Before my son was born, I actually thought about NOT having my mom come and help. In hindsight, it’s laughable- but what did I know? I remember calling my step sister, Patty, and saying, “Mom’s offered to stay with us after the baby comes but I think I want some private time to bond with the baby”. After all, we do live in a 2 bedroom condo so there isn’t a lot of privacy. I still remember Patty’s response, “Your mom was super helpful when both my babies were born. I wouldn’t have eaten if she hadn’t put food in front of me.” Wouldn’t have eaten? Surely, I heard her wrong. How could there not be time to eat? Don’t babies sleep a lot?
Before I had Charlie, people told me my life was about to change and they would ask if I was ready. Of course I know my life will change. Do they think I’m stupid? I was ready for my life to change but it’s impossible to be prepared for everything. If my sister were pregnant this is what I would tell her…
1. Don’t over plan
It’s great to have what you think you’re going to need. Most moms find it fun to buy stuff for the new baby. I’m a VIRGO, need I say more? We PLANNED. That’s all good and fine but you will need things you don’t have. … I actually needed that funny looking plastic thing that came with the breast pump? I’m pretty sure I threw that away…what do you mean try a different bottle?…I don’t think I like these wipes… Be prepared for extra trips to the store. Having a close friend or family member around to help out will reduce stress and make last minute necessities easier to handle. I think my mom (yes, she did come and I cried when she left after 2 weeks) went to the store every day for something.
2. A word about hormones
On the third night home from the hospital I was just getting out of the shower when my eager husband bounded into the bathroom waving his cell phone at me, “Bill and Wendy wanna Skype. Say hi sweetie!” Tears well up in my eyes. I’m TIRED. I don’t wanna Skype. Why doesn’t he understand? Due to a combination of hormones and sleep deprivation, things that would not usually seem overwhelming to you, like talking on the phone, will seem overwhelming. That is totally normal! Set yourself up for success by not scheduling anything that isn’t absolutely necessary for the first few weeks after delivery.
3. Trust your gut
Regardless of the advice you receive from friends, family, and doctors- trust your gut. As a mom, you will often find yourself in a situation where the right thing is not the easy thing. Trust yourself to know if it’s too hot or cold, if he should nap at home or “on the go”, or if he’s tired or hungry. If you’re wrong, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly. Give yourself permission to make decisions and mistakes.
4. It gets easier
The first time I left the house with Charlie it took my mom and I over an hour of planning and I don’t think either of us ate breakfast. What?? All that for my little 5lb bundle of joy? All the little tasks you are learning to do: pump, pack a diaper bag, change the baby’s diaper and get him dressed, buckle him in the car seat… it gets easier. If you feel overwhelmed taking the baby out and about- don’t worry! You will get faster and more efficient. Very quickly, you will be zipping out the door on 15 minutes notice!
5. Set boundaries that work for your family
It doesn’t matter what worked for your mom, or your sister, or your best friend. Figure out what works for your family and don’t be afraid to stick up for it! The most important thing is having a comfortable setting to enjoy, cherish, and love your baby. Before bed, take a moment and reflect back on the day. Did you have lots of quiet time with the baby to snuggle and love him? Did you get a nap? Did everyone, including you, eat? In general, did you feel like you were rushing around all day without any time to truly treasure your baby? If so, learn from that and make adjustments for the next day.
To all my “sisters” out there- being a mom is one of the greatest gifts we are allowed to receive. Enjoy your motherhood. Relish in it. Bask in it. You won’t regret it. Ever.