Posts Tagged New Mom

Advice I Would’ve Given Myself Before the Baby was Born

I’m nearly ten months into this motherhood journey. I know I still have lots to learn and I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in parenting an infant by any means (though how can you really be a parenting expert? All kids are different!). However, I have several friends who are expecting their first baby this year and as I think back to where I was a year ago (7 months pregnant), I keep thinking of advice or things I would’ve told myself back then as I was just enjoying the excitement and anticipation of being pregnant and preparing for birth. People always give unsolicited advice to new parents (and particularly new moms), so whoever may read this can take what they want from it, but more than just advice, I think it’s just an honest reminder of the reality of motherhood (and parenting in general).

So what would I have told my pregnant self?

1. Babies have their own schedules, so go with the flow.
I felt this reality more as I waited anxiously for my due date to approach. Starting from 3 weeks before, I was constantly wondering when I would go into labor. I was born three weeks early so I didn’t know if Baby J would follow my lead or if he’d be “late.” Babies will come when they’re ready and there’s no sense in trying to rush it or in putting your life on hold in expectation. It’s better for baby to stay inside longer (at least 39 weeks) since baby grows best inside his mother. I learned the most predictable thing about labor is it’s unpredictable.

Once the baby’s born, the baby’s schedule seems to dictate your day (particularly if you’re a new mom and only have one child to worry about). He eats, sleeps, eats, sleeps, eats, sleeps…all day long. It’s best to just accept it for what it is and do what your baby needs. As Jaylen has gotten older, he does have a more predictable schedule, but even then there’s variation. Sometimes he’ll take long naps, sometimes he won’t. Sometimes his nap schedule will get messed up or he’ll end up having a later bedtime, but it’s okay. {To further prove this point, I should mention that I started this blog post just before Jaylen turned 6 months old. I’m now publishing it when he’s almost 10 months. PRIORITIES.}

2. Babies don’t go by the book.
I was so excited for Jaylen to turn 6 months old so I could start giving him solid food. Part of me hoped this would help him sleep longer at night (which it does not necessarily help with that) and part of me just couldn’t wait to see him try new things and be a little less dependent on me for food. I was looking into the baby-led weaning process for introducing solids and was anxious to offer Jaylen regular food so he could feed himself and eat with us at meal times.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try baby-led weaning much because Jaylen wasn’t that interested in solid food at 6 months! I would put food in front of him and he wouldn’t even try to pick it up. Then I put a toy in front of him and it instantly goes into his mouth (go figure). So I ended up giving him baby cereal and purees (but not chunky ones because those would make him gag and throw up). Now he’s great about feeding himself and loves food, but he still doesn’t have any teeth yet so we’re still waiting on those.

I’ve also learned that just because a website or a book says your baby should do something by a certain age (like sleep 4-5 hour stretches by the time he’s 5 months…Jaylen would do 1.5-2 hours instead), doesn’t mean your child will do it. Once you accept that each child is unique and will reach those milestones in his own time, your life will be so much easier. This leads into point #3.

3. Babies aren’t meant to sleep through the night.
I know parents can have very strong opinions on this one, but after reading various articles about this topic (mostly because I still haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep in nearly 10 months), I believe that babies are not meant to sleep through the night. They’re supposed to wake up every couple hours to eat (especially when they’re newborns). They may still even wake up once or twice even after 6 months. Yes, there are some lucky parents whose babies start to sleep through the night (however you want to define it–some say 5-6 hrs straight, others say 11-12 hrs straight) at an early age. My baby is not one of those. On average he still wakes up about 2-3 times a night (although last night he woke up once…yay!). I’m still waiting for that day when he’ll sleep 11-12 hours straight at night. People have told us to let him cry it out, but we are not completely comfortable with that. This doesn’t mean that we don’t let him cry at all, but we just don’t let him cry hysterically for long periods of time. I am also not completely willing to night wean him because he doesn’t drink much milk during the day even when I nurse him so I think he may be reverse cycling. I’m concerned too about my milk supply, which seems to be dwindling (since I don’t pump as much when I’m at work anymore) and the stash I once had in the freezer is now gone as of today. As tired as I am, I do cherish those night feedings (sometimes) when I look at my son in my arms. I love that bond I have with him. And when I think I can’t take this phase anymore, I reread this KellyMom article and it reminds me that I’m still doing okay by doing what I think is best for my baby and me.

4. Don’t forget to pursue your husband and your marriage.
This is probably the most important thing I would’ve told myself before having a baby. I admit I still need to do a better job of this. It’s so easy as a mom, especially a new mom, to spend all your time and energy on the baby. When Jaylen was a newborn, it seemed like all I had time for was caring for him round the clock. Even now when Jaylen goes to sleep around 7 or 7:30, it’s easy for me to feel like I’m too tired to do anything–including invest in some quality time with my husband. It’s not a good excuse and a healthy marriage is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children. So all you moms out there, no matter how tired or overwhelmed you are, make a commitment to try and love your husband well in spite of how you feel.

There are plenty of other things I’m still learning as a new mom. With Jaylen’s one year birthday around the corner, I can tell those brand new moms that it does get easier (even if I’m still not sleeping well). So I know the stage I’m at with the sleepless nights will also get easier eventually. Then I know I’ll probably be dealing with something else, but there’s no greater joy than having Jaylen in my life. Sure, we may not stay out late anymore and right now our days may revolve around Jaylen’s nap schedule, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world. Life wouldn’t be the same without seeing this smiling face. 🙂

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My First Mother’s Day

My mom & me when I was 5 months old. 5.13.85 - almost exactly 29 years before Jaylen turns 5 months

My mom & me when I was 5 months old. 5.13.85 – almost exactly 29 years before Jaylen turns 5 months

Today is my first mother’s day holding my baby in my arms. Last year I was in my first trimester and hadn’t told anyone except our families that I was pregnant. It was like my little secret when they passed out Mother’s Day gifts during church service. I’ve always appreciated my mom, but now that I’m a mother myself, I have gained a greater appreciation and understanding of a mother’s love.

The other night as I held Jaylen before putting him to bed, I was overwhelmed by my love for him. I would do anything for him. I don’t want to see him get hurt–physically or emotionally–ever (though realistically I know this won’t ever happen…especially the part about not wanting a boy to get physically hurt). I hope I die before him because I never want to lose him. I would give my life for him. As much as he may frustrate me sometimes with his constant night wakings and his sometimes endless need to be held, I love my son. It’s not because of anything he did; it’s just because he’s my son. How true that statement is about God’s love for us too. He loves us not because of anything we’ve done–just because we’re his children. (I heard that through a Visionary Parenting sermon we listened to last weekend).

So I realize how much it must hurt my parents when I’m hurting. They probably cheered when I learned how to roll over just like we did for Jaylen. And they probably welled up with pride (and a little sadness) when they saw me graduate from college and when I got a job. They sacrificed their time, energy, money, and desires for me just like I’m finding I need to do for my own child.

A mother’s job is never done. I see how much my mom still shows her love for me in the ways she shows her love for her grandson.

Recreating the pic my mom took with me at 5 months. Here's Jaylen just a few days shy of 5 months old.

Recreating the pic my mom took with me at 5 months. Here’s Jaylen just a few days shy of 5 months old.

We’ve never had to buy diapers yet (and Jaylen will be 5 months old tomorrow) because my mom buys them in bulk from Sam’s Club before we run out. She provides babysitting and meals for us often. She encouraged me to stick through the tough parts of breastfeeding because she did it with my siblings and me and knows it’s worth the effort. She takes Chloe, our pug, out for us and even lets her stay at her house for days at a time. She prays for me and my family. Even though she doesn’t have to parent me anymore, my mom will always be my mother. Mom, I love you, and I’m continuing to learn from your example. Thank you for being my mom!

Now this Mother’s Day is extra special because I have my own little boy. He may not call me “mom” yet, but I love being his favorite

person (probably mostly because I’m his food source). I love seeing his eyes follow me as I walk across the room and to see his face light up with a smile when he sees me (even on FaceTime). I love snuggling with him and when he falls asleep on my shoulder. I love knowing that I’m the only one who can really soothe him when he’s super angry. I love seeing him master new skills and discover the world around him. It can be hard amid the sleepless nights, spit-up everywhere, messy house, and days where it seems like nothing really gets done, but I believe it will all be worth it. I pray that the result will be a respectful, godly young man who loves the Lord and lives to honor Him.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

I leave you with a few great quotes from Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker.

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And this one is a plaque I saw and I just loved it. 🙂

StrengthofmyLove

 

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