generations living on our planet right now. Think of all the Old Wives tales that would be nipped in the bud!!!
Letting go of any pre-conceived notions of what pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood are going to be can be very helpful in tending to your baby, your life, and your relationships. It took me ten months after my Son was born to come to terms with a great many thing, but the whole reason I started this blog was mostly because of my weight and health.
A year before I conceived Colin, I had lost a considerable amount of weight. As a matter of fact, I weigh the same now, as I did before I lost weight the first time. In a mere six months, went from 200 pounds to 140. Yeah. I started off with a food fueled detox that was supposed to last two weeks, but craving meat, I caved in at one week. After that, I loosely followed the South Beach Diet, eschewing refined carbs and eating a whole lot more of Protein and vegetables, and the weight truly fell off. I had the time, energy and the ability to focus on my side. I figured that, while I couldn't detox, I could eat akin to the South Beach Diet after the baby was born, I’d lose the weight. Let's not forget that I've been breastfeeding. EVERYONE says that if you breastfeed, you lose the weight. I was banking on the fact that breastfeeding would melt off the pounds. HA! Yet another pre-conceived notion!
Here's the truth: Breastfeeding hasn't, "melted" the weight away. I had little time to myself, (this meaning that I had time when my infant, who is far more important, didn't want me to hold him so I could cook), little energy, and most of all, my mind, heart and soul were focused so much on the little person I brought into the world that losing weight was HARD. Not that I didn't think about it, or want it, because I did. I just couldn't seem to get my mind to focus, not only on what I needed to do to lose weight, but how to do it as a breastfeeding Mother.
It greatly behooves a breastfeeding mother to be conscious of what she ingests and does with her body. A breastfeeding Mother should not detox, but I read a WebMD article about how Detoxing was a bunch of junk anyway. Your body, the great machine, has the capability to detox on its own, ALL THE TIME. All you have to do is give yourself a chance. Detox is not really flushing out anything that your body isn't already doing, it's giving you a boost, so to speak. If you're eating a diet of unhealthy foods and portions, Detoxing may help you MENTALLY reset. Ridding yourself of cravings for refined foods, carbs, sugars and the like will help you make better food choices. Otherwise, you do not need to purchase supplements or the like to detox. Eating only raw vegetables for a week will do enough to make you appreciate eating ONE small chicken breast with nothing other than a bit of seasoning and a vegetable on the side. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Aside from detox, a breastfeeding Mother is STILL eating for two. Your baby is going to get the vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive from your body, almost regardless of what you eat, ALMOST. The real danger is that if you DON'T eat right, you're robbing yourself. You won't have the minerals and vitamins and energy to operate, to save yourself from osteoporosis, and who knows what else? Nature primed Mother's to give, and we literally give EVERYTHING of ourselves to our babies. Even Mom's who don't breastfeed still experience this, but breastfeeding Mom's continue to give of their bodies, hearts and minds to their children, long after their born. (This is not a reprimand for Mom's who could not breastfeed. This is also not something intended to discourage anyone from breastfeeding. It's hard, but SO worth it and I honestly cannot imagine not doing it.)
This is why it behooves a breastfeeding mama to take care regarding what she puts in her body, or on her skin. I have been having a hard time not only curbing my pregnancy like hunger, but choosing foods that were healthier and less fattening for me. I have had a hard time managing my time so that I can cook, but you know what? Even THAT is a bit of a generally accepted fallacy. When you have a high need baby or just a baby, the ability to manage your time becomes...difficult. MAYBE someone who lived life on a rigid schedule can manage to work around their baby, but personally, I believe that person is a rarity if not imaginary. I believe that someone who rigidly managed their lives before they conceived found that, once they became pregnant, they were on Mister Toad's Wild Ride or, life became so crazy and unpredictable that it takes some time to find one's footing.
