10 Bits of Advice I'd Give Myself Being a Brand Spanking New Mom
One of the hardest things for me in becoming a new mom was the fear of judgement. Honestly, in a majority of my mom posts, you'll see that this was a common theme of mine. Another piece of honesty...I'm still working through it. However; the advice I provide below is my truth. What I've worked through and wish other moms the same luck.
1. When you're home from the hospital, make people cater to you. You went through something extremely traumatic. Whether it be a natural birth or a C-Section, you still brought a human into this world and that on its own is hard as hell. Whether you were in labor for 5 mins or 16 days, you gave your blood (literally), sweat and tears (all of them). You deserve to have people in the following days that will not just hold the baby; but, that will wash the laundry, let you sleep, make you food, clean your house (especially if you're OCD like me). You 100% without a doubt deserve that. If they won't do it, they're not invited until you feel like being a hostess (which don't feel guilty if you're not up for it for 3 months).
2. The first few nights at home will be scary as hell. Listen, you have this new tiny, foreign human at home that relies on you 100%. That's terrifying. Not only the unknown of what will happen, will the baby wake up every hour? every 2hrs? How will this whole breastfeeding thing work? What routine do we establish? How tired will I be the next day? It's scary. I would go into every single night with extreme anxiety. That too gets better. The anxiety will float away, the night will become calmer and you'll find peace at 1am, 3am; etc. After we did sleep training those moments slip away and you sort of miss them (but, you'll enjoy sleep much more).
3. However you decide to feed your baby is 100% OK and YOUR choice. I was in constant fear of being judged entirely because breastfeeding didn't work for me. Not for lack of trying, trust me I would sit there and try to get Mila to latch, with tears in my eyes - she wouldn't do it. She wouldn't stop crying and I knew it was because she was starving. She wasn't gaining weight. I was heartbroken and emotionally destroyed. I knew (and know) that breast milk is (was) extremely good for her; so, I turned to pumping. Even though I was giving Mila breast milk...I still felt this guilt. Judgement. I remember crying to Roberto and my mom on how I already felt like a complete failure. After 4 months of exhaustion from pumping, I decided to switch to formula. And you know what? Mila is extremely healthy and happy. That is all that matters. (I'm going to write a post on this too).
4. Crying is OK. I'm not a big crier, never have been. I always just sucked up my emotions and moved on with my day. I'm not saying thats a good thing, that's just how I've been my whole life. However, I don't think I stopped crying for the first 2 weeks of being a mom. All of the first 3 points contributed to some of it; honestly, I was just overwhelmed with EVERYTHING. It's OK to cry. Everyone does it, your life just completely changed. The tears will stop and your life will become a new one - that's ok.
5. Some of your "old life" will come back. I was always the one that needed to watch TV to fall asleep, have the fan on to sleep and love sleeping in general. All of that went away. I hated it, I already felt out of whack, I just wanted some normalcy. With Mila sleeping in our room, we couldn't have the TV on because well, she would wake up. We couldn't have the fan on because she could get too cold/get a stuffy nose. Well, the sleep thing I'm still working on - but, I do get more than I did before. As we transitioned Mila into her nursery and did sleep training (post on that too), our "old life" started coming back. It does happen.
6. Don't apologize for being a mom in the career world, or period. When I got back to work, I kept saying "sorry for XYZ". Sorry, for not being on top of things like I used to. Sorry, for not being as quick witted. Sorry, for not being who I used to be. I look back on it and cannot believe I ever apologized. The truth is, I'm not who I used to be, why? Because my priorities have changed, my brain is making sure that I have everything prepared for Mila, that her needs are taken care of...then comes work. That's the truth and I'm OK with that. I've recently found a good balance (6 months in), but I know that might change. Again, I'm OK with that.
7. Lean on your mom friends and all friends. When I look back on myself being an early mom, I think about how much my friends pulled me through. As I mentioned in #4, I cried. A LOT. I would call them, I kept them on rotation. I would cry and ask for advice about anything from...am I ever going to be able to walk again? To, am I ever going be "normal" again? I also asked about sleep training, what worked, didn't work; etc. I literally asked them about everything. They gave me amazing advice like "go get wine and sushi. Grab Mila and get the damn sushi!". They even gave me advice that everything and every baby is different, get to know your baby (which I never thought was going to happen). Your friends are there for you and you will have a chance to pay it forward (I'm doing it now and feel like a baby expert - which I'm 100% not, but bluffing feels all sorts of fun). This meant the world to me and still does. Use them, lean on them.
8. Weird things will happen to you. Truth. You thought birth was gross, wait until the weeks, months after. Since my family is most likely the ones reading this, I'll save the gruesome details. But, its weird. Try not to share every detail with your husband to save them. Never mind. Screw it. They deserve to know ALL OF IT. Its not sexy. But, think about the amazing nugget you brought into this world and it makes it better (but, not really). Also, you do lose A LOT of hair around 3-4 months. Like, a lot. I felt like I could make a new wig with all the hair I lost. Our plumber was thrilled. Just embrace the weird and laugh about the weird.
9. Multi-tasking is hard(er) than it used to be. Refer to #6. Mom brain is real. I thought women who would tell me that were full of shit. Nope. Not in the least bit. Its real and I'm kind of, sort of, working my way out of it. Word on the street, it never gets better. But, that's ok. Its kind of fun bouncing from topic to topic and then going back when you remember. I feel like its a fun game. Now, don't get me wrong...Mom's are still badasses and can multitask like a "mother".
10. It gets better. Out of all the advice I would give myself, trust in this one. It does get better. Not all the way, but better. This last one summarizes all of the end points to each piece of advice. We got into a groove, a routine. I'm a routine girl; but, if you're not - I can say...it still does get better. You get to know your baby, you get to know yourself on a new level and your life starts to get better. It just does. Sometimes, you even think..."man, I could totally have another baby". Then you're snapped back to reality and realize you're insane for that thought.
Good luck mama's! You got this. You're doing a great job!