I always dreamed of being a mother. So I was so excited to be able to hold my son for the first time on February 19th, 2015. I didn’t realize I could love a little newborn so much. And I thought I knew more about motherhood then I really did. In reality, new parents know very little about truly raising a child. Motherhood is only learned by doing. So here are what I learned from my first year of motherhood.
- Prayer became my best stress and worry reliever. I learned this in the first month probably in the first week. I had a new son that needed me but I was limited on what I could really do. There is so much talk about SIDS and suffocation of newborns that it was consistently on my thoughts the first week but I had to realize I couldn’t prevent those any more then just being a responsible parent and just trust that God had given me this blessing of a son and He would take care of his health and life. I know I have become a better prayer warrior since becoming a mother.
- Don’t listen to all the good advice from medical professionals and some well meaning friends. Trust your instinct on what your child needs. In the first months I had David I was told over and over again that he should be back to birth weight after two weeks which he didn’t reach until a month but he was the happiest baby. He was content after each feeding, he slept like a newborn should, and he wasn’t losing weight. I had to shut out the voices that contradicted me own instinct that said he was healthy and fine (which he was). In turn for other first time moms, if something doesn’t feel right to you be your child’s advocate and push back when told to ignore it.
- Stop bing searching or googling every thing about 4 week olds, 8 week olds, sleep schedules, feeding, playing, etc. My child will not follow what another child did with sleep schedule. And you will just make yourself worry. I chose to read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Baby 411 and stopped trying to search everything up. I also knew what milestones he should be hitting but I also stopped searching for those online because it can vary from site to site. Over information isn’t a good thing for being a mother it just starts your worrying.
- Have no expectations. This advice was given by my mother and it has made motherhood so much easier. I am by nature a planner and organized but when I switched my mind to having no expectations on my son I didn’t care any more when he woke up, or ate, or went to bed. I let him be a baby. And didn’t set any firm schedule but remained flexible. This didn’t mean I stopped going out, or making plans, or having set events to attend but it meant sometimes I would arrive early or late because David had to nurse or was going to need to nurse.
- Nursing isn’t naturally easy. It took me 3 weeks to even get use to breastfeeding without any nipple shield. Then it took my past 6 weeks to get comfortable breastfeeding. But by 12 weeks I had hit a stride that would continue well past a year as we are still breastfeeding.
- I can nurse anywhere I want to and so can any other mother. I have nursed in any location that I was when my son became hungry. This means I have nursed while eating out in a restaurant. I have stopped in the middle of Target and pulled a comfy chair out in the aisle to nurse. I have nursed while going through TSA with my son in a woven wrap. I have nursed on an airplane (multiple times actually). I have nursed while waiting to get on an airplane just holding my son. I have nursed in a car, in the grass, at the pool, in the rain, in the middle of church, small group, and many more. And I didn’t care what anyone thought around me because it is the natural way to feed my son and it was how