I just recieved an email from a momma friend with a young baby. This baby has reflux, cries a lot, and her poor momma is at wit's end. Add to that, work schedules, many doctor's appointments, and the pressure to make this past Easter weekend memorable. And if that's not enough, family members who probably mean well, but have many opinions about her mothering skills have made this mom down right weary. "Am I doing this okay?", "What if they're right, and I'm wrong?", "What if, what if, what if?" The never ending battle.
My advice to her was this, "What's in your gut? Heart? Mind? Follow that." Sometimes well meaning family and friends can have good advice. But, if it doesn't resonate well with you, thank them and throw it out. You know your baby. You were the one who birthed her. Who nourishes her. And you are the one who makes the best decisions regarding her. Trust your motherly gut. It's a gift that was given to you on the day of her birth.
I remember when my daughter was 2 1/2 . She was diagnosed with a UTI. I knew at that moment that this was no average UTI. So, I asked for more testing. And more. Not at all to my surprise, she was diagnosed with Kidney Refux. A rather severe case. She had surgery 6 months later. Now, it hurt to have her go under the knife, but in my gut, I knew it was what she needed. The surgeon agreed. When they opened her up, they were astonished at how much worse it was than what they expected. She would have been in kidney failure within a year. I was so glad then for my stubborness. No one can tell me different from what I know about my kids. And when my gut tells me something, you better listen.
It's funny how in this culture, we rely so heavily on tests, and science. And we neglect our instincts, even though they are scientifically proven to exist. And mothers' instincts to protect her baby are often coined "over-protective". My foot!!
So for this mom, she is worried about her baby. She knows in her heart that her baby needs more attention. She should feel totally okay asking for help. For attention. For support. And that is what she needs to hear. Along with a "Way to go , Mom!" And that is what I'll be for her today.
And if you struggle to have your own heart validated, find someone who will do that for you. And trust yourself. There is nobody else who can do this for you. And for those around a momma who needs some confidence here, cheer her on. That's the best gift you can give her, and her baby!
Yesterday, one of the moms in my New Moms Group asked a very important question. It was, "Should I step in when Daddy is taking care of our baby?" Well, it depends. It depends on if he just needs advice and is asking for it. Key word:asking. Or if it's one of the first times he's been the primary caretaker and you know something important and he doesn't. Like,"The baby has a diaper rash and may need ointment." Those are good reasons to step in.
But, there are other times when it's just too hard for us to watch them struggle with figuring out Fatherhood, and we want to come to the rescue. It's so common. It's hard for us moms to let go and allow them the freedom to do things differently than we do them. We always seem to know what's best. And although we do, can "good enough" be enough? Does it always have to be "the best way"? Our way? Or can we both agree that some things be consistent, like feeding, diapering, sleeping. And others be different, like comfort measures, play, and outfit preference? It's important to talk things through ahead of time, so that our (his AND yours) expectations are met, and different parenting styles are respected.
It's a much happier home when dads are involved. They are needed. We know that. But, do they? Let him in. Tell him how important he is. Remind him of what you admire about him and how he's the right guy for this job. Try not to step in when he needs the space to become everything you want from him. And remember that this is good for their relationship. They need their own bond. And while he's at it, remind him that men changing diapers are sexy! And then step back and admire!
Many of the moms I work with each week are going back to work at some point postpartum, usually 12 weeks out. Some of you have to, some want to: some full time and some part time. And you all have something in common: Worry.
Most of you, even if you want to go back are now worried about your baby being away from you. You worry about:
- Your baby's sleep, eating, security.
- Your baby bonding with the daycare provider and losing their bond with you.
- Your boss being less than understanding about how late you are willing to work, or sick and vacation days.
- How to pump your milk at work so you can continue breastfeeding.
I feel for all of you because I understand how hard this is. I also stood on the threshold of making this difficult decision.
I am a part time working mom. I chose to be home when I started on this journey 20 years ago. I only worked a couple nights a week, or took in friends' children to watch part time to ease our burdened budget. We never did anything. We rarely ate out. We even suffered for it. However, that was the right decision for our family though. The man and I agreed to this. We had a plan. Suffer now, hopefully it'll get easier. Some things did. And some things didn't. And I have no regrets. Well, until I look too far ahead.
Then I remind myself that being a mom means guilt for life... I should'a done this. I should'a done that.
Well, guess what? I did my best, and I'm still doing my best. So there!
So, as I listen, I hear your concerns. I hear new plans being thought out:
- Part time vs/ full time.
- Quit altogether?
- Work from home a couple days a week?
- How about a new job closer to home? Home at 3, work from home that night?
Lots of thoughts. Lots of worry. Lots of ideas that are worth considering. And not all moms have these options. You may go back to what it was. Maybe you are the primary breadwinner. Or insurance carriers. Or other reasons as well. And what all of you also have in common is the need to be heard and validated. That "If you leave your job even completely, I respect that decision." Or " If you decide to stay with it, I respect that decision." You have enough to worry about already. You need support, emotional and literal. "How can I help? "And validation, " You are a great mom doing your best, it shows.
