Sunday, January 7, 2018

What I wish I would have known as a first time mom // What I've Learned

When I first sat down to write this post I thought, omg how am I going to compile everything I have learned and how to best share this? There is just so much! And I know a lot of my mama friends felt the same. But as I started to list things I realized from the beginning, that what I have learned most is that this is a personal journey of growth and love and it's so imperfect. If you knew it all before hand what kind of experience would it be? We all have our "first" time with everything and it's what makes it our own. I think what's most important is not having expectations of motherhood and just appreciating it for all that it is. It's tough work! Any mom that said she never broke down and cried or  wanted to run away every once in a while would be lying, or supermom. It's rough and I've learned more than every to rely on other women and mothers because we are all on this journey together and it's a never ending lesson. No one is lying when they say it is worth all the sleepless nights and tears. It truly is the biggest blessing that you can only understand once you've experienced it. So allow yourself too and be easy on yourself.

1. People give unsolicited advice because they are or because they feel passionate. Try not to take it personal. Every woman who has ever had a baby probably has an opinion about how things work and what worked for their baby. Sometimes they're right! So don't dismiss everything you hear but also don't take it to heart if it upsets you. People speak before thinking including myself.

2. Document things! My first pregnancy was unplanned and pretty stressful and I kind of hid away for a while which I don't regret but I also don't have as many bump pictures or journal entries. Things were hard but I think it's okay to write that and be honest about it too. It's a monumental time in your life no matter the circumstances. Babies are blessings however they get here.

3. Physical touch is so important! I had a friend who refused to wear her baby on her because it stressed her out and she felt uncomfortable which truly I understand. Post partum is a hard stage and it's not uncommon for moms to lack a bond with their baby. But I think the best advise I could have for that is to break down your walls and get intimate with your baby. Babies thrive with love and human contact and will bond with you that way. Also learn to walk away from a screaming baby when you don't know what to do. Babies won't die from crying and you should always gain your composure and take a deep breath before getting overly frustrated. It will help you have more patience and again bond with your baby.

4. Don't compare your baby or yourself to others! Everybody experiences this differently. The best way to get through it is by talking to other moms and also trusting your gut. I think its very dangerous to ignore things that you think could be a problem developmentally (always get a 2nd opinion) but if your baby is different from someone else's celebrate their differences and their personality. My two kids could not be more different!

5. Remember that the newborn and baby stage is very short lived. If you feel like a zombie that just can't get out of their funk please know we have all been there and it's normal! People aren't joking when they say you won't sleep, your body will feel foreign, and it will take a while to adjust to this new life! Also they are not joking when they say soak up these moments because they are gone in a flash. Im not kidding it's taken me two babies to realize OMG I don't get those weeks, months back and I am crying inside thinking of how quickly my 3rd pregnancy is passing. Enjoy every moment of what it is.

6. Never do anything you don't feel comfortable with. Do your own research, always. This includes letting strangers hold your baby, vaccinations.. you name it. Always feel like you have the decision and always be open to other opinions. It's okay to research, ask other moms, and then go with your own gut. This includes the way you birth. I could write an entire post about why I chose a midwife and home birth and why some of my friends have done the same but I think the most important thing is doing your own research before closing yourself off to an amazing opportunity. Don't ever do something just because everyone else does it. I believe every woman should watch the documentary "The Business of Being Born" in the beginning stage of pregnancy. Also, it's never too late to change care providers if you aren't comfortable or change your mind with something.

7. Breastfeeding is hard for a lot of women and takes a lot of dedication. (Do not let this deter you or make you nervous!) Sure when you get used to it you can flop it out and get it done anywhere haha but in the beginning it's a huge change. You will be sore, you might get mastitis, your supply WILL deplete if you give up or supplement and you will squirt your baby or husband in the face with milk. Just invest in breast pads ahead of time, you'll need em. There's so many things you can do to eliviate pain and regulate your supply so ask for help or read up! I recommend all women use a breast pump! I got a used one and it has worked amazing for years and I have lent it to friends as well. It's easy to get one!

8. Looks aren't everything. Sometimes the beautiful and fancy carseats are crap and your baby will hate it. My kids hated the $200 bouncer and it took 6 months of ruining Krew's clothes before my mom could convince me to just put a dang bib on him! The cute and trendy things are awesome to have, I know.. but I PROMISE you that your baby will not know the difference and will be okay if you don't. I still have doorway hanging bouncer I had as an baby (20 years old and works great) and have used it for both of my kids and they LOVE it! I have a mix of old cheesy things that never fail me and some cute trendy things that are fun to have too. Just be practical and don't ever feel guilty for not having the best of the best. Practical over Perfect.

