Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

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This week marks my 25th week of pregnancy — I’m just about six months along, and I’m starting to see the finish line faintly in the distance. The last couple of weeks I’ve really started to feel pregnant: I’m short of breath and get crampy sometimes when I walk a lot or walk too fast; it’s getting difficult to bend over to put on Jackson’s shoes or pick up something from the floor. I get headaches, heartburn, insomnia, and my favorite: constipation. Oh, it’s all good times! But, mostly, I’m grateful I get to experience all this unpleasantness, and I’m even more grateful it will be over in about 3 – 3 1/2 months and I’ll have a sweet baby girl to show for it. (And I’ll be done being pregnant forever!). I’m also grateful winter coat season is just about behind us because I seriously cannot zip mine up anymore, and I’m eager for the ease of simple sun dresses and flip flops, so bring on the heat, I say!

As the due date gets closer and closer, I’ve been thinking about life with a newborn again. Granted, those three months or so fly by — as do all the months after them — but, since this will be my last time mothering a newborn, I am hoping I am able to enjoy it somewhat. I did not enjoy it the first time around. In fact, much of parenting my first baby was more difficult than enjoyable, for a variety of reasons (which, of course, have nothing to do with my love for Jackson), and I am hoping that this time around some of those variables will be different enough that the experience will be a more pleasant one.

The first time around, I felt such a crisis of identity and put so much pressure on myself to be, like, this super mom right out of the gate. And since there are so few ways to measure your success as a parent in those early weeks and months — basically, the kid just needs to be fed, clothed, and kept alive — I obsessed over breastfeeding, which I was unsuccessful at, despite trying so hard, due in large part (maybe even entirely) to the breast reduction surgery I had when I was 19. I rented a hospital-grade breast pump and pumped at least six times a day, for 30-40 minutes each time (in addition to the hours I fed Jackson a bottle and bounced and swayed him as he cried and changed his diapers and soothed him as best I could). It was painful and degrading. I was lucky if I pumped three ounces in a 24-hour period (which is a fraction of what a baby needs to survive; obviously, we were supplementing with plenty of formula). I felt defeated and exhausted, and was losing valuable time I could have been bonding with my baby or getting some much-needed rest.

This time, I am not going to rent a breast pump. This time, I already know I’m a good mom. I don’t need to prove anything to myself or anyone else. I just want to enjoy my baby, enjoy the experience, and do the work needed to ease Jackson through this big transition so he continues to feel safe and loved and like his place in this family is as secure as always. Giving myself the permission to actually enjoy myself — whether that’s a realistic goal or not — feels like the best way to be a good mother. It feels so good, actually, that I have to stop myself from telling other new mothers to do the same. We’re all on our own path, after all. I just think about where I was and what I went through with Jackson in his first few months — honestly, I was kind of depressed (which turned out to be a symptom of my then newly-diagnosed thyroid disorder, which is now closely monitored and under control) — and I hope that other new mothers who might be experiencing similar feelings know that they have many, many years ahead of them to measure their value as a mom. “Just enjoy this,” I want to say to them. But it’s not my place, so I’ll say it to myself: Enjoy your baby when she comes. She’ll be your last.

It’s April now and early hints of spring are popping up around the neighborhood. This time next year, I’ll be pointing out new buds on the trees and the first of the crocus flowers to my daughter. We’ll pick up her big brother from school and go to the playground and she’ll take her first ride on the swing and I’ll tell her how much fun we’re going to have, she and her brother and her daddy and I. “Enjoy this,” I’ll say. “It’s your first Spring. And we’re so happy you’re here to share with us.”

33 comments… add one
  • avatar

    MissDre April 2, 2015, 8:55 am

    #1. Way to make me cry.
    .
    #2. I hope I look that good when I’m (someday) pregnant!

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 2, 2015, 12:24 pm

      Aw, thanks! I’m sure you will make a beautiful pregnant woman some day.

