It doesn’t always come easy or natural, this #momlife. This weeks World Mama knows the struggle is real. Especially when you keep comparing yourself to other mothers or feel overwhelmed. Melissa now has a one year old baby and the past year has taught her a lot about what it means to be a mother. She is sharing this much appreciated mom wisdom in today’s guestblog. If you want to know what this full-time working mother from Northern Virginia has to say about being a first time mama, then keep on reading!
Those who read my blog may know that I was not overly eager to become a mom. Honestly, I was terrified that I would be a terrible mom. I am not a particularly patient person and before becoming a mom, I was that person that rolled my eyes at screaming babies. It’s funny how quickly things change…Now I am the first to offer a helping hand to a mom struggling with a baby. As a first-time mom with a one-year old I certainly learned a lot over the past year! I love to share what I have learned with other new moms so that they know they aren’t alone in the “journey” of parenthood.
Once I found out I was pregnant I really didn’t want to know about all the little details. I didn’t go to the hospital with a birth plan, I didn’t do a lot of research on what to expect during labor and I thought knowing the details about delivery would scare me even more. In hindsight, I wish I would have done some more research at least about the delivery options available (for example, home birth, birthing center versus hospital birth).
I did read several books about parenting and what to expect in the early days. Of course, that didn’t really prepare me for the whirlwind of the first several months. Can anything really prepare you for that? The only one that really saved our lives was The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp. I now give that book to every expecting mom. I feel lucky that it was given to us because I’m not sure I would have had it the night we needed it (3 am with a baby screaming for hours, two days after coming home from the hospital) otherwise.
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I’ve now been a mom for a year and I have learned so much more than any book could teach. In the first few weeks I felt very lonely and worried about what I had gotten myself in to. I constantly worried about every little thing and wondered why my baby wasn’t like others. I was trying to be perfect! I kept waiting for things to “get better.” People always had a different age or milestone that things got better (2 weeks, one month, six-months, etc.) Really, I think things were just different, not necessarily easier. Some of the things I learned over the last year:
Throw your expectations out the door
Whatever you expect your baby to do, he will do the opposite. I can’t tell you how many times I expected him to fall asleep and he didn’t, or be cranky and he was happy.
Baby brain is real
I hope someday to remember where I put my keys, or that I left my coffee on the roof of the car to put my baby in his car seat, or to put a letter in the envelope BEFORE I mail it; however, based on what I’ve heard from other moms, baby brain just turns into mom brain.
Baby brain does have one benefit!
Whenever I asked a mom about different phases of newborn life, they usually couldn’t remember. I think baby brain gives you rose colored glasses to look fondly at that totally crazy period of time, during those first few months. Even for me, a year later, I look back and sometimes think ‘it wasn’t so bad’, and then I remember….it was!
Embrace your tribe
One thing I didn’t expect was the amazing group of mothers I would encounter, both in my circle of friends and, unexpectedly, a virtual network through Facebook and Instagram. As I mentioned earlier there were some lonely and stressful periods and these women reminded me that things will get better and that I am not the only one going through the harder parts of parenthood. I have not met many of these women in person, but they really impacted my life!
Live the little things
It is SO easy to get caught up in mom life and to wish the milestones would come. However, the sooner they come you realize how fast time is going by. I learned early on, to live the little things and appreciate every moment – even the crazy ones!
Don’t compare yourself, or your baby, to others
Every mom is different and every baby is different. What you see online is not necessarily the complete truth. As long as your baby is happy and healthy that is what matters the most. Also, as one of my husband’s wise friends said “your baby will be ahead in some areas, behind in other areas and right on time in others.”
Listen to your baby
I find that my baby does things in his own time and if I don’t rush him he eventually gets to where he needs to be. For example, I didn’t really have to transition him from a swaddle, he let us know when he was ready and did the transition for us. Listening to your baby and learning from his cues will save you a lot of stress and anxiety and it’s a good reminder of why you shouldn’t compare your baby to others.
Motherhood has been an amazing adventure for me over the last year. I can’t wait to tackle the ups and downs that come my way as my little guy grows up. I hope to help other first-time mamas realize that they are not alone!
Melissa is the mother of a little baby boy called Aiden Milo (born November 2015), and a police wife to her husband Dan. They live in Northern Virginia. She works full time as a meeting planner for two non-profits. She shares her experiences and adventures of being a first-time mama on her blog to hopefully help other first time moms. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.