Dear New Mom,
Let me affirm you by saying this “you’re going to be okay“.
Giving birth is no joke. Nothing about it is easy: whether you had a natural birth, a C-section, epidural, or no meds, the experiences might be different, but the pain is a feeling that is inescapable but so is the feeling of joy and love
The wait is finally over and that tiny little baby that once spent months kicking around in your stomach is finally here.
Now I’m sure you’re physically and emotionally exhausted its hard work being a Mom!
Remember: You don’t have to do everything! Dishes? Laundry? Cleaning around the house? That can wait. That may sound crazy but trust me they CAN wait. It’s important to remember that your health and well-being matter too.
You are entering an unfamiliar role. The truth is that no matter how many books you read or advice you get from others, you’re never fully ready to be a parent. That’s why we have Google, HA! I’ve survived motherhood with help from the internet, my mom, friends and calling Calvin’s pediatrician often, maybe too often!
It’s been more than a year now, and there is still so much to learn about Motherhood. Here is one reminder I tell myself every day, “Have grace with yourself and give yourself some credit for all the small and big wins.” Some days will be really great, and other days you’ll be completely exhausted, but even in tough times, there are things to look forward to. There is a tiny someone to look forward to.
“Are You Nursing?”
Breastfeeding was one of the most discouraging parts of being a first-time mom for me. My supply was low, and Calvin wouldn’t latch on correctly. I often cried from the pain and my nipples were sore from nursing and pumping. I felt of shame for using formula, because I felt like my body failed my son. Which meant I failed him. (But that was not true)
So, how’s nursing going for you? Are you seeing some of the same difficulties of breastfeeding as a new mom?
I’ll tell you this, if you’re breastfeeding exclusively, or just pumping, or decided on using formula you’re killing it! Whichever way you choose to feed your baby do not let the opinions of others or social media make you feel ashamed.
You know what’s best for your baby and family. Remember that everyone’s situation is different. Our bodies are unique; some moms overproduced milk, some can’t get a drop. Some moms have inverted nipples, some have babies that are tongue tie, and some have babies who refuse boob.
I wish I would have embraced my situation, I’d like to believe that I would have enjoyed Calvin more. I was exhausting myself, mentally and emotionally, just to meet Calvin’s needs, making myself miserable in the process. The reality was that breastmilk was not something I could fully provide my son with. I was attached to the pump machine most of the day, hoping to get enough milk and always felt like it wasn’t enough. I am proud that I exclusively pumped for seven months straight, but if I could do it again, I would have stopped way before that.
“Take Advice with a Grain of Salt”
I’m sure during your pregnancy a lot of people gave you advice, so prepare yourself for the same, endless stream opinions, suggestions and commentary even when you don’t ask for it. Some advice will encourage you and be beneficial, however, some well-intentioned counsel can cause stress and insecurity. As a first-time mom, I had people speaking into how I was caring for Calvin and most of it made me more anxious than relieved. I had to learn that I can listen, but I don’t have to take it as a judgment on my motherhood. I had to learn that it won’t always apply to me. Sometimes, the wise “tips and tricks” that worked for one person, won’t apply to you, your baby or your family.
You won’t please everyone, and you don’t have to because it’s your baby. But yeah, you get the point. People will make thoughtless comments. Don’t let those comments bother you, they do not define the kind of mom you are. Over time you will learn to pick and choose what advice to take.
Asking for help”
You don’t have to always be supermom, so be okay with asking for help.
You’ll need it.
Many times, I didn’t ask for help because I didn’t want to seem inadequate as a mom. The truth is as a first-time mom, I didn’t know what I was doing, and it was silly of me to think I didn’t need help.
I was exhausted, I had to pump every three hours, I barely showered and cleaning up was the last thing on my mind. I’m so glad our family helped us in the first four months. They would do our laundry, clean, cook, watch Calvin while we slept, and we had friends bring us food. People want to serve you, especially those that love you. So, tell them what you need, and don’t be afraid to say, ” Today I need help”. (If you’re not a parent, please reach out. Make yourself available to your friends.)
What does that even look like when you have a crying baby, you haven’t showered, and you have spit up all over your shirt? It means that you take time out of the day or week to care for yourself. It means you acknowledge your mental health and emotional health.
As I’ve mentioned before in my last blog post “Postpartum Depression” is real for many moms. Every morning check-in with yourself.
“How you are feeling?“, “What thoughts have you been thinking about?“.
