Being a new mom is hard. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…
I am a mom times two.
I have a little girl who is three and an even littler boy who is 10-months-old. For three years my only constant has been change (and lack of sleep, but that’s a pity party for another day) and I’m not talking about the light and fluffy kind of change. I’m talking about the whirlwind, oh-my-goodness-did-that-just-really-happen kind of change.
Being a new mom is hard.
It’s the happiest, scariest, most tiring time of your life. And, it’s hard. No book, antenatal class or great-aunt can fully prepare you for those first few months.
Now, I’m only a couple of years into the mommy-game, so I wouldn’t consider myself an expert (especially because I am still not sleeping through the night), but after observing my children (in a non-scientific way, of course) and countless Google searches during middle-of-the-night feeds and sleepless nights, I have come to a few conclusions regarding the first few months of mommy-hood.
Here’s what I have learned so far…
1. Ditch the advice
You will receive advice from every woman with whom you make eye contact. Smile, nod and bank the advice for a day where you have nothing to do but think of all the advice you have received.
Instead, follow your gut. Get to know your baby and what works for him or her. Trust your instincts – it’s automatically built into you to know what your baby wants and needs.
2. A medical kit will save your life
Slightly dramatic, but true.
I received a medical kit at my baby shower. Thinking I would only use it when my baby got sick, I packed it away. Until one night, when my daughter would not stop screaming.
Desperate to stop the crying, I clambered through the kit looking for anything and everything that had a crying baby on it. After playing a round of eeny-meeny-miny-mo, I chose drops that my daughter would continue to get in every bottle for the next year. I’m still not sure whether it was the drops that worked or whether she eventually just passed out from exhaustion, but from that night, as long as she drank a bottle, she would get those ‘magical’ drops.
You need a medical kit. Even if you don’t know what half of the stuff treats. At 2am in the morning, you won’t care and anything with a crying baby on the bottle will do.
3. You will be judged
Whether you breastfeed or not, are highly strung or calm or choose to give your baby a pacifier or not… you will be judged. This is something that I still struggle with. Three years ago I was judged for choosing to bottle-feed my daughter, now I am being judged for still breastfeeding my 10-month-old son – there is no end to the judging, and sometimes you will feel as if you just can’t win.
But, I’ve learnt (and am still learning!) that as long as my babies are happy, then being judged doesn’t matter.
Do the best you can, as long as it’s good enough for your baby, you are doing just fine.
4. Babies cry. And that’s okay
In our first few days at home, any time my daughter made a sound, I would stick the pacifier in her mouth…
Until I came across an article that explained how a baby cries as a means of communication (their only means of communicating at this age). Since reading that, I stopped trying to silence cries with a pacifier. Instead, I allowed her to communicate with me and I allowed myself the time to decode her cry. By doing this, I got to know that different cries signaled different needs. I found that I was able to respond to her cry far quicker, if I knew what she was asking me to do.
5. You can’t sleep when the baby sleeps
The next person who tells me that, will win my housework lottery. They will also blow-dry my hair, do my grocery shopping and entertain my dogs. All those ladies who tell you to ‘rest before the baby gets here’ were not joking.
The amount of sleep that you will learn to function on is ridiculous. I’m talking anything from as little as two hours in a 24 hour period. Yes. Sleep while you can.
6. You will have one hand for the rest of your life
Multitasking will take on a whole new meaning. Babies don’t understand that their moms needs to cook, brush their teeth and eat. As such, you will learn to do everything with one hand. You will also learn to do some things with your nose and mouth.
Two words: Baby carrier. Invest in one. It is to this day, one of the best baby purchases that we made. Baby is where he wants to be (snuggled up against mom) and mom has two free hands to continue with everyday tasks. Its a win-win!
7. This is a big love
When my first baby was born, the love I felt for her was natural and instinctual. Just like I expected. What I didn’t expect though, was for that love to grow to the point where it consumed me. And, then to multiply when my second child came along – I always say, it’s as if I grew another heart just for my son.
The love you feel for your baby will be the biggest love you have ever experienced. They will be the last thing you think about when you go to sleep at night and the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning.
When you are not attending to your baby’s needs, you will spend your time marvelling at the little miracle that you have created. I have 3 500 photos on my cell phone to prove this.
There is no love, like the love of a parent (I say parent and not mom, because dads are also consumed by this love). Your whole world will revolve around the little beings who have thrown your life upside down in a whirlwind of chaos. And you know what, there’s nothing better.