Having your first baby is filled with blind excitement and a little nervousness. You take in all the information that people give you and try to remember it all as you navigate that first year.
You get advice on social media, from family or when you bump into an old friend. The funny thing is, as first time moms, we take that advice as the bible sometimes. And in my experience, it ends up biting us in the butt in the end. So rather then telling you what you need or what you need to do, I’m just going to tell you what I learned my first year as a mom.
- Have no expectations– And I mean zero. This applies to EVERYTHING. From planning your day to how long you’re going to breastfeed for. These were just two things I thought I could do. Joke was on me! I tried to plan my days and would get completely overwhelmed when it didn’t go the way I had planned. I was the meanest mom, wife and friend. Suggestion: Have a short list of things you want to try to get done and if it doesn’t work out, put it on tomorrows list. Give yourself GRACE.
- Don’t try to be a hero– I tried to do everything myself. I wanted to prove I was a good mom. Not asking for help was one of the worst mistakes I made this year. It led to many tears as well as making my husband feel like he was inadequate to me as a dad (which wasn’t true at all, I just wanted to prove to him that I was a good mom.) Suggestion: Have a planned day or night once a week when your husband, mom or friend takes the baby for two hours so you can shower and breeze through the aisles of Target with a coffee in hand. You will need it for sanity’s sake! And once a month, hire a babysitter for the day so you can do a mama’s day out, such as nails, hair, grocery shopping or Homegoods browsing alone. These are just a few of the freedoms you’ll miss and need at times to be the best mom and wife you can be.
- Breastfeeding and Sleep- These two go together. Well at least for me they did. I was very nonchalant about breastfeeding before having Silas. But once I realized I was able to, I set up this little expectation for myself (see number one) that I would for a year. Well, I was going on almost 8 months without a full nights sleep. When I told people this one person told me to try rice in his bottle. Someone else told me to supplement with formula at night. And yet someone else looked at me like I was horrible when I said I may try to the formula trick at night! I was so confused. And as luck would have it, at 10 months I had a planned weekend away and didn’t have enough breastmilk. He took the formula and slept through the whole night from that day forward and decided he was done with breastfeeding too. All my dreams came true that night, lol. Suggestion: Don’t let anyone tell you what’s right or wrong unless it’s a pediatrician. And don’t feel like a failure if formula is the answer to prayer. Being the best mom is being a happy and fully present one. And if formula gets you there, then you are a SUCCESS!
- Connection- Being a first time mom is overwhelming. You go from having an hour to get ready on any given day to trying to figure out how you will even find a time to shower. You go from being able to stop at the mall or Panera to freaking out about how many minutes you have left in line at CVS until the baby starts screaming and you just can’t wait to get back home. These are the most SELFLESS months of your life. It’s easy to shut the door and stay there. It’s easy to not let anyone in and not let yourself out. But one of the biggest mistakes I made was not allowing myself more connection. It was easier. But I was SO LONELY and forgot who I was. And ladies, social media, text and phone calls are not connection. I’m talking about true connection. Suggestion: No matter how hard it is, have coffee with a friend at your house or theirs once a week. They will hold your baby if they are crying and possibly hold you if you’re crying too. This journey doesn’t come without tears. I promise you that.
- Prayer and Gratitude– There is so much to complain about when you’re tired and knee deep in dirty diapers. I complained constantly. I don’t know how many times I said a day “I’m so tired.” Suggestion: Every morning, pray a prayer of a gratitude for the blessing of the baby and the blessing of a new day with your baby even if it’s a tired one. The days go so fast and you’ll wish you had them again. And every night, write in a journal 3 things you are grateful for in that day and something you learned as a new mom. I SO wish I would have done this. It would have had my mind right each day and night.
- Babies room and rocker- I wanted it to be perfect. It getting done before the baby arrived caused such a point of stress for me. Meanwhile when I got home from the hospital with him, it took 4 months before he even slept in there. Suggestion: It will be done on time even if it’s not done by the time he/she is born so don’t stress. Just make sure that the rocker you feed him/her in is comfortable for you to sleep in for 8 hours. I didn’t realize how often I’d need to sleep in mine and I didn’t have one with something to put my legs up on. Big mistake! So take your rocker for a test drive before you buy it to be sure you can see yourself sleeping in it.
- Don’t put your baby to sleep- I used to feed my baby and then hold him until I knew he was sound asleep and never made him self sooth. This led to so many issues with sleeping. Suggestion: Feed baby and just let them be tired enough when you put them down in bassinet and crib that they have to put themselves to sleep the rest of the way. This would have alleviated so much stress and also more sleep for both me and baby.
- Trust God- I worried so much about SIDS and him having the room temperature right and the right pajamas to wear and a fan etc. I tried to be in full control and stressed myself out to no end. Suggestion: Leave room for God. Do the best you can and then remind yourself, that this is God’s child too and He loves your baby more then even you do.
- Be present- And lastly, I know it’s already so selfless to take care of a baby. And all you want is to try to get to your to do list so you can feel good about your day too. But trust me when I tell you, I fought for my to do list and today I don’t even remember what was on it. But I do remember what it felt like when I stopped and let my baby sleep on my chest. And just 13 months later, that moment is gone. Trust me when I say, the moments when you can be there with them, really be there. Time has never gone so fast.