I have a few regrets in life. Yes, some days I wish I took a different path in college, and other days I wish I took advantage of available career opportunities. I wish I would have spent less on my wedding and invested in a house instead. Still, none of these regrets weigh on me like the ones that involve my kids. There are so many things I did with my second baby I wish I did with my first. The realization, and the regret, of how differently I handled both newborns actually physically hurts.
After the 10 longest months of my life, I birthed an immaculate little baby girl. She was everything I never even imagined she would be. The moment she was placed into my sweaty, shaking arms was the moment I realized I was petrified. "Wait," I thought. "She's mine? How do I do this?" Anxiously, I peered around the room, "Help! I don't know how to do this," I silently screamed.
I wish I had more patience, more compassion, and more strength back then. I wish I had less anxiety, less apprehensiveness, and less insecurity. I wish I had more confidence, more knowledge, and more maturity. I wish I listened less to other people and more to my own instincts. I wish my first baby wasn't such an experiment, an ignorant attempt at parenting, and a foolish endeavor into motherhood. I wish I did many things differently, but I have lived and I learned and have only become a better mother in the process.
I Wish I Cuddled With Her & Let Her Sleep On Me More Often
Not cuddling with my daughter is one of my biggest parenting regrets (thus far, although I have a feeling I'll have a few more). I was erroneously under the impression that I would spoil her if I held her too much. So I held her only when she seemed uncomfortable from colic or acid reflux. And when I did hold her, I was sleep-deprived and somewhat angry. I wasn't holding her for pleasure, but out of necessity. With my second baby (my son), and thanks to a friend who pointed me to actual research, I learned that it is impossible to spoil a newborn. According to research published in Pediatrics, there is no such thing as holding a newborn too much. In fact, holding a newborn often has been shown to decrease colic and fussiness and pain, reduce hyperactivity and aggressiveness later in life, and improve breastfeeding and cognitive prowess. So, even if in some universe holding your baby does "spoil" him or her, seems like the pros outweigh any cons.
So, I held my son regularly. His favorite place to nap was on my chest. My favorite postpartum pastime was holding him and smelling him and watching him in my arms. Gosh, how I wish I could bring back the newborn moments with my daughter and do it all over again and do it better.
I Wish I Breastfed
If I had only known that breastfeeding takes work. If I had only known to not take the nipple shield when it was advised I use one. If I had only known that if I gave breastfeeding a real chance, it would have saved my sanity. But I didn't know any of these things.
What I did know was that my daughter didn't know how to latch and I didn't know how to teach her. I knew that my nipples were bleeding into the nipple shield and that each latch brought excruciating pain that sent terror throughout my entire being. After a few days, I knew I wanted my life to end. So, I started pumping. Without the knowledge and proper support, I did not know breastfeeding would get easier and all I saw was that moment. All I saw was the moment of pain and that is all I felt.
I Wish I Slept More
Oh, the amount of sleep I missed is simply inexcusable. Everyone told me to sleep when the baby sleeps. Then my daughter arrived and there was so much to do. How could I possibly sleep when I had to pump and shower and clean and do laundry and pump again? The advice to "sleep when the baby slept" seemed like some solid advice in theory, but it quickly turned into a joke. I couldn't understand how anyone could sleep in the first few months postpartum.
Then I had my son and I realized the dishes and the dirty laundry will still be there, whether I slept or not. I realized that sleep was way more crucial to my sanity than anything else that "needed" to be done. To be fair, it did help that I wasn't pumping as often with my second as I was with my first, so I had more spare time.
I Wish I Bought Less Baby Gear
Did I really need all of that baby gear? Did I really need a swing and a bouncer and a exersaucer and an activity gym and a play yard and a carrier? No. No, I did not. Were they all helpful? Sure, at times. But could I have done it with a lot less? Absolutely.
I Wish I Relaxed More & Stressed Less
The amount of time and energy I wasted worrying and stressing about everything, could have been spent cuddling with my first baby. But, wisdom comes from knowledge and knowledge accumulates from experience and no one has newborn experience unless they've already had a newborn. I stressed about everything. I mean: everything. I worried about germs, how much she ate and slept, how often she napped and wet her diaper, the color of her stool, cradle cap, colic, acid reflux, baby acne and diaper rash, heat rash, every rash. I don't even remember not worrying. I don't remember a single calm moment in the first few months postpartum.
With my son, everything was tranquil. I knew that most things were not a big deal. When my son had jaundice, I knew what to do. When he developed torticollis (something that would have sent me into a frenzy of panic and overthinking with my first), I calmly took him to play therapy and he was fine within a couple of months. When my son had his first cold, I dusted off the humidifier and kept him comfortable. Nothing seemed quite as terrifying the second time around.
I Wish I Invested In A Better Pump
Since breastfeeding didn't work out, I exclusively pumped. I hardly produced enough milk but, well, I didn't know any better. I wasn't aware of the option of renting a hospital grade pump, and thought my run-of-the-mill pump was one of the best. I didn't realize there were different types of pumps and various ways of pumping. I knew nothing about power pumping and the different tips and tricks to increase supply. So I supplemented with formula when I needed.
Now, I want to make it clear that there is absolutely nothing wrong with supplementing. However, personally, if I knew better I would have pumped more efficiently.
I Wish I Asked For More Help
It's not that I necessarily wanted to do it all on my own, it's just that I didn't know I shouldn't do it all on my own. I thought it was my responsibility, as a mother, to do everything. I didn't know to ask for help and, honestly, I didn't even know whom to ask. When breastfeeding wasn't working out, I contacted a few lactation consultants. When I couldn't afford them, I thought that was just my dead end. I assumed breastfeeding wasn't for us. So many things I just "dealt" with. I should have asked for help when I needed a mental health break, but instead I worked myself up into panic attacks behind closed bathroom doors and barricades of the shower curtain.
I Wish I Took Monthly Pictures
I know these aren't, like, a huge deal, but I really wish I did those super cutesy monthly pictures with my daughter. With my son I had a theme, and every month I propped him up on a pillow (until he was able to sit on his own), surrounded him with some stuffed animals and took some photos. Then, at one year, I made a pretty badass collage and saw his progression through the year. It was nice. I wish I did the same with my daughter.
I Wish I Bought Less Clothes
Nothing is more wasteful (practicality-wise) than newborn clothes. I can't even describe how much clothes my infant had that she either never wore or grew out of within a month. I donated bags upon bags of barely worn newborn outfits. Luckily none of it went to waste, but the amount of money I spent on all of it is just heartbreaking. Probably could have taken a vacation, or two.
I Wish I Enjoyed Her More
The first three months with my first baby were nothing like the first three months with my second baby. There was so much peace with my son. All of the experience I gained from my daughter manifested into serenity with my son.
I wish I smelled her more. I wish I kissed her more. I wish I nibbled at her cheeks and belly more. I wish I took her on more walks. I wish I watched her sleep more. I wish I held her close and whispered sweet somethings into her ear more. I wish I enjoyed her more.