New mother, old mother

We took our first plane ride with Baby O over Thanksgiving to Spokane.  You can't imagine two people more prepared for an event that would only last 50 minutes.  60 minutes max!  I had Olivia strapped into the Ergo carrier (a great baby product) as I walked through security.  When they took my bottle of breastmilk -which according to my research, is perfectly fine to take on a plane- I watched them like a hawk.  Having passed the breastmilk-bomb test, we carried on toward the gate discussing our plan to feed Olivia as we took off and descended, which is supposed to help babies' little ears.

Well, in the end Olivia slept happily through most of the flight.  My research and preparations and discussions with other moms had been helpful for pretty much one thing: keeping me calm.  And keeping my shoulders more or less relaxed as I held her and nursed her in my tiny airplane seat next to Jake, whose shoulders were similarly half-relaxed.

In my four months of motherhood I've noticed one thing that separates new moms and old moms; I think it's in the shoulders.  New moms hold their babies high with anxious shoulders.  Old moms hold babies with ease, like the baby was somehow a part of them that could not drop or break or even cry.  They are fearless

I started to notice this at a wedding we went to when I was about 6 weeks postpartum.  A few "old" moms asked to hold Olivia, and of course we were glad to oblige.  (They were not "old" as in elderly, but rather experienced.)  I remember watching one woman hold Olivia up high over her shoulder and pat her gently on the back, which she seemed to love.  I copied this technique immediately.  When my mom and my mother-in-law visited I watched them with the same kind of intense fascination.  They are naturals!  (Her Grandpas are naturals too, I have to say.  But this post is a little female-centric...sorry fellas.)
Grandma Lynnette holds Olivia as she's fussing at a restaurant.

Grandma Robin reads to Baby O with Grandpa Ralph looking on proudly.
When Olivia was first born there was about three days of honeymoon parenting.  I don't remember having any real difficulties with breastfeeding, diapering, holding, or anything else that needed to be done.  Issues started to arise after my milk came in, which often happens, and luckily we had support from the lactation consultants at the Birth Center.  But I noticed that my shoulders ached from holding her and changing her and when I breastfed, I tried so hard to find a perfect position and then hold it as still as possible so that nothing would go awry.  Unrealistic, I know.

The other tension I carried around was all these high expectations I had (and still have, to some degree).  I am a person who likes to research EVERYTHING.  When I don't know an answer, I need to find out.  So having a screaming baby who can't communicate any of her needs created a pretty stressful situation for me.  I tried to listen to old moms who said that babies just need to cry sometimes, and it's ok to set them down from time to time to get something done ... but I found this advice hard to follow.  It's getting better now.  But it's still hard.

The thing that old moms forget is that new moms are not biologically wired to let their babies cry.   We are hormonally programmed to quickly respond to our babies' cries.  But we are tragically ill-equipped at decoding them.  That takes time.  Hearing Olivia cry used to send my shoulders up to my ears in a heartbeat.  I still tense up at the sound of her cries, but it's a little easier.  Her needs are not so immediate now, and I can somehow interpret the cries better. 

"Why are we taking a picture of this?"  Olivia crying before the game.
Olivia crying to the hum of the shower.
 How did this happen?  I don't know exactly.  As I said to my good friend Missy a few weeks ago, "she is better now, but *I* am better too."  I am relaxing.  I'm not judging myself for not knowing what I don't know.  I'm a new mom!  And sometimes I just make it up as I go along.  And as a result, sometimes I find something that works.  Other times I copy the amazing moms I see around me, and that yields some success as well. 

I love being a mom, and I know it will get better and better.  I will be an old mom too someday.

Confident mama