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  • Lianne

    Lianne April 2, 2015, 9:00 am

    Love this. Such important things to remember: enjoy this and don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Great messages to anyone who is open to hearing them.

    Thanks for sharing – I for one really appreciate it!

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  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite April 2, 2015, 9:05 am

    This. I wish more people would listen to well-reasoned thoughts like this. Many do.

    There’s someone I want to stay connected with for business purposes on social media, many of the groups we do are run through those sites. She’s one of the main leaders of our team and I’ve only known her for a couple years through a high school friend of mine. As she tells her story it’s clear she’s gotten increasingly extreme views based on her not wanting to blindly follow the pack and have a different mentality.

    But she doesn’t see that it’s happening to her again but in different ways. I try not to question her choices (even though some of them affect those around her – like planning to use essential oils rather than vaccinations based on her own personal research) but she comes off as so passive aggressively judgmental especially since she has been expecting that I find myself judging her.

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  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki April 2, 2015, 9:34 am

    I think I needed to hear this today. I’m in the process of trying to figure out what I’m going to do as far as my maternity leave and how our household will adjust to the decreased income for those few weeks and it makes me think of other things. I’ve parented before, but never for someone under 5. And I want to breastfeed so badly that I worry that my stressing about it will make it nearly impossible. Plus having to go back to work when he’s 12 weeks will make it even harder because I’ll have to pump enough to send to daycare with him.
    I think I just need to learn to relax and trust myself. I know I’m a good parent (at least once they’re 5+). I know that as long as I do my best, I’m unlikely to do any kind of irreparable damage. I know I have an awesome husband to support me and the best mom anyone could ask for right next door if I need her. But the bigger my belly gets, the more I feel him kick, the more I realize he’s a real tiny person who is going to depend on me for everything. And I can’t even keep plants alive. (But I’ve got pets and they live longer than they’re supposed to, so that’s gotta be something).
    Thank you Wendy for your honest accounts of this whole parenting thing. It’s really helpful for those of us who tend to stress and think that we’re alone in our struggles. Turns out, a lot of us go through the same things.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 2, 2015, 12:28 pm

      Thanks, honeybee. Hope you’re feeling well and enjoying all the kicks! I just had my glucose tolerance test this morning — that’s where you drink this really sweet gatorade-like beverage and then wait an hour before getting a blood test to check for gestational diabetes — and the sweet drink made the baby go wild in my belly (big, big kicks and flips).

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki April 2, 2015, 1:41 pm

        I have my glucose tolerance test in a few weeks. I’ve had to have one done before for non-pregnancy related issues and that stuff was so sugary. I didn’t think it tasted as bad as most people say it does, but it wasn’t exactly delicious either. I am feeling pretty darn good these days. I get tired easily and can’t breathe if I move around too much, but its all worth it when I feel him in there kicking my spleen 🙂 He seems to react to my moods (or probably more accurately the physiological effects of my moods) fairly well and when I’m upset its like he’s trying to fight his way out to help me. And he loves when my husband puts his hand on my stomach. He goes crazy.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom April 2, 2015, 12:49 pm

      For breastfeeding. I got the book “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” before my son was born and it helped tremendously because it described in detail how to breastfeed. It talks about latching on which is one of the biggest problems a new mom has with a new baby and how to tell if the baby is latched on correctly. It shouldn’t hurt so if I does detach the baby immediately and try again. Breastfeeding is a learned art by both mother and baby. Hospitals have lactation consultants but you spend such a short amount of time in the hospital that you don’t get much help from them. The book also has a lot of parenting tips and if you don’t agree with them just skip them. The breastfeeding information is solid and well worth reading before he baby is born.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki April 2, 2015, 1:41 pm

        I’ll have to look into that. Anything that might help!

