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Things New Parents Should Know # 5 - Amnesia - Danny Danger Oz [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Things New Parents Should Know # 5 - Amnesia [Aug. 30th, 2008|12:49 am]
[mood |optimisticoptimistic]

I have spoken to many, many parents in the months before Lex was born. In fact I was asking questions of parents before Tracy was born. I knew I couldn't be prepared for what was to come, but I wanted as much advice and information as I could get, so that I could at least be less unprepared.

The most common things I was told were things like, 'oh there's nothing to tell, just enjoy them,' or 'nah, they're easy, you just feed one end and wipe the other,' 'none to give, you'll figure out what works for you,' and so on.

I have no doubt that it gets easier, but unless you're very good, very lucky, or have a fantastic support network, those first few days (at least) will be really bloody hard. Even when you're reasonably intelligent, well-prepared, have read as much as you can so you've gotten a grounding, gone to ante-natal & breastfeeding classes, etc. nothing can prepare you for the reality of what you're facing.

There is a little human being who is wonderful, who embodies the flesh and/or spirit of their parentage, whose every movement fills you with joy, it's special and amazing and beautiful - and at the same time it's the most terrifying being in the universe.

No matter how careful you are, there will be things you don't expect, or are different to what you expect, or are a complete left-field surprise. Some of these things are beautiful, some are scary.

Even with two of us, working together, backing each other up, giving the other breaks where we could, it's been bloody hard, tiring work. Infinitely rewarding, full of delights, but way harder than we were expecting, and we'd pretty much tried to prepare ourselves for something way harder than anything we'd previously experienced. Given we've lost one child and I've had a stroke, that's pretty impressive.

Everything has been pretty easy, in that there's been no illness or other nasty surprises, beyond a little nappy rash. So, even though things have gone pretty much as we expected, the stuff we expected to deal with has still been much harder and more overwhelming that we could have ever dreamed.

I have no doubt that new parents don't want to hear this, but I think it's worth hearing. Because when it's four in the morning, your baby won't settle and is in so much distress it's breaking your heart, you've got tears of frustration and tiredness running down your cheeks because you're exhausted, and you just don't know what to do - your only comfort is to know that others have been through it too, and they've not only survived but flourished and think it's worth it.

It's so worth it, and the times since have been so good, they've gone and given themselves amnesia.

They don't remember how hard that first few days after the birth were. And the other bad times just aren't that bad any more. And their amnesia only adds to your heartbreak and confusion. Because if everyone says it's easy and wonderful, then what the hell are you doing wrong?!

And the answer is, nothing.

You're doing your best, but without practical experience, nothing can prepare you for the intellectual and emotional learning curve you're in for.

Today we had the best day so far. Prior to that, we were getting more than a bit overwhelmed and run down. The plan to sleep when the baby slept wasn't working because when we weren't looking after the baby, or each other, there was so much else to do. Sharon was finding breastfeeding difficult, I was exhausted, but having trouble resting... it was hard!

But we've had a good day, and that's made all of it okay. Tonight Lex has changed the rules and been awake for six hours straight, and been unhappy for a chunk of that, but it's okay, we've had a good day. He's been screaming his way through nappy changes - but we had a good day. We now know there'll be other good days to come, so dealing with him tonight, while difficult, has been easy because we've now got hope once more.

And all it took was a single good day.

There will be other hard times, more sleepless tiring nights, times when he can't be settled and we're both feeling run into the ground, but none of that matters - we had a good day. We know we'll have another one.

And another.

And many more beyond that.

And that makes the rest of it seem not so bad. And the good days we have in future will make the hard times we are going to experience seem that much better too. It's all so easy now...

What was I talking about again?

[User Picture]From: prismfire
2008-08-29 03:14 pm (UTC)

I remember...

The first two weeks after my daughters birth were phenominally difficult. I thought I would never be able to make it. I needed sleep so badly and I hurt all over lol. My daughter was an extremely demanding child as an infant. I ate more often than not with one hand and was lucky to get through a meal without having to stop and tend to her. All that said.

