Ten years ago I had just had Zach. I didn’t put much thought at all into parenting stuff, and I didn’t put any thought at all into labor. I didn’t put thought into breastfeeding or circumcision or vaccinations or co-sleeping or, well, anything. I had just been trying to get through my junior year of high school and praying that he stayed in until I was done with the school year and that, please Lord, my water wouldn’t break while I was at school.
After he was born we did breastfeeding and bed sharing. Zach was such a sweet and easy baby and he made my first year as a mom such a breeze. I never put thought into if were going to be breastfeeding or not. I was raised seeing my mom breastfeed my younger siblings and my aunt breastfeed my cousins; it’s what moms did, so, I did. He was exclusively breastfed until I returned to school in the fall, and continued breastfeeding until he was about one. My favorite time of the day was coming home from school and nursing him. It wasn’t until years and years later that someone pointed out how odd it was for a 17 year old high school student to go into breastfeeding so unquestionably and continue doing it for a year. He also continued to sleep in my bed until right before Ryan was born.
Eight years ago I was 19 and Ryan was six months old. I’d like to say that I went into Ryan’s pregnancy and birth a little more educated than I did Zach’s, but honestly, anything more I knew at that point was just from experience with Zach. I knew I didn’t like my last doctor’s ways, so I changed doctors. I didn’t enjoy the pain of birth, so I made sure I got adequate pain medicine throughout labor. I knew of more to ask my doctors about in regards to the overall health of myself and Ryan during my pregnancy. But all of that was about it.
I ended up not only not bed sharing with Ryan, Ryan didn’t even sleep in my room. He wouldn’t sleep well in the bed with me so when John and I married a few months after he was born we just moved him and the crib into Zach’s room. Also, he wasn’t breastfed. I tried breastfeeding Ryan. I really, and desperately, wanted to. It hadn’t been so long since Zach had stopped and I still remembered the love and connection and joy I felt when nursing him. There were many, many tears over the fact that for some reason Ryan wouldn’t nurse. He wouldn’t even latch on.
Five years ago I was 22 and Bella was just a few months old. I was so nervous and had been fighting my doctor on the idea of a c-section. I had had more time and experience in parenting and I went into the doctor’s office for my first visit prepared with all of this information and research and how I would be doing this, this, and this and definitely not any of that, that or that. I was going to breastfeed, and bed-share, and not vaccinate and I most definitely wasn’t going to blindly listen to my doctor and get a c-section just because Bella was stubbornly transverse.
Instead I ended up with a two day induction and by the time she was one year old I felt pretty firmly like a parenting failure. She was exclusively breastfed for the first 5 months of her life, but after being diagnosed as failure to thrive, and showing such huge improvement once being switched to formula, she quickly stopped showing an interest in nursing. However, I did hold firm in most of the rest, and after more research and talking with her doctor we decided on delayed vaccinations due to all of the health issues she had to struggle through her first year from being failure to thrive.
Two years ago I was 25 and Mason was three months old. I still held firm to all of my thoughts and research that I had done with Bella’s pregnancy, and I was even more vocal on not wanting a c-section or even an induction, I didn’t care if Mason measured 6 – 6.5 pounds at my 36 week ultrasound. Ryan was projected to be 10 pounds and he was barely 6, so I had little faith in their weight predictions.
To this day I still have nightmares over Mason’s birth. It was some scary stuff. However, all of the rest has been as wonderful as Zach’s time as a baby was. The only downside being that Mason is now two years old and still doesn’t sleep through the night. Our breastfeeding journey has done so much to heal my past scars over Bella and Ryan’s. Our moments of cuddling at night are some of my most cherished parts of the day. I’ve fallen in love with things I never thought that I would, such as cloth diapers and baby carriers. Unlike the majority of my previous time in motherhood, I’m a full time stay-at-home mom. I’m not in any form of school or work. My days revolve around the kids, housework, and enjoying my precious few moments of solitude. I do things like knit and read my Bible and use a computer to create art, things that seventeen year old me would be in slightly nauseated shock over the thought of.
Right now I am 27 and am 17 weeks pregnant with my 5th baby. I’m actually looking into information about c-sections as this baby seems to be on track with Mason in the growth department. I’m also looking into more natural birthing information, because while I might be more accepting of an eventual c-section, I’d still like to try to avoid one. However, I’m not violently opposed to one this time around. I am also deeply considering not bed sharing with this baby. I won’t mind him or her being in our room, but I think I’m ready to not have kids or babies in my bed anymore. This is also the first time going into pregnancy with plans of not finding out baby’s gender and with plans of not sharing any sort of name ideas with others. Both of those are things that would never even have crossed my mind as possibilities even with Mason.
I’m sharing all of this to show you that just year to year in life – especially in life as a mom – you change a lot. Things you fervently believed in one year you might find yourself ambivalent about another year. Things you couldn’t even picture yourself doing might become so commonplace that you don’t even think about it anymore. When I dreamed of labor ten years ago it was a nightmare that involved an octopus, a giant cake type stage, and mutant babies. (I seriously kid you not, it was a reoccurring dream.) Now when I dream of labor it’s nightmares of real life complications and babies coming out not breathing. Ten years ago I threw away baby clothes that got any significant amount of poop on them. Now I use cloth diapers, and cleaning poop out of stuff has become an art form. Life changes and changes you and you should never feel like you have to be set in one way or path, because the thing is, as soon as you are, life will throw you a curve ball and you’ll have to adjust. You just will. And life won’t be worse for it, it might not be better, but it won’t be worse – it will be life.