Prepare for your world to turn upside down. You have given birth to this creature that will amaze you, mystify you, and at times horrify you and make you crazy. You will look at him and know that you couldn't possibly love anyone more than you love him. Just looking at him will actually make your heart hurt because you love him so much. But on the other hand, if bonding isn't immediate know that it will happen in its own time. It isn't always like the movies portray.
The next six weeks will be the hardest weeks of your life. A wise woman will tell you that each day that goes by is one less day to get through until you are out of the newborn stage. This is oh so true and something to cling to on the bad days (and there will be bad days.) But while clinging to this truth, don't let Destructo's newborn days slip away. That saying holds true the other way as well. He will NEVER be this young again. The days of squishy newborn babyness where he is completely dependent on you for everything are very numbered.
Some of the challenges you will face are day and night mix ups. Getting that baby in the sun during the day and keeping everything quiet and calm at night will soon remedy this. But don't be afraid to hold him all night if that is what it takes. You can't spoil a newborn. Also when you feel like he will sleep in the swing until he goes away to college, it's not true. Don't stress over getting him to sleep in his bed. He will do this in his own time and with very little fuss.
Exhaustion will affect you like never before. It is an exhaustion that you can't even imagine. I am pretty sure that it could be used as a torture device. You will get through this and one day you will sleep again. Although honestly I don't think you every really get to sleep well for quite some time. Even at 20 months old, Destructo will still occasionally have middle of the night scream fests and early morning wake ups. But it is so much better than it was.
Going back to work after 12 short weeks will be the hardest thing you have ever done. You are very lucky in that even at 20 months, your son still hasn't had to go into daycare. (Thanks a bunch awesome family.) But it still sucks to have to leave your precious little boy four days a week. Be thankful for the flexibility that your job allows you and the fact that your boss is a family man who understands your desire to only work 30 hours and supports breastfeeding. Pumping while at work will never be a problem. Don't let the fact that you have to work make you bitter. When it is God's time for you to stay at home, it will happen.
You will feel like you have no idea what you are doing nearly all the time at first and be afraid you are going to permanently screw up your child. You won't. Kids are quite resilient. Plus if you screw up Destructo you can always try again with a second kid!
But far and beyond, your biggest struggle and achievement in this next year will be breastfeeding. Just a sneak peak to say no matter how bad things get, you make it through and at 20 months are still breastfeeding occasionally. (Sidenote for my readers: I really really wish I actually had this letter when I was in the early days of breastfeeding. You just have no idea how much.) It does actually become the easiest thing in the world. In the mean time, you will go through hell and back to get there. But it is still worth it.
Pay attention to clogged ducts and immediately treat them with Advil and hot compresses and lots of pumping or nursing. Mastitis isn't fun, but even this you will get through. As you cry watching Destructo drink a bottle of formula because your supply has tanked from the mastitis know that you will get your supply back up and well down the road actually be able to donate 150 oz of breast milk to a baby girl who needs it. When you are having razor blade nursing sessions because of the yeast infections you get from the antibiotics you used to treat the mastitis, know that this too will pass. Grapefruit seed extract helps as does diflucan.
All the days you think about just giving up because your beautiful son will NOT latch and becoming an exclusive pumper, don't. He will catch on and by six weeks it will be easy. Speaking of pumping, you will hate and loath the pump but be eternally thankful for it since it enables you to exclusively breast feed your son the entire first year even though you are away from him four days a week. Then on the last pumping session, you will feel an actual sadness because in your heart you know it is just one more step towards Destructo not needing you anymore.
Know that ultimately you prove all the naysayers wrong. Your entire pregnancy people questioned your choice to cloth diaper and breast feed and skip purees. Well you stuck with it and proved everyone wrong. Yes you are a bit of a hippie, but hey there is nothing wrong with that. Remember your stubborn streak on days when Destructo shows his. It serves you well as an adult.
Speaking of cloth diapering, you might develop a bit of an addiction to collecting cute cloth diapers. This is okay just keep it in check or else you really won't be saving money by cloth diapering. This is probably the second best parenting choice you make in those early days as it saves money and truly is best for the baby. Plus it is awful fun to call Destructo a monkey butt when he is wearing a monkey diaper.
One final thing, prepare for your heart to absolutely melt when you pick your little man up out of his crib at four weeks and are greeted by the most amazing smile. It will make everything you have struggled through and the sheer exhaustion all seem worth it. The love you will feel for him at that moment will nearly be enough to make you cry. But just wait until you hear momma for the first time or see his faltering, wobbly first steps or hear that first I love you (which let me add you are still waiting on at 20 months.) You would go to the moon and back if that is what your son wanted.
Motherhood is a crazy, winding, and sometime rocky road but it is better than anything you can imagine. Hang in there. It gets much easier.
Your future self
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