Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Things I Wish I Knew As A First Time Mom...

Today, I read a post on Facebook from a friend who is a first-time mommy. I really felt for her as I read her post, honestly expressing frustration from lack of sleep and tears shed over a discontent little one. I so wish I could have given her a great big hug right then. I would have taken her for coffee and said, "Oh friend, let me tell you about my mistakes!"

(Behind this smile is a weary mom struggling to make it...)

Over decaf lattes I would tell her:

1) Scrap the baby advice books. Glean the basics, but don't live by it. Frankly, they are inconsistent and full of information and case studies that don't always relate to your baby. Don't try to fit a square peg in a round hole. If it doesn't work, don't force it. --I learned this the hard way. I think my little Mr. would have been much happier if I'd said, "Buh-Bye" to the book and focused on what he needed.

2) You can pretty much bank on getting up in the night to feed your little one. And guess what? So are about a million or so other women! There are the rare few babies who sleep early on, but, like I said, it's rare. When I finally accepted this (as tiring as it was), I could enjoy those quiet moments in the dark cuddling, feeding, and praying for my little ones.

3) Sleep when they sleep. Take that mid-day nap and leave the laundry for later. You need the rest to recover and gain the energy to love your little one. It's hard to love on them when you're exhausted.

(This was obviously a pretty good nap...)

4) You can't hold, rock, or cuddle your little one too much. They won't be spoiled by you, but they will be comforted and assured of how much you love them. Who cares if they fall asleep in your arms instead of the crib? They won't do it when they're 18...and frankly, you'll miss it.

5) Whatever decision you make is the best decision you are making for your wee one and your family. Breast or bottle? Cloth or disposable? Crib or co-sleep? Store bought or homemade? Stay home or go to work? Make the choice and don't feel you need to justify it.

6) Don't compare your little one to your friend's kids. Every child grows and hits milestones at different rates. Unless your doctor has raised a concern about your child's progression, know your little one is hitting the milestones in a manner that is normal for them. Your friend thinks their child is a prodigy? Smile and congratulate them.

7) If something doesn't seem right with your child, then trust your intuition. The pediatrician isn't with your child every day. You are your child's best advocate, so keep knocking on those doors and making those calls until you get the response you need. Oh, and don't apologize for it. You're paying them to work for you.

8) Did I mention to hug, kiss, and tell them you love them with abandon? Go for it. Even in the most frustrating moments, a little cuddle time will soothe both of your fragile emotions.

9) Take that hot bath and let your spouse take over for a bit. Don't suppress that good cry, let it go and you'll feel much better.

10) Get a sitter and go on a date with your spouse. Maybe it's just coffee or a quick lunch. You both need the opportunity to decompress and reconnect. Everyone needs a little break. Oh, and no talking about the little one. Couple time only.
You're not perfect and no one expects you to be. None of us moms are doing it perfectly. We should let down our guard more often and be real with the fact that most of us are winging it. We just happened to find a few things that worked and stuck to them.

And, take heart...I'm sure your little ones aren't nearly as crazy as mine:


Iowa Sunshine said...

wonderful list, and your napping photo is priceless! ! i especially like #4, because i heard that "advice" from family and i felt i was wrong. new motherhood is such a vulnerable time and any genuine, positive support is golden.

Kristy @ Fried Kristy said...

Love it! And couldn't agree more, Nik! I had the same experience with Zack... trying to follow the books and the lists... and all it did was make me a crazy, stressed mommy! (and compound the postpartum, as I know we've talked about before!) Thanks for sharing - I know it always encourages me as mommy to hear other mommies have been in the same boat!

Nicole @ one half world said...

Good advice, Nikki. When times get tough, I like to ask myself, "Will my child be doing this when he is 18?" Usually that calms me down. Most stages and crises are temporary, thankfully! :)