I remember when my giant of a man child, Bo was a baby. He was the first of my six kids and basically my “trial & error” child. He came out literally 10 pounds, not the figurative, “Yeah, my baby was huge. He was practically 10 pounds”. No, he was literally 10 pounds 0 ounces…to put that into perspective, he was 3X bigger than Reese was when she was born. He was so big that my siblings called him “Uncle Bo”. He was my stay puffed marshmallow man! As a result, Bo was hungry 126% of the time.
If you have ever been a nursing mom, or especially if you ever plan to be, there is one thing that you need to know that no one ever was 100% straightforward about. Nursing is excruciatingly painful, at least for me it was, especially with Bo. I would nurse him and the second he was done I would burst into tears in anticipation of his next hungry feeding. As he attempted to latch on, my body would tense up and I would feel the shock of that never felt before pain jolt up my spine the moment he began to eat. I used to joke that it felt like my boobs were being rubbed by a sandpaper conveyer belt with electric shocks directed right for the nipples. I would pump to try to rid myself of the possible infections that would come with engorgement and I would pump a pink liquid resembling Nestle Strawberry Quick. Seriously horrifying! Now if that isn’t a nightmare of a visual, I don’t know what is. For all you new moms, I have your back! I feel your pain! I stand with you in destroyed chapped nipple solidarity!
The day that the pain finally disappeared was a miracle! It had been 8 weeks of hell, but I had pushed through and Bo and I became attached at the boob for the next year. We made it through and that horrifying experience was in the rear view mirror. Nursing then became my favorite but not until after walking through the fire.
Bo had been in the NICU for a week before he came home. He had something medically nick named “wet lungs” where the baby doesn’t release all of the amniotic fluid from their lungs. He couldn’t breathe well so they swept him away soon after birth. The NICU is where I learned all the magical secrets of the swaddle. If I could have gotten a degree in baby swaddling, I would be considered a world renowned expert. Not exaggerating at all.
He slept so much better when he was bundled tight. And I mean bundled tight! I would wind him so tight that his arms were totally trapped at his sides and only his little fingers could wiggle. But he loved it! He would feel his arms swaddled against his sides and immediately his little eyes began to get heavy and he would sleep anywhere, as long as he was in his blanket. I have the distinct memory of swaddling him when he was nine months old. I called him my yardstick baby. He was SO long and wrapping him like a burrito just exaggerated that. I remember joking to my sisters that when Bo went off to college I was going to have to teach his roommate how to swaddle him before bed. I was joking but part of me was starting to worry it might be the case!
Well, fast forward 11 years and guess what, Bo is not being swaddled anymore! He is free to use his arms however he sees fit while he sleeps!
Then there was potty training. I had read all of the articles about early potty training. I had my arsenal of treats and Diego tighty-whities ready to go. As it turns out…. those articles about how to potty train your child in 3 days….well, they didn’t apply to Bo. I once again began to visualize his poor college roommate when he realized he was going to have to change Bo’s diapers. Like I was handing off the #momlife baton. He was 4 when he finally decided he was done with diapers…borderline one of the happiest moments of my life seeing him go to the bathroom. The month before preschool, no less. Miracles really do happen!
So why am I saying all of this? Because as moms we are so hard on ourselves. Motherhood, especially with the first…the Trial and Error baby. We have a vision of how it should be, how it is on social media, but that just isn’t reality. Bo still is my test baby. Whether it is conversations about the birds and the bees or teaching him all the secrets of good hygiene; I am still figuring it out as I go along. And we are surviving, making it through the weird and the hard times! At least I am done with the pumping strawberry quick phase…that was extra weird! But, we survived! You will survive too!