When I was pregnant with my first baby I had so many questions. From when I was going to start to show and start feeling the baby kick to what I was supposed to eat and what exercises I should do. I tried to plan and prepare for the arrival of my baby, but everything I read or advice I was given all went out the window when I brought this little being home for the first time. As some of my best girlfriends are now pregnant and have been asking me for advice, while I offer some minor tips, I know that everything I say or suggest will not be used and that they too will be as clueless as I was as they embark on this new journey. Once that little being arrives, no matter how prepared they think they are, they will only understand what I’m talking about by going through it themselves. I’m so excited for them to become moms. It’s almost like a right of passage. Now they will know why sometimes I couldn’t attend events or why I seem to have lost my mind or why I am always tired or why I spend my Friday nights at a princess party instead of going out for drinks. When I look at my pregnant friends I see how naive they are, as was I. I never understood the whole mom thing before I had a child, but how could I. They have no idea how their lives are about to change, so I write this Note to them and to all the mamas to be to let them know that this is going to be the most amazing experience of their lives. For the ladies that are already moms, please comment with your words of wisdom to all the moms-to-be and share some of your funny stories so that they can have something to look forward to as they enter this new chapter of their lives.
I am so excited for you to become a mother. There is nothing like it. From the moment that baby arrives and you hold him/her in your arms your life will change forever. Having experienced the birth of a second child I feel that I can now give some words of wisdom. The second, while it is absolutely amazing and probably more enjoyable (because you do have some experience and aren’t as nervous), there is nothing in the world that you will ever experience like the first. I wish I could relive those first days, weeks, months that I brought my first baby girl home again. You will be running on pure adrenaline, excitement, joy and pride. You are going to make many mistakes, believe me, everyone does. You will smile a lot (at your precious baby), cry more than you ever have in your life (those hormones are still raging), and experience what it is to love something so much it hurts (even if you think you have experienced this already, believe me, you haven’t).
Some of the things below might sound really scary, but I survived and you will too. Babies don’t come with instructions and there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to raising a child. I want to share my experience with you so that while you are going through some similar things you know that it is all very normal. I wish someone had given me this advice. Everyone tells you what you need to prepare, but none tells you what happens. Once you leave that hospital you are on your own. I hope this helps. Just remember, you took care of yourself all of these years so use common sense, as for advice and love that baby with all of your heart and he/she will be just fine!
1. The first night you bring your baby home is extremely scary, but it gets better, I promise. My husband and I were tremendously shell shocked (with out even saying a word we both were thinking “what the heck did we do!”). I look back at pictures of that first night and you can see the terror in our faces. We both slept on the couch with the baby in the rock-n-play and I literally stared at her all night, checked that she was breathing 5,000 times (no seriously) and breastfed her every hour and it took her an hour to eat so I think I just really fed her all night! However, you start to know your baby as your baby does you. You learn what their cries mean and you get on a routine. Everyday gets easier and soon you will be a pro at this mom thing 🙂
2. It’s okay if you call the Pediatrician (at 4am) if you have a question. That is what they are there for. They take turns being on call as I’m sure they know new parents have a lot of questions. In that first week I embarrassingly admit to calling the pediatrician at 4am because my daughter’s poop wasn’t looking like the chart they gave me of what it should look like. I know, as a second time mom that sounds absurd, but I did it. I literally looked at it and discussed it with my husband for about two hours before I finally called. The Doctor said it was ok and that was all I needed. Sounds ridiculous I know, but if you find yourself stressing about a sniffle, cough, cry, or poop color (OMG can’t even believe I did that), just call already.
3. Accept help from others. If someone says they will watch the baby so you can sleep or will make dinner for you, say yes. If no one asks, ask them. Don’t try to be superwoman. In other countries moms get taken care of and are expected to rest for days and sometimes months after the baby is born. In America, we are expected to get back to our normal routines. I tried to be superwoman until I started bleeding really badly and the doctor told me to take it easy. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized having a baby is serious. If your house is dirty and the dishes aren’t washed, people that come to visit will understand that you just had a baby. You and your baby are your first priorities.
4. Make time for you. And don’t feel guilty about it. In those first few weeks you will be attached to the baby (especially if you are breastfeeding). Give yourself 30 minutes a day to have some alone time. Take a walk, get a manicure, watch TV, whatever you love to do, do it. Your husband or family can watch the baby. While you want to spend every second with your baby, taking a break is healthy and necessary.
5. Make friends with other new moms. This is probably the best piece of advice I can give you. I went to the new moms group at my local hospital when my baby was 2 weeks old. It gave me a reason to leave the house and I was surrounded by other new moms who had the same concerns and questions as me. Staff led it and moms could ask questions, other moms who had experienced the same things could offer advice. It was amazing. I met an incredible group of women who had children two to three months older/younger than my baby and we became so close. We were all going through the same thing at the same time and they were my biggest support system. They understand sleep deprivation, hormones, and everything else that a new mom goes through. They helped me through meltdowns as I did them. I am still friends with a lot of them and we share such a special bond because we saw each other at our worst. Whether you see a new mom on the street, at the park or at a mom’s group, don’t be afraid to approach her. She is going through the same thing and will be happy to talk to you.
6. Meltdowns are normal. I had them weekly in the beginning (I still do every now and then). Your hormones are going crazy and having a new baby is stressful. Anything can set you off. Take a deep breath, talk to your husband, talk to your family, talk to your new mommy friends. In no time you will be back to normal. Being a mom can be overwhelming at times. If you think it is more serious, you feel depressed or you feel really off, contact your doctor immediately as it may be something more serious.
7. Laugh! As my husband always tells me, “Don’t take yourself so seriously.” Sometimes I get into “mommy mode” and I get upset when something doesn’t go as planned. When things go completely wrong, laugh. Laugh often,; laugh at yourself; laugh at your husband. It feels good and it will make you a better person.
8. Don’t compare. Don’t compare yourself to other moms and don’t compare your baby to other babies. Remember everyone is different. If you see a new mom who looks like she never had a baby and you haven’t lost any of the weight, don’t compare yourself. If someone tells you that her baby sits up, rolls over and sleeps through the night at two months (you will meet a lot of those moms who brag) and your baby doesn’t, don’t compare. I remember when everyone’s babies started walking at 10-12 months and my daughter didn’t walk until almost 15 months I was so stressed. She was completely fine, she was just going at her own pace. Everyone loses weight at a different pace and everyone walks at a different pace. Stop comparing!
9. Enjoy every moment. It goes fast. I’m sure you hear it all the time about how fast it goes, but when you have children, it really does seem to go faster. Your baby will change so much over the first year, it’s truly incredible. Hold your baby as much as you want, who cares if you spoil them or hold them or hug them too much, that’s what we are supposed to do. They are only this small and helpless for a few months. Soon enough they will be crawling, walking, talking and going off to school and you won’t be able to hold them and kiss them for hours on end. So stop cleaning, comparing and doing whatever you are doing and enjoy the moment.
Good luck! You are going to be an amazing mom! That little baby is the luckiest baby in the world. xo