Monday, July 27, 2015

Parenting lessons from the first month

Our first little is one month old. To say we've learned a few things over the last 30 days is an understatement. While I by no means have it figured out, there have been some fun, funny and truly insightful lessons and experiences.

1. Delivery room terminology is both oddly similar and vastly different between livestock and humans. It's called Picotin instead of oxytocin, placenta instead of after birth, and the list goes on. Some nurses will track what you're saying, some will look at you as if you're insane when you ask certain questions or respond with ranch terminology versus human.

2. "No baby has ever slept itself to starvation." This tidbit of advice is perhaps the most useful I've received since giving birth. Due to starting out a little slow on latching, our doctor said we needed to wake our little one every two hours round the clock to feed him. I tried this for about two days, and two hours turned into one, then turned into 45 minutes between eating, and an increasingly fussy, tired, dissatisfied baby. I finally stopped and the let the poor kid and myself sleep. He ended up gaining double the newborn average in his first week of life, so I'm assuming it worked. A couple weeks later a neighbor voiced the above statement, and I couldn't agree more.

3. Resuming work/activity. Doctors tell you take it easy and rest after having a baby. Family members tend to say the same thing. People will offer their assistance with almost anything in the house out of both kindness and the belief you should take it easy. But, if a tractor needs moved, pigs need watered, the cows get out, etc . . .  Everyone is just fine with the new mom participating in those activities. I have found a lot of amusement in the thought process that vacuuming or reaching for something on a top shelf in an air conditioned house may do me in, but driving machinery or packing feed is just fine, even if I have to lug the baby along with me and it's 90 degrees outside.

4. The livestock comparisons that occur throughout pregnancy don't stop at birth. Nursing, diapers and a plethora of other things open the door for a whole new wave of similarities that folks, especially dads it seems, will use to better understand their newborn. For example, if you nurse, "scoury" colored and consistency diapers are alright.

5. I struggled with not helping with the outdoor farm and ranch work in the latter months of my pregnancy. But, those months were only a precursor to the first month with a baby, during which I have been almost exclusively stuck in the house. I know I have been blessed with the best job in the world, but it is still extremely difficult to be unable to assist with activities I'm used to being right in the middle of. I sometimes feel as thought I am not contributing to our livelihood, and it is hard to see my husband come in every evening exhausted (even if I'm just as exhausted from being up with the baby all night), and hearing him talk about tasks I historically helped him with and thoroughly enjoyed. It's more than worth it, but the adjustment period combined with exhaustion is more challenging at times than I was prepared for.

6. If you nurse, you may the urge to share your lanolin cream, ice packs, etc . . . with any lactating female of any species on the place. At least I did a few days into the feeding regime. I also have a whole new level of respect for sows, who not only nurse over a dozen young most of the time, but little ones with TEETH. I cannot imagine.

7. Speaking of nursing, another thing that will become quite clear is why certain cows kick off their calves. No, this won't become an accepted behavior in our herd by any means, but understanding will dawn, bright as the rising sun when your little bundle of joy gum bites a part of your anatomy that has previously spent its life at least two layers below the surface of daily activities. You will also be able to relate to those cows who run over the human who tags their calf, the one who comes off a trailer with milk shooting from her bag, and the list goes on.

8. Feeding insights. My husband has expressed great curiosity on what our conversion rate is, and even mentioned creating a spread sheet of my weight loss to our son's weight gain. Fortunately he has been too busy enough with actual work to follow through with this idea, but wive's of feeders beware - that desire to calculate rate of gain, pounds consumed, and so on, runs deep.

9. Parental imprinting. Most parent's get their licks on where their kid will go to college, the type of care he or she will drive, or a brand of clothes they will never wear. Our "imprinting" has been much more focused on acceptable tractor colors (green) and breed of cattle (I say Angus, husband say's Simmental). Although I have made sure to mention to our little guy more than once that while South Dakota is great, Wyoming is better, and being a UW Cowboy trumps being a SDSU Jackrabbit ; )

10. 90's country lullabies. Maybe everyone does this, I don't know, but it has been a while since I've had cause to memorize a lullaby. With the exception of Twinkle Twinkle Litter Star, I cannot remember more than a line a here and there. Enter a healthy dose of 90's Trisha Yearwood and Reba McEntire, with the occasional Aaron Watson or Chancey Williams tune mixed in, and I have successfully navigated lulling my baby to sleep via music and mediocre singing more than once.

What experiences have you had in parenting that should be added to my list?