You know those memes and kooky parent sites you visit that tell you to brace for the worst? Yeah, they were not off at all. I find it curious that not many people talk about the huge change it is to have a child and give it your attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For someone who is independent, has their own life and schedule, works multiple jobs or is just an A-type personality – all of the things you knew goes out the window.
I had a bit of a plan going into everything – I was going to breastfeed, take shifts with Brian so that we would both get enough sleep, get help from others minding the baby or cooking food, and I read up on the best way to deal with things that might come. But all of this – all of it – became more and more apparent that it’s impossible to prepare fully for a baby. A baby makes their own schedule, rules and cannot communicate with you (other than crying) and it can get pretty frustrating.
My milk never came in fully and because our baby had health issues, it felt like every time I saw the pediatrician and talked to the health nurse, that I was being a bad mother for not being able to breast feed. I tried my hardest – I saw a lactation consultant multiple times and tried everything under the sun – teas, medication, food, etc etc. In hindsight, I don’t know why I stressed myself out so much to be able to provide my baby with it, when formula is just fine. It wasn’t until I spoke to a specialty nurse taking care of my baby that basically told me I didn’t need to stress myself out on top of what we were dealing with at the time. Even just that small affirmative helped me greatly.
Overall, I can’t say our baby has been terrible – he sleeps very well 5-7 hours a night since at about 6 weeks old. He was never really colic and only cried when he was hungry (which was often). He was quite kind to us in our first couple weeks home from the hospital. It was a huge learning curve to get accustomed to his needs but we got into a good rhythm of cycling through: diaper change, eat, sleep – which is basically what all babies cry over most of the time. It came down to a science – we downloaded an app to track his eating, sleeping, diapers, activities and medications. We had it so that every 2 hours, he’d wake up to eat, we’d change him and let him play (if it was day time) or put him down for a nap.
Now that he’s a bit older (he’s turning four months next week), we’re adjusting again because now that he isn’t a newborn he can go for longer without feeds, wants to stay up and play/chat.
In terms of advice I’d give new moms, I’m kind of in the same boat of not really giving any advice because every baby is different. However, looking back on my own personal experience as a mom with my baby, here are some thoughts I wish I let myself live with during the first three months:
1. Babies cry.
So many moms told me this during my first couple weeks. I was so scared to take him out because he’d cry and I’d apologize to my relatives – but all in all – especially if you’re a parent – you know that there’s really not much you can do when babies cry. Thats their only form of communication and you just have to deal with it.
2. Take everything you read online with a grain of salt.
I stayed away as much as I could from Googling everything, but I joined some mom forums hoping to get some insight. As much as it was helpful to have other new moms so that we could commiserate together, it was also exhausting and sad at some times to read their issues (both medically and just day-to-day stuff). A lot of things I read from moms scared me, so much so that I worried almost every day and could not relax. Needless to say, I’ve stopped reading things online.
3. Enjoy every single moment.
I read somewhere that when you’re a parent, the days are long but the years are short. It’s so true. I took pictures every day of our baby and looking back, watching him grow, I miss certain weeks and days – especially when he was a newborn and slept so well! I was so eager to make sure his needs were met that I felt that sometimes I lost moments where I could just sit back, relax and enjoy his presence. The quiet days of when he would be able to sleep on my chest are gone, and I do miss those days as well.
4. Everyone bonds differently to their baby.
There are many different ways to bond with your baby and there are so many moms that I know who rock at it. I know I should never compare myself to them, but sometimes I felt inadequate as a mom because I feel like I didn’t have that enormous connection with my baby. But as the days went by, I felt more and more attached to him and I think he’s grown attached to me.
5. Babies squeak a lot when they sleep.
If you’re a light sleeper like me, you’re in for a bad time.
6. It’s ok to not be Instagram perfect.
I see many moms jogging with their baby in tow, looking glam, eating right, wearing their babies and breast feeding like the golden goddesses they are. I’m sure behind the scenes its hard for them as well. But I needed to remind myself that not everyone’s path is that way. The adjustment of having a new baby might mean you eat shit food for several weeks/months, you might not put make up on every day and wash your hair, and your baby hates being worn. It’s absolutely ok.
7. Advice, advice, every where.
I’m going to be frank – there’s a saying that “everyone has an asshole, but not everyone wants to hear it” – thats basically advice – particularly baby advice. I’ve received so much advice – from the absolute batty ones to ones I really admire. I’ve had people come up to me and given me unsolicited advice (“You can’t bring a less than month old baby out!”). But in the end, you’re the parent of this baby and you know what’s best for the kid. Take the advice you think you need and leave the rest behind.
Now that we’re out of the first three months, it’s exciting to see our baby grow into his own. He’s learning a lot of new things – sometimes he gets frustrated, but watching him persist is so interesting and endearing.
What do you miss the most from baby’s first three months?