Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Four reasons why having a baby is easier for me the second time

After my first child was born, I was pretty much a wreck. I didn’t know it was post-partum depression until after the darkness began to lift and I could look back with a clear head. If I had known at the time what I know now, I would have sought help and things would have been much different.

As my due date for Baby #2 got closer, I grew anxious (like I do) and began dreading the impending darkness that I could not yet see but could feel in my bones. Everyone told me it would be different the second time because I would know what to expect. That sounded perfectly logical, but the problem with PPD is that logic doesn’t always come into play. And so I worried.

Now, I’m happy to say my friends were right. I’m not as anxious or depressed after our second baby. I’ve had some dark days, I’m still a little anxious because that’s just how I am, and some days just downright suck (I mean, we’re still talking about caring for a baby and three-year-old all day), but it’s not like it was before. Here are four reasons why I think my PPD isn’t as bad the second time.

1. No shell shock
I’m not going through a major identity crisis this time. With Reid, I’m already a mommy, a SAHM at that, so I’m not giving up my career or changing every single thing about my life like I did before.  After Quinn was born, nothing was the same. Not One. Single. Thing. Now that Reid is here, life is definitely different again, but there’s enough sameness to feel normal. It’s a LOT more work having two kids, but it’s familiar work.

2. Not as sleep deprived
Reid is a much better sleeper than Quinn was. Quinn had GERD (acid reflux) really bad and could not lie down comfortably. No one in our house got much sleep for almost a year. I was a walking zombie during the day and a sobbing mess at night. Reid, however, sleeps like a champ! Like a six-hour stretch every night kind of champ. Not only do I enjoy a little down time at night while both boys are sleeping, I get some sleep, too. It’s pretty much magical.

3. Breastfeeding is easier
When I was pregnant for Quinn, people told me that breastfeeding might hurt. What they should have said was that it would hurt like a mother EFF-er! I had no idea nipples could blister and bleed like that. Quinn was a grazer as a newborn, meaning he wanted to eat every 90 minutes to two hours (from start to start!), so he was constantly on the boob. And I cried every single time. Can you imagine doing something TWELVE times a day that caused you that much pain?

A friend of mine said she hurt while nursing all three of her kids, so I was fully prepared to endure that torture all over again. The first time Reid latched on, I held my breath and squeezed my eyes shut tight… but it didn’t hurt. Not even a little bit. More than three months later, it still doesn’t hurt. No blisters, no bleeding, nothing.

I also have a better milk supply this time. Reid still eats quite often – every two to three hours – but not as often as Quinn did, and he sleeps instead of nursing all night. So I feel like he’s getting enough milk, and this time I’m not an anxious wreck over whether or not my baby is starving. Which leads me to the breast pump….

4. I broke up with my breast pump
Heaven help the new father who spills pumped breast milk on the kitchen counter. Any momma who’s ever spent hours hooked up to what Tina Fey calls a “William Sonoma Tit Juicer”* knows that pumped breast milk is liquid gold. It’s more than breast milk. Each one of those little plastic storage bags taking up precious real estate in your freezer contains a mother’s love, time, sacrifice and an ounce or two of her sanity.  

With Quinn, I was so worried about my low milk supply, I pumped about eight times a day (which also hurt like hell). After twenty minutes of being hooked up to that medieval torture device, I would only have a couple ounces or less to show for my efforts (and tears). My entire day was nursing and crying, then pumping and crying, then nursing and crying, then pumping and crying… the whole situation was a nightmare.  

This time around, I said EFF THAT S**T! Hubs and I decided long before Reid was born that we were going to supplement with formula. That means Hubs can take on some of the feedings. And if Reid only eats three of the four ounces in the bottle and one ounce goes down the drain? Meh, that’s okay. (Wasting an ounce of breast milk was another story!) Now, I only pump if I’m going to be away and have to miss a feeding, and I only do that for my own relief. As my favorite lactation consultant at the hospital said, I’m not “chasing the milk” this time. Reid still gets all the antibodies and health benefits from my breast milk, which is still 90% of his nourishment, and I don’t have to pump like a damn cow all day long.

Breastfeeding versus formula is a personal decision for every mom, and I don’t judge either way. For me, introducing formula early on with Reid has been a sanity-saver. (For the Hubs, too!)

Like I said, some days are still really hard – I had an absolutely s**ty day today, actually – but it really is better this time. If I did (do) have PPD this time around, it feels like a vacation compared to what I went through before. So I’m proof that PPD one time doesn’t mean you’ll have that experience with every new baby.

*Okay. Have you seriously not read Bossypants yet? Really? “William Sonoma Tit Juicer?” C’mon, that’s some funny s**t. You should read it for that line alone, but there are plenty of other reasons, too.