I know, I know. I haven’t been a Mom long enough to have acquired a vast array of golden nuggets of motherhood wisdom. But I have come to realize a few things that have greatly helped me as a new Mom.
Having a newborn is hard. That’s the plain, simple truth. It’s wonderful!! And fun!! And so special and rewarding!! But it’s hard. Hopefully this can encourage any other new Mom out there!
- Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be ashamed if you are exhausted. Don’t be ashamed if you want a break. Don’t be ashamed if you need a break. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Let the body of Christ be the body to you. Let a friend watch your baby for a couple hours so that you can run errands, clean the house, take a nap, or just sit and enjoy the quiet at home. Asking for a break does not mean that you do not love your baby.
- Seek out a Mommy friend. The Wingman was about 8 weeks old when I discovered this one. I hadn’t realized how lonely I felt until one Sunday at church when I went into the cry room to nurse. Already in there were two other Moms. We didn’t talk about anything too important…just basic baby related topics. I left almost on cloud 9 and was raving to my wonderful husband about my new Mommy friend. It was so good to talk to someone who could understand. Now we hang out and plan on going on weekly walks with our sons!
- Get out of the house. It might seem counter-intuitive, but if you are exhausted or discouraged….get out of the house! This could correlate with point #2 (go visit a friend)….or you could just go on a walk. Babies tend to like being outdoors, so maybe if s/he is crying, stepping outside could be the antidote. One afternoon I was just so tired, but the Wingman was fussing and I was not getting anything done around the house. I texted my neighbor and told her I was going on a quick walk…..we went for about 30 minutes. I felt so refreshed and ready to keep going when I got back home (and the Wingman was out like a light)!
- Don’t second guess. Cry it out or not crying it out, breastfeeding or formula, pumping or not pumping, vaccinating or not vaccinating, schedule feeding or feeding on demand…the list goes on and on. Don’t worry if your choices don’t look like your friend’s choices. Or, harder yet, don’t worry if your choices don’t look like your family’s choices. Do the research and do what is best for your family and your baby. Don’t let anyone convince you you’re a bad Mom for doing something that you believe to be the best for your baby. Be open to research, but stick with what you and your husband believe is best.
- Don’t compare. I didn’t think the comparison trap would start so quickly. I’m on a Facebook page for Moms who all had babies due in July of this year. My son is still so young and already I have fallen into the trap of comparing him to the other babies. “The Wingman doesn’t grab things with his hands yet.” “He hasn’t rolled over yet.” Then come the worries that something is wrong or the feelings of being left out. Every baby is different and every baby develops at his or her own pace. Be excited for your friend’s baby’s milestones, but let your child go at his own pace. Chances are, he is just fine. And your baby is probably ahead in other areas!
- Watch for bitterness. Confession time: I have gone through bouts of bitterness toward my husband. My thoughts go something like this, “My job is 24/7….he only has 12 hour days. I have to get up at least twice a night….he gets to sleep.” Etc. Basically: Woe is me. My job is so hard and you should come home from your long day at work and take over for me even though you’re exhausted. Now….true, the job of a mother is literally a 24/7 job. True, you do not get sick days or weekends off. But take care to think with your mind, not your emotions. I know that my husband has very, very long work days, both physically and mentally. I know he’s exhausted when he gets home. I know that in order to ensure his safety while flying, he has to get at least 8 hours of sleep. I know that when he gets home he often has to continue studying. And I know that he needs to unwind too! I’m not the only one who needs a break.
- Communicate with your husband. Talk about your expectations, desires, and frustrations with him. Together, come up with a plan so that you both get to unwind and relax. Maybe when he gets home from work, he can cook the dinner or watch the baby while you shower….then you can resume watching the baby so that he can play a computer game, take a nap, or otherwise unwind.
- Remember that your husband is not you. His parenting style will likely differ from yours, even in the newborn days. Let him be the Dad that he is. Don’t freak out if he isn’t doing things exactly the way that you do it or want it. Be careful to not constantly nag him or teach him how to take care of the baby (ie: your way). If he honestly needs help, you can kindly offer suggestions. But give him a chance to figure it out and to be the loving father that he is. Even if it looks different than what you do!
- Don’t neglect your husband. Remember that even though you are the primary caretaker, it does not make you the only important one. Marriage is still not about giving 50/50….it’s 100/100. Don’t let your exhaustion be an excuse for frustrated words, heated arguments, selfish thinking, or bitter anger. Read a book like The Husband Project by Kathi Lipp….or do a 30 Day Husband Encouragement Project. Please know, new moms, that your relationship with your husband will change….and if you aren’t careful, it can take a beating. Having a baby calls for major adjustment. Be prepared for it. Remember that your actions toward your husband today will affect your relationship with your husband tomorrow.
- Be aware of character building opportunities. You’re frustrated….pray for patience. You’re annoyed that the cute little dictator won’t let you clean the house because he is screaming his head off (again)…pray for love. You’re worried about all the scary things that “could” happen to your child…pray for peace.
- Don’t question your calling. You’re
tiredexhausted. You’re frustrated. You’re lonely. You’re one poopsplosion away from a nervous breakdown. You’re a bad Mom. You’re not fit to take care of a child. Maybe you should have waited to have kids. No, no, no my friend!!! God knew what He was doing. He chose the precise moment to give you a child. He chose you to have a child. He chose you to have your child. You can do this!! You can do this because He called you and He will give you the daily grace you need.
Be encouraged, new mom. Having a newborn is hard….but so amazing. It’s the times where he looks up at you and smiles so big his eyes scrunch up. It’s the ridiculous noises, songs, and faces you come up with to try to get that smile. It’s the sweet cuddles with your baby. It’s the fact that regardless of your mistakes, your baby thinks you’re the greatest thing ever. It’s watching your husband hold your child and thinking your heart will burst into pieces because of the love you have for them.