9. STOP mom shaming. It's so easy when you're not a mom to talk about what you would do if you had kids or what you think a woman should be doing but until you have a child a child have a full on meltdown in public that is out of your control you don't know what you would do. You also don't know what she may have already tried or what is going on in their family. I always take those opportunities to quietly judge* ha kidding, but more importantly LEARN from whatever I am witnessing. I once saw a woman yelling at her kids in the store it was way late and the kids were obviously exhausted and not wanting to be shopping. I told myself right then and there that if I ever pushed my kids to their limit I would not blame them for reacting like children should. There's always crappy situations we can't avoid, maybe she ran out of diapers late that night? But still, I learned to be more patient with my children and especially in public!

10. Sharing is caring. Find other mom friends. Join a group or get familiar with ladies at church. Just put yourself out there and make sure you have a support system. If you family is not close or unsupportive PLEASE reach out to other women and let them be there for you. It takes a village I swear it! Sometimes a coffee and playdate at a girlfriends house literally makes my whole week. I have met so many moms from participating in mom groups and just pushing through the uncomfortable steps of making new friends and being vulnerable and it always pays off. I can't tell yo how much I have learned from other moms of ALL ages and family dynamics. Never close yourself off to that even when you are struggling or hurting. Someone else has been there too.

I asked a few mamas I know what is some advise they would give a new mom or wish that they would have known before having a baby. I loved all of the answers and wrote most of them above in my own advise! I love that we all agreed that motherhood is a journey so personal that we're always learning and growing with our own kids. I think we can all agree that when we lower our expectations and go with the flow everything falls into place and our kid's are able to receive our love and guidance so much better.

Mom of 1 (almost 2!) (WA)
"I think the biggest thing for me was learning to have no expectations. that sounds bad, but I had set my expectations so high for motherhood and all that it entailed. When all my expectations went out the window... nursing was awful, didn't realize how tried I would be, my house was a mess, I no longer made dinner every night etc. I got really depressed/baby blues. I even had moments of being like why did I want a baby, at my lowest lows. So go into motherhood with low expectations and have grace for yourself. It's a hard job."

Mom of 2 (TX)
"Breastfeeding was a HUGE struggle for me when I had Lucas. I didn't have a support system or anyone close to me that had experience. My mom couldn't nurse with any of us. My friends either didn't have kids or didn't breastfeed. In all the reading I did back then breastfeeding was supposed to be this completely natural experience and so "easy". We both know it's not "easy" Nothing about being a mom really is haha! So anyways I always just like to to tell new moms that if they choose to breastfeed, line up support and search out groups so you are prepared in case you or baby has difficulties when the time comes." 

Mom of 1 (AZ)
"There is a list of endless thoughts and emotions that come to mind when it comes to new motherhood. The one that trumps all is GRACE. Give yourself grace. And receive the grace that was given to you already by the Lord himself. You will see moms that get out more, dress their kids better, bounce back quicker, and all the things that you feel like you "should" be doing. It all falls back on GRACE. you are right where you need to be. Whether it's on the couch most of the day nursing or using your last ounce of energy to get to the park. You are all they need. And that's a special place to be." 

Mom of 2 (almost 3) (WA)
"EASY. I wish I would have watched "The Business of Being Born" and researched in depth. I didn't because no one in my family supported it and for my 2nd I decided to screw everyone else's opinions and do what I knew in my heart was right for me and my baby. (Midwife and home birth) Also invest in a pregnancy pillow for sleeping and then belly bandit for post partum recovery. It helped so much with my stomach and recovery after my 2nd!" 

Makenzi, mom of 3 (WA)
"I would research more on my decisions for example, vaccines. I always just thought it was a no brainer but then regretted certain things with my first that I have chosen not to do with my 2nd. I know not everyone agrees with but I recommend doing your research especially on medial decisions like vaccines. I also wish I would have been more open to a natural birth with my first too. If I ever have another baby I will be doing a midwife and hopefully home birth! And of course wish I had taken more pics because I missed my bump!"

Alison, mom of 4! (WA)
"Don't be a judgmental asshole because at some point or another you'll
end up being the mom you judged."

Sam, mom of 2 (WA)
"I would say I wish I woulda known more about the post birth bounce back.. like all the blood lol and that I would bleed for 3 months after lol and that my body wasn't going to be the same after. And then something I have learned about being a mom is that you're always going to have these plans and goals in your head of how you want to do things and 9/10 times they don't go exactly how you planned.. and that's OKAY! But to also give yourself GRACE! Everyday, because your kids will see you may need it and subconsciously give you grace anyway. So you don't have to feel like a bad mom because in your kid's eyes you're perfect! Even if you don't look or feel your best. Also * I'd like to make sure I'm in the best shape if I have more kids because the bounce back is a struggle!"