My Journey Into Parenthood
Fourteen years ago, I went into parenthood so very confident…and naive. I was a labor and delivery nurse. I spent many nights at work teaching new parents to soothe their fresh babies, and was a master swaddler and baby settler. I had nannied for newborn triplets through nursing school. As a result, I (mistakenly) thought that parenthood would be a breeze.
However, my own baby would not settle. He spit up before, after, and in between each feed. He cried for the majority of his waking hours, sleeping in 45 minute chunks, and only if he was held in an upright position. He required constant bouncing and walking, a tight swaddle, and complete darkness to sleep. I could not shoosh enough myself, so I held a blow dryer for white noise.
We tried reflux medications, chamomile tea, co-sleeping, raised mattress, chiropractic adjustments, gripe water, various baby carriers, and changes to my diet; all with seemingly no change. And through it all, I felt like a complete failure. Like I should be able to do this. To nourish my baby without him screaming in agony.
I was sleep deprived, and so angry at all the parenting books that made this seem so simple: Just respond to your baby and hold your baby and all will be well. Well, clearly I was doing it all wrong because none of it worked with my son.
I do not share this to scare expectant parents, or even because I feel like my experience was that much different from the challenges most new parents face. I share this because my greatest regret is that we didn’t ask for help. We mistakenly thought that this was our burden to bear alone. But I was so very wrong, and as a result, we all suffered needlessly.
My experience with my own baby taught me so much, and the learning continues to this day! But more than anything, it taught me that we are not meant to do this alone. Ask for help from family, friends, postpartum doulas or whoever you can. You’ve got this, friend! And I’ve got you.