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Today's Moms

Essentials for Surviving Baby's First Year

Today's Moms by Mary Ann Zoellner
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Two producers of Today share their experiences and wisdom on baby's first year, along with priceless advice and anecdotes from the anchors and experts on America's number-one morning show.

Being a new mother can be extremely nerve-racking and exhausting, and many moms find parenting advice, comfort, and humor on the Today show. Now all that advice and more is collected in Today's Moms, a one-stop guide to everything a new mother needs to know about her baby's first year, from the best breastfeeding products to reclaiming fun and intimacy with her partner after the baby. Full of behind-the-scenes stories with moms and experts, Today's Moms provides the most up-to-date news and information with easy, entertaining ways to help mothers keep their sanity. And it's all medically reviewed by NBC medical experts Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Dr. Tanya Benenson.

Contributors include Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry, Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Kathie Lee Gifford, and many others. Written in a friendly and accessible tone, with straightforward, honest advice and expert information, Today's Moms will help all moms feel more confident about their first year of motherhood.

HarperCollins; April 2009
256 pages; ISBN 9780061899188
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Title: Today's Moms
Author: Mary Ann Zoellner; Alicia Ybarbo

Chapter One

Where's the Owner's Manual?

Top Ten Myth Busters of Baby’s First Year

Myth #1: When you see your baby for the first time, you'll experience love like you've never felt before.
Buster: Don't be fooled by those baby food ads. Some moms bond quickly; some don't bond for months. In either case, it's perfectly normal.

Myth #2: All the moms I see leisurely strolling their babies are so much happier and better rested than I am.
Buster: They just fake it better than you do.

Myth #3: Breastfeeding is a breeze.
Buster: For many new mothers it's difficult, complicated, and downright painful.

Myth #4: A good mother always knows why her baby is crying.
Buster: Maybe. But even a well-fed, comfortable baby can cry for no real reason. (Sort of like some adults.)

Myth #5: You'll never get your pre-baby body back.
Buster: Not easily or quickly. Slow and steady wins the weight-loss race.

Myth #6: : More specifically, your breasts will never go back to their normal size.
Buster: Sadly, they will. And sooner than you think.

Myth #7: You'll never have time for yourself again.
Buster: Not as easily or as cheaply as before, but you can. Hiring a babysitter for even a few hours a week can be a lifesaver.

Myth #8: Sex? Yuck. Who would ever want that again?
Buster: You will, sooner or later. Trust us.

Myth #9: My husband is lucky to escape to work every day.
Buster: Don't sit around feeling lonely. Get out there and make new friends. Mommy mixers are one of the best places to meet them!

Myth #10: You always said you'd be cooler than your own mom.
Buster: She might not have been so uncool after all.

Alicia: It was ten days before my due date when, around 3 a.m. early one Sunday morning, cramps suddenly kicked in. I woke my husband, Mark, but he simply rolled over and went back to sleep.

He eventually woke up, as my pains grew in intensity.

While I was doubled over in the bathroom Mark called the doctor. I couldn't hear the doctor on the other end of the telephone, but by Mark's responses I could tell that she was telling him to wait a few more hours before heading to the hospital. I wasn't happy to hear that and he must have seen the look on my face, because the next thing I knew we were heading out the door. Already five centimeters dilated, we arrived at the hospital, where I immediately had an epidural.

The doctor said I was dilating quickly and we'd have the baby soon.

At that point, the nurses told me to go ahead and sleep for a few hours before we started pushing. I know what you're thinking. Who could sleep at a time like this? Trust me. You can. When I woke up, I saw my husband, who at the time was working for the NFL—and naturally, it was draft weekend, which was hugely important for him—sprawled out, his legs up on a table, staring at the TV and chowing down on a protein bar. I asked if I could get him anything else to make his stay more relaxing. As all women know, labor is all about the husband, right?

Anyway, after a few pain-free hours, I dilated to nine centimeters. Then something happened. I was taking too long to dilate to ten centimeters, which is when you can start pushing, so I was given a labor-inducing drug. However, after only a few minutes, the baby's heart monitor started to flatline.

"Get onto your hands and knees," the nurses and doctors in my room said. "Let's try and get the baby to move around and increase his heart rate." It worked at first, but after a few more heart monitor scares, the doctor told me I needed a C-section. While doctors and nurses hurried about, one of them handed my husband a pair of operating-room scrubs. Once he'd put them on, he approached the nurses with a strange look on his face.

"Excuse me," he asked them, "do you think I could get another pair of scrubs? These don't really fit me that well and I'd like to look good for my baby."

The nurses found this highly amusing. Needless to say, I did not.

Although I'd had the epidural, I needed more anesthesia to numb me from my chest down. My arms were tied down to the gurney, and I felt like I was in a straitjacket. "Breathe normally," I was told. My baby's heart rate was jumping around like a Mexican jumping bean, I was getting prepped for surgery, my husband's scrubs didn't fit, and I was supposed to breathe normally? Fat chance!

I couldn't feel any part of my body and started hyperventilating in a panic. Then, mercifully, my doctor leaned over and told me the baby was coming out in a few seconds, but I was still in a complete state of panic. So the doctor did what any other sane person in her position would have done: She asked the anesthesiologist to put me out. In what felt like the blink of an eye, I woke up and my baby was placed in my arms. He was perfect, beautiful, and healthy.

At the time, it all seemed so traumatic, but looking back, it really wasn't that bad. That's what Mommy Brain does to you!

Mary Ann: I had a perfect pregnancy, without one day of morning sickness. I had gained just the right amount of weight—thirty-three pounds—and was determined to give birth naturally, without drugs. I had prepared myself mentally by taking a Bradley Method child preparation class and studying Hypnobirthing after we did a segment on it on the show (one of the mantras was Trust your body, it will know what to do); and physically by thinking of pregnancy as "training," and staying in the best shape possible. I'd opted for a midwife instead of an obstetrician, and had hired Amy, a doula (or birthing assistant), a calm and experienced person who could manage both my mother and my husband's tendency toward squeamishness.