To get the ball rolling, I decided to take a post from my family blog and publish it here.
As Isabelle's first birthday approaches, I've been thinking a lot about this last year. I don't believe I've ever learned more in one year than I did in 2009. I decided to publish my thoughts on the blog for my own records, but also to compare experiences with other people. It's a lengthy post for sure.
The Hospital Experience
My doctor decided to induce me six days before my due date because I was progressing well and my blood pressure was so high. It was a surreal experience waking up the morning of my appointment knowing, in a matter of hours, Isabelle would be here. It was much less exciting than having my water break randomly and rushing to the hospital, but I personally preferred having more control over the situation.
After I was hooked up to all the machines, I learned I was in the middle of a contraction. My labor and delivery nurse asked if I was in any pain, which I wasn't. I realize now (assuming the nurses/doctors would've let me), had I got the epidural as soon as I arrived I may have escaped the pain of contractions altogether. Because I waited a few hours before asking for the epidural, I now know the pain and discomfort they cause. It wasn't an enjoyable experience by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm glad I know what they feel like.
I've come to the conclusion that more often than not, nurses are really inconsiderate, condescending and overall lame. While I really liked my labor and delivery nurse, my recovery nurse and Isabelle's nurse were not my favorite. My nurse didn't seem too concerned with my needs, but rather getting through her shift. Isabelle's nurse focused more on scaring me half to death by letting me know all the horrible things that could happen if I didn't follow her guidance explicitly. I suppose I could've asked for new nurses, but taking my ER experiences into consideration I knew I didn't have a great pool of people to choose from. Bottom line, I learned not to take them too seriously.
The Instant Bond
Being pregnant was a wonderful experience for me. I realize I had a cake walk of a pregnancy compared to others, but feeling Isabelle and experiencing her movement multiple times a day was very fun. She and I were buddies and it was a special 9 months.
On the other hand....
All of my life, I heard women express the instant bond they felt the first time they saw their baby. This was definitely not the case for me. Isabelle was born 5.5 hours after I got to the hospital. It was a very fast process and I pretty much went from one thing to the next with very few "waiting" periods. Before I knew it, I was looking at Isabelle. The first thing I remember thinking is how much she looked like Dustin. I wasn't overcome with any strong feelings. It wasn't until a few weeks had gone by that I began to bond and love her the way I always imagined. The bond grew when I knew she trusted me, when she recognized me and smile at me. It's a little difficult for me to admit I didn't bond with my daughter right away, but that's just how it happened.
Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows the transition from full-time employee to full-time mom was not easy for me. I had no idea how much I relied on my job for validation and a sense of worth and purpose. It was very difficult for me to appreciate the role of a stay-at-home-mom. Often times, I felt like I wasn't doing enough or that I was lazy. It wasn't until months had gone by that things started to click. It sounds very irrational, even ludicrous, that I didn't realize the importance of what I was doing, but I'm glad I went through it all because it was a great learning experience for me.
Information vs. Instincts
My Bachelor's degree is in Family Studies. While in school, I often joked about how I would be such a great parent because I studied so much about parenting skills, childhood development, etc. As soon as Isabelle was born, I learned that my wealth of information wasn't always useful or practical. In fact, doing what "they" say you should was usually overshadowed by what would work in the here and now. While having information is a great tool and I refer to it often, I learned it was also important not to overlook my instincts and to trust my abilities. After all, "they" don't know everything. :) (Side note...during my pregnancy I started to read "What to Expect When You're Expecting." After a few chapters, I decided to use the book as a reference when I had a specific question. I liked this routine because it helped me focus on what was really going on with my body rather than filling my mind with what could potentially happen.)
Although unexpected, my view of TV has changed this past year. I'm a big fan of crime shows, but I can no longer stomach watching shows in which children are harmed. It used to be just TV, nothing personal. Now, it's really personal. While I'm not paranoid or live in constant fear, I now realize more than ever the importance of good quality entertainment.
I have since changed my position on certain controversial issues like the sex registry list. I used to be against it in some respects. Now that I am a mom, the logic behind it is clearer to me. I won't resort to looking at it everyday and I still believe some sex offenders can be rehabilitated, but it seems a little careless not to use it since it could save my daughter from a harmful situation.
I always knew child abuse in any form was wrong; however, I now believe a person that abuses a child is nothing short of evil.
And now, last but not least........
I absolutely love Dustin. He is a great husband and father. He is always there for me when I need him. I know he was nervous and unsure about having a baby, but I know that throughout this year he has grown to love Isabelle in a way I don't think he anticipated. I know he enjoys being a father.
Isabelle absolutely adores him. She knows when she hears the sound of the garage door opening, it means daddy is home from work. She gets so excited that she screams when she see him walk through the door. I love watching the two of them interact.
In the end, this year has left me feeling so content, so complete. I love my little family and I look forward to all the challenges and fun times that lie ahead.
(Snaps to anyone who read it all.)
P.S. They say "it's different with your own kids." It's true. There's no explaining it. It's just true.