A couple months ago, my son turned 1. I have no idea how it happened, but somehow we made it. Almost like clockwork he turned a corner and transformed from a baby into a toddler. He’s walking, babbling with purpose (thinks he’s talking), listens to me, kisses me, and is starting to hand me the things he used to put right in his mouth. While I loved every minute of his babyhood, I’m so happy and ready for this to happen.
Despite everyone’s warnings that time will fly, the past year has actually been very long. I quite literally spent just about every waking and sleeping moment with my son, so I didn’t miss a thing and watched each and every development take place.
When I look back, there are definitely things I wish I would have known (or actually believed) that would have made my life easier. So here’s my advice for all the new moms out there that are about to embark on the most amazing journey of your lives:
Everything is just a phase.
I can not emphasize this enough. Every single solitary worry I had occurred because my son would start to do something (or not do something) that I was convinced would last forever. Not sleeping long enough, sleeping too long, not eating food, eating too much, crying in his sleep, not making eye contact, being fussy, being clingy…the list goes on and on.
Every single one of these things lasted for 1-3 weeks – THAT’S ALL. It feels like an eternity, but before you know it, the phase is over. Half the time you won’t even realize it’s gone! So try to step back and look at the big picture so that you don’t lose your mind over every weird little oddity.
No one knows what they’re doing.
You will come across tons of moms that are unbelievably passionate about what they’re doing. Breastfeeding, formula feeding, crying it out, waiting it out, organic food, whole food, jumperoo, baby swing, babywearing, nannying. Everyone will swear by what they do. Their way is the best way.
Really, they have not the faintest idea what the heck they’re doing. But the worst possible thing you can do in the world is screw up as a mother, so you do everything you can to make your baby happy. And when you figure that out, you’ll feel pretty passionate about it.
Luckily, no matter what you do, research is there to support your way of mothering as the best way of mothering (seriously). So hop on board to whatever bandwagon works for you and act like you know what you’re doing!
Your friends do it one way, your parents do it another way, your doctor does it differently, and the internet has a whole new theory. Odds are, before your baby is even born you have some idea of the way you want to do things. But none of that matters. There are over 7 billion parenting styles in the world and YOUR parenting style is going to be a product of your needs and your baby’s needs – and those needs are unique to you and your baby. So you need to try everything to find what works.
This doesn’t mean that you’ll end up doing something you’re completely against or totally not comfortable with (because that isn’t going to fulfill your needs!). But it does mean that you will end up doing weird and quirky things to make you both happy.
For the first 6 weeks of my son’s life he would only nurse in the “football hold” (yes, that exists.). For those not familiar with this bizarreness, it’s basically nursing backwards. Eventually he flipped around, but for a long time it was the only way to get him to latch…and the only reason I figured that out is because I first had to try the traditional hold, the hamburger hold, laying down, standing up, nursing on my head, nursing with everyone in the world watching, and letting the milk just drip into his mouth.
I tried everything and finally I found what worked.
Find a friend that parents just like you.
Parenting friends are amazing. They don’t think it’s weird when you talk about poop, they will debate how many milligrams of motrin is appropriate for your baby, and they understand the importance of selecting the right shade of jumperoo to fit your child’s personality. And no matter how you parent, the vast majority of your parenting friends will support all of your decisions – even if they do things differently. They will comfort you when things go wrong and listen when you just need to vent.
But no matter how supportive they are, you will have moments where you need someone to look you in the eye and say “I’m going through the exact same thing. I feel the exact same way. I would do the exact same thing you’re doing.” You need to find this friend. Even if they’re 1,000 miles away, you need to find at least 1 person that parents just like you.
Take care of yourself…physically and mentally.
The best gift you can give a child is a happy, healthy parent. So make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Give yourself a break and ask for help. Pregnancy, giving birth, and raising a baby takes an unbelievable toll on your body and mind. So you’re going to have to spend a little extra time on yourself to keep your engine running.
Just remember, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you can’t possibly take care of your baby. It’s why they make you put on the oxygen mask first.
Break everything down into 10 minute increments.
I’ve written about this before and I can’t emphasize this enough. If you want to get anything done, you need to completely restructure the way you do things. It is rare that you get an entire hour to complete a task, so figure out a way to break everything down into little phases. It’s the only way to stay sane and still feel semi-productive.
Your baby will cry no matter what.
I was obsessed with my baby before he was even born and I was determined to make him the happiest baby on the street – which meant no crying (I know, I was crazy).
Honestly, I didn’t think it would be that hard. I would just hold him when he needed to be held, feed him when he needed to be fed, and let him sleep when he needed to sleep. I didn’t really understand why other moms made it look so hard…
Well, guess what. He cries. Sometimes for no reason at all. Often it’s for a reason I can’t figure out.
All babies cry. Some a lot, some not as much. But they all cry. In fact, if they don’t cry you have a serious problem on your hands. It is how they communicate and the release of tears actually helps to balance the natural chemistry of their little bodies. It is why a sad and depressing, yet great, episode of Grey’s Anatomy can feel so satisfying. Give yourself a break! Even if you do everything right, your baby will cry.
Hopefully these little shreds of advice were helpful! And remember, I really have no idea what I’m doing, so take it all with a grain of salt. 😉
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