By Trena Elizabeth Morton
As a new mom, I started my journey just like the rest of us: obsessing over every detail of making sure my son’s life was perfect.
Wake up, pump, feed baby, change baby, stimulate baby, swaddle baby, nap, feed yourself, bathe yourself, sanitize everything, and keep your home maintained. Keep track of all the 2017 parenting faux pas, adopt the “old school” methods that actually work (and won’t cause long term damage) ; while balancing the latest and ever-changing “new school” parenting commandments that are constantly being SHOVED down your throat respectively by your elders and peers.
Then, remember to keep up with your thank you’s, texts, social media posts, and missed phone calls. Do all the aforementioned and much more while managing the recovery from vaginal or cesarean delivery, bleeding profusely, and coping with the “baby blues”. Your head spinning yet?
PLUS, all the things and vices that would normally bring you stress relief are restricted. No wine or cocktails as you are breastfeeding. No exercise for six weeks. No sex for six weeks. No shopping because you are either broke or still packing on baby pounds. The baby is too young for an excursion to temporarily change up your scenery. You are stuck like chuck with the ultimate case of insecurities and unpretties and forced to deal with them “straight up with no chaser.” Literally.
And then it happens, you snap! You question what the hell you got yourself into, if you are even capable of pulling this new role off, if my child is normal, am I normal, do I like this new life, is my life over? You find yourself staring in the mirror with your disheveled hair, in your pajamas or old sweats, looking at your forever changed body, noticing your engorged and possibly leaky chest, scrutinizing every blemish you ever had, tired beyond exhaustion, and crying without being able to explain why these tears are falling and you cannot make them stop.
WELCOME TO MOTHER LUVIN’ MOTHERHOOD!
If you are reading this and in that first six to eight week stretch, let me assure you that it does get better. I promise, just hold on! For me, better days came right at the moment that I threw away all the excessive rules and noisy advice; and began to raise MY son. When I looked at him as a miniature version of me versus this fragile and foreign object, and simplified to plotting his needs just as I would my own. And just like that I began to love molding Traf, as we affectionately call him, for the unique, happy, HUNGRY, side sleeping, chunky cheeked, advanced progressing, mitten removing, sock missing, tons of curly hair having, mild crying and snorty soul that he is.
Traf required 6 ounces when the world told us 4. Traf is a stone-cold side sleeper when the world told us he must be placed on his back. Traf does best with two teaspoons of plain, purified H2O versus over-the-counter laxatives to ease constipation. And guess what?!? Traf is doing just fine. Just like we were after drinking from the water hose, riding in the cabs of pick-up trucks, riding bikes without helmets, and eating peanut butter before the age of three.
I encourage you to know the rules and why they exist, yet know that sometimes the rules will not apply. Know that what worked for Jack, may/may not work for Jill. Know that no matter what you do or how perfect you plan, the throes of parenting will swing you in an imperfect direction. Know that those tiny, bobbly head newborns are really resilient beings. Know that ‘What to Expect” will still bring you the unexpected.
So, the only advice I have for new parents is to do YOU! I mean it. Sincerely. From the bottom of my heart. Do what works best for You, YOUR child, YOUR household, and YOUR marriage.
Here are 15 things I learned as a new mom
1. Your life is not over, just different. How you define that difference is up to you.
2. Infants really only need to be fed, diapers changed and loved. The rest is for our convenience.
3. Infants also only need onesies, sleepers & blankets. They will never wear 50% of those cute clothes you just had to have.
4. Deadbeat & absent parents should have their genitalia mutilated, jailed, and subject to work release from 9pm – 6am to soothe, feed and change 10 newborn babies under strict supervision until they sleep through the night.
5. Parents that physically, sexually & mentally abuse children should be starved, stoned, and tossed off a plane into the everglades.
6. It truly does take a village.
7. Postpartum depression is real. Being cognizant and having a good support system makes it manageable. No woman should ever feel ashamed for their baby blues, and we need to talk about it more.
8. You can glue two pieces of paper together with a baby booger and a little post feeding drool.
9. Parents MUST still date and find their “me” time. An occasional break is healing to the soul.
10. If you cannot afford the medical and lifestyle bills of children, you shouldn’t keep having them. Everyone needs help at times and we are blessed to live in a country that supports those that need it, but these babies are not meal tickets.
11. Folding your legs crisscross applesauce style and placing your baby in the folds is the original Boppy pillow.
12. Carrying and delivering a baby is practically miraculous. My respect for my gender and body has been taken to another level.
13. Saving for a college fund/your kid’s future is greater than purchasing name brand & designer apparel and shoes. If you can do both, kudos to you. If you cannot, the now investments are critical in setting your child up to thrive in this competitive world.
14. Teaching self-love & God’s love is more difficult than ever. Social media teaches our kids to look to the world for “likes”. Make sure we do not overly emphasize doing things for Facebook and Instagram.
15. Raise your tallest finger to a lot of the rules and advice, and rear your little bundle of love just as they were uniquely designed.