It’s amazing how much one month can change you. Just one month ago my little boy came into this world…and my life would never be the same. Here are some of the things I’ve learned since Miles came along:
1. Trust your instincts…not the experts. Before Miles was born, I had some pretty set ideas. No pacifiers, no co-sleeping, and breastfeeding would be very easy. Hah! Guess what? I’d caved into the pacifier within two days, Miles has spent most of his nights in our bed, and breastfeeding was certainly not easy. Giving up my pre-conceived notions was far from easy, though. Often, I felt like a failure as a mom. I almost wish now I had stopped listening to the experts long ago.
I remember one very long night when he was about five days old. He was up most of the night, and every time he’d fall asleep and I’d lay him in his sleeper, he’d start crying. Finally, at my wit’s end and exhausted, I’d laid down with him on my chest. And I felt terrible for doing it. Thankfully, when I’d called my mom crying the next morning I was not met with criticism. Instead, I was encouraged to trust my instincts and do what I needed to do…instead of worrying about what the “experts” told us to do. That was a turning point for me. Now, I take each day at a time and let my baby shows me what he needs. For the first couple of weeks, that was sleeping close to mommy and daddy.
Five weeks later, Miles does sleep much of the night in his sleeper, but he always ends up in bed with us eventually. And you know what? That’s okay.
2. Every baby is different. We as adults are all very different from each other. Why should we expect our babies to be any different? One of the traps I fell into early on was thinking that there was a magic formula for every baby. Well guess what? There isn’t! My baby doesn’t like swaddling, and isn’t big on being rocked to sleep. He’d prefer to fall asleep walking around, or be put to sleep in a drunken “milk stupor”. And just sleeping contentedly in his car seat at a restaurant? Forget about it! He hates his car seat, although he’s getting more used to it. In restaurants, we usually do a lot better if I put him in the Moby Wrap. But only with his feet out (they recommend keeping feet in for newborns)…he doesn’t like to have his feet constrained.
3. It’s okay to have the baby blues. That first week definitely had it’s ups-and-downs. I’m so grateful to all of the women who made a point of telling me it was normal to feel down or blue the first few weeks. I certainly did. Don’t get me wrong, being a mama was the most wonderful experience, and I was so in love with my little boy! Yet, I definitely felt sad at times, and often for no particular reason. Everything was just so new…and my hormones were way out of whack! They evened out though, and the blues quickly went away. It helped me so much knowing that what I was feeling was normal, though!
4. Let some things go. Okay, I’m not going to lie…it really bugged me at first that I couldn’t keep up with all my normal house chores. At one point, the floor got so filthy that I just had to not look at it. Even now, the cobwebs in the windows are driving me crazy (I used to vacuum them once a week). Slowly, though, I’m learning that it’s okay. I’m learning that if we have to get fast food again because I didn’t have time (or energy) to cook, it’s okay. This is just for a season! And, honestly, I’d much rather savor my little boy’s snuggles than waste my time worrying about how dirty my house is. It’s just not worth it!
5. Don’t forget your spouse. I’m not going to lie…there are days that parenthood, lack of sleep, and stress have put a definite strain on Andy’s and my relationship. There’s never anything big, but I’m just so much more quick to snap about petty things and what-not. We’ve been trying to be more intentional about connecting relationally. I’m so thankful for a man who is faithful and devoted to our marriage and our relationship. And you know what? This is definitely making our relationship stronger. We’re learning to rely on each other more, and our communication skills are definitely sharpening. It’s so easy to forget Andy in the midst of all the feedings, poopy diapers, and endless bouncing…but that would be wrong. My marriage comes even before my sweet Miles. Besides, the stronger our marriage is, the better parents we’ll be for Miles. (Can you say “teamwork”?)
6. Enjoy the new “normal”. Life is definitely different from before Miles came. We knew it would be, but I don’t think anything can fully prepare you for it. The first few weeks we were pretty much hermits, holed away in our house just trying to get some sleep. Can you blame us? Not only were we exhausted, but a mere “quick” trip to the grocery store had tripled in time…or more. Now when I go into town I have to plan things around feedings and naptimes. I have a perpetual fear of getting in the middle of a grocery trip with a full basket, only to find myself with a baby who’s screaming like a banshee. Thankfully that has yet to happen.
Truthfully, though, everything’s changed. Our routines, what we do in our free time…even when we hang out with friends who have kids. When we go out, I know find myself in a back room a lot nursing or changing a diaper. That hasn’t stopped us from going out though. We’ve been to several restaurants and over to other people’s houses. We are just a bit more flexible. (And I’m so thankful for the Moby Wrap…it’s an instant soother when we’re out-and-about). Yes, our life has changed, but that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. We can choose to embrace this change or complain about it. I choose the former.
7. Stop worrying. Finally, as any new mother can relate to, I tend to worry a lot. Is he too hot or cold? Is he getting enough to eat? Is he growing right? Whenever he’s crying or upset, or has a rough night, I’m so quick to try to find a solution. He must be gassy from something I ate! I should try to cut out dairy. As my friend so graciously reminded me: he’s just a baby, and that’s what baby’s do. Sometimes they’re fussy and you don’t know why. But that’s totally normal! It doesn’t mean he has a fever or needs “Colic Calm”. God designed my little Miles’ body to grow and form exactly according to plan. And you know what? Whether I eat dairy or not isn’t going to change anything. All my worrying is just going to make me stressed, in turn making him more fussy! He’s going to be just fine in the end.