Friday, March 14, 2014

Unsolicited Advice for the New Mommy

My baby sister just had a baby and he is PRECIOUS...beyond precious, if I am honest.  He is a gift, a miracle and just the handsomest little thing.  I have found MYSELF having a ton of emotions this week.  First, have had some claustrophobic feelings that I've had to name and recognize.  When I held him, after about half hour, my chest started to feel tight and I had the realize I am still reeling from four kids.  The thought of having a fifth at this point in time feels so overwhelming it's paralyzing and I think when I held him too long, it felt too close to making that a reality.  WOAH- insane moment, revealing that I indeed have some more emotions to work through in this whole adjustment period.  Mostly, I have found myself almost in tears at what these next few weeks look like for Katie.  Everyone reacts differently, so I honestly don't know if it will be easy or hard.  I just know it will be a lot of change.  There may be hard moments and there will be moments that are so profoundly beautiful words couldn't begin to describe them.

I was reminded of this post I did years ago called "Unsolicited Advice for the Mommy to Be".  I wouldn't change any of that, but I'd add a couple things for the new mama.

-Take your time nesting and savoring the transition.  You don't have to feel pressured to return phone calls or get thank you notes out immediately.  Just savor the moments both with your baby and the stillness of being alone if he's sleeping.

-At the same time, don't forget who you are.  If friendships are important to you, nurture them, at your own pace, but nuture them.  Laugh, watch a movie with a friend or grab lunch.  It will do great things to your mental health to have moments that feel "normal".  It's easy to be home with baby getting used to life and then look out and feel like the world has moved on without you.  Life has changed, but you can move too- it's okay to get out.

-In the same line of thinking, GET OUT.  It is overwhelming to bundle baby up and load their tiny being into a carseat only to arrive at the mall to find they've woken up and it's time to feed.  Meet a friend there or go to a friends home that is the type of friend that will just sit with you while you nurse.  You can chat and nurse and you'll feel more alive...making the effort to get out well worth it.  Department store bathrooms usually have great nursing areas...hooter hiders work well if you want to meet a friend at starbucks;)

-Play a game or watch a movie, cuddling with your husband.  You'll easily both focus on this new change and both feel like you are grieving your old selves...your still you, just enhanced with one more and the more little ways you make time for your marriage, the easier the transition will be!  Let him hold you when you are overwhelmed and give him space to articulate his feelings on the change you've gone through together...let the experience unite you in a new way.

-Do whatever stresses you the least.  I am a firm believer that one of the worst things for a baby and marriage is a stressed out mom who is trying to live up to other's expectations.  Do your best, but give yourself the grace to not do everything perfectly!  If you need to formula feed, formula feed.  If you need to nap your baby in a swing so you can get a break from holding him/her- do it.  If you need to cosleep so you sleep, do it.  Life is short.  I think the biggest things I've learned as a mom is not everything works for every kid or every mom.  Bad habits happen and you know what- they are all fixable in about three days time.  Not a single mom of a second grader has asked me if I breast fed or used formula, or if I let her cry it out or coslept.  They all seem to be pretty well adjusted second graders and I am pretty sure we ALL did it really differently.

-Open your windows for fresh air when you can and every day put up the blinds.  You need sunshine- you need it.  It's a small step that makes you feel alive- so just do it, 'kay?

-Surround yourself with moms that are rationale and encouraging and distance yourselves from moms that want to sit around and talk passive aggressively competitively.  If someone makes you feel bad about your child or your parenting by touting their own strengths, they are not a friend.  They'll make you crazy.  We are all hard enough on ourselves.  Friendly suggestions are commonplace in friendship, but criticism and competitiveness don't have to be.

-Take people up on their offers to help.  REACH OUT.  People often want to help but don't know how- just ask.  I failed miserably at this.  I wish I could go back.  Let them grab groceries for you, bring dinner, walk your dog, or hold the baby for an hour while you nap.

-Savor, savor, difficult as transition can be, you'll look back on it sweetly.  Life goes by quickly, savor each day as it comes and in the bad moments, rest assured- they too will pass!

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