A VERY small percentage of us are women who are multi-million industries that can afford help, personal trainers, access to every tool and apparel that help them not only manage their lives, but help their bodies and lives go back to the money making form they were before they had a baby. I'm not downing or judging those people, because I wish I were so lucky! I don't want a nanny, but I could use a housekeeper, cook, personal assistant and shopper! I could use a trainer, money to buy all the workout gear and garb to maximize my fitness and someone to keep me in check! Even though I try with all my might not to compare myself to those women, I can't help but feel disheartened that it's so hard for me to get my act together!
It's so easy for others to say, to give advice, and darn it if I don't know what I’d rather have in the absence of advice regarding things I could do to get myself back to my pre-baby weight!
Here's what I do know:
Stop judging. If you've managed to lose the weight, be kind. Allow others to celebrate your success, but leave it at encouragement and kindness, try not to goad or gloat.
I make choices that stall my weight loss, I know what they are, I make excuses, but I don't need ribbing or condescension. I would prefer acceptance. Even ten months after, even breastfeeding, I’m still heavy. I'm ashamed of it. I feel ugly and gross. My sex life and social life are hindered. I'm trying so hard to get my mind set in a way where I can still feel as if I’m Mothering 110% and making time for myself. I'm still trying to figure it out. I only gave birth TEN MONTHS ago. I'm not Angelina Jolie, who lost TWIN weight in mere months! I'm not a celebrity, I’m just a regular person who has always struggled with her weight and needs to find her feet again.
I know, I KNOW that I have to carve out some time for myself. I get told that by EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING. It doesn't mean that I do it. Take a poll of a hundred moms’, I bet you that less than ten percent report that they comfortably manage to nurture their children in an optimal way, (which differs) and manage to take time for themselves. I'm glad that this gets pounded in, but sometimes I just want a damn break.
Support, support, support! Understand, accept and only help when help is asked. If fries are an option on the menu, sell the salad. If ice cream can be had, offer berries as an option. Don't sabotage.
Not all breastfeeding Mom's lose the baby weight because they're breastfeeding. In fact, some studies suggest that some Mother's hold onto the baby weight until AFTER their done breastfeeding. One of the reasons why Pregnant Mother's gain so much weight during pregnancy is because they're reserving stores for when they breastfeed. Breast milk consists of much, but fat fuels it in part. My body loves to hang onto its fat. It takes me work, denial, alternative choices and exercise to not only lose weight, but keep it off. My body is still providing my child with nourishment; it still needs its fat. I could eat less, but I’d be starving. My body is fine with the fat it has, and MAYBE could stand to lose ten or fifteen pounds. I HOPE, HOPE, HOPE I can lose the baby weight easily after I’m done, but I’m not planning to stop breastfeeding until after Colin is one. It's the best for him if I try to go till he's two. We're at ten months and still going strong, so all signs point to the fact that I can do it.
Losing the weight IS a health issue, but it's also not. I've only been a Mother for nearly ten months. My baby's needs are more important. I shouldn't need to beg or ask forgiveness, it should just be the, "norm". There is so much pressure, and my desire to lose weight is pure vanity. I want to be more attractive to myself and to my husband. I want to feel confident having a family photo shoot, because I don't want my fatness to be immortalized in nice pictures with my Husband and Son. I want to look cute. I want to not be an embarrassment to my child, to myself and my Husband. Right now, I feel like I’m putting lipstick on a pig.
I just have to think differently. What worked before, doesn't work now. I want to find ways to make weight loss work. I want to make better choices, I just need to figure out how, and I’m starting to, especially with the whole, "Real Food" thing. It's just going to take time.
Do me a favor, when you see a Mom in the Market, with an infant under two, and you judge her as fat, don't be a bitch. Don't call her names under your breath, or in your mind. Smile at her with kindness. She's just trying to be the best Mom she can, and maybe she just needs to figure out that she can still be a great Mom and lose the baby weight. Not all of us are lucky enough to have the time.