With the help of books upon blogs upon podcasts upon numerous conversations, I tried to learn and soak up every last piece of advice before becoming a new mom. However, I either didn’t listen or a lot of advice was missing. (I think the latter is more likely!) Nevertheless, I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve learned along the way – six months along the way, at least!
*If you’re anything like me, though, you’ll probably forget all of this and have to learn it for yourself!*
- No one knows your baby like you do.
Not your wisest friend, your mom, your pediatrician, and sometimes not even your husband know your baby like you do! I’m sure that lady you met at the grocery store was a wonderful mother and her methods worked for her, but she doesn’t have YOUR instinct. At 10 p.m., 2-week-old Joshua was crying and crying and wouldn’t stop. Confused and scared, I didn’t know what to think, but my gut was telling me he was still hungry. My supply couldn’t meet his demand, and the next day he ended up being readmitted to the hospital for weight loss and mild dehydration.
While seeking wisdom is an imperative aspect of being a parent – be confident in your gut!
- Do your research but don’t let information wreak havoc on your emotions.
Don’t let that blog post or news article keep you up at night. Information is powerful – powerful to help or harm. Have your guard up and only absorb what works for you and your family. Formula will not diminish your child’s IQ, and sleep training will not make him a criminal with no emotions. Just because you read it on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s true.
- Everyone has opinions on parenting, but your job as a parent is to listen and choose what’s right for you!
Everyone has something to say about everything. And a lot of it is valid! We had a lot of trouble breastfeeding at first, and I ended up using the shield for four months. I felt ashamed and like I failed for most of that time. But in hindsight, I know that was ridiculous! The shield allowed me to breastfeed my baby and was an excellent tool to do what was right for us.
- Do not make any major financial investments (i.e. cloth diapers) until you meet and get to know your baby.
Before Joshua came, I thought our investment in our beautiful, abundant cloth diaper system was the best decision I had made yet as a mom-to-be. I was very wrong. I had no idea we were going to have a very challenging baby who screamed for the first five months of his life, but he did, and I haven’t used the cloth diapers once.
Moral of the story: just wait. Wait to see who your baby is and what his/her demands may be. Then, buy (or don’t buy) your stash! *This also applies to supplies for making your own baby food, soap, lotion, etc.*
In our case, ain’t nobody got time for that (yet).
- Keep life ultra-simple in the first three months post baby.
Don’t make any huge commitments and be prepared to say no! Even if you have an “easy” baby, you only have this season once. Soak it up, and allow baby to be the focal point of your life. Now is not the time to plan that cross-country vacation or launch your new business selling handmade cloth diapers.
- You are never ever prepared to be a parent; just like you are never ready to have a baby!
Planned or unplanned, no one is ever truly prepared to have a baby. And you’re never fully prepared to be a parent. No amount of books, blog posts, podcasts, sermons, or lectures will prepare you for this wild ride you’re about to take! You can read all you want, but you aren’t going to be good at it until you do it yourself.
- You will need to use your mom-balls.
For the first time a couple of weeks ago, I had to set a boundary to protect my baby. I was struggling with it, and felt a whole slew of emotions. A dear friend encouraged me by telling me I was using my mom-balls. For some strange reason, it empowered me so maybe it’ll empower you! Take a stand and don’t be ashamed – you are your baby’s best advocate.
- Do what you need to do to get through the day.
Your baby does not care if your hair hasn’t been washed in three days or whether the dishes have been done. Give yourself a break, order in, sleep when baby sleeps, go for walks, eat more chocolate! I often called my mom for a mini (OK, sometimes major) pity party. I cried, I ranted — she listened and encouraged me. And then I felt better! So do what you have to do, ladies!
- If your baby is the first niece/nephew/grand baby in your family, this is a learning curve for your family, too. Be patient and communicate!
Just how you’ve never been a parent, your extended family hasn’t had this role before either. Your role in your family is about to drastically change. While before you were able to put your parents or siblings first, now your baby comes first. Meals will never be quiet and family activities will revolve around baby. While your baby will bring loads of joy to the family, it’s still a transition and that’s OK.
- Time is no longer your own, and that’s how it’s supposed to be! Your baby is your main job – nothing else! Things can wait.
Many days I find myself frustrated that I only got x, y, or z accomplished. My sweet husband always reminds me that I did my most important job and that was taking care of our baby. Nothing else matters.
- This is just a season.
My mom and mother-in-law graciously remind me nearly every time we talk that “this too shall pass.” I put that truth on repeat in my head, and it carries me through those sleepless nights. Surely this child will not wake me multiple times a night before he leaves for college, needing a glass of warm milk. Right?!?
- It takes a long time to learn your baby.
You figure something out, and then they change. Before Joshua became mine, I never once thought about how difficult it would be to decipher my baby’s cries. Well, it was. And while no baby comes with an instruction manual, you will figure out your baby with time. And then he will change and grow and you’ll relearn each other!
- Ask for help.
I’ll never forget calling a friend while we were stranded in the hospital for the sixth day asking for her to pick up moringa powder from the local health food store to help boost my supply. I’ll never be able to thank her or the dozens of other friends who helped us through this season of life. I’ve felt lots of guilt for not being able to repay them for their kindness and generosity, but I’ve accepted their kindness and learned from it. Next time a friend has a baby, I’ll know how to serve and love them so much more because of the love I’ve received.
- Just like every baby is different, every mom is different!
It’s true! Every mom is different and that’s what makes this community so rich. We all offer something unique and make up one dynamic community! Just because another mom cloth diapers, makes her own baby food from organic vegetables grown in the backyard, or has taught her baby French by age two does not mean that her way is the best way.
Your way is right, too. As Amy Poehler once said, “good for you, not for me.” I love my disposable diapers with a fiery passion.
- Give yourself and those around you grace.
Try to let things go; the more you practice this, the easier it’ll become. You’ll feel freer and happier if you do – and so will those around you!