I always knew I wanted to have children someday, but I was never in a hurry to get married and start a family. I went to a Christian university where a lot of the girls wanted to get their “ring by Spring,” meaning they wanted to be engaged before graduation. I was not one of those girls. That’s fine if you are/were, that just wasn’t me! 🙂
You really don’t know what motherhood is like until you are deep in the trenches. It’s hard to understand the feelings until you experience them. Like the feelings of wanting your baby to go to sleep, but then missing them when they are in bed! Or wanting to go out on your own, but feeling like you are missing part of you when you are without your little one. I’ve only been a mom for 4 months now, so these are just my experiences as a new mom!
Life changes pretty drastically when you come home from the hospital with your new little bundle. I was actually quite excited to get to leave the hospital. It was impossible to get any sleep in the hospital with nurses and staff coming in pretty much every hour. I’ll be honest with you and say that your emotions are a roller coaster the first few days at home. It’s the combination of the changing hormone levels and the lack of sleep. I had moments where I was struck by how much my life had changed so quickly.
I experienced a few days of the “baby blues,” where I would just start crying out of the blue. My husband was fortunate to be able to take 2 weeks off work, but even with a good amount of time I was dreading him going back to work and leaving me on my own all day with our baby. I was scared/overwhelmed that I wouldn’t be good at this mom thing. Thankfully, those thoughts didn’t last long and even though it was hard in the beginning, it gets so much better! I love being able to stay home with my baby so much! ❤
Here are a few things I’ve learned as a new mom thus far.
- It’s OK to ask for advice and help and do what works best for you. Do not stress and worry if what works for someone else doesn’t work for you and your family. Every baby is different and your baby might not prefer what your friend’s baby likes. For instance, my little one won’t take a pacifier. I’ve tried so many times with at least 6 different kinds. Everyone tells me another brand and that their baby only like this specific kind, but after 5 different brands I personally didn’t feel it was worth it to look for any other ones. I knew that he didn’t like them and once he figured out how to suck on his fingers he learned how to soothe himself!Take any advice that sounds good to you and store it for memory or write it down, and forget the rest. People can be very opinionated when it comes to parenting. Every parent just wants to do the best for their baby, but that looks different for different people! There’s co-sleeping vs. baby’s own bed and room, to vaccinate or not, breastfeed or bottlefeed, to let them cry or not. These are all personal choices and I would recommend talking to your pediatrician about any questions you have!
- Breastfeeding is HARD at first, but it’s totally worth it. I understand that some people aren’t able to breastfeed for many different reasons, but if you can, it’s very beneficial for mom and baby! Here are some benefits for the mom from WebMD:
Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help you lose pregnancy weight faster. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It may lower your risk of osteoporosis, too.
One of the main benefits for the baby is the immunity they receive from you. According to WebMD, babies who are “breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.” Pretty cool to know!
Breastfeeding isn’t always glamorous. In the beginning, your nipples will be sore. Your baby is still learning how to latch properly and you’re trying all these crazy positions to help the baby figure it out, and it can seem a bit overwhelming. It’s especially difficult on days when it seems that you are just a milk maid and you barely leave the couch. STICK WITH IT, MAMA! It gets easier. If it doesn’t work out for you, that’s OK; but if you can stick with it, it’s totally worth it! There are some obstacles you will probably face in the beginning such as engorgement, leaking breasts, and clogged ducts. These things are not very fun, but they don’t last long! Your body adjusts and starts to make just the amount of milk that your baby needs pretty quickly! I personally love the bond I have breastfeeding my son. ❤
- You NEED a community of support and friends who you can meet with regularly. I cannot stress this enough. We were made to be in community with others. You can get a bit of cabin fever in the first month of your baby’s life when you aren’t able to get out as much. As a full-time mom, I like to schedule dates with my other mommy friends who are also home during the week. My friend Lydia and I try to meet up every Tuesday. We will meet at each other’s houses, or go grab a coffee, go walk around a shopping center or go to the park. I look forward to our dates! It’s refreshing to have adult conversation during the day. Both of our little ones are still babies, so they don’t play with each other yet, but I hope they will be good friends in the future!Look for a local Mommy & Me group near you. My college roommate just moved to this area and started a group with her sister. We meet every other week at their church. It’s so refreshing to meet and share our joys and struggles. It’s good to have people to be able to be open and honest with. It’s good for your mental health to be able to talk to other new mom’s about your struggles. So yeah, if you don’t have a community of mom friends, look for one!
- Sometimes you have an idea in your head of what your day is going to be like, but a fussy baby changes all of your plans. I remember I was going out to a friend’s housewarming party, and my son Eli fell asleep in the car on the way there. After arriving he woke back up, but could not handle being around a bunch of people. He would not calm down or stop screaming. I brought him in a room away from people and even brought him outside, but he was not having it. I left the party because I could tell that he was tired and didn’t want to be around a bunch of people. I didn’t feel bad leaving the party because I knew it was best for my little man. You shouldn’t become a prisoner at your house because you have a baby, but you also learn as you go what your baby needs and how to meet those needs! Some days you might need to change your plans, and be flexible. This is probably a big lesson for some people. I’ve always been a go-with-the-flow person, so I’m not too upset if my plans are changed, but it can be hard at times when you want to do something but can’t!
- Every body is different and you shouldn’t compare yourself to the images of body builders on Instagram who have a 6-pack 2 weeks after giving birth. Good for them, but don’t beat yourself up for having extra weight on your belly! Your body just did something so amazing, and when you look at your baby I’m sure you feel the same way I do, that your precious baby is totally worth the stretch marks and extra weight gained! I definitely think it is good to work out and be healthy, but give your body time to heal and start out slow. I had to modify a lot of moves when I started working out again, but after a few weeks I felt so much stronger! It’s so good to get out and walk or run or do indoor workouts. It gives me energy, helps me clear my mind and gives me the strength I need to carry around a heavy car seat with a baby inside it all the time!
I could go on, but I will just leave you with just these thoughts for now and with one more cute photo of my baby boy from his newborn sesh…he’s 4 months old now!
What’s something you learned after becoming a parent?