Looking Back At What I've Learned {At 4 Months PP}

9:44 AM

Okay so if I could sum up my words of wisdom for soon-to-be FTM's (first time moms) I would say: "You don't know what you don't know. Someday you will know, and you will laugh at yourself."

You don't know what you will do to get to a good sleep routine. You don't know what kind of help you will need. You don't know how much your schedule needs to be flexible...heck, how much your heart needs to be flexible.

I think it's amazing and important to have ideals and goals in life. It's important to do your research and to know what you stand for. But it's also important to know that the best way to have any peace in this life is to let go of what needs to be let go of when it's time. Sometimes that means letting go of your ideal birth plan, sometimes that means letting go of your ideal sleep schedule, sometimes it means letting go of the vacation you so desperately need. Most wisdom in this life revolves around when to know to hold on and when to know to let go.

I look back at my dream of a homebirth and literally laugh. I wanted it so bad and having gone through birth, there is no way I would have wanted to be at home! I am well researched on it, I know for a low-risk delivery it is not an unsafe option. BUT, I also know what it's like to push the button on my bed 5 times throughout the middle of the night when I was having issues getting Isla to latch, thus resulting in a breastfeeding champ baby all thanks to my nurse who had nothing better to do than help me at 3am. I know not everyone has a great hospital experience but mine was superb...I couldn't speak more highly of the care I received. At home I would have probably just been weeping at my helplessness and sad that I would have been overwhelming Scott with the long list of help I needed all while he wasn't really sleeping either. I definitely would have another hospital birth...this time looking forward to it and not dreading it!

I also was against constant fetal monitoring until I experienced it in labour. I wanted freedom and wasn't interested in being stuck to monitors at the bed. Even in my more complicated labour I was still able to bounce on the ball and move around a bit, it wasn't all bad. I wasn't able to use the hospital's birthing tub. However, I found a huge sense of comfort and accomplishment from the constant fetal monitoring because it tracked my contractions. I could see the pattern as they came on, rose in intensity, and then dropped down again so even when I was in the thick of a hard contraction, I would see it dropping down and it truly helped me manage my pain. This is something I would honestly ask for in my next labour, and it's something I had plans to protest. The reality is that the fetal monitoring helped catch my babies heartrate drops, as certain positions would put Isla into distress. Spontaneous monitoring could have missed this. I know everything happens for a reason and I was grateful for the safety measures I had in place for my delivery.

I was against introducing a pacifier. I was worried of dental issues or having to wean her off it eventually but there is nothing more valuable around here than her soother. She generally is a pretty good napper and sleeps through the night and has since 3 weeks old. If she stirs, I pop her soother back in and she's happy. I know some babies don't take a pacifier so what works for me won't work for everyone. My mother-in-law was the one to give it to Isla when she was 5 days old and we never went back. Another reason I was delaying the introduction of the soother is because I had read about "nipple confusion" where breastfeeding babies start having latch issues if you introduce a soother or bottle too soon. Well, Isla also had a bottle introduced as soon as my milk came in and nipple confusion was never an issue. Her soother is also the cutest thing...we have the all natural rubber Natursutten pacifier from Serenity Birth Studio in Barrie and love it!

I think aside from little things here and there, the greatest thing I've learned so far is how invaluable your partner is on this journey. Single moms (or moms who do it alone) deserve all the accolades and bows and cheers cause honestly I have no idea how they do it. I guess you just do what you have to do. Everyone told me when having a baby to kiss sleep goodbye, to kiss "me time" goodbye, to kiss friend time goodbye, and to kiss couple time goodbye. I have found that everything has definitely changed, but it isn't horrible for us like some people made it sound. We are definitely super thankful Isla is a good sleeper, but we definitely fought for that with our schedule. Our night routine is pretty bullet proof and Isla fights it almost every.single.night and we don't give in and alter it. Scott's advice is "don't let baby win." Time to my self is definitely a lot harder to come by...I haven't had a night out or anything like that but for me what is my saving grace is just some time to myself if Isla has some good naps that day and especially time for a bath in the evening a couple times a week while Scott spends time with Isla where I can relax and shut off for a bit. I don't feel this desperate need for alone time, I just love little breaks to recharge and when I get those, I feel amazing! Friend time is maybe more sparse but we still see friends. We have gone out for dinner dates with friends and Isla just chills in her car seat. As a couple, we haven't had date night out alone yet but we also didn't realize there is a happy medium. A lot of people said to us "we haven't gone out for dinner in a year" but we just take Isla everywhere. We go for drives, get Starbucks, go for walks, go out for dinner, etc. and even though Isla is there, it doesn't not feel like a date...it's just a bit different. To be honest, my anxiety would likely make it hard for me to enjoy a date night and leave Isla somewhere. I'd probably have to cover myself in essential oils and order a few drinks at dinner! I thought I would fight for "space" but I really don't. I love having Isla around and being close to her and when there is a seperation from her I feel anxious. She is still in her bassinet and I am not in a rush to move her to her own room...I love the comfort of having her beside me and being able to hear her sweet breathing in the night. I never foresaw how attached I would be to her in that sense but it's really a love you can't imagine.

