Since last Wednesday I have been a mom to my little R for 14 months. He is my first and only child so far. Motherhood is definitely a path of life that is so amazing. There are both joys and struggles that you won’t experience anyway else. Motherhood also teaches unique lessons that really has made me a stronger more confident woman.
I would love to share with you all these things, or lessons, I have learned. Some of you are moms already so you will understand most of them. Some of you might have a close loved one or friend who are in their first year and so this might help you get a little more of a glimpse into their new world. Lastly, some of you have not become mothers yet but it is a life goal for you. In that case, keep these things in mind for when that time does come for you. By the way, these can be applied to women who become mothers through adoption as well!
1) This new stage in life comes with a pass to be selfish (at least for the first year ). This is something I learned right away from day 1. My parents came to stay with me for the month to help me. I quickly realized that may not have been the best thing for me. I am quite different in personality to my mom and we clashed on so many things. Her idea of helping me with certain things house related things and how to take care of my new child actually stressed me out. But what was I to do, tell her to stop trying to help me? I tried to cope with it, but I physically and mentally could not handle it anymore. I had to put my foot down and tell her how I wanted things done and how we will have to agree to disagree. Let me just say that even though I am a first-time mom, I have worked with children for about 12 years. I did have an upper hand in knowing how to care of children in a general way. She didn’t like it so much but she loves me and so she tried to do what I asked of her. If they wanted Chinese food and I didn’t, I said no , get me something else. Maybe this might be easier for some people to do more than others. Me personally, I realized that if didn’t put my foot down and tell people what I wanted, I was easily going to get pushed into things I really don’t want to do. The fact is, they are not the ones walking through the discomforts of having just birthed a child, breastfeeding, being woken up 5-6 times a night, fatigued and hormonal. I was, so I get to have what I want to help me feel more comfortable. It is definitely ok.
2) Don’t worry about having a clean house. I was so hard for me (and still is) to keep up with keeping the house orderly and clean. As the messiness began to take longer residence in my home, I felt guilty and felt like I was failing at being a full-time mom already. However, after talking with a few moms, I realized that is it totally normal for first- time moms to not be able to keep up with house chores. So I finally accepted that my house won’t be as consistently clean as before. As far as people coming to visit, if I want someone to come over, they will have to get over my house not being up to par or they have to wait till I can get the house clean. If they care about us, then they won’t care about the messiness. However, having visitors and visiting other people was also another issue for me. Which brings me to the next lesson.
3) It is perfectly ok to be secluded from people for however long you need. This definitely depends on one’s personality. However throughout the year, the thought of seeing people often was not appealing to me as it once was before motherhood. The thought of it was actually exhausting. Since having issues with my child being able to breastfeed directly from me, I had to do a lot of breast pumping to be able to feed my child breastmilk. Which, unfortunately, takes up more time than directly breastfeeding and you have to stay on top of pumping every 2-3 hours the first 2-3 months to keep your milk supply going. This made it extremely difficult to be out for more than an hour on top of getting ready and driving time. Also, napping got in the way too. In the first 3 months R took random naps, however I was able to start him a schedule around 4 months old. Babies need more nap time in the first 6-7 months. All these factors seriously discouraged any desire to have people visit or me visit them. However, as R’s nap times dwindled down to twice a day and breast pumping dwindled as well, I was able to make more time to see people. I am very particular with whom I visit now too. If they were going to stress me out with any annoying immature antics, I don’t want to waste my time with them. Time is more precious to me now.
4) Try to eat healthy and drink lots of water. This is very important not just your baby, if you are breastfeeding, but also for you. I honestly ate pretty badly for most of the first year. I lacked free time which did not help me prioritize my health. I settled eating unhealthy things that I rarely ever ate before I gave birth. Being super hungry because I was breastfeeding and not having time, I easily settled for food that was quick and easy to make. That would be things like frozen dinners, pizza, pasta, and eating out. I did take prenatal vitamins, which I took religiously because I was pumping milk. However, eating healthy helps give you more energy and helps you sleep better. It also helps shed baby weight faster. I definitely see now that I had lower energy and I held onto baby weight longer than I could have I had just eaten better food. Water is also extremely important for breastfeeding. Milk ducts in the breasts are modified sweat glands. A women needs to drink lots of water to help produce breastmilk. If you are not drinking close to 8 oz of water a day, it will affect milk supply. I made sure I drank at around a mug of water every time I pumped. I would refill the cup when I was done pumping and leave it there for the next session.
