Ignorance is bliss

When you have a child in our modern world, you tend to think beforehand that medical science, technology and our web of communication will have everything well in hand. What you don’t realize is that virtually all the information you will get will be contradictory. Much of it will be useless to you and your baby. Most importantly, there will be vast quantities of information that you will never get.

For us this process started in the hospital, when our OB was rattling information off to Cindy immediately after the birth, when she was alone, drugged and exhausted. This was important information. Things she had to know about post-partum recovery. I was in the nursery with the baby, getting her weighed and wrapped up to take back to Mom, so I wasn’t there to hear anything he said. Cindy asked him to write this all down. We never got a thing. The nurse that released us from the hospital was suppose to give us the same information. We never got it.

Probably the best example of this world of disinformation is breastfeeding.

We are definitely pro breastfeeding. We went to a class during pregnancy. They spent most of the class telling us why breastfeeding is so important. In the hospital, all the nurses were very helpful, showing Cindy and the baby how to feed properly. Once we got home, we had a total of three different breastfeeding “experts” come help Cindy when she was having difficulties.

Despite all this, we had to start feeding Lillian formula after about 2.5 weeks, because she was not gaining any weight. No one could tell us why. Cindy felt like she was constantly nursing the baby, but the baby was clearly unhappy much of the time, and until we started feeding her formula, we didn’t know why. It’s simple – she was hungry. A week of formula, and we had a fatter, happy baby. Either she wasn’t feeding properly, or Cindy wasn’t making enough milk.

Here’s where the lack of information started to bite us, though. No one told us that we didn’t have to feed the baby from a standard bottle. No one said “oh, you can feed the baby from a cup”, or “use this supplemental nursing system that has a small tube on the mother’s nipple connected to a bottle”. As a result, we now have a baby that won’t breastfeed at all, which is not really what we had wanted. The right information could have prevented that. This is where the breastfeeding class, and the nurses, and the experts, totally fell over. No one talked to us about what you do when things aren’t working.

Some other things no one else will tell you about having a child:

  • Feeding a baby with a bottle makes you sleepy
  • Holding a sleeping baby makes you sleepy
  • The first time your baby smiles at you, your heart will melt
  • Trying to calm a screaming baby is one of the most frustrating things you will ever do
  • The clothes you bought her will not fit
  • Half of the stuff you bought is unnecessary, and the one thing you didn’t buy, you really need

In fact, I think I have come up with the Universal Baby Rule:

Whatever you expect about your baby, expect something else to happen instead.

As an example, see my post about the birth. We had a birth plan all written up, and given to our OB and the nursing staff at the hospital. It clearly said we wanted a natural birth, with no interference unless required. They were very supportive of our birth plan, in fact the labor & delivery ward for years was staffed by midwives.

What we expected, however, and what actually happened, were nearly diametric opposites. We wanted a natural childbirth. Instead, we got the full medical childbirth, with painkillers, internal fetal monitors, and a c-section. Of course, it was all necessary. We didn’t do any of it unless the doctor felt it was needed, and Cindy went through a lot of natural labor before the end. Still, it was a little difficult knowing that basically everything was out of our control, despite what we had planned.

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