So in summary, I have learned to trust my instincts. I have learned that it's okay to change your mind, and it's okay to stick to your guns. I feel like I haven't massively betrayed any of my prenatal ideals that I went into parenting with, I just realized there is great value in being bendable until you find what works. I didn't think I needed to give Isla a soother and I did. I didn't want to become co-sleepers, and we don't. During the tough first few weeks she definitely slept with us on occasion but to be honest I was wayyy too anxious to sleep well with her there. I felt like we were going to squish her or a blanket would end up over her. I don't judge that it works for some people (and for some it's the only way they DO get sleep) but for us it was just not something we wanted to become a habit. I thought she would move to her crib around 4-6 months and so far the way I see it going is if she is moving to her crib, the crib is moving to our room. I just don't yet feel like I will sleep well if she isn't here with us where I can see her and hear her clearly. Maybe that will change by 6 months. I didn't want Isla to watch TV too much and she doesn't, it's only on maybe 1-2 hours out of the entire day/evening which I always felt okay with since I am not wholly against TV at all, just against it being on constantly in our home. The only thing I feel actually disappointed with is our current diet. It's so hard to find time and energy to make great meals, and our kitchen was also overrun by mice all summer so I avoided even going in there. I wish I was more on top of a meal routine but thankfully we have finally gotten the mice population out and yesterday I disinfected the whole kitchen space so that I can finally feel happy in there. I ate so healthy prior to pregnancy so eating like junk goes against my ideals for sure and I feel guilty about that. I can't wait to work on this especially cause I love cooking and love great meals, I just haven't yet found balance and routine in this area.

The best thing I could say to myself during the hard moments over the past 4 months is "you're going to miss this." If there is one thing you hear from seasoned veterans in the parenting field it is "it goes by way too fast, cherish each moment" and I have tried very hard to cling to that wisdom. Isla is already no longer a newborn. Within months she will have developed tons of new skills, including trying food. She is growing so fast and it seems every few days she is showing she understands something new. Right now she is testing her vocal chords by seeing how loud she can leisurely scream while smiling but she also says "hi" as her go to sound and says "hi" back to me. I thought I was crazy but I've had friends confirm it. Yesterday she went from laying on her back across my belly to sitting up on her own. She loves standing and is so freaking strong! She has rolled off me but doesn't roll on her own yet - she still hates tummy time though her neck is now very strong. She loves her exersaucer because she gets to stand. She went in that a few weeks ago and it's become a great tool when I need to get stuff done.

This past month has been a tough month around here as our younger dog Milo was just recently diagnosed with cancer - large cell lymphoma. He's been having digestive issues for months which we thought was due to a new dog food and after trying to solve the issue and having no luck, we ran blood work and started him on meds. Everything seemed to be improving great and he was gaining a bit of weight and then while we were in the city shopping, we got a call from our friend Hayley who lives in our apartment, saying she found Milo in the backyard in the grass unable to move. We rushed the hour and a half home and loaded him up to the emergency vet an hour away. They did more blood work, more meds, and suggested if things didn't improve to come in for ultrasound. He was feeling great and acting normal but I decided to just book the ultrasound later that week as I had been suspecting that maybe he swallowed a foreign object since he is quite the scavenger. I said to Scott "I know it's not cheap but let's just have peace of mind that there is nothing stuck in there!" He went in for ultrasound and that's when everything got crazy and began to spin. The vet, expecting to find nothing, found a large mass in Milo's intestines. He said it could be a foreign object but there was also a shadow on his Kidney which made him worry it could be cancer. We decided to have surgery to remove the mass and the surgery was unsuccessful - the tumour was so intertwined with his major blood vessels which bring blood to his bowels and other major organs that the vet feared Milo would not survive it, so he took a sample of the mass to send for testing and closed Milo back up. Picking Milo up from surgery was so tough...to see him like that, so weak and drugged. When the tech brought him to me Milo was in a blanket groggily looking around a bit scared and as soon as I held him in my arms he shut his eyes and fell fast asleep. The hardest part was getting the phone call while driving that they couldn't remove the mass. The vet on the phone told me this was a tough conversation to have, but we do have the option of not waking him up from surgery. I was so distraught as Scott had taken him the hour to the vet that morning before I even woke up...I wasn't prepared for the surgery to fail and I definitely wasn't prepared to let Milo go when I hadn't even said goodbye. I was made aware that with treatment, it could buy Milo another year-year and a half of life and without treatment, it would be a matter of a couple months. To only possibly buy him another year, one full of painful treatments, stressful drives, and lots of medication, we just don't feel treatment makes sense. Since there is nothing that can really be done, we are just enjoying our little guy as long as we can. This weekend we went for a lovely walk as a family and Milo did great. It was hot and for the walk home we put him in with Isla in her stroller but he walked a good thirty minutes on his own! He is also being fed like a king now because obviously his digestive issues aren't getting any better...might as well just let him enjoy himself. It is so heart wrenching and I don't know when it will get easier but I am just trying to stay focused on the good things. It is definitely hard going through what moms know as "leap 4" with a very sick and needy dog too. For a few days Milo couldn't even walk so I had to carry both of them everywhere, carry him outside, bring his food and water to him, force pills down his throat, etc. I can't say it's been easy. I have felt at the end of my rope many days over the past couple weeks but I just try to take it one day at a time and know tomorrow is a new day. God, essential oils, coffee, and my amazing hubby have gotten me through what has been one of the hardest times. I love our Milo so much, much more than just a household pet. He has been my shadow, companion, bestie, and snuggler for the past 5 years and it's just so hard to think of him not being here. It's so not fair but life isn't fair...so I just try to cling to what makes me happy right now.

Isla is a dream and a joy and we are so grateful for her. She makes us laugh all day long, her smile is infectious, and she gives our lives a a whole new meaning. It isn't always easy but it's always worth it. That pretty much sums up 4 months of parenting so far! As always, here is a bunch of photo spam from the last month :)

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