I was prepared to have my world turned upside down. Nothing would ever be the same. But why would I want it to? I had managed to survive pregnancy and labor just like all the other women who have contributed to humanity. After trying to conceive for what felt like eons, I had read up on all the basics of keeping the baby alive and healthy. I was turning into a “mom.” I traded my gossip website updates for an expecting in March forum. My daily news feeds were what to expect and how to prepare. I was confident that while I may not ace motherhood in general, I would try my best at enjoying my new chapter and make mindful decisions for my baby.
I took notes as if I were preparing for the SATs, I hoped to get my PHD in Mamahood. My husband got worried when I was 37 weeks pregnant and the book he ordered hadn’t arrived. Babies for Dummies. We got the book a week later, and I said, “Ok, now we can have the baby. The book is actually helpful. I messaged a mass email to all my friends that had already experienced the highs and lows of parenting. I asked them to send me the best advice they could give. I don’t know what hidden tips I was expecting, as if the good secrets were sworn to secrecy, but they pretty much all responded the same. They told me to get as much sleep as I could. Keep myself as a top priority. Take those bubble baths and some time for myself. Go with the flow, as every child is different. Then you had the by the book, I must tell you and you must listen friends. They advised me on every detail of how my days should be. There was no second guessing because their decisions were the best hands down. They told me when and how to feed my baby, the vaccination schedule, and endless do’s and don’t lists. If I questioned them, it would somehow turn into great debates. Hey I’m not running for office; I just wanted to have a fun parenting conversation.
The truth is most of what I learned I found out on my own by trial and error. Some days were winning days where all my choices seamlessly blended together, and I felt like a super hero mom. Other days I had a few woops, guess I won’t be trying that again, but at least I know now kinda thing. Guess what…my baby is still alive, happy, and loves me.
One word of advice my friend told me was don’t be afraid to discipline. Your child will still look up to you and love you unconditionally. My nurse handed me a pamphlet on PURPLE Crying. At first my newborn didn’t have crying spats and wasn’t colicky. By week five she started getting fussy around 6 p.m. every evening. She had slept all day, she didn’t need changed or fed, so what was the deal? It’s called the witching hour.
The best advice I got was just let them cry it out. That way you don’t get frustrated trying to console them and accidentally shake them. This also teaches them to self soothe, and eventually they calm down. The best aspect is it toughens your skin and promotes patience; something all mothers can sometimes use a bit more of.
Here are a few things no advice or books could prepare me for.
- No sleep: Ok, everyone warned me about this, but I am hyper active so I thought no biggie right? It’s not like you can bank sleep like vacation days. Instead of sleeping all day a few days out of my pregnancy, or grabbing extra naps, I constantly felt the need to prepare for what was coming. You would have thought we were going to have a solar storm or the ice age was coming. I was stocking up on food and beauty products as if I wouldn’t see a store for years. I found myself in the middle of ridiculous projects that had to get done, but never mattered before and they didn’t change a thing once they were complete. Sleep! Yes you will sleep once the baby sleeps through the night, but it won’t be that uninterrupted not a care in the world hibernating bear sleep. This was my biggest regret. For months I felt as if I was a zombie.
- The mom bun is underrated! It took me forever to grow my hair from the classic bob to a messy sexy medium layered style that looks ratty when not blown out, but looks great when I have the extra time to do it. I was tempted to cut my hair and keep it simple. Who has time to even shower, and I’m supposed to wash and dry my hair? Neve rmind the baby grabbing my hair. I’m not losing hair because of hormones; it’s because my baby grabs it out in chunks. That’s love. When I do wash it and find the time to blow it out or let it dry into messy air dry waves, within minutes I find it’s stuck with baby slobber, mashed food, and other mysteries of motherhood. Mom bun! You don’t need to cut those locks. My man loves my longer hair, and date nights when I do it, I feel sexy. In between those random days I mom bun it up.
- The art of dropping a squat while holding the baby. We are co-sleepers. That’s a whole other subject, but when you finally get your baby to sleep you do not want to wake the dragon. During my first few months post partem I felt I woke up, robotically nursed the baby, rocked her hiccups and gas away, changed her, and back down I went like I was a well oiled machine. With all my water guzzling to keep the milk flowing and my messed up control of bladder I had to scramble to the bathroom a few times during the night. Luckily, we have an insuite master bath, but it was still tricky. There were nights were the baby was finally nursing perfectly, and I couldn’t hold it any longer. I would slowly make my way using the moonlight to get to the bathroom, manage to drop my panties, and pee while holding the baby. It takes practice and they don’t talk about it in the books, but maybe I’m the only one who does it.
- Necklaces are a thing of the past. The expensive or sentimental necklaces are better kept in the box; you don’t want to loose or break them when the little one shows their intrest in your bling. The cheap fun costume jewlrey is a choking hazard when they grab at the beeds. They have teething baby necklaces moms can wear that babies can enjoy. I’m just not there yet, so I don’t wear anything.
- Pump it up! From the day I got home from the hopsital I started using my breast pump. If you haven’t breastfed before, the first few days are hell. It hurts! There is a craft to getting the baby to latch properly, and your boobs feel like they are going to explode! I looked at the bigger picture. I wanted milk saved up for days when I wanted to leave the baby with my husband or grandparents wanted to help outand of course those days where I wanted a little vino. I wanted to make sure my body produced enough milk, so I gave it an extra boost by pumping it every hour the first few weeks. My baby got the nutrients it needed and I was able to store in the first few days before my milk came in an extra 20 ounces of colustrum. I will use this during cold and flu season as an extra boost or when we travel. The first three months of post partem I was able to squeeze out and freeze an average of 10 extra ounces a day. Being that I am a stay at home mom and my baby didn’t really take to the bottle until month 4 I had over 350 ounces saved up which comes in handy now. Even though I have an over supply a few days my milk production slowed down. I could barely squeeze out anything. I didn’t give up. I drank water all day, ate oatmeal, and pumped every hour. By day two or three the milk was flowing normal again. She is currently 6 months and I don’t bother pumping anymore. I had an over supply of milk which help me feed faster and assisted in her growth. She was born at 40% and is now 93rd in height and 95th in weight.
Life is what you make it. If you want to be stressed out about every detail motherhood has to offer, you can be. If you want to roll with it and take a more laid back approach, why not? My biggest advice for new mothers is to not lose yourself. Find your most positive attributes and let them shine. Have fun with the transition to becoming a parent. While it has a reputation of being challenging and hard at times, it is rewarding, upredictable, and life changing.