The first 12 weeks – the gift of hindsight and expectations

The beauty of a retrospective diary of the parenting journey is the gift of hindsight. The same of course can be said about the parenting experience the second time around. When I compare the first three months with Jocelyn to the first three months with Tyler it was DEFINITELY easier this second time with Tyler. (However, just as it was with Jocelyn I found the first three months easier than than ‘the darkness’ i.e. three to six months – but I’ll save that for another blog post!)

Perhaps the first time around was so difficult because I started on a bad footing with Jocelyn after having had the long labour, major blood loss and blood transfusion and then the D & C to remove my placenta – all of that left me anemic and exhausted from the start. Perhaps it was because I was a first time mom and had NO idea what to expect because, let’s face it, reading every parenting book and Googling the Baby Centre for everything still doesn’t prepare a parent for the reality! Perhaps it all comes down to expectations as I have been very aware of how my expectations have caused me to become very stressed and overwhelmed when things ‘don’t go as planned’. I had a friend whose little angel started sleeping through at 8 weeks (she did put in a lot of work while diligently following the Baby Wise book and I have seen that routine definitely does make a difference when it comes to sleeping – more on that in another post!) I had another friend whose little girl ‘only’ started sleeping through at 12 weeks. So I thought it was a realistic expectation that Jocelyn would sleep through by at least 12 weeks. Instead she continued to wake many times a night and I dreaded going to sleep at night in anticipation of what was to follow. She in fact only started sleeping through the night consistently at over a year old and is still not a great sleeper at 3 years of age!

So this time around with Tyler all the above factors were different.

Firstly, I had a different expectation with Tyler. This definitely made the first 12 weeks easier as I had not expected it to be easy. In fact, in many ways it was better than I had expected as he was easier than Jocelyn had been. Having no expectations at all is obviously the ideal but for many of us (I like to believe most of us and not just the people like me who seem to more desperately need to have some form of control illusion to hang onto!) we need to have some kind of expectation. In this case having a loose expectation – a preference rather than a should-  helps to allow some room for things to unfold as they do without it needing to be judged as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in relation to the expectation.

Interestingly, while Tyler also would cluster feed in the evenings he went to sleep by 8pm (versus 10/11pm like Jocelyn did initially) and he very soon dropped a feed so he was sometimes sleeping as much as 5/6 hours straight. How amazing for me! He did unfortunately pretty much stay awake from 4am most mornings which was not so amazing. Nonetheless, I was in a totally different space. I was observing how it all played out and was able to not judge (well, sometimes a little!) when there were difficult nights. It was a lighter and easier experience as a result – taking it as it comes.

Unfortunately Tyler developed digestive complaints from early in his life – bloating and cramping. I thought it was related to my milk coming in and after seeing a lactation consultant she diagnosed a possible dairy and lactose intolerance (we now know this is true) In addition, she said he appeared to have reflux (we also now know that this is true and was rather hard to deny at three months when it kicked in in full force!) and finally that an oversupply of milk was adding to his discomfort and reflux. I later discovered that an oversupply of milk as well as food allergies can cause the delicate microvilli projections of the intestinal wall cells (responsible for producing lactase to break down lactose) to be damaged. So it all links together. Working with the lactation consultant I managed to reduce my oversupply through block feeding and cut out a variety of foods from my diet. At the same time I took my son for a few sessions of NAET and believe that all of these things helped to some degree as his bloating and discomfort were reduced a fair amount, although he continued battling in the early hours of the morning specifically.

As with my post natal experience the first time around I developed mastitis a few times in the first 12 weeks – three times to be precise. With my postnatal experience with Jocelyn I began to suspect that mastitis was linked to poor immune functioning as well as overdoing it. This time around there was no doubt that this was the case and talking to a lactation consultant as well as doing some research showed that there is definitely a link between mastitis and compromised immune functioning. Of course rest is the best way to build up the immune system again. I was very busy in November and December getting our house ready to rent out while we were away and trying to make sure my daughter was adjusting well and having lots of mom time with a new baby in the house. The body is amazing and if you do not listen to the early signals to slow down i.e. fatigue and low energy the body WILL find a way to slow you down, hence the mastitis. The consciousness of breasts is around self-nurture, amongst other aspects. So if something is out of balance with the breasts your body is very likely telling you to nurture yourself better.

The holidays were lovely as it is is always good to just get away and see family, and of course there were more people to carry the load. Interestingly, and just a reminder of the mirroring of baby and mom, while I was more relaxed on holiday there were times that I put Tyler down and he simply just fell asleep – no rocking or any other kind of help needed – not even his dummy!

Back home we got into a bit of routine following holidays yet his sleep slowly started to deteriorate at night – waking more often and continuing to wake at around 4am and not really going back to sleep. It was becoming more and more clear that all of this, particularly the early morning waking was linked to reflux particularly, as well as general digestive complaints. On the brink of three months I did something I had been trying so hard not to do – I started to catastrophise. I compared Tyler to Jocelyn and began to panic that we were just going to have a repeat of the experience with Jocelyn and her reflux – making for a very dark and difficult three to six month period. Unfortunately, partly due to the reality and partly due to my shifted expectations that was exactly what happened. Instead of using my past experience positively it fuelled my fear and this fuelled my perceptions and expectations. I ended up realising my fears as my expectations fed my experience of reality.

Expectations are amazingly powerful and I will show how I also managed to use them to my benefit in the next blog.