I can’t believe I’m writing this, but come June 29th, it’ll be one year since I gave birth to little Miss Evelyn Rose. Every year I get older time just seems to go faster and faster. But after having a child it’s been at lightening speed. It’s a good thing I have this blog, because it is easy to forget things that happen as they pass because sometimes it’s just about, well, passing. Just like getting an A on that test and forgetting all the right answers a week (or day) later, surviving that first year with your first born is a bit like that.
Chances are, maybe even before pregnancy, you had some thoughts about what it’s like to have kids. I’m here to tell you, if you’re not on the other side of it, those thoughts are probably wrong. Ha! I’m kidding. Well, sort of.
I have three younger brothers (8 and 9 years younger!). I’ve baby-sat since I was 13 (thank you Babysitter’s Club books). I’ve been a live-in nanny (au pair). You’d think I’d have some idea how this baby thing was going to go. I thought I had a good idea of the way it would go. Nope. Nope I didn’t.
It just doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot of information out there (or maybe I missed it?!) about the mayhem in the first month of motherhood. Maybe it would have helped if in all those pregnancy books there could have been some very straight forward mentions about what happens after pregnancy too. Just a little. Maybe they don’t want pregnant women to get too anxious? The funny part is, which can be hard to wrap your head around, everything does seem to even out (all the highs and lows). You put your whole self in, but you get so much back. Some days won’t feel like that, but the moments of beauty, amazement, and love weighs out the anxiety, confusion, and exhaustion. You think you’re going to teach your children what they need to know? I don’t doubt you will, but I guarantee you’ll end up learning more. It’s a true test. A test of patience. A test of strength. A test of determination ((s)he will nap!). Your world will be turned upside down, but in a way that you can see even clearer than before (OK, yes, once the sleepless nights are less frequent).
On the last day of Mommy & Me class, the leader asked us all what we would advise the new moms starting out. What we wish we would have known or at least actually listened to. Here is some of what came up, and some of my own advice mixed in there too. You know I’m a bullet-points sorta girl, so here it goes:
- It’s harder than you could imagine. I’ve had long nights before. I’ve had sleepless nights before. I’ve never had them for more than a month straight. That alone makes everything else just a little more intense.
- This too shall pass.
- Chances are, they’re not going to be doing this (insert whatever “this” is that’s stressing you out) when they’re 25.
- Don’t listen to everyone’s advice. I don’t mean to say don’t listen to anyone’s advice – just not all of it will be what works for you and your baby, and it can be so much extra pressure to feel like you have to do all of it.
- When you find yourself micromanaging, really getting caught up in a particular situation, step back and look at the big picture. It really will help. Again, probably not going to be doing it still at 25.
- Follow your gut. All that advice you get from everyone? There will probably be a little voice in the back of your head what they’re saying seems right for you or not. Listen to that.
- Swaddle your baby. SWADDLE YOUR BABY. I’m sorry, but MY baby couldn’t STAND being swaddled. She was like Houdini. So there goes that. Swaddle your baby if your baby can be swaddled!!!
- Supplementing with formula does not mean you failed at breastfeeding. It also doesn’t mean it’s all or nothing either way. You can do both. You can do either. As long as your baby is fed, that’s what really matters.
- Back is Best. True. But not to Evie. The first time I let her nap on her stomach was the first time she slept well. Sigh.
- Stay present as much as you possibly can. “The days are long and the years fly by” is so true. Even when you just want to make the day go faster, try to remember how fast it passes and how much you’ll miss those baby cuddles when they’re gone. Trust me, they’re not going to cuddle you as much as you like for long.
- There is no one right way everyone. But there is for each of us separately.
- Wearing your baby helps A LOT. You may have to watch those You Tube videos 50,000 times – but once you get it down you’ll have free hands and a happy baby. Win-win. Wear them both inside your house and out!
- Sleep will happen. Maybe not as soon as you like, but it will. And even when it does, there will be days and/or nights in between that are not perfect. Because neither are they. And neither are we. You’re doing a great job.
- Be consistent. Babies are fickle!!! One day they do something, the next they don’t. One day they like the swing, the next they don’t. Carrots are their favorite, and then they’re not. (S)he’s been napping so well, now (s)he’s not. Keep trying, they really do strive on routine.
- JOIN A GROUP! Seriously, it’ll confirm that everything you’re going through there’s 10 other women (and/or men!) who are in the same boat. And there’s nothing like that kind of relief.
- Don’t rush things. “We’re so stressed today because we believe everything needs to happen right now. We forget that everything happens in perfect timing.” ~Idil Ahmed I love that quote and it’s so applicable to parenthood…and life in general.
That probably seems like a lot, but safe to say there is so, so much more. Motherhood – parenthood – is the best experience ever, but it’s also the most challenging. I learned A LOT in the first year with Evie, but I learned even more about myself. She’s really the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I can’t wait to celebrate her 1st birthday and share it with you!