In the very wee hours this morning, the world welcomed a brand new Being. With bleary eyes and a wet brow she took a deep breath and let out a sound that may have been a cry or maybe just a gasp or even a contented sigh. I can imagine this new world she had just entered seemed at once overwhelming and strange, yet completely where she was supposed to be. No doubt she was unsure of what exactly would happen next but suddenly the only thing that mattered was the face gazing back at her, eyes locked and filled with love. Brand new in this strange world, ready to take on the journey ahead of her… wait a minute… do you think I’m talking about the baby???? No, no, no, I’m talking about the Momma. Yes. One of my dear friends became a mother today. One sweet and deliciously handsome baby boy and one kind and amazing Momma were born this morning.
All day I’ve been thinking about those beginning hours and days of Motherhood. The poor kid has been squeezed out of his safe, warm, floating cocoon and into this harsh world with bright lights and loud noises. The poor Momma just put her body through the ringer and smack dab into recovering from labor/delivery while nourishing another human while not sleeping while hormones are plunging and skyrocketing while baby is crying while husband is asking questions while lactation consultants are getting their faces very near her breasts while nurses continuously poke and prod her while all the while she is asking herself “what in the world am I doing?” It’s all very crazy. Except when she looks down into that sweet fella’s handsome and chubby-cheeked face and the world sort of stops for a moment and she remembers, “oh yeah, I’m a Momma.”
I’ve thought about all the things I wish I had known when I was a newly born Momma. Of all the pieces of advice I would give myself to try to make the road a little easier. (I wonder if I would even listen to myself or have to learn those lessons the hard way?) So tonight I’m going to write myself my Top 5 Thoughts I (7 year old Momma) Would Share with Me (Newborn Momma)…
1. You are the best Momma for your Baby. Own that title.
Motherhood opens the door for solicited and unsolicited advice beyond your wildest dreams. You also get to be judged by other mothers…. And even worse…. Non-mothers. This is a fact of Motherhood. You can either get really irritated and angry and rant on Facebook about it, or you can accept that people will judge you and tell you how to do things “better” and laugh it off or blow it off and then joke about it on Facebook. (Facebook also seems to be a fact of Motherhood too.)
I’m unsure if people have good intentions when they offer young mothers advice, especially in the grocery store. Perhaps it’s a joke they play by trying get inside our already-scattered-Momma-brain and make us more distracted and therefore running late and baby crying while we walk up and down the aisles trying to remember what we needed to buy in the first place. If that’s the case, it’s really not a funny joke. Anyway, regardless of why people feel the need to share their thoughts and opinions on how you should be raising your child, you needn’t pay attention. You are your baby’s Momma. You know your baby better than anyone else. You know his personality, how he likes to sleep, how he prefers to be held, etc. You know what’s going on in your family or your family’s history that is influencing your mothering decisions. Be confident in those things. Be confidant in You. If you are happy with the way your Motherhood is shaping up, then don’t worry about what other people think or say. Trust yourself. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty.
But one day, you might just think, “I’m not sure I’m doing this the best way…. How could I do this differently?” And that takes me to #2…
2. Surround yourself with girlfriends (fellow moms and non-moms, too) who you respect and trust.
Many aspects of Motherhood are tough and confusing and downright soul-crushing. You will need your girlfriends to help you. It’s okay, dare I say “great”, to ask your friends for help or advice or a kick in the pants. Back in the day the ladies used to raise their little bambinos together. Aunts, grandmas, sisters, neighbors would share some of the burden. I don’t really know why, but today’s mothers seem a lot more independent and refuse to ask for help when they need it. Sharing the burdens is a great way to bond with your girlfriends, to allow each other to see that other Mommas have struggles too, to learn new ways to solve problems, to get a fresh perspective on what Motherhood means. Even more importantly, sharing the burdens almost always leads to sharing the joys too. Let your friends help you out. Let your friends offer you advice and pointers. Don’t let your pride get in the way or the fear of looking weak and unfit make you miss the opportunity to lean on one of your girlfriends. One day it will be your turn to offer advice or a helping hand and those friends will soon be like family.
Speaking of family… Let’s head to #3…
3. So now that you just went from husband and wife to an actual “family,” be prepared to ache for your extended family.
I am blessed to have the world’s most amazing family. I’ve pretty much always known that. However, from that first day of Motherhood, I had never truly ached to be near my family more. My sister and I would talk about living in the same city one day when we had families and that was fun to daydream about, but not a serious “how can we make this happen” plan. My parents would come out and visit my husband and me wherever the Navy had stationed us. We would do silly touristy things that were fun, but not entirely monumental. (No offense Mom and Dad.) After I became a Momma I ached and ached for my family to come and meet my daughter. I wanted them to see her and all of her fabulousness, and I also wanted them to see me in all my Momma glory (remember…. Sleeplessness, hormonal, sore, etc.)! I ached for my daughter to meet her aunt who would love her almost nearly as much as I loved her. I wanted my In-Laws to see the newest little person with our shared last name. I wanted my daughter to be surrounded by those that loved her most and to be held in the arms that would be hugging her for years and years to come. No matter the drama that comes with family… we all gots at least a little drama…. Becoming a new Momma makes you ache for those that love you best.
