Our first year may not look like every new mothers first year. Going from having zero babies to having two babies, is a big adjustment. Going from living for myself, to advocating for them in the NICU; making extra pediatrician appointments, specialist appointments and physical and speech therapy appointments; giving medications; using monitors – these are just some of the things that make my journey unique. But the truth is, all new moms are the same. We are all just trying to figure it out. To find our new identities, to figure out how to feed our babies and to get to know these tiny, little people. The overwhelming love is something you can’t really describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it yet. Here are some things I learned in my first year.
- Advice is everywhere. Sometimes it’s unsolicited, sometimes we ask for it. Sometimes it’s given by well-intentioned people, sometimes it’s pushed upon you or shoved down your throat, or given as a way to judge the decisions you’ve made. If you don’t like what anyone has to say, just ignore it. Trust your gut and just go with it.
- ‘They’ recommend putting your babies in their cribs when they’re sleepy, but not asleep. And getting them to nap in their cribs. My babes learned very early on, likely from the weeks/months they spent living in the NICU, how to self-soothe and put themselves to sleep. BUT – because of this, they don’t really like to be rocked to sleep, or be cuddled anymore. So I say, rock those babies to sleep. Cuddle them. Let them nap next to you in bed, on the sofa, on your chest. Babies don’t keep, and I promise you, you’ll miss those cuddles when they’re gone.
- The newborn haze is just a phase (hey I rhymed). You’ll be more tired than you’ve ever been, but it will pass. Being tired also makes it hard to remember things. I wish I had kept a journal, even if I just wrote a sentence or two a day or week, to remember the little things. Their smiles, their fuzzy newborn hair, the things that brought them comfort. How they held your finger so tightly while feeding…I already cannot remember what it was like. I wish I could.
- Do NOT buy allllll the baby clothes. I am addicted to baby clothes and I spent a bajillion dollars at Gap and Old Navy when they have 40% off sales. I’d buy everything, because it was on sale. Some things they’d never even wear and then my favorite items they’d wear over and over. So put some thought into it. What do you want them to wear? What do you really like? What goes together. Now I like to pick a few main colors that all go together and then stick to neutral staples for everything else. It makes an interchangeable wardrobe that is smaller but more well used. Also, buy a few heirloom pieces. I wish I had.
- Take lots of pictures, and back them up. Document everything because again, babies don’t keep. What might seem like an ordinary moment to someone else could be an extraordinary moment to you. Invest in an external hard drive and back up your photos, just in case. Especially because now you have kids, and some kids like to throw things in the toilet, including iPhones.
- Get some fresh air. Even if you’re wearing leggings, covered in spit up or baby food. When the babes get fussy, or mama gets anxious or overwhelmed, we take a walk and it does us all some good. Bundle up if you have to and brave the cold, even if it’s just a quick walk around a cul-de-sac.
- As a preemie mom, we are very cautious of germs. We have hand sanitizer in all our cars. We use babyganics because there’s no alcohol in it, so it doesn’t burn if you have paper cuts, but still kills germs. So after visiting with people we wipe off the babies hands and when we get home, if it’s not too late, I give them a bath. If it’s too late, I bathe them in the morning. Is this being a bit dramatic and over the top? Maybe but it makes me feel better. With being said, Porter chewed on the swing at the park the other day, and I didn’t have a heart attack and he hasn’t gotten rabies or anything yet.
- Learn to laugh. Sometimes you just want to cry. This parenting gig can be so overwhelming at times. It’s better to laugh than to cry, but sometimes crying is also necessary. Try to find something to do for you that relaxes you, whatever that might be. For me, it’s usually a shower. The one thing I haven’t compromised on as a mom is taking a shower. I would bring the rock n’ plays into the bathroom in the babies early days, and now I shower while they nap/have morning quiet time in their cribs.
Being a mom is no joke. It’s hard work. Having your first, or first two in my case, is a huge adjustment. Combine that with the crazy hormones that are racing around your body and tiny humans who communicate with you by crying and you can see how it would be easy to get overwhelmed. Just know you’re not alone and we’re all in this together, just trying to figure it out.