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom April 2, 2015, 3:26 pm

        I don’t know why but breastfeeding isn’t easy. Dogs and cats have babies and can immediately feed them easily but that doesn’t work for people. It’s been 24 years so it’s hard to remember specifics but I think it took me at least a week to learn to breastfeed my son. It was so difficult that my husband suggested that we switch to formula but I really wanted to try to breastfeed and then suddenly it was easier. We both finally got it figured out so don’t feel bad if it seems impossibly difficult.

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  • avatar

    Jane63 April 2, 2015, 9:42 am

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing this.

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  • niki

    niki April 2, 2015, 10:05 am

    I needed to hear this today too. I’m 28 weeks and change and I’ve started worrying about all the changes we’re about to under go, especially for my 3 year old. We started setting up the nursery and she didn’t react well to the change.
    .
    I remember the PPD an anxiety I felt after the birth of my daughter and I’ve already started making decisions that will hopefully help. I’ve decided to formula feed. I was unable to breastfeed my first and it caused so much anxiety. This time I’m not going to allow that stress to exacerbate my PPD. I won’t wait several months to seek help for PPD if I feel it seeping back in. I’m going to try to relax and enjoy this little boy because he will be our last. I will try not to feel guilty if I DO enjoy him because I didn’t enjoy my daughter as a newborn. I intend to focus on being grateful for two wonderful children and an amazing, supportive husband.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 2, 2015, 12:29 pm

      Your experience sounds very similar to mine! I didn’t have PPD, but my thyroid symptoms mirrored a lot of the same symptoms of PPD. It’s good to remind ourselves to be kind to ourselves. Wishing you well as your start your last trimester!

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  • avatar

    ktfran April 2, 2015, 10:20 am

    Another lovely story and so completely honest. Whether it’s a baby, or new career, or just simply being, I hope people read this and realize “hey, I’m doing the best I can and everything will turn out alright.” We put such unfair pressure on ourselves and sometimes forget to relax and enjoy life. That’s what I’m taking away from Wendy’s essay.

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  • avatar

    booknerd April 2, 2015, 10:46 am

    Oh, you look amazing. Congratulations, Wendy!

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  • avatar

    Vathena April 2, 2015, 10:59 am

    You look amazing, Wendy!
    My daughter is 22 months now. Before she was born, I was all like, “Well yeah, I’m gonna breastfeed, duh. It’s good for the baby! It’s free!” (“Free”, haha!) Due to complications during the birth, I had a hard time with supply for several weeks. We had to supplement and I was pumping after every feeding. It was such a stressful time, and though I ended up successfully breastfeeding for over a year, I also wish I hadn’t been so hard on myself. It’s so easy as a new mom to use breastfeeding as the yardstick for your fitness as a parent, but then that time passes in a whoosh and you’re on to the next thing. (And I was a formula-fed baby right out of the gate, and look at me now!) 🙂

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  • avatar

    Taylor April 2, 2015, 11:10 am

    That was just lovely Wendy!
    Thing have been settling down a bit since our beebs turned one, and I find myself thinking of number 2. My primary concern is getting back in shape before trying – I am so glad it’s spring and I can be outside again! Happy spring everybody!

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet April 2, 2015, 11:17 am

    This was great to read. Wendy, you are the reason I don’t think I’ll freak out and hate my body if I’m unable to breast feed my newborn 6 months from now, so thank you for that. When people ask me if I plan to breastfeed, my response is “if I can!”. I think pregnancy brings out a lot of feelings about what it’s like to be a Real Woman (*tm) and it can get easy to get caught up in the origins of birth. Like if you can’t breastfeed or have a natural labor, then what would have happened back in the day before technological advances? I have to remember that those amazing advances (medication, c-section, formula, etc) are part of how we have evolved and that I should embrace them!
    .
    In other news, I am finally starting to enjoy pregnancy for the first time! I’m almost out of the 1st trimester. I’m still getting to know my new body, but at least I have energy and my diet is no longer controlled by nausea. It helps that my baby actually LOOKS like a baby now instead of a blob! I can’t wait to have a gorgeous bump like yours, Wendy!

