It feels like it’s been a really long time since I had butterflies in my stomach, wondering what being a mom to a real live baby would be like. I remember rubbing my big belly and trying to picture what she would look like. I remember being nervous about those predicted sleepless nights. I remember feeling overwhelmingly grateful for being able to carry a baby and also ready to be able to sleep on my belly again and stand up without grunting. Expecting my first baby was a special time, a mix of ALL the emotions, and now, six years down the motherhood road, there are a few things I find myself wanting to tell a first time mom.
You have so much joy ahead of you!
You really do. Getting to have a first row seat to watching my children grow has been an unbelievable privilege. Just when you think you are going to lose your mind, you’ll get your first smile and you’ll get it- how this crazy motherhood thing and the magic is brings with it.
The first couple of years are truly in the trenches.
Don’t compare newborn life to those with older toddlers or young kids. Don’t compare the newborn experience of your first child with the newborn experience of a mom having her third child. In fact, it’s a good time to let go of comparing at all. Every baby and every mom is different.
You aren’t going to get any of those projects done that you’re planning to do on maternity leave.
You just aren’t. And that’s more than OK! Yes, babies sleep a lot, but they also eat a lot, and need their diaper changed a lot, and you won’t exactly feel well-rested or at your physical best.
The level of respect you have for your own mom will deepen significantly.
And you’ll understand why she says you’ll never know just how much she loves you.
You will sleep again.
I know it doesn’t feel like it, but you will. This is just a season so do what you need to do to be kind to yourself, whether that means naps, coffee, or Netflix.
You may also like:
It’s OK if you miss your pre-kid life.
Your first baby will turn your world upside down. Things you didn’t even realize were luxuries before kids will suddenly be blatant. A little daydreaming about what is was like to sleep all night, shower in peace, and meet a friend for brunch is completely normal. It doesn’t mean you love your child any less.
Hold them as much as you want.
Maybe that’s all day long while you soak up that newborn-lump-on-your-chest goodness. Maybe it’s not holding them so you can eat your meal with two hands and flip through a magazine. Both are fine.
There is no book that will really tell you how to do it all.
I don’t really have many parenting books I’d recommend beyond The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Collapse of Parenting because no book knows you, your baby, or you specific situation. As helpful as it can be to poll mom friends (and sanity-saving), they don’t really know either. Trust your gut.
Don’t wake up before your baby.
I’m one of those moms that sings the praises of all I can get done in those early morning hours while the kids still sleep, but my kids aren’t babies anymore. Truly, right now let sleep reign and don’t set that alarm. Just sleep!
Get outside and breath in fresh air.
Even if it’s just once a day. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes. Fresh air and real sunshine will remind you that there is life beyond your living room/disaster zone and it will make you feel alive again.
Breastfeeding is natural but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally.
Engorgement, clogged ducts, painful latch, oversupply, leaking… and those are just the ones I personally experienced. And I’d actually say breastfeeding went really well for us. Learning to breastfeed is just that- learning.
You may also like:
Find a mom tribe in your same stage.
It’s great to have friends in all stages of life: veteran moms to weigh in, friends without kids to remind you who you are, etc. But nothing is more therapeutic to a new mom than a fellow new mom going through exactly what you are going through at the exact same time. It may be the blind leading the blind, but you sometimes you don’t need advice as much as you need someone to be able to look you in the eye and say “me too.”
All you really need are diapers, a source of food, a blanket or two, and a lot of onesies.
And maybe a NoseFrida. The rest is just gravy.
Take lots of pictures, and don’t forget to take video too.
Those newborn grunts will fade and those first smiles are priceless, so snap away, and share away and if anyone has a problem with it, they probably aren’t a parent yet.
Going through our family pictures has made me nostalgic for those sweet and chaotic newborn days. Not that I want to relive them (I very much so enjoy sleeping through the night now), but it really is such a special time and it’s easier to enjoy the sweet moments when you aren’t bogged down with wondering if you are doing it right. Spoiler alert: you are. <3
Fellow mamas, what do you think would have been helpful to hear before you had your first baby?
What was the best thing someone told you?