Since I’m only posting twice each week, I have been trying to focus more on quality content and sharing more meaningful posts. Today I wanted to share this simple athleisure look (boy, and I glad I get to be a mom during the athletic wear trend) but also some thoughts on what I feel like has been the hardest part of being a mom so far.
There are so many wonderful things that happen when a baby is born. And also so many challenges. Recovering from birth, breastfeeding, adjusting to newborn life, and trying to love a squishy postpartum body can all be challenging.
Some of you might know this about me, but I was a nanny for a little while and spent lots of time babysitting and loving on other people’s kids before I became a mom. I’ve always loved kids and I was obsessed with the Babysitters Club series growing up. I started babysitting when I was 9 years old. I remember getting paid $2 an hour for watching the neighbor’s kids while their parents mowed the lawn.
After I got married, I nannied for a family with four kiddos- a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and preemie twins. I watched them 40 hours a week and had another part-time job. I was putting in 60 hour weeks back then, and it was pretty exhausting.
There have been moments over the past few months where I’ve been really overwhelmed as a new mother. Thinking back to my nannying days, I wondered how did it seem easier with twins and two toddlers? I didn’t remember feeling that overwhelmed. In fact, when I first found out I was pregnant I was secretly hoping for twins (not that they really run in my family) because twins are so fun! Now I wonder what the heck I was thinking- haha!
I really thought being a caregiver for so many years would have prepared me better for being a mom, and I was surprised at how lost I still felt some days. It took me a while to figure out what the difference was between watching four of someone else’s little ones and taking care of one of my very own.
The difference is in the decision making.
For me, the hardest part of being a mom is trusting my own decisions.
When I was a nanny, I had a ‘boss’ who told me when to give the baby a bottle and how many ounces, when the naptimes should be, what size diaper to put on, etc. As the mom, all that decision making falls on me.
Sure, my husband helps make decisions and provide support, but a lot of it comes down to me because I’m the one nursing the baby and I’m the one who’s at home with him during the day.
Some of the hardest decisions have been related to feeding and nap schedules. When we came home from the hospital, Benjamin was having a lot of time awake and would take long naps between feedings, which spread out nursing sessions 3-4 hours (most newborns eat every 2-3 hours). It seemed like we were falling into a natural schedule. Even though Benjamin was growing well and having plenty of wet and dirty diapers, I was anxious that we couldn’t get the recommended 8 feedings in per day. I started worrying that I should wake him from his naps to feed him. It was stressful.
The solution was to trust my baby and trust my gut. Even though babies can’t communicate with words, they can communicate in other ways. I was too anxious to trust that Benjamin would tell me if he needed to eat more.
Being a first-time mom is overwhelming, no matter how many babies you’ve cared for or nieces and nephews you have. The experience gained from babysitting is helpful, but nothing quite prepares you for the real life, learn-as-you-go whirlwind of first-time parenting.
It’s overwhelming to meet the person you’ve been dreaming about and praying for and connected to for nine months. It’s overwhelming to figure out how this tiny person fits into your home, your marriage, your daily life. Breastfeeding can be overwhelming. Figuring out how many ounces to put in a bottle, and even when to give the first bottle- it’s a lot. There are so many decisions to make.
Even the small decisions seem like major decisions.
How often do I give a bath? When do we switch to the next size diaper? How many sleepers do we really need? How bad is it to hold him while he sleeps? Is it safe to use q-tips to clean his ears? Do you wake a sleeping baby? When should he move to his crib at night? Do we practice tummy time enough?
I try to be relaxed about motherhood, but raising a child is kind of a big deal. As we come out of the newborn stage, I keep trying to remind myself to trust my instincts and to pay attention to cues from my baby and trust in the little communications from him.
Some of the best advice I received (and I will continue to pass along because I’ve been repeating it to myself daily) is not to rush any stage. They’re only little once, and even when a second baby comes along, this one will be a toddler. There’s no time like this moment. I’m trying to cherish even the tough days, sleepless nights, and the times when I’m unsure if whatever I’m doing is really the best thing for this child.
Mostly, I’ve been surviving on grace from God.
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Is there something that surprised you mamas about motherhood? Where does your strength come from? How long did it take you to get the hang of making decisions for your baby?