I can’t believe that Olivia is already twelve weeks old.  I also can’t believe that it was only twelve weeks ago that I went into labour.  It’s funny how life can feel like it’s going slowly and quickly all at the same time.

In the past twelve weeks of motherhood, I’ve learned a lot, yet I also feel so new at everything.  Like I’m still in that awkward trying to figure it all out stage.  I have a sneaky suspicion that this feeling will never completely go away.

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Looking back to those first few days and weeks with a new babe, I realize just how far we’ve come.  We’re getting to know each other; we’re starting to have our own little rhythm.  I’ve realized that, even though I feel like I’m just continually screwing everything up, I’ve actually learned A LOT.

I’ve learned:

1. All the things that you swore you’d NEVER do as a parent, are probably the very things that you will DEFINITELY do once you have a kid.  I swore I would never co-sleep, exclusively pump and bottle feed, be one of those hippy baby-wearing moms, or fill my Facebook and Instragram accounts with nothing but baby-related posts.  Yep.  Done them all.

2. A happy mom = a happy babe.  As a new mom, I was so focused on making sure that Olivia was happy and taken care of.  I would literally do anything to make her happy, including putting all of her needs before my own.  Then I realized that I was often miserable.  Just because I’m now a mom, doesn’t mean that my needs cease to exist.  I need a break every now and then.  Sometimes it’s an afternoon out with girlfriends, sometimes it’s just a 20 minute bubble bath.  Sometimes I just need to lay her in the crib and pour myself another cup of coffee and take five minutes to myself without feeling guilty.

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3. Breastfeeding is hard.  It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.  I still sometimes feel like I’ve failed because I’m no longer doing it.  Like I should have just persevered and stuck it out.  Then I remember just how horribly I was feeling in those last few days; so horrible that I was extremely worried that  I was going to fall deeper and deeper into a pit of depression if I didn’t change something.  I still hope to try it again if/when we have another babe, but for Olivia and I it just wasn’t meant to be.  And that’s okay.

4. I wasn’t ready to be a mom.  I don’t think I would have ever been ready.  It’s just something that you can’t be truly ready for.  There have been lots of moments where I’ve wanted to give up, run away, and take back all those times where I ached to be a mom.  It’s, without question, the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.

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5.  I shouldn’t judge other parents.  The other day as I was running into a store I saw a mother draping a garbage bag over her babe in a stroller as they were leaving the store.  At first I thought to myself, “Jeeze lady, buy a plastic stroller cover!”.  Then I quickly realized that I had no idea what her story was.  Maybe she forgot the stroller cover at home.  Maybe she never thought to buy a stroller cover.  Maybe she feels that a plastic garbage bag is a more cost-effective cover? In the end, it doesn’t matter what the story was because in that moment she was doing what she could to keep her babe dry.  I’ll never fully understand the whole story, so who am I to pass judgement?

6.  I LOVE my job and I miss it terribly.  I miss the work.  I miss the people.  I miss the commute.  I miss everything.  I always knew that I had found a job that I really enjoyed, but I never really knew just how much I loved it until I was away from it.  I’m really looking forward to going back to work next year, even though I know that I’ll also be sad to leave Olivia.

7.  The first two weeks are hell and the first three months aren’t super fun.  Maybe it’s not the same for everyone, but in my experience, the first two weeks were ROUGH.  Dealing with sleep deprivation, crazy hormones, and a tiny babe that you’re just getting to know is utterly overwhelming.  I have to say though that each week gets a little bit better.  You start feeling more and more like your old self, less anxious, and you’re suddenly able to really enjoy your babe.  There are still challenges, but they don’t feel so overwhelming like they did in those first couple of weeks.

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8. Having a supportive partner and support system is invaluable.  The old quote “It take a village to raise a child” is bang on.  I can’t imagine not having Hubby, our parents, or my friends around to lend an extra hand or ear when I need it.  Sometimes I just need to talk to somebody, and knowing I have amazing people surrounding me is so relieving.

9. Mom guilt is intense.  It seems that no matter what I do, what decisions I make, I’m constantly feeling guilty.  We probably don’t do enough tummy time.  How much tummy time is enough? I let her nap in her bouncy seat – she really should nap in her crib.  I should stop doing dishes and laundry and just play with Olivia.  The cats aren’t getting as much love.  Hubby isn’t getting as much love.  I should make dinner.  I should make healthier dinners.  We all need to eat more veggies.  I should get out for a walk every day.  I should make time for spin class and yoga.  Ugh.  It’s exhausting.  I need to learn to push these poisonous thoughts out and focus on the positive…but it’s hard.

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10. DO WHAT WORKS.  I’ve saved this one for last as it’s the best advice that I’ve ever received.  Always take the suggestions of healthcare professionals, your mom, your friends, and anybody else that has an opinion about how you’re raising your child, but in the end, DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU AND YOUR BABE.  Every baby and every situation is different and you have to trust your instincts on what’s right for your situation.

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