When I was pregnant, I was adamant about doing everything naturally. A natural delivery was only part of this plan. We were going to swaddle! No Boppy Pillow on this girl’s registry! Our baby would be toted in a sling! Cloth diapers only for this munchkin! After all, old school mommies are the best mommies. Guess how many of those we accomplished?
As I watched my intentions vanish into the distance while my life became simultaneously easier, I felt as though I were cheating. If mothers had been doing these things for centuries, why couldn’t I? Giving in and using modern developments like the Halo and baby carriers meant I just wasn’t trying hard enough.
Eventually I realized I was. I tried to deliver naturally. I tried to swaddle my baby. None of these things worked. Recently I received a Summer Infant Swaddleme from another mom. I commented on how I couldn’t have enough of these because Lily spits up on them at night. Her response? “I felt like I was cheating, but these are great.” Hallelujah! Guess what? She had tried swaddling first, too. We weren’t cheating. We were doing what was best for our babies. Cheating is scheduling a C-section without medical reason, or bringing a nanny along on your lunch dates. So here’s my bit on how I realized that “giving up” on each of these things I felt so strongly about really wasn’t giving up at all.
#1: Cloth diapering: We were all stocked up on Best Bottoms. They were supposed to be easy to use, even for the reluctant caregiver or family member. And they are. However, they are simply too big for even hefty newborns like my own. She was swimming in them when we tried at about 2 weeks. Thankfully my sister in law anticipated this and had gifted us an Honest Company diaper cake. We used those for about 3 weeks, but now we are all cloth, all the time.
I make pooping in your pants look adorbs.
#2: Swaddling: Around month 7 of my pregnancy, Ryan and I watched a video on swaddling (the baby whisperer one). We were really into this concept, and excited we were going to do the right thing–the thing everyone in every non-Western culture knew was best–and swaddle our baby. We would not be using that Halo sleep sack the hospital gave us! Guess what I’m using all those expensive Aiden and Anais swaddle blankets for? Burp cloths. I ripped into that sleep sack before even leaving the hospital. She just likes to flail her arms around and breaks out of a swaddle. Plus her hands keep her entertained when she’s awake at night, and sometimes she can stick them in her mouth.
#3: Boppy Pillow: Pre-nursing, I thought Boppy Pillows were a sign of weakness. Now I know they’re the same as the regular bed pillows our fore-mothers used, just shaped differently. Side note: I have a Mobo, which is a less expensive Boppy and it has a vibrating thing inside.
#4: Slings: I had visions of myself walking with Lily in a sling through parks and down village streets, catching the approving and jealous eyes of onlookers. Riiiiight. Lily hated the sling. You know what she loves? Carriers. She screamed when I stuck her in the sling, and fell right asleep in the carrier.
#5: Natural Deliveries: Ryan and I planned on having an epidural-free delivery. His aunt did Lamaze classes with us. I listened to hypnosis apps (that’s a lie–I never made it all the way through without falling asleep). Simply having been an athlete and running through pain made me feel prepared. We discussed my plans to take Nubain if I felt I needed it. I didn’t make a rigid birth plan because I wanted to make sure that after the fact I could love on my baby and not be hung up on my delivery not going exactly my way. I got induced and a few hours later things started picking up pretty quickly. I decided to get Nubain at 5pm, when I was 3cm dilated. The Nubain didn’t touch the pain or help me relax, but it did make me dilate 4cm in two hours. My contractions were abnormally long with extended peaks, and I had less than a 10 second break between each one. Two contractions after I saw fear spread across my notoriously calm husband’s face, I asked for an epidural. My nurse, who had been very supportive of me not getting an IV or extensive pain meds, agreed it was time. When my nurse from the previous night came in afterwards, she said “This is what epidurals are for. They’re not for those women who come in and have two contractions and give up.” She was referring to the fact that the Pitocin had made my delivery completely “unnatural”. This helped me realize that having a natural birth in very unnatural circumstances isn’t necessarily realistic. Would I have an epidural again? Probably not. But that’s because I don’t plan on getting induced ever again.
Can’t feel my legs, but I can feel that little girl.