(Also, your extended family are the people who you can fully and totally trust with your brand new baby so you can sleep without one ear open. My Mother-In-Law gets credit for my first four-hour-straight nap of full deep sleep. She will forever have a special place in my heart for that nap.)
Family means love, and adding a new member to your family makes you crave that love from the people that love you best. And who is the one who really truly loves you best… #4 focuses on that…
4. The one other person on Earth who gets credit for giving you the title of Momma… Your husband…. You’re both winners. So stop competing!
This one might be a little silly, but my husband and I had to actually say this rule out loud and agree upon it when we were prepping for baby #2’s arrival.
Stop competing over who is more tired.
Right around week three or so, when the adrenaline wore off and we were still getting sleep in approximately 2-3 hour chunks we had this conversation:
Dad: “I’m so tired.”
Momma: “Really? Are you?”
Dad: “Yes. Really. My body aches I’m so tired.”
Momma: “Hmmm. Yeah, I’m pretty sore from my c-section and pretty tired too. Did you know I was up every two hours last night?”
Dad: “I know. I was up too.”
Momma: “But then you went back to sleep while I was feeding her.”
Dad: “But I woke up. I heard her crying.”
Momma: “Yeah, But You. Went. Back. To. Sleep. I heard you SNORING.”
Dad: “I know but then you threw that sock at me so I woke up again.”
Momma: “I threw the sock at you because you were snoring and almost woke the baby up.”
Dad: “Well then I was up and went to work all day.”
Momma: “Well then I was up and went to work all day too.”
Dad: “But I didn’t get to nap.”
Momma: “Well I only napped a little because by the time I fell asleep Baby woke up ten minutes later.”
Dad: “Ah, I’m so tired a ten minute nap sounds good. I’m so tired.”
Momma: “Well, I’m more tired than you are.”
Dad: “Are you? Are you? I’m probably more tired than you think I am.”
Momma: “Maybe but I’m pretty sure I’m more tired than you are.”
WHAT?! That was just silly. Clearly we were sleep deprived and delirious to think that was a helpful conversation. The second and third time we had a newborn in the house we would say something like this:
Dad: “I’m so tired.”
Momma: “I know. Me too.”
Dad: “Baby was up a bunch last night, huh?”
Momma: “Yep. I’m so tired.”
Dad: “I know. Me too.”
Keep in mind that while you, Momma, are working hard. So is Dad. Is it the same? No. Does that matter? No. Just accept that the first few months everyone is tired and everyone is over-worked. But the good news is…… #5….
5. It’s just a phase. Everything with kids is just a phase…
Read the fine print: this also means that if things are going well, it’s just a phase too. Soon things will start to not go well again. But, that’s just a phase too!
I did not love the newborn phase. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with Baby all day. I thought I was a bad mom or that I lacked some maternal instinct. Turns out it was hormonal and I soon snapped out of it and life as a Momma turned out to be great. I got into my groove and we sort of got a schedule down. But that turned out to be a phase because she had a growth spurt. I was super tired and drained and crabby again, but that turned out to be a phase and she started being more interactive and Motherhood was actually fun. The fun phase led right into the teething phase and that is a very not-fun phase. The phases came and went and came and went. All in all, you just have to hold on for dear life and enjoy the rollercoaster ride. I’m seven years into this Momma life and I’m still riding through different phases. Now with three kids I really have to enjoy the times when all three of them are in a good phase at the same time. It does happen. That is a most-awesome phase. It’s actually a “Makes all the tough phases worth it 100 times over!” Phase.
Allow your nurses to help as much as possible while you are in the hospital.
Our nurses took Baby #3, Samuel, out of our room for a few hours so I could sleep. I’m not sure I let Baby #1 out of my line of sight for the first few days. By Baby #3, I had learned my lesson! The nurses wrote this note on our door for all the hospital staff and un-announced visitors.
I’m fairly certain I could write pages and pages of more lessons I learned as a New Momma. Not that I think I know everything now. Certainly I’m still learning new lessons and re-learning old lessons. This list was fun to write and think back on all the ways I have grown and changed over the years… almost like a newborn to a seven year old. My dear friend, you know who you are, I wish you all the best in this wonderful life as a Momma! You are going to do a wonderful job being the very best Momma that your little chicken could ever have, I look forward to watching you learn and grow along the way. Love you!