So a new friend of mine recently had a baby shower. She is expecting her first and to say there is excitement in the family would a huge understatement. They’ve dreamed, planned, and chattered about their newest arrival and it is so easy to get swept up in all the thrill and warmth going around.
I was not able to attend the baby shower and this was quite the disappointment. However, in a way, it was a relief because I just could not find the right gift. I knew what gender they were having. I knew the theme. I knew some likes and dislikes, but overall, I really felt like I knew nothing at all.
Sure, I could buy an adorable outfit or two to add to the collection and there is no doubt that she would be thankful and welcome it happily. But I remember those days, and the amount of clothing was overwhelming. You felt like your baby had to change 5 times a day just to wear all the clothing received.
I could have been practical and bought diapers and wipes, but the woman within me cringed because it felt like I didn’t think it out or try. (Though I would have welcomed diapers any day of the week. Those puppies are pricey!)
I tried to think back to when I was a new mom. What did I need? What did I want? What didn’t I want? It’s been almost 11 years since those days, but it is easy to remember what I needed.
I’m not talking about unsolicited, “my way or the highway” kind of talk. I am speaking of the heart to heart thoughts of a mother who had been in those shoes before. One that could share with me all those things that the books just did not cover. Those tidbits, tricks, and words of wisdom that only through experience will you ever obtain them.
I wanted to share these things with this new mom, along with the perfect, sentimental gift that I found only days ago.
So today, I share with you, dear reader, the words in which I will share with this new mother. Perhaps you have something to add. All I know is, I wish I knew some of these things when Samantha came along. I would have saved myself so much trouble.
1. Sleep is for winners, not losers
We have all heard every mother say, “Sleep when baby does.” But this is by far the hardest bit of advice to follow since it is so easy to look at this time as “free time” to be involved in such ventures as showering or eating or going to the bathroom. But trust me, that is all overrated when it stands up against good old REM sleep. So you know how many health benefits are associated with sleep? Mood, memory, life expectancy, and maintaining a healthy weight are just a few.
When I had Samantha, I had sleep issues. And because of this, I had a hard time with everything from nursing, to eating, to crying all the time. In fact, I dropped 35lbs. in less than three weeks. That may sound fabulous, but trust me, it was not a good thing.
Mama, sleep is sent from above. Embrace it. Love it. Accept it. The laundry will still be there when you wake. You can have sandwiches for dinner. Those emails will not vanish from your account. Breath and refresh your body.
2.Concealer fixes all
(Notice I could have used some back in the day. Samantha, crying in the picture of course, was the most colicky baby in the history of the world. Or at least, that is what it felt like. )
Short and sweet: if you don’t get that sleep that I suggested above, then slap on that concealer and you will look like a million bucks. Dark circles be gone!
3.Follow your instincts
Every mother, grandma, aunt, neighbor, grocery clerk, mailman, and nurse have a piece of advice for you. And though some of it may come in handy, in the end, YOU are the mother. God hand picked you to care for this baby. Whether or not you actually birthed this child, there is such thing as motherly instinct and do not doubt that you possess it.
Use it everyday.
4. Don’t Vaccinate… or Do
We will not start a debate here, because in the end, let’s face it, we all will do what we want. So before you feel pressure coming from either side that you should or should not get immunizations, find the resources. I know that is tricky in itself because every resource will have some form of bias. But what I am saying is do not base your decision on one person’s opinion or even experience.
When Peter and I were expecting Samantha, we prayed about it. That was literally our ultimate step of decision making. What did God want for our family? This point is tightly knit with the one above.
5. Remember what got you here
Sex is an easy thing to let go in a marriage after baby arrives. There are changes to the body, that at first glance may seem embarrassing to the mother. There are challenges that may need to be overcome in regards to nursing or the birth itself. But what I am talking about here is not just sex. It is what is at the center of sex, the two of you.
The connection of marriage is like no other, but the connection of mommy and baby can at times be so powerful that it bulldozes right through what was there first. It is natural and it is wise that both mom and dad be patient with one another as they figure this new world out. But sometimes, you will just have to mindfully make an effort to be intimate. May not sound too romantic, but it is 100% imperative that you both come before baby.
I know this is not a popular path of thinking, but know that if mom and dad are not in the place they are supposed to be as a couple, baby suffers.
6. Call in the Cavalry
(Mom was the master butt patter when Sam was little. Only she could calm her down.)
If it takes a village to raise a child, than it takes a metropolis to raise a baby. So many moms don’t like to show that they are overwhelmed, tired, and frazzled. Listen, you’ve never raised a tiny human being before. It is perfectly acceptable to feel unsure and beaten down. For the few that do it all with ease, cooking, caring, feeding, cleaning, and out of their yoga pants on day 3 after birth, well, good for you! For the rest of us, the odors, sleepless nights, refusing of bottles, nursing all hours of the day, basket upon basket of clothing, and so on, can make us just want to sit down and cry. (Go ahead, do that. It’s good for you.)
Call in the help, mama. There are plenty of people, whether family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, or church family that are waiting to jump on the first request you make. Accept meals. Let them change that diaper. Willingly go close your eyes while Grandma basks in the small, perfectness of baby. You are superwoman already. You made a human. You care for it 24/7. There is no need to prove anything else to anyone.
7. Embrace the Chaos
These tiny baby days seem long and so tiring. But I assure you, you will look back, very soon in fact, and realize that you long for these days. So simple. So sweet.
As a mother, we will love every stage of parenting for different reasons. And this newborn phase is no exception. No other time in life will you be able to sit your child on your lap and have them actually stay for an extended period of time. Now is the time that you can look the longest in their little faces, examining ever curve and turn. Every indent and bump.
Embrace the days that seem to never end. Hold onto every smile, laugh, and coo. Sniff in the sweet smell of baby oil and the aroma of peace. Take every bit in that you can, because once you get to the toddler years… well, that is another letter, for another day.