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  • avatar

    HD April 2, 2015, 11:23 am

    Yes! I just relate to this so much, as I am now starting to think about conceiving my next child. Like you, I struggled with breastfeeding, plus my son had colic, plus I had hoped for a natural birth but instead got an emergency C-section after 40 hours of labor. It just sucked a lot, and I worked my ass off at breastfeeding but still had to supplement. This time around, I hope to have a whole new attitude toward that stuff, born of experience and perspective. Sure, I hope bfing goes better but if not? I’m not going to beat myself up! I know the bf and natural birth movements mean well, and I agree with a lot of their points but it feels so awful when you just…can’t. Anyway, congrats to you! You look beautiful and happy. 🙂

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 2, 2015, 12:34 pm

      Thanks!

      If it makes you feel any better, I had an unplanned natural childbirth with Jackson and you aren’t missing much. Women deserve all the kudos for carrying and birthing and breastfeeding their babies, but there are SO many other ways to measure womanhood, femininity, and motherhood than those relatively brief (albeit powerful and meaningful) experiences.

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      • avatar

        Skyblossom April 2, 2015, 3:43 pm

        If I remember right you had a very rapid labor. My first was fast and the second even faster. I was in labor for only one hour when I started pushing. The thing that helped me make it to the hospital in time was that I knew the stages of labor and knew that when the contractions are hard and two minutes apart that I was in transition labor which lasts for about one hour and comes just before pushing. The extra minutes we gained by knowing that allowed us to get in the car and head for the hospital in time. If we had waited just ten minutes longer she would have been born in the car or at home. Just a friendly warning that the second one can be fast. For some reason I had a few light, widely spaced contractions and then they were hard and two minutes apart. After about ten minutes I realized I was in transition labor and there was no more time to time contractions. At that point I called the doctor and we got our son out of bed and dressed and called the friends we were leaving him with. The time went by very quickly.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 2, 2015, 4:03 pm

        Yes, I had a very fast labor with Jackson (three hours from the first contraction to when I held him in my arms) and, believe me, I’m already freaking out about how fast this next one might go and whether we’ll make it to the hospital in time. The saving grace is that with Jackson, my water broke about 8 hours before contractions started (once they started though, they came right on top of each other — there was no “transition” for me — it was just suddenly go time). If we can have the same warning of the water breaking ahead of contractions with this one, then we will go immediately to the hospital and hopefully have a little time to spare.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom April 2, 2015, 6:33 pm

        Hope you make it with plenty of time to spare. I was in labor for six hours with my son so double your time. I think if I had a third it would be born at home because there would be no time to get to the hospital.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki April 2, 2015, 1:44 pm

      I want a natural birth and to breastfeed and one of the things I’ve been working on is knowing that I can’t necessarily control those things. I’m terrified of epidurals, so there’s that 😛 But really, if I have to have a C-Section, it’ll be ok. As long as he gets out safely. And if I can’t breastfeed, well… that’s ok too. Its not like he’ll starve.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray April 2, 2015, 12:43 pm

    You look muy caliente, Wendy!

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray April 2, 2015, 5:23 pm

    To Wendy and all you pregnant ladies, I just hope you don’t give birth in the car like my friend. http://www.popsugar.com/moms/Giving-Birth-Car-36728378

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  • avatar

    stickelet April 2, 2015, 9:08 pm

    I have a friend who gave birth, sort of in a car, on the side of the road, on the way to the hospital. Three blocks away. Just couldn’t make it in time. Yikes.

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  • blobfish

    blobfish April 2, 2015, 10:46 pm

    Ah hah! I was wondering why that beautiful glow was coming from my computer. That was just Dear Wendy and the other beautiful pregnant DWers.

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  • avatar

    Sarah April 3, 2015, 10:31 am

    I’m not going to pump unnecessarily this time either. If baby takes boob, great, but if we are out and baby needs a bottle, here is some formula – my pumping days are gone.

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