Nothing is wrong with you when you find the thought of going back to be a painful one. No matter how much you have loved your job, it pales in comparison to the sweet baby you now hold in your arms. And you are not a bad mother if you go back. You are a mother in this time and place, and it's a tough place to have it all.
Just listen to your heart. You'll never have to worry about what it tells you. And when we do listen, somehow all things fall right into place.
Often I hear from new parents that the influx of company after a baby is born can be very overwhelming. Your family, his family. Friends. Sometimes it can be too much. You have been through a lot. Giving birth is a lot of work. You're tired down to your bones, feeling emotional, and the thought of one more visitor can reduce you to tears. It's all too common. And everyone thinks they somehow owe it to people to be available. Even when it hurts.
It's true that everyone is excited about the baby. They've all been waiting anxiously alongside you. And now, they want to relish in this new life. Who can blame them? They want a piece of the glory. And they should have some. But, on your terms.
I have a friend who put a sign on her locked door that read:
Thanks for stopping by. Sorry we missed you.
It was naptime. Call us next time to make sure we are awake and ready for you!"
Not a bad idea! How else can we convey this message without hurting anyones' feelings?
1. First, be open about it. While you thank everyone for their well wishes, gently explain that you guys need some qualtity time just the three of you. You never get these days back. You want to remember them well. How can anyone argue with that?
2. If they do argue, try a compromise that works for you all. Maybe one to two hours in the afternoon, rather than all day.
3. Remind them if they need this, that Mom is recovering. Then blame your care provider. They did tell you to take it easy.
4. When it is a good time for company, thank them for coming, telling them how much their support means to you.
It's a tough balance. How much is too much? Well, you be the gauge for that. You know what you can do and what you can't. And your instincts to protect your baby are there. You'll know what's okay, and what's not. Momma Bears are smart. Trust yourself! And remember the feelings that matter the most live under your roof.
my other blog:
It's no secret that most woman (not all) would rather have a root canal than have sex after giving birth to a new baby. Moms are tired, boobs are leaking, her belly feels rather squishy, and not all things feel the same. Like her girl parts. And so her "sex esteem" is rather low at this point. Never mind the fact that the baby is attached to her most of the time, and she feels wrung out by the end of the day.
Poor Momma! What she needs is some understanding. Some alone time. Maybe a massage. And a romp in the hay. Yup, good old fashioned "nooky". But, but...
I know, I hear you. I do. But, you need it. It's good for you like taking vitamins is good for you. Or exercise. You don't always want to, but boy, you feel so much better after. Nothing like some oxytocin running through your veins to decrease stress and bring on some bodily healing. And better sleep. Yes, oxytocin does that too.
Now, this by no means is pressure for someone who has not fully healed, or is struggling with this in any way. It's for the rest of us who just don't want to. Who responds with "What the heck are ya thinking?", when approached by our man. Who when we go to our six week postpartum check-up, asks for a doctor's note for another six weeks off sex "duty".
Sound familiar anyone? Hmm, thought so. I get ya. So, how do we get started when it's the last thing on the list?
1. Well, for starters, bring it up a few lines on your list.
2. Take some time for yourself first. A hot bath complete with bubbles, candles, a magazine.
3. Think K-Y Jelly.
4. Take it slow. Remember, you may not respond so well at first. Totally normal. Just relax, no pressure. Maybe for now, just enjoy being alone with your main squeeze.
5. He doesn't care about how your body looks right now, he just wants to enjoy it.
6. If you nursing breasts start to leak, try to laugh. It is actually funny!
7. Remember that being sexy is a state of mind, a smile or caress. And when asked, is a response that sounds something like "yes!"
With love and total understanding (remember, 5 babies),
In pregnancy, we dream of our angelic new born baby. We dream of whose eyes, whose nose, whose temperment. We dreamily await the birth of our precious baby growing steadily inside of us. And at the end of pregnancy, we even try things to speed up the process.
And then the event, labor. What's "hard" takes on a whole new meaning, yet it's with great joy we bring our baby into this world. And the baby comes out all pink and perfect, and of course we know it's because we took all of our prescribed pre-natals.
And this blessed baby just sleeps and sleeps. My eyes, your nose, your ability to sleep through everything. We did it. I have arrived. Wow. It's amazing!
Meals are brought in to my room here three times a day, and I get to pick what I want. People are coming to see us, and we are feeling more love than ever imaginable.
Until we are home and it's about three weeks later. And everyone went back to work, except me. And the baby "wakes" up. That "after birth sleep" seems to have worn off like old paint. And my once sleeping baby now is awake a lot, and I can't seem to get any sleep myself! I can't even get into the bathroom. The baby needs me and I'm not sure what day it even is. Or is it even still February? And meals? What's a meal? Oh wait, the baby just smiled at me, I feel better now.
Oh the days of newborns. The ever- turning tide of emotion. And thankfully it does get easier. Or there would only be "only" children everywhere. Knowing that, and giving to yourself, no matter how hard it is, really is key. A favorite candy bar while nursing. Why not?
