Friday, October 21, 2011

Advice For A New Mom

This week, I attended a baby shower for a friend. I arrived late, of course, in typical new-mom fashion, and was immediately thrust into the "Let's all give the expectant mom words of wisdom" game.
I didn't really hear what everyone else said because, honestly, I wasn't listening. Between wiping Cheerio mush off my shirt and loosening the boy's death grip from my hair, I had other things going on, you know? So you can imagine my terror when I heard, "Your turn!" and saw about 15 pair of eyes focused on me.

Y'all, I'm not the kind of girl who performs well under pressure.

And these people were expecting a real pearl here. Because, obviously, if you have a baby on your hip, you're full of mom wisdom.

I think I said something brilliant like, "It's ok to lie to the pediatrician."  And totally disappointed everyone in the room. Someone may have even whispered, "Who gave her a baby?"

I've had a few days to recover. I've taken some time to think. And it turns out I really do have something to offer the new mom.

1. In the first days and weeks, you will probably think you've gone crazy. You'll be so happy one minute, and then you'll find yourself crying. You can be scared, lonely, unsure, angry, and that's OK. You are totally normal, and all these feelings won't stick around forever. Well, except the crying part. Cohen's almost a year old, and I still cry over everything.

2. You do not have to do everything by yourself. In the beginning, people will offer help, and you probably won't want it. There's something about moms thinking they have to handle everything on their own in order to be good mothers. That's not true. Ask for help when you need it.

3. Take every opportunity to enjoy your new baby. Soak everything in. The way he smells. The rolls on his arms. The sound of his little grunts. He will grow up so fast, so live in the moment.

4. Things will probably not go the way you had planned for them to. There will most likely be at least one thing that won't work out perfectly for you. That's ok. You don't have to be ashamed or beat yourself up over it. Be flexible. Adapt. That's what makes you a good mom.

5. Take every opportunity to rest. Sleep when he sleeps. Everything else can wait.

6. Never allow yourself to compare your child to someone else's. Never base your expectations for your baby on what another baby does or doesn't do. Love and accept him for who he is. The quickest way to lose your joy is to compare.

7. You are a good mom. Trust in that. You have everything you need to help your baby survive and thrive.

8. You are the expert on your baby. Other people, and even professionals, can give you advice, but in the end, you know best for your child. Trust your instincts. Trust your baby to tell you what he needs. If your baby needs cereal before he's 4 months old, give it to him. If he needs to sleep with you (and you are OK with that), do it. Don't allow anyone to make you feel like less than the amazing mother you are simply because you are not doing things the way they did. Other moms are the biggest critics and judges -- stay away from that.

9. If you make it to the end of the day and everyone is still breathing and relatively happy, you've done a great job.

10. Take time for yourself every day. Make sure you are healthy and balanced.  The best thing you can do for your baby is to make sure you are being well.

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