So You Just Had A Baby
So you just had a baby... now what? As a mom, I try to avoid giving advice to anyone who doesn't ask for it. Nobody actually wants your opinion and in the world of parenting, there is no right way in the first place. That being said, to my best friends who have just had a baby, I like to pass on some wisdom. Messages that everyone seemingly knows and hears before becoming a parent but are often overlooked once the hormones, chaos, and self-doubt start rushing in. Having a baby absolutely ruins you in the best and most magical way possible. A little reminder about how capable you are is sometimes exactly what you need. Read on for my letter to new parents.
To all the new parents out there,
Welcome to the thrilling ride that is parenthood. It's exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure and brings more joy and less sleep than you ever thought possible. I wanted to take the time to pass on some wisdom that I have gained after having my first baby. Some of this knowledge was passed on to me shortly after I delivered my first and some I wish I was told.
Firstly, acknowledge all of the emotions you will feel in the next few weeks but don't hold onto them, and don't trust them as reality. You will feel everything - from the highest highs to the lowest lows - your hormones are all over the place. You will cry... you will cry for no reason. Allow yourself to feel these things. Don't put pressure on yourself to put on a smile all the time. Say no to company if it is just too much unnecessary stress (including family). Trust that in a few weeks or months your body will regulate and the roller coaster of emotions will eventually level off.
Take all the advice you will hear from everyone (and I mean everyone, me included) with a grain of salt. Especially older moms who have "been around the block" - your mom/step-mom/MIL included. Some of the things people will suggest to you are absolutely crazy. Trust your instincts and although you are new to parenthood your heart and mind will guide you in the right direction. You know your baby better than anyone so don't feel backed into a corner and don't do things unless you want to. When it comes to being a parent, you learn quickly that there is no right answer. As long as you are doing what you feel is best for your child then you are doing the absolute best anyone could ask for. I have no doubts that you will take to parenthood with ease.
Enjoy the moments. It is hard, especially in those first 3 months, to see the big picture; to realize that this time will eventually pass (although it will seem never ending some days). When you are up at 3am with a fussy baby or have been up for what feels like days on end or when you have just changed a diaper and your baby decides to poop up their back or spit up all over their clothes use my mantra "this too shall pass". When I look back at the first 3 months of my first borns life it is all a blur... I wish I took a little more time to just enjoy how little and dependent she was on me. To smell her hair, cuddle her often, and just be. There is so much worry about if you are doing enough or if you are doing it right. Try to let it go. You will be thankful you did.
Ask for help. It takes a village, right? As moms, we put so much pressure on ourselves to do it all, to do it all right, and to do it all right, right now. Your in-laws, parents, family, and friends are there to support you on your new journey. If you have company and they ask what they can do, don't be shy. Ask them to bring over some dinner, some wine, do the dishes, or take out the trash. People want to help. Ask your significant other, or anyone willing to help during wake-ups, to step up for those bleary-eyed late night/early morning feedings, changings, don't know what in the world the baby is crying about sessions. We often feel the need to conquer the challenges of parenthood in isolation. To tackle the hard stuff without help is doing a disservice to all the parents who have struggled before you. They want to take the burden off of you, to support you, and to provide you with an outlet that lets you know you aren't alone. Use it.
If you are blessed to have a partner in this journey, don't forget your significant other. It becomes so easy to take for granted what you and your partner share. Make sure you continue to work on the relationship you have spent so much time building. You will learn tips and tricks that your partner will not know and, similarly, they will learn things you don't know. Teach them gently what to do. Speak nicely to each other. Say sorry when it is necessary and give forgiveness as often as possible. Both of you are on the same team with the ultimate goal of raising a happy and healthy child. Take time for each other even if it is for a short period when the baby goes to sleep to talk about things that were important to you before this child took over your lives. Trust me, it will be harder than you think to remember what you talked about before that bundle of joy changed your lives forever.
Lastly, have fun. The path of parenthood is a rocky one. There is inevitable worry, doubt, and failure. Let joy be the beacon of hope through the bleakest of times. Remind yourself that your child will never be as young as they are in that moment ever again. Wasting time on what-ifs and what could-have-beens isn't worth it. Enjoy every second. They absolutely fly by.
A mom who has been there, done that, and still knows no more than you.