- Spending time with other moms often is also key.
- You need to realize that the ups and downs are a normal part of this journey.
- And no one has it perfect.
- You need to get out of the house. You need to have some fun with people who understand.
- And seeing other babies will help you to appreciate yours all the more. And yours is cuter anyway.
If this is you, look around. There are groups everywhere for new moms like you. Join. You'll feel much better in no time!
My other blog:
Many new families know just how much work it is to figure out their life with a new baby. There are so many changes, and it can seem so overwhelming. Days where time was so readily available to just hop in the car and go wherever, whenever. Now, it takes 2.5 hours just to get in the shower. Then we need to feed the baby. Then change the baby. Then feed the baby...
So how does one get anything done? Well, let's start with adjusting our expectations. Dinner happens now at the baby's allowance. At least for the first several weeks. And a good meal may come out of a take out container. Or from someone else's kitchen. And if we're feeling ambitious, scrambled eggs and toast, with a side of fruit can be delicious. Scheduled dinners with all the fixings can and will happen again. Newborns turn into babies who hopefully will learn to nap, which gives mom a chance to rest and get something done. Like dinner.
And plans often change as accomadations become about the baby's needs, not about our previous desires. Dinner party at nine? With friends, in the city? These days being in bed at nine seems way more important. How about brunch, local to you, where babies are welcome?
Then what about cleaning this place? It's amazing how much can happen in the course of a few weeks to your once spotless home! My theory? LET IT GO. And when you're sweating just thinking about it, ask someone who loves you to give you an hour of help. Most people want to help, they just need you to ask. And one hour of pure cleaning can accomplish much. Have them start with what bothers you the most, and you'll feel so much better!
Remember that it's not forever. You don't want to rush it. You just need help managing it. And once you figure out how to do that, enjoying the baby becomes so much easier!
Nicole Glover (mother of 5, I get it)
You know, it never gets old for me. I love the sight of a dad with his child. Whether it's a new dad holding his precious baby, or another dad spending time with his older children. Whether he is comforting them, playing with them, or taking them by his side to guide them, it's a beautiful thing. And it's what every baby and child needs!
My man has always been very hands-on with our five.That not only helped me, it really deepened my love for him. And more so, the children grew to trust, depend on and respect him. There was no such thing as him "babysitting" his babies. It was him fathering them, as I mothered them. He diapered, fed, bathed, and played with them all. Bubbles, coloring, airplane rides through the house, just about whatever made them laugh. And every one of them has a special relationship with him.
How can moms encourage this in their men? Well, let him do his own thing with them. It's so easy to feel the need to correct, dictate, and teach them how to do it our way. But then, it's really just an extension of our relationship, isn't it? It's learning Moms, to let go. Let him bathe the baby. Or diaper them. And play with them. Let him take over now and then to give you a much needed break. You know you need it! Besides, men are great baby- soothers. Babies love the deep voice and warm chest of their dad to lay their head. And make sure he knows how much it means to you and the baby. He's much more inclined to be involved if he feels you trust him to be. And then, the whole family wins!
Every mother knows what the first several weeks and months with a new born baby can be like. Wonderful. Exhausting. Amazing. Emotional. And more! These days and hours while being the most precious are also the hardest.
Recovery. Sleep deprivation. Leaking body parts. Oh yeah! It's not always pretty. You may not have even had time to shower. In days. And yet, you wouldn't change it for the world. No one can prepare you for this new love that bursts within you. You never felt it before. It can be so overwhelming. And amazing! And no one can prepare you for the sleep loss. And lack of structure the way you always had it. And that can also be so overwhelming. And exhausting!
So, can you make it? Can it be done more smoothly? Can you survive? Yes, yes, and yes! But, you need to do what may feel strange. And you may feel guilty at first. But, you need to!
- You need to prioritize you.
- You need to also mother yourself, along with the baby.
- You need to make sure you are well fed. Protein, fiber. You need to stay hydrated: Water.
- And get sleep whenever you can grab it. Even if the dishes need doing. Or laundry is calling your name.
- And you need some time alone.
Yup, you heard me! This is so important. And this is where every mom feels guilty. "How can I be away from my baby?" " What could I possibly do?" "I'm too tired!" Yes, I get it, I do. But, no. You need this. And so does the baby. Because you'll be better for them. How can you grab some "you time"?
- You can take a hot bath when someone else can hold the baby.
- You can take 10 minutes to make a cup of tea. And drink it.
- You can and should go outside to let the sun rest on your face, and take in the view, sounds, and scents of the outdoors.
- Or when you're out at the store with the baby in tow, order a favorite drink through a favorite drive-through. And don't forget to buy some of your favorite foods while at the store. Foods you'll enjoy thoroughly. Like ice cream.
These are all simple ways to feed your soul while in the throes of mastering feeding your baby. You matter. Your baby needs a whole, well you. And you deserve it! Look what you've just accomplished!
So, think of ways you can have some "you time" each and every day. And put it up there on the list after feeding and changing the baby. You are that important!
Nicole's other blog