I’m a year into motherhood. One full year. And while I spend the majority of my days still feeling like I have no clue what I am doing, there are a few lessons I’ve learned in these 365 days that I wish I could go back and tell myself, or at least share with the soon-to-be mamas in my life. Because dear new mom, you need to know…
It’s not your fault. Doesn’t even matter what you are asking yourself about. Nine times out of ten, the answer is, it’s not your fault. Trouble nursing? Not your fault. Baby won’t sleep? Not your fault. Kinda hate your husband? Not your fault. Don’t want to leave the baby? Not your fault. Can’t wait to leave the baby? Not your fault.
The way your baby came into the world will never matter again once you are home. Whether you had a cozy home birth or a traumatic hospital stay or anything in between. Be thankful for what went right, mourn the way things went wrong, then work on slowly letting it go. Don’t let the way you delivered dictate the way you parent. There’s no time for pride, fear, or regret now that there’s a baby who needs you.
Breastfeeding is hard. And that’s okay. Then one day, it magically isn’t. And that’s awesome. But then it’s hard again. Basically it’s a long journey, full of snuggles and clogged ducts along the way. If possible, please get professional lactation help. And surround yourself with cheerleaders who will root you on when you need the encouragement.
Invest in the expensive nursery chair. You know the big, cushy, rocker/glider combo with the high back that takes up way too much room that you can drift off to sleep in? That one. Get it if you haven’t already because you will spend more hours in it than you can imagine. And it’s still less pricey than multiple chiropractor bills.
Maternity clothes aren’t just for pregnancy, so don’t pack them away just yet. It’s totally fine to wear those stretchy waisted pants and flowy tops for a while after the baby has made it’s debut. Most women do. And do not even think of weighing yourself until at least a month has passed. This is the time to lay low, eat well, and be kind to your body that just made another human from scratch!
Get out of the house. I know you haven’t showered and the baby is cranky and the dishes are piling up, but get out of the house. Fresh air puts things into perspective. Bonus if you can get to a place where you will actually get to talk with another adult. Often they will remind you of two important things you need reminding of: 1. You are a fully functioning grown-up in the world. 2. Your little bundle is actually really super cute when it’s not 2am.
Take a moment for yourself. Take a few. Take the time you need and you’ll be a better mother. Maybe you need a shower in peace, a sweaty yoga class, or a girls night out with wine. I know it doesn’t feel possible, but the baby will be okay without you. If there is someone who can help you, let them. Adults are often much more generous, and babies much more adaptable, than we give them credit for.