The joy she has given my life is unparralleled. Shes given me reason to keep going through the tough times and she is the most amazing talented, caring thoughtful individual.

The first couple of weeks are the toughest... after that it gets easier.

PS.... I found that cornstarch or powder worked better than rash cream to keep them from developing nappy rash.

Edited at 2008-08-29 03:16 pm (UTC)
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From: fe2h2o
2008-08-29 03:24 pm (UTC)
I remember the first time I had a feed that didn't actually hurt! It was about day 10... that feed was enough to keep me going until they _stopped_ hurting—about 6 weeks... After that... it got better. But yes... the benefits of a single success are far reaching!
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[User Picture]From: purrdence
2008-08-29 03:52 pm (UTC)
I think you've summed up one of the main reasons why I seemed to be one of the few girls in my year at high school that *didn't* want to have babies right there and then. A disturbing amount of the girls were of the "Babies are so cute and cuddly!" mindset that thought all it was was dressing up baby and parading them around in their pusher and had NO idea of the reality. I remember one girl who got pregnant during year 12 complaining afterwards how the kid 'cramped her clubbing schedule'.
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[User Picture]From: emma_in_oz
2008-08-29 08:27 pm (UTC)
when pearl first came ome she ate for 1-1.5 hours about 8 times a day. now she eats for about 30 minutes about 8 times a day and i have way more of a handle on life
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[User Picture]From: drjon
2008-08-29 11:32 pm (UTC)
...I wanted as much advice and information as I could get...

I can't help but notice you don't actually offer any real concrete advice or information in this post...

(please note userpic ;}P> )
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From: livelurker
2008-08-30 12:04 am (UTC)
Even worse, some people remember and do it all again anyway.

Even worse, some people do it all again anyway, twice!
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[User Picture]From: bugs_jenny
2008-08-30 01:45 am (UTC)
Oh yes, it's those moments when they're crying & you don't know how to fix them that is the worst! When Will makes one of us cry because of that, we pass him off to the other one - I'm just glad we've both been home so we can do that. There _is_ this assumption that you'll just know what you're doing - and we don't! But, you know, you'll muddle through. Be cheered by the fact that Lex doesn't know any better ;-) And yes, the good days totally make it all bearable...
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[User Picture]From: kaths
2008-08-30 03:53 am (UTC)
Beautifully put. Really encapsulates the experience.

I'll never forget how hard it was for me in those first few weeks. Never. And I'll never tell anyone it was easy, or just to 'enjoy them' (I felt guilty for not appreciating and enjoying every moment... I was just trying to make it through to the next one).

Interestingly, I don't think I've had any parent say anything but that the first few weeks are incredibly difficult.

Some people get narky about being told 'it will get easier', but I found that helpful as I couldn't bear the thought of it not getting easier!

Each stage has its new challenges, but also its new blessings. Like the first smile, seeing them follow you with their eyes around the room, breastfeeding settling down, getting more sleep, taking them out and showing them off...
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[User Picture]From: sjkasabi
2008-08-30 08:42 am (UTC)
Am I allowed to say congratulations now?

*checks around and then shrugs*


And women get amnesia about menstrual pain too. I'm sure it's all part of nature's plan to make you put up with it for the good of the species.
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[User Picture]From: purrdence
2008-08-30 02:38 pm (UTC)
And women get amnesia about menstrual pain too.

Not this one!
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[User Picture]From: fuschia17
2008-08-31 08:25 am (UTC)
No, menstrual pain is different. It's not a choice. Most women don't forget; they learn to deal with it.
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[User Picture]From: fuschia17
2008-08-31 08:24 am (UTC)
I'm totally scared. By December I'm going to be going through a similar experience!

And excited - it's quite confusing.

But reading this is helping me - and it's important to know that people who can cope with anything (and that's how I see you and Shaz)sometimes have difficulties too.

Actually, everyone who has made a constructive comment with advice is helping me.
Thank you.
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