Thursday, March 3, 2011

True or False

When you are trying to have a baby, there is no shortage of advice that people want to give you. What many think are helpful and wise suggestions become pretty routine to you when you have been facing infertility for several years. When I finally became pregnant and it looked like this baby was going to be here to stay, I realized that the advice doesn't quit! Ah, and it continues on and on well after your baby is born. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of good advice. Admitting that I need help or that I'm wrong about something has never been a weakness of mine. But I think we can all agree that sometimes unsolicited advice can be pretty annoying.

I'm going to address some of the advice we've gotten and predictions that turned out to be true and some that didn't, but the key words here are "for me." I don't mean for this post to be negative, but simply to show that not everything works out exactly the same way for every person. Something that works for me may very well not work for you, and vice versa. And I had never really understood just how true that was until I went through recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility. It's amazing how hard it is to find someone whose experience is exactly like yours. Sure, a lot are similar, but it's rare to find one exactly the same because everyone is coming from an entirely different place. We have different bodies, different problems, different doctors, and different outcomes. Then I came to understand how truly different and unique babies are. They may grow and develop over a similar timeline, but their personalities are certainly unique.

At the same time, I recognize that we can only speak from our own experiences. A lot can be said and learned from a good suggestion or word of mouth. At any rate, I'll keep this post light and try to share some of the good, the bad, and the silly when it comes to some of the advice and predictions I've heard over the past year or so.

1. You'll never read a book/watch TV/see a movie again once the baby comes. False.
Okay, I'm going to pretty much call this one "true" for me in the first month or so after the baby. It's hard to get into a schedule and figure things out in those first weeks. All you can think about is eating and sleeping (for the baby and for yourself), but after a little while you can begin to enjoy some of those things again. I used to hear this statement all the time. As far as reading goes, in my opinion if you love reading, you will find time to do it. Nursing has provided a great opportunity for me to continue to read (or to watch some TV shows on the DVR). It's at a slower pace, though, and these days I rarely choose it over sleep once I get in bed at night, but I have finished a few books in the past 6 months.
We have been to only one movie since September. Around my birthday in January, my sister-in-law came over to watch Lily for a few hours while my husband and I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. It was our first (and remains our only) outing without the baby, but we prefer to spend most of our time all together, the three of us. There are some sacrifices that I knew would come which I consider totally worth the trade-off.

2. Your breastfed baby will never sleep through the night. False.
I heard this more than once when I was expecting Lily. I was planning to nurse, and although I didn't really encounter any opposition, some people seemed convinced that my baby was going to be too hungry to sleep unless we gave her formula at night or started cereal at 4 weeks (yes, 4 weeks!). While I know it's true that breastfed babies need to eat a bit more often, I think Lily is doing a great job with sleep. She started giving us 6-7 hour stretches at night months ago and now sleeps for 9-10 hours before waking up to eat.

3. Time will pass by more quickly than ever. True.
I've said before than when you're in the middle of IF/RPL, the days seem to drag on but the years go pretty quickly -- meaning that before you know it, you feel like you've lost nearly a decade of your life. Well, ever since my daughter was born, I truly don't know where the days, weeks, and months have gone. All of the people who told me that the months after the baby came would feel much faster than the months I spent pregnant were totally right. I feel like Lily's first year will be over before we know it. She will be 6 months old in just a few short weeks and that seems impossible.

4. The assumption that our problems with fertility are over now that we've had a baby. False.
The truth is that we are enjoying life as a family of three right now and trying not to spend too much time thinking about what might come next. We aren't guaranteed another pregnancy, and we know that is our reality. Even if we should get that chance in the future, our concerns will be much the same as they were last year. Of course I hope that Lily might have a sibling someday. It does give me some reassurance that it could happen again now that a baby has survived in my body, but my record is still not impressive. Still, I hold on to the same promise that nothing is impossible with God.

5. Your life will be totally different. True.
I think that when people told us that our lives would change drastically, some meant it in a positive way and some in a negative way. And I won't lie to you and tell you that I think waking up every single day and taking care of a baby is easy, but I'm finally doing what I always wanted to do. My love for this baby makes even the hard days worth it. After wishing for her for so many years, I certainly don't take this privilege for granted! My life IS totally different now, and for that, I'm thankful.


Von said...

Ah the wonders of advice, love that one about breastfeeding and sleeping through!!
Yhe only advice I'll ever give as a veteran Mum is "Don't accept advice"

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

I'm always amused (once I have a moment to think rationally about it) at how some people think all pregnancies or miscarriages or births or babies are like theirs. I am not exempted from this group--I've definitely fallen in the "try this, it always works" trap myself.

Now that we have two (quite different) children, I hope I'm better about suggesting things that "might" work or have been effective "for our family"--or at least waiting until my advice is requested in the first place. :)

Jo said...

Thankyou Stacey for posting this I really enjoyed it. The " myths" you get told as a mum/expectant mum are the same over here is Australia as I have heard several of the ones you mentioned. I also noticed as a new mum the way it tends to be a race or a measurement of your skills as a mum that your baby is sleeping through the night. People started asking me when Xavier was only a few weeks old whether he was sleeping through yet. It makes you feel really unworthy when you have to keep saying no. As for the " never seeing another movie or reading another book again" I got told that a lot! A family member even went so far as to send out her wedding invitations, but instead of sending one to my husband and I, she sent us a note saying she did not invite us as we are expecting a baby soon and she realises "attending a wedding might be too hard". We were extremely offended and since then it is a running joke in our family that when you have a baby you also catch leprosy that makes you unable to have contact with other people anymore lol. xoxoxo

Alicia said...

I've been thinking about the same thing :) You expect the lame advice to end at some point, but it doesn't. Thankfully -We've had months if not years of practice dealing with people's advice.

So happy for your little blessing!

Journeymark Cards & Gifts said...

Thank you, Stacey, for speaking truth. As always, you capture the heart. She is so beautiful and I love seeing pictures of her growing into such a sweet little girl.

Love you,

andreajennine said...

Well said! I just keep coming back to the fact that babies are people - and every person is different.
Harry Potter is the only movie we've seen in theaters since Brandt was born, too!
Now that Brandt's almost a year, I find myself dwelling a lot on the questions of how and when there will be siblings.