I have read so many posts of new moms, sharing their knowledge and wisdom and the truth about these first few months.
Truth is, there is nothing that can prepare you for it. No matter how many people tell you that your baby will cry non-stop and how you can say goodbye to sleep - possibly forever - and that it is the hardest job in the world, you are still completely blown away by the reality of it all.
In a single moment (or rather a few intense hours of labour pain) your life is changed forever. And it is wonderful but completely overwhelming at the same time...
And like most moms I have learned so much in these past few months and wish to share some of my new-found knowledge...
- There is absolutely no words to describe what you feel when your baby is put in your arms for the first time. Life stopped, my heart filled with instant love and all my pain was forgotten. I was crying and laughing at the same time and even though I was told that he might not be the picture perfect baby I imagined him to be, to me he was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. My first words to my husband was: "He isn't even gross to me"
- You have no idea what to do with such a tiny baby and nothing feels normal. I was pretty sure that the amount of crying little Xander did (and the volume of it) was abnormal. Luckily my mom was here to continually tell me that it was quite normal.
- If it's your first baby (or even your second and third for that matter), have someone close to you stay with you for a few weeks at least - even if it is just to take care of you while you take care of your baby.
- Some frozen meals before you give birth can carry you through dark times :)
- You will feel guilty for the first month or two (and I am sure this continues for quite a while) every time your baby cries. I constantly felt like I was doing something wrong and that my baby must be unhappy. But you learn eventually that babies do cry - it is their main source of communication and if you give them a lot of cuddles and love in between, they won't have emotional scars if you can't get them to stop crying immediately. The moment I stopped worrying about being a bad mother every time my baby cried, he actually started crying less.
- It takes time to get to know your baby and for your baby to get to know you. But eventually you get there.
- You know more about your baby than any other person will know. A mother's instinct is an amazing thing. So stop listening to everyone around you and do what you feel is right in your heart.
- Listen to sound advice from those around you who offer it in a gentle and kind way. But don't think you have to use all of it. Most of the people that offer advice or give comments on your parenting style have long forgotten what it is like to have a tiny baby and they also did not have your specific baby.
- Which brings me to my next point. In three months, you will become a baby whisperer... You will have mastered a million different creative ways to calm down your baby, to get him to latch better, to distract him while you have to clean his nose or dry his hair, to get him to sleep, to get him to sleep longer, to try and get him to sleep at all... But you are only a baby whisperer for your own, unique baby. What works for one baby does not always work for the next one and even one method might not work in the same way from day to day - depending on your baby's emotional state that day.
- Routine is really important - for your and your baby's sanity. But your routine will again depend on your baby's unique personality. Off course you should try and help him to get into a good routine - they are too small to do that on their own. But don't be discouraged if your routine does not look like the books say it should. And don't let routine become an obsession. You and your baby will soon find a routine that works for you.
- Breastfeeding is extremely hard work. It is such a natural way of feeding, but it does not happen naturally for everyone. I was very lucky and the beginning part was much easier on me than most people. But then my boy started unlatching and drinking poorly all of a sudden and it was one nightmare month of extremely long feeds, little to no sleep and a lot of crying before it returned to normal. Now it is the easiest thing in the world, but it took a great deal of sacrifice to get here. I have no judgement for people who just cannot do it anymore and decide to give formula. I think it is so sad that people make it harder for them than it already is with their opinions. We all want what's best for our babies, and for some moms that means giving up breastfeeding and being a much happier mom for their little ones. Love is more important than the way you feed your baby.
- That being said, breastfeeding is the most wonderful way of bonding with your baby and I will not give it up for anything.
- Formula babies do stretch longer and often sleep longer than breastfed babies. This is not a given however and I don't think this should be your reason to give up.
- Your life revolves around your baby. You constantly talk baby talk, brag about the newest thing he can do, show the world all your pictures and videos because you just cannot believe other people don't also want to look at him all the time. Even if you think you won't become like this, you will. This is a good thing, but just know that it might annoy some people. Read your crowd. He he.
- You do need to find other things that can still stimulate you. Some grown-up things that you liked before. I will return to my French lessons soon and hopefully do an online course or two. I think it will do me good. But spending time with my child is not wasted and it is a wonderful investment in his future. I am so blessed to not have to return to work at the moment.
- A baby-sling is a magical thing.
- You might need a glass of red wine and some chocolate every now and then (sometimes every night) to survive.
- I am a complete neat freak, but it is so much better to play and share giggles and cuddles with Xander rather than worrying about the house. Let it go!
- A new baby is an even bigger shock to the system on your husband than on you. Communicate about your feelings all the time and encourage bonding time by letting him have happy times with his child whenever possible.
- If you are breastfeeding your husband will often feel like he cannot contribute much, but let him know how much he is helping already if he is taking care of you.
- Let him take your baby for long drives in the car. This might not work for everyone, but it worked wonders for us at the beginning. He can contribute and you can get some rest. They both can listen to Johnny Cash for hours.
- Try not to force your way of doing things with your baby on your husband - let him find his own way.
- Know that it is okay to sometimes feel like you want your own time and do some things for yourself. Take a short break, go have a coffee by yourself if possible and see how wonderful it is when you realize you missed your baby, even if you were only gone for an hour.
- Pray constantly, because when you look at your small and perfect baby, you realize just how big God is and you also know that you cannot do this job on your own.
I am proud to have survived the first three months. I am thankful for an amazingly supportive husband and the special people in my life who continually encouraged me. And I am so happy to be the mother of this beautiful boy...