I was the first of my close friends to have a baby. Like every new mom, I had no idea what I was doing, if what I was doing was okay or effective, and that by not being sure about any of it, I was definitely sure that I wasn’t doing it right.
Becoming a mother is massive. The changes to your body, brain and heart are unlike any other identity shift for women. I needed a lot of help and advice and so do most new moms.
So when my nearest and dearest started having babies of their own and asking me questions, I realized that I sounded like I maybe knew a little bit about it. I in no way can claim expertise (does any parent ever feel like a true expert? It seems that no matter your child’s age, honest parents seem to always feel out of their depth about something), but I have some information that I wish I had had when my kiddo was new and I was living in that postpartum haze.
I wrote it down in a friend’s baby shower card and expanded on some of that unsolicited advice here:
- The days are long, but the years are short. (Read that again. I can’t claim ownership of this since many wise mothers shared this one with me. It will help you on your journey, too. It became my mantra at times.)
- If cluster feeds don’t make you even a little bit crazy, you are an angel among us.
- Everything is a phase. Everything. Seriously.
- Laundry is your new pastime. Embrace this shift and you will be much happier for it.
- SLEEP WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS. Or shower. Or call your best friend and cry or laugh or vent. Do something that nurtures YOU, even just a little.
- Send photos and videos to your people often -it’s never annoying, it’s always so wonderful.
- Profound love and collosal worry are your two new companions. Forever.
- There is no one right way to do something. If there were, there would be ONE book telling us all how and Oprah would have told us about it.
- There is no such thing as a perfect mother.
- The baby and his/her needs will come first from now on and you will not only be okay with it, you’ll insist on it.
- You’ll judge other moms and then realize that you were a jerk for judging other moms (because see #9). And that cycle will be constant.
- There will be days that are so exhausting and hard, grueling and thankless, where you will question who you are, what you got yourself into, and why you let your partner do this to you. Remember this on those days: every mother feels this way at one point or another. It is normal. We are mere mortals after all. The phase will shift for you, too.
- Other days it feels like a calling, a privilege and the most beautiful of gifts.
- Crying is a given so just let it rip.
- You will micromanage your co-parent. You won’t be able to help yourself. Remember that partners have to find their own way through parenting. You have to let them. You will all be the happier for it.
- Make sure you are IN the photos!
- Your body won’t feel right for a year. This has nothing to do with weight. It takes that long for your hormones to equilibrate, for your body to recalibrate after growing, housing and birthing a human. Don’t push yourself beyond what your body is telling you is okay.
- You are not crazy for checking that your baby is breathing several (hundred) times in those first few months (years? always? I mean, I still check on my kiddo every night before I go to bed).
- Go on dates with your partner. Talk about and look at photos of you kid if that’s what you want to do. Talk about anything other than your kid if that’s what you want to do. Remind each other you’re doing great.
- Embrace the mess.
- Mom intuition is real. Hone it and listen to it.
- There will be moments that catch you totally off-guard. Where you feel like your heart may burst straight through your chest because you are so filled with joy and so grateful for your family. Bask in that glow, it’s why we do this.
- JOIN A MOMS GROUP. Google it, ask your pediatrician or your OB/midwife or your doula for info on local groups. Having other moms to talk to, seeing the variations of normal, watching how other moms do it and talk and are, not to mention the friendships both my son and I developed from it, single-handedly saved me from myself. Do it.
- When in doubt, breathe. And laugh. Because you got this. You’re a mom.