Wow! First of all let me begin by saying I can't believe my baby, my husband and I survived a year!! Haha!! What a blessing!
Don't worry new moms. If I can make it, you can too!
The first year of motherhood is an emotional roller coaster. It's like the Titan, Superman, the Rattler, Mr. Freeze, and all other roller coasters combined into one. Seriously!
First of all, you always hear while you're pregnant, sleep while you can because once the baby comes there's no such thing as sleep. Yeah that's true. My son was on clockwork. Every three hours -on the dot- he was up to feed. And this sleep deprivation leads to all sorts of effects.
You can never truly prepare for your first child. No matter how many books or blogs you read, you can never truly comprehend what you're about to get yourself into until the day you take your baby home. The concept of another human being solely depending on me to live, hadn't quite registered in my head during the eight months my baby spent developing inside of me. Sometimes, while I was pregnant, I had to remind myself that my baby was actually going to come out of me one day.
That day came a whole month earlier than expected, which was actually a blessing in disguise. I think God knew that I needed guidance from nurses on how to care for my baby, so he kept Xipher (my son) in NICU for a week. That was a great learning experience. I mean it was scary at the time, but those amazing nurses taught me so much. They showed me how to latch my son on my nipple, how to hold him, how to burp him, how to change his diaper, how to take care of his circumcision and so much more. Yeah, I didn't know how to do any of that with a little five-pound baby. I mean I was kind of clueless. It's like once I saw my baby for the first time, everything I read and learned from watching my sister in law care for my niece just went out the door. I had to have some hand-on training with supervision to be reminded that I'm doing things right.
The day you take your baby home is an overwhelming experience. For some, you may feel overwhelmed with joy. But for others, you may be overwhelmed with fear or worry. That was me. I was so scared out of my mind! I was like holy crap! This is actually happening. This baby is mine and I have to make sure he lives. Whoa! Yeah, I was freaking out.
What got me through the fear? Prayer and God's word in the Bible. I read blogs and took advice from other moms, but nothing made me feel quite at ease like scriptures.
Back to the sleeping... There's no way out of sleep deprivation unless your baby is born at 10 pounds or you just got lucky with a sleeping baby. I mean, no matter what sleep techniques you do, your baby will sleep through the night on your baby's time- not yours. Ok, well this is my experience. I'll be completely honest. I didn't completely follow everything the books said. It was way too hard for me. I had to tend to my baby when I heard him cry. I had too! I tried not to a couple of times but that didn't make feel good inside. So I gave in. So you see, you can try to do everything the book says, but in the end, you're going to do whatever makes you feel happy. And that's GREAT! If you want to co-sleep, you do it! Just protect your baby. If you want to rock your baby to sleep for a whole hour, then you do it!
Yup! After three months of trying to do things like other moms or experts, I gave up. Why? Because I'm my son's mom. I am going to parent my son the way I want to parent my son because I'm his mom. Me! Not anybody else. So why am I trying to be like somebody else to my son? It's impossible. I had to and still have to be authentically me. Once I came to that realization, I was so liberated. I was excited!
When I was trying to do things that the experts advised, I was expecting what they said would be the results. So in actuality, I was expecting things from my son who was only months old. Isn't that crazy??! I mean it was frustrating, too. I finally said, no more expecting and comparing my son to others. That cannot be healthy.
So, I stopped comparing my son and let him be him. If he wanted to wake up, then I was glad he woke up. You know why? Because he slept with me! Haha! Yup! I wanted him to sleep with me so I took him out of his crib and moved him to my bed. I was working from 8:30-4 and I felt like he needed to feel my love and warmth the rest of the day. So he slept with me! That made the night waking more bearable and joyful. I'm not lying! Oh! I shouldn't forget to mention, my husband was deployed for the first five months of my son's life. Once my husband was back from deployment it took us a month to move him back to the crib. Lol!
I had so many wonderful expectations as a stay at home mom. I was looking forward to taking a year off from work and spending the entire day with my five-month-old son. I had visions of pure smiles and laughter. I had visions of shiny floors and beds made up. I had visions of me wearing an apron over my pretty dress as I made breakfast, lunch and dinner. My hair was beautifully curled and my face was perfectly polished. I'm typing this at 3pm and I'm wearing blue leggings, racer back tank top, sports bra, tennis shoes, my hair hasn't been brushed all day, actually I haven't taken shower! Oh reality!
Yes! That's reality! Reality is, you don't want to waste your makeup by wearing it if you're not even going anywhere. Why curl your hair if nobody is going to see it? Why put together a cute outfit if you're not going anywhere special?
Don't get me wrong. Some days I did do my makeup flawlessly and put on something cute just to make me feel good, but that wasn't an everyday thing.
And you know what! My house wasn't sparkly clean, either! It got messy pretty often, even when I tried to keep it clean. I've never been a neat person so I don't know why I thought I was just going to turn into this neat fairy and make my house look like it was on HGTV. It wasn't going to happen. For one, I never have company over. No need for a spotless home when the only other people entering your home are your baby and husband. And they're the ones who cause the mess!! Haha! Ok I may have added a bit to the mess but it was mostly caused by them.
My son is 14 months old now and I finally feel comfortable to take him to day care for half a day so I can clean the house. I would only take him once a week but now I'm so comfortable, I take him twice a week. It's like once they turn one, you finally figure out how to get some things done. I finally feel like I can take risks. My baby is not easily breakable anymore. That's how I see it.
I remember being excited for Xipher's checkups with the doctors. I used to love it when the doctors would smile and say, "You're doing a great job." Awwww, they used to say that when I rushed my one month old son to the ER because he had milk coming out of his nose or rolled off the bed. Haha!! If you put your baby on the bed, he's bound to roll off. It just happens. The doctors would ask me if Xipher was my first child and I'd say yes. Then they understood why I brought him into the ER or made a doctor appointment. "You're doing great, mom," they'd say.
I don't care if that was protocol. Those words always made me feel awesome. It's always nice to be reminded that you're a great mom.
I swear! Us moms are incredible. I don't care what you think! You are incredible. If you're a stay at home mom, you're incredible! If you're a working mom, you're incredible! Somehow, we learn how to do whatever it is we need to do. That's what this year has been- a learning experience. And it's one of the many many years of learning. You're not going to be perfect. You're not going to be the mom you always want to be and that's ok. We just have to keep giving it all we got.
So let's not give up on ourselves, or put ourselves and other moms down. Let's just learn together. Lean on each other and most importantly lean on God. He's always there for guidance and strength when you have none.