Welcome to the club new mom. I am so happy that you have decided to join the rest of us, possibly mentally unstable, women in the journey called motherhood. Being a mommy is the most rewarding job you will ever have. You never knew that you could love someone like you do now. You will discover mama bear instincts to take care of your child like you wouldn’t believe- Iron Man has nothing on you protecting that baby. There will be nothing more important than their safety and thriving happiness. This means that it is also hard, it’s frustrating, it will make you cry at times, you will scream at your less finer moments, and there will be days that will make you question if you are fit for this job. But you are, momma. Even without the friggin instruction book I keep pining after, I find day after day that the hard work still fills me with happiness like nothing else in this world.
If I can offer any words of encouragement and suggestions for a new mommy (and co.) after my short eight years of experience, it would be these.
- Ask for help. There are times you need it. Like when you haven’t showered in three days. Let your mother-in-law (however you feel about her, let it go) hold the baby while you have 10 minutes alone. You will soon crave showers for the quiet time. When the baby isn’t nursing well, he’s crabby, and your nipples are raw, ask a lactation consultant for help. Pride is a stupid reason to be in pain (lesson learned the hard way here). But, if you ask for help from someone and the diaper ends up on backwards- you MIGHT want to reconsider asking for that kind of help again (yeah, it happened…).
- There ARE times it’s ok not to listen to the dozens of unsolicited pieces of advice you will get (even mine). If your baby cries when someone else is holding him- even grandma- and you want to take him back- DO IT. People, strangers, will comment that your baby looks cold if he’s not dressed in 40 layers. Trust that you know best. Because most likely, you do. No socks in the summer is ok!
- Don’t wish the time away. Everyone will tell you that it goes by way too fast. And it does. But when you are covered in poo, it’s hard not to wish for potty-trained days. When you can’t eat your dinner because they are hungry, squirming, or throwing food, it’s hard not to wish for more self-sufficient days. I get it. I have no cures to slow time or the ability to bottle the magical moments. So just try, as often as you can, to take big sniffs of that great baby smell, appreciate their curiosity when they ask “what’s that” for the 10,000th time, and take the time to just play with them. My mom’s advice was to get on the kitchen floor and play in the Tupperware cabinets with them. Crazy as it sounds, it is liberating and a blast. No crazy Pinterest worthy crafts necessary, just play and be silly. Messes can wait, but tomorrow your baby will be just a little bit older. Do your damnedest to appreciate all of it.
- It’s totally ok to cut off a poop filled onesie and throw it away. I don’t care how cute it is, trust me, everyone is better off if it is just thrown away.
- Bedtimes are blessings. Good sleepers have schedules.
- There is no such thing as too many questions for a day care provider. Email me if you have questions about this. Seriously.
- Your baby takes center stage, but don’t let three years pass before you get in another date night. Make time for your spouse. You need to keep that partnership alive.
- Cloth diapers work great as burp clothes. But I think using disposable diapers are your best bet for actual excrement. Save the environment another day…
- Your body does not look the same as it used to right after delivery. It takes time. And a little work. Be patient with yourself.
A few more notes to send to your people:
Grandmas– please. We love you so much. But you were a new mom 30 years ago. So while you know how to overall make a good kid, it is no longer kosher to rub whiskey on the gums when babies teeth, baby must be put on his back, not his belly, to sleep, and a zillion other things have changed (Geez, in the 6 years since I’ve given birth they have changed). We love your advice about loving and playing with our babies. But please- when it comes to safety, meds, development, etc., please trust that change can be good and we might, just might, know what we are doing. And if you are in doubt, PLEASE take a “new parent” class at the hospital to see how “things” are done now, read the new books on parenting, so that you can see where this generation is coming from. Then we can discuss over the coffee you bring me because I am so freakin’ sleep deprived…
Friends- No, I cannot just go “buy a pump” on cue and get rid of my precious motherload of milk because you want to continue our shopping escapade. I’m on a schedule and please accept that my world revolves around the little life I just brought into this world. I promise, I will be back to wine tasting, music fests, and dancing my ass off in good time. But right now, the best thing you can do for me while I have a new baby at home is bring me dinner (because time to cook is obsolete), bring me a goody bag of healthy snacks because I am stuck on the couch with either a baby stuck on my boob or asleep in my arms for 16 hours a day, and text me pictures of the crazy dude at work so I can still feel like a part of the grown-up world.
Dads- did you hear that part about the showers? Please, stay out when I am showering! I know, the boobs are gigantic and enticing. But you, bringing whiny junior with you to watch me shower gives me exactly zero minutes of time off during the day. Please, for all of our sanity, just give me my shower time alone! I promise to be the same fun, carefree girl I used to be…in about six months. In the time being, please change the sheets and remember we said for better OR worse.
Bottom line mommas, motherhood is hard, but wonderful. Trust your gut. It’s right. Keep your partner close so that the decisions you make are mutual. When I asked my husband what his advice would be, he said, “You need to be a team. Don’t let others tell you what is best for your kid.” I couldn’t agree more. You will have questions and you will doubt yourself. But there will be a time, at 3:00 a.m., when you are rocking that little guy (or girl) to sleep. You will stare out the window to the quiet street or the stars in the sky and ponder how you got to where you are today. You will know that you are his mommy, you know him best, and do you know what? He (or she) thinks you are the best mommy in the whole wide world. And really, that’s all that matters.
Good luck. And when you are ready, I am totally waiting here with a cocktail for you.
**The quote featured came from my sister-in-law, advice from someone one year a new mom ahead of me. I had no idea what it meant until my baby met my gaze for the first time, or the first time I felt like we had “a thing”, me and this new little miss of mine. You might not get it either yet. But you will. And nothing can prepare you. Just know you aren’t alone. Moms around the world get it. Reach out when you need support. We are here!!!