There came a time when I was so drained that I didn’t shower, get up from the couch, I cried a lot and I was anxious around Calvin. Have you felt that way lately? If you have, reach out to someone or share this with your spouse. Ask a friend to pray for you.
This is self-care.
Remember your body and hormones are trying to get back to normal, you’re trying to figure out how to care for someone else that is fragile and tiny with no experience. So, take walks, find time to eat or go to Target, I spent so many days there during my maternity leave that I just loved it. It gave me fresh air, along with that spending time alone did me well. It’s okay to say you want to have space from your baby and mom duties. That’s completely normal, some days I feel like waiting at the door while holding Calvin for my husband to get home just so he can take him and when he does, I often feel like I can rest.
“Comparison is the Thief of Joy”
DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER MOMS!!!
Did you hear that?
DO NOT COMPARE YOUR BABY TO OTHER BABIES!!!
I still have to tell this to myself every day. Trust me, I know it’s harder than it sounds. It’s so easy to get wrapped up with what other moms are doing or what milestones other babies have accomplished that your baby has not, that you rob yourself of the joy you are experiencing.
Every time I looked on Instagram, I felt disappointed, thoughts like ” I wish I was that mom”, “wow, she’s getting so much breast milk, I wish I was,” and “she must be an amazing mom staying at home with her baby.” Telling myself these things weren’t wrong, but they were deadly if I used them to identify myself as a failure of a mom.
Every mom experiences motherhood differently. You will not always have the house cleaned up or make arts and crafts every day. You know what most moms do, they spend time smelling their babies, trying to catch up on sleep or binge-watch on their favorite show while they pump and attempt to eat something. Don’t worry, on days when you have the energy, you’ll work hard enough to leave the house without a dirty diaper or crying baby and if you can do that… that’s a win!
The worse one was comparing Calvin to other babies born around him. I spent so much time comparing him to other babies and wishing that he would be at their level that I robbed myself from enjoying the milestones Calvin was achieving. The truth was that Calvin was premature, he was going to be delayed and yes it sucked like hell but that was my reality. I could either be miserable about it or embrace it and be thankful that he was doing just fine. He was like no other baby, He was Calvin my son and he would grow at his own pace. So, sit back and relax, enjoy your baby. Watch him or she grows before your eyes, don’t sweat the little things. Our kids are brilliant in their own way, this is the first lesson I learned about being a mom… it’s one I have to remember for the rest of my time raising Calvin.
“Working mom – Stay at home mom”
Whichever one you are, be proud of it. Each title comes with its own responsibilities and struggles. As a working mom, I find it hard to balance my roles between being a mom and worker. When I was home on maternity leave for three months, I had a hard time adjusting to always being home and caring for Calvin alone. I love the working mom and the stay at home mom because they both are working towards the same goal, to care, love and provide to their children in their own “unique way. I had so many people question why I didn’t stay home with Calvin and making remarks as if it was an easy decision.
It wasn’t, it was the hardest decision I had to make as a mother.
Two factors played a role in this decision, I never intended to stay home and as a family, we couldn’t afford for me to stay home. I’ve read so many moms judge working moms on social media for having their kid at daycare or going back to work, it’s discouraging. Am I less of a mother because Calvin is at daycare? No. I’m a great mom and no one can tell me otherwise.
Interesting enough, the stay at home mom also gets judged. Do you really think that the stay at home mom stays home, sleeps in, takes a bath, her kids all well-behaved and her day is perfect? It’s not. She wakes up when the baby wakes up, whatever time that is. Her child is by her side 24/7 and she spends most of the time interacting with her kids than adults unless she goes out or maybe gets a visit. As you can see, they both have different struggles. So, mama, whichever one you choose to be…
It’s the one you see fit for you to be.
“Your Partner is your teammate”
Your partner is as clueless as you are.
He is on your team.
It’s hard to acknowledge that when you’re both sleep-deprived, the baby is crying nonstop, you haven’t left the house in days and you’ve probably been miscommunicating over small things. It’s been a rough season for us honestly. I’m not sure we’ve mastered this area yet. Balancing marriage and parenting can be really hard, and if you can relate know that you are not alone. I guess I can say that we’re on a mission to remembering that our marriage comes first, and we need each other to survive. I’ll get back to you on this one.
But, remembering He is on my team.
I hope this letter encourages you and reminds you that you’re not alone. Many women have been in your shoes, we want to love, encourage and stand with you.
transparent city mama