Meet The Parents is a series of interviews with Island moms and dads in which we learn about the first year of parenthood from a variety of perspectives. If you'd like to be interviewed please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Aly Lanzone Wiesner
How old is/are your child/children?
I have one daughter, Ida, and she is two years old.
What were you most anxious about during your pregnancy?
I was anxious quietly, but definitely worried and hoped that everything was normal and healthy. As the carrier of this growing human, I felt a profound sense of responsibility for everything to develop normally, but I was also aware of the fact that if something was atypical, it was likely something out of my control; the tension between this feeling and the cognitive understanding made me uneasy. I had a lot of positive self-talk happening about how everything would most likely be completely fine but my brain would always add "but you never know..." and "be prepared for anything..." I don't think it was an unhealthy worry because it helped me to keep an open mind, but it's the thing about which I was most anxious.
Did you have a birth plan? How closely did your labor resemble this plan?
I had a sketch of a plan but my plan was essentially that I would enter labor and delivery with an open mind. I had never been through this experience before so I wasn't sure what I would need. I knew I would have my husband there as my primary support, I knew I would have doula support, and I expressed my reluctance about having an IV, "just in case" (IVs make me uncomfortable). It was my wish to have a birth without the need for medication and to avoid a C-section but I wasn't sure if that was possible. I believe that you have to do what you need and that is different for every person and every birth. There is no right way, only your way. I had an incredible birth experience at the MV Hospital. I feel like I floated on that positive experience for months after having our daughter and it still makes me feel so full of happiness when I think about it now. I did not have any medication during the birth, I did not need a C-section, my husband was remarkable, the doulas were outstanding, and the midwives and nurses were exceptional. I barely noticed the IV when it was time to have it in. I feel like I had the perfect team for me and I was so thankful to surrender the role of advocacy from my husband and I to the doulas. Their guidance and consultation was invaluable.
What Island resources/services did you seek out during pregnancy? After?
During pregnancy, I received chiropractic care, prenatal massage and Thai massages. I went to prenatal yoga a few times but mostly practiced at home. I attended the birth classes at the hospital. After, I continued with the chiropractic care, attended MV Hospital's Postpartum Restorative and Infant Yoga, and several Family Center offerings: Baby's First Year, Infant Massage with Fae Kontje-Gibbs, and a Sleep Workshop with Rebekah Thomson.
What was the hardest part about being a new mom?
There were several tricky situations that I navigated. Letting go of tidying up so much was, and continues to be, a challenge. Before I had Ida, I would never go to bed with dishes in the sink or the floor unswept or laundry unfolded, but I made a decision that connecting with my daughter, asleep or awake, was more important than my need for a certain level of tidiness. I did some tidying when she was sleeping but I also took time to rest when she was sleeping (sometimes because she was sleeping on me). Instead of worrying about not being able to get something done, I embraced it. I was a better mother because of this. Everyone says to rest when the baby rests and I figured "everyone" must have said this for a reason.
Additionally, it wasn't the "hardest part", but I was surprised that breastfeeding wasn't effortless at first. I had read a lot about it and knew I wanted to, but I didn't expect it to be the dance that it was. Getting the right latch seemed like this technical feat. I had this one nurse who kept hovering over me and critiquing in not the most supportive way. Every time she came to check on me I felt like I was going to be criticized. I know she was trying to help so we would be successful with breastfeeding but I got kind of stressed out about it in the beginning until one of my doulas, who came for a postpartum visit, told me I was doing fine. While I don't remember exactly what she said, she empowered me to trust myself in the process.
What has surprised you most about new motherhood on MV?
What surprised me the most was how great Baby's First Year was. It didn't matter if it was during naptime; I'd go and Ida would sleep in the car on the way there and I'd carry her sleeping in her seat. Marney Toole holds such a great space for new parents. It was so nice to have a destination where you could relax for a while without the worry of "what if she cries" or "where will I change her diaper" and connect with other people who were new parents. I loved the simple format of sharing a high and a low. New parenthood isn't always easy and it was so reassuring to have your "lows" validated or even hear that someone else is going through the same thing. Likewise, it was delightful to hear everyone share what they were loving about being a new parent. I remember wishing it could happen three times a week.
What is one resource for new families that you think is lacking on MV?
I don't think this exists anywhere but there should be a hotline you can call to get someone to come hang out with your baby who may have fallen asleep in the car when you are on your way to run errands so you can get things accomplished. I've been held car-nap-hostage so many times. Sometimes you luck out while sitting in the Cronig's parking lot and see someone you know but it can't just be anybody. The drive from my house to any errand destination is long enough that she still will fall asleep on our way out sometimes.
What were the products you couldn’t have lived without in your baby's first year?
Lanolin, Ergo baby carrier, coconut oil, lavender oil, Desitin, breast pump (when I went back to work), muslin baby blanket, sound machine, blackout shades, swing, baby monitor.
How did/do you make time for yourself?
I went back to work. Just kidding (sort of). My husband is a great partner and we are fortunate to have family here who love and feel confident caring for our daughter. While I was reluctant at first because I didn't want to be away from her, I would ask for some "me" time from any of them and they were all thrilled to have some Ida-time. They all encouraged self-care. Self-care is essential. To quote Audre Lorde, "I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival."
If you could go back in time and give your “new mom” self three pieces advice, what would they be?
1. It's okay to let other people care for your baby. I really wanted to handle everything independently and may have had a little bit of a "my way or the highway" mentality. They may all have different ways of doing things but there is more than one way. Flexibility is a great thing to foster.
The next two pieces of advice are things that I did and I'm so happy I did them that I'd tell myself to do it again:
2. Rest when the baby rests. You'll find time to do the other things. Baby carriers are fantastic around the house.
3. Babies are born to attach to a caregiver. Spend time, heart to heart, head to head, connecting often. Let go of the some of the task-related business we get swept up in. When you are in a frenzy (or they are fussing), stop, hold your baby, nourish your baby, comfort your baby, get them to smile. Snuggle. Feel how warm and soft they are. Giggle. Make funny faces. Lock eyes.