5) Take naps when the baby naps. Since babies wake up so often during the night for different reasons, constantly having my sleep cycle disrupted made me very exhausted and fatigued during the day. I also became very forgetful. I usually have pretty good memory. Someone gave this advice before I gave birth and afterwards I realized how important it was to get extra sleep during the day. The days I didn’t take naps, it was ten times harder to get up during the night to take care of my baby. I also had a hard time staying awake while feeding my baby during the night and during the next day. So I learned pretty quickly that nap times for the baby are my nap times too. Take them or suffer!
6) Don’t allow yourself to be pressured or feel guilty by what other experienced moms say you should do. Every child is different. Every mom has their opinion of what is important or how things should be done or what worked for them. I had a mom friend strongly suggest a particular baby sleep training book because it worked like a charm for both her kids. Well, I tried it and it didn’t work for me. I did my own research of different methods of sleep training. Many of them I didn’t feel comfortable with their methods. I finally found one website whose methods and approach to sleep I felt comfortable with. It is called the Baby Sleep Site. I read a few of their article and blogs. Some their information was similar to the sleep training sites. However, they had other information that actually made sense to me and I felt comfortable with. It was an approach that took a longer time, but it felt more right to me.
You have to do what feels right for you and for your child. I am not saying don’t take suggestions. Yes, hear these moms out because they might give you info that will help you and your child. However, don’t be pressured to do things or feel guilty about things you don’t feel is right for you.
7) Your body won’t be the same anymore. But no matter what it is still beautiful. Stretch marks, c-section scars, nipples worn from breastfeeding, peeing when you laugh or cough. These are all the beauty marks of motherhood. Yes, most of the baby weight can go away, as long as you try to eat right and stay active by at least taking walks outside. However, don’t let the image of the women who grace the magazines tell you that’s what you need to be or else you are not sexy and appalling. It is quite the opposite. Your body just did something completely amazing and miraculous by birthing a child. That is more beautiful than any slender figured, photoshopped, airbrushed celebrity or model you’ll see on the magazine stands in the check out lines. Own that beauty!
8) Take as many pictures and videos as possible. During the first year of a child’s life, there is so much growth happening in such a short period of time. I somehow knew that I needed to make the effort to take as many pictures as possible every month. I was able to make photo books out of these pictures I took. It was so much fun to look back and see how different little R looked from month to month. I didn’t take as many videos as I did photos. However, the few I did take, I absolutely love re-watching and seeing what things he was learning to do from one video to the next. I love hearing and seeing him laugh when he was 3 months old and learning to stand when he was 7 months old. These photos and videos are now precious treasures to me. I hope I never lose them.
9) You are the child’s mom. However you want to raise him ( as long as it is humane) it is your choice. After becoming a mom, I realized how important it is to be clear about what is it you want for your child because if you don’t educate yourself, someone is going to push you into something you might regret or feel uncomfortable with. I learned that it is very important to research what people suggest to me and not blindly believe them. Also, I am free to raise my child in any way I feel right for our family. Of course I mean in the most humane manner! Duh! I am talking about decisions on whether or not to homeschool my child or send them to public school. Have them be involved in sports or other programs at a young age or not. Live in the United Stated or move to another country.
I follow two different Instagram accounts where there are two different families with at least 2 kids each (@mali.mish and @wandrly). They have no house to live in. They live in campers and they travel the country all the way down into Baja California. They homeschool their children on the road or at stops. They formed relationships with other families who travel this way and sometimes travel together for a little bit. I find it fascinating. I don’t want that for myself, but I love that they feel brave enough to have that kind of lifestyle for their families. It is wonderful!
As a mom you choose along with the baby’s father, if it applies, how you want to raise your child and be confident it your decision. I am personally considering homeschooling for at least the first few years. My mom tried to discourage me from doing this (she had absolutely no experience to give me a good reason why not. She has been a teacher’s aid for so many years. She thinks a school would be better). However, I am sticking to my choice for now. I love teaching and I have seen too many kids fall behind in the school system because of lack of one-on -one teaching. I am excited to see my child learn new things and learn them in ways that school can’t provide because of the amount of children they have to herd and streamline.
There are many good aspects of schools. It is just that homeschooling for me gives me other options for my child that schools can’t offer. That is just my personal preference.
Well, I believe these are all the things I learned my first year being a first time mom. I hope this didn’t discourage too many of you from becoming mom,lol. It really is so wonderful! If you have any lessons of your own that you learned your first year, please share with me!
Also, I very much welcome and request any suggestions you may have for my blog. I want to give you content that is appealing for you to read.
Thank you so much and much love!