My youngest is now 9 months and some change so I don’t think that I’m a new mom anymore but when I was, these were some of the things that I either wish someone had told me or that I’d thought as I was reading through some of the posts on a couple mommy boards.
1. Ask for what you need. I didn’t do this. The week after I had abc, I was in the carpool line picking mini up from school. I cooked dinner pretty much every night. I entertained an infant and a 4 year old. I cleaned and was a wife. I also had countless breakdowns at our dinner table after putting mini down to sleep because i was tired and overwhelmed and needed help. But I didn’t ask for it. Shortly after I’d had abc, my friend Sarah had her daughter. Someone had set up a whole link where people could sign-up for days they could drop off dinner for the family and lunches for their kids. Or someone could pay for something to be delivered to them. This was genius and such a big help for them. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
2. Sleep, but don’t always sleep when the baby sleeps. When people would say this to me my thoughts were always, “well how will i get done all the things I need to?” You can’t. Laundry isn’t going to do itself. Food won’t magically get into your body. You won’t get cleaned by clicking your heels. Yes, you should certainly catch some zzzz’s in the middle of the day but sleeping when the baby sleeps just isn’t feasible. Use that time wisely.
3. Don’t put the baby first. Yep, I said it again. Do not put this adorable bundle of never-ending cuteness in front of you. It’s hard. I know. You want to stare at their little faces and cater to their every need. Here’s the thing, this is cute when their babies. But when you lose sight of yourself as a woman and not give yourself the care that is required, you become raggedy. Let’s be honest, raggedy people don’t make the best parents. You need your rest. You need to bathe. You need some alone time. You need some time to redefine who you are within this new role. Take care of yourself and then the baby.
4. Stand up for yourself and your decisions. I’ve read so many posts from new moms talking about how someone didn’t agree with them breastfeeding or not putting socks on the baby or whatever decision it is they decided to make. Here’s the thing: This is YOUR baby. You carried the baby for however long it took for them to come out. You delivered the baby. You get to pay all those hospital bills, doctors bills, college tuitions, etc. You and whomever is involved in raising the baby are the ones who’s opinions matter. Know this. Be confident about that. Recently my mom tried to “scold” me on how I handled something with mini. I had to remind her that she’s mine and that my mom had the opportunity to raise my brother and I how she saw fit and I’m warranted the same respect here. Don’t feel bad about the decisions you’re making for your baby.
5. It’s relatives responsibility to come and see the baby. Not the other way around–unless they are immobile. Baby abc was born in August so during the winter months she was still in her super infant phase. I would feel bad about not toting her to and from church and peoples houses so they could see her. But then I remembered that SHE was the baby and the new person in the world who’s immune system was still delicate and developing. If people don’t want to come over and see the baby, then they can wait until you’re out and about. Though your baby shouldn’t be #1, they certainly come before a lot of other people. Don’t feel bad about not exposing your baby to different weather so that friends and family can see them. If they want to see them so badly, they can come over–if you’re accepting guests.
6. Bottle or breast, as long as baby is fed that’s all that matters. I am 100% pro-breastfeeding. I nurse in public, private, under one of the scarves I make or not. But I am also 100% confident with my choice to nurse both my children. Whatever you decide, breast or formula, don’t let anyone make you feel bad about that. As long as your baby is fed, that’s all that matters!
7. It’s ok to give evasive answers about future children. I think baby abc was 2 weeks old when the questions of the next baby happened. In all honesty, we don’t know if there will be more BUT if there are more, it’s not something I’m planning on deliberating with someone I’m not sharing my bed with. And you don’t have to divulge this information either! Your reproductive business is just that–YOURS. My go-to answer is: We’ll see what the future holds but for now I’m just enjoying my girls.
8. It’s ok to have breakdowns. Being a new mom is tough and it’s beautiful. Your body just created this wonderful new being. Everything is new and harder to do when you have a little person to do it with. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to not know what you’re doing. It’s ok to need help. But here’s the thing, don’t do it alone. Have a person that will be able to provide the type of support that you need. For me, when I breakdown, I need to have someone that will help me put an action plan in place for getting it together. Staying home with an infant and preschooler scared the shit out of me. Really. But my husband helped me put together a plan that I could thrive with, not just survive. Remember that you aren’t alone and there’s people that are there for you. And if you don’t feel like you have this and you’re reading this, you’ve got me.
Surviving new moms, what other “need to know” things would you add to this list?