My baby turned one a couple months ago. If you’ve ever experienced this, you know it’s a celebration and a mourning all in one. You’re ecstatic to celebrate your child growing and also deeply saddened by it. You’re proud to have it made through the first year, yet horrified by what the next two have in store for you. Celebrating my little guy’s first birthday got me kind of nostalgic about those newborn months. And a year later as I reflect back on what I was doing at this time last year (and am also reminded by Facebook memories popping up on an almost daily basis—did I really post that much?!), I am remembering all of it: the good, the bad, the ugly. So, on that note-I want to share with you some things I learned along the way that I either failed terribly at or learned from the first time and implemented the second. So here it goes…
Get rid of all expectations. Seriously, throw them out the door. My first go at being a mom, I was dealt a double dose (twins) and because of that, I gave myself permission to go about things a little differently than if I had only had one. I wasn’t as hard on myself when breastfeeding wasn’t happening. I didn’t anticipate my babies coming home with me from the hospital (since many twins often spend some time in the NICU). I didn’t even try to leave the house for a while with two babies alone. It was getting cold in New York and between zero sleep, preemie babies with reflux and having just moved into a new house, I just didn’t. And even though I shed plenty of tears during that time, I was able to pretty quickly wipe them away and move on, mostly because someone needed to eat (or be changed, or be burped, or…). Second time around, maybe I was a little cocky? I mean I had gotten through that stage with two babies already, wouldn’t one be pretty easy? He was full-term, born at eight pounds, came right on schedule and was only one—did I mention that already? Breastfeeding would come easy. I’d actually have time for myself during his naps. Feedings would take half the time. Actually, none of that happened. My baby never latched, so I ended up exclusively pumping for three months, which basically made feeding the equivalent effort, time and energy as it had been with feeding twins. Nap times were spent with my other kids trying to fend off the mom guilt that suddenly encompassed me having to take care of a new baby most of the time…and pumping (my other full time job). So yeah, those expectations of what you think life is going to be like with a newborn, whether your first, second, third or fourth—forget them.
Make friends with other newborn moms. You may have plenty of friends. You may even have plenty of mom friends. But you also need friends with newborns going through the same stuff you are during that time. If you’re anything like me and pretty much every mom friend I have, you know, you forget really quick what that hell of no sleep, sore boobs, post-partum life is like until you relive it. Having mom friends with newborns around is gold when you are raising one. I was fortunate to join a group like this when I had my last guy. Not only was this a resourceful place to learn so much about infant care, it also gave me one of my besties, who I'm super grateful for. Recently, I met a mama in my neighborhood who launched a business doing just this. East Bay Mommy Village is a six week series of group classes where moms of newborns (0-3 months) or just past newborns (3-6 months) go to learn, talk, cry, vent, and just be together during one of the hardest times of our lives as mothers. If you’re a local Bay Area mom, you should definitely check them out. It’s also super affordable at $145 for the series (under $25 a class) and we've scored a discount for you too. Get 10% off by entering promo code MOM. If I hadn’t joined a group like this, I’m not sure how else I would have made friends with other newborn moms. Besides that, I don’t know about you, but I like to learn, and if I can help it, I like to learn with other people as opposed to having an anxiety attack alone Googling why my newborn won’t sleep for more than 37 minutes consecutively. This group offers professionally yet casually led classes (I’m talking a certified parenting expert amongst a group of women changing poopy diapers and breastfeeding). There’s a lot of knowledge with not a lot of judgement happening here. Sounds like a dream to a newborn mama if you ask me.
Be ready for change. When you have a baby or add to your family, shit’s going to change: your routine, your body, your relationship with your hubs, your relationship with kids, and yes-your relationship with yourself. For obvious reasons, your routine and your body are going to be different. Your relationships, yeah-those are going to have to shift too. I don’t know about you, but anytime there was a newborn in our house, there was a lot of stress on my marriage. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, or the lack of affection I was giving, or the lack of appreciation I felt, but damn-it was stressful. Next, your relationship with your kids will change too. Although I didn’t experience this exactly with my last baby having had twins to start, I know when going from one to two kids, plenty of moms feel a significant amount of guilt that their one kid is no longer the only kid who gets all of mama’s love when they bring baby #2 into the mix. Your first kid, who used to have all your attention, needs to learn a really big life skill by default: patience. And then there’s you. Remember when you had the luxury of you-time? You can still have it, of course, and you should totally take it, but it comes with an added layer of complexity now. So yeah, lots of change. I am one of those weird people that embrace change. I like it. I like the excitement, the new beginnings, the opportunities it brings, but I know for a lot of people out there, change is, well, fucking scary. “What if…” questions nag the shit out of them and make them pretty skerd. If/when that happens to you, I want you to ask yourself this: “If I hated change, would I have decided to have this baby?”. “If change was that scary, would I have moved/changed jobs/gotten married/fill in the blank?” “If change was such a mofo, would it have brought me to where I am now?” Change is good, mama. And if you’re someone who likes to grow and learn and improve, then change is necessary. Remember that.
So, there you have it. My nostalgia and thoughts for you after hitting the milestone of one year for my sweet babe and my sweet self. I may be a work in progress, but I’m working it all day every day to make myself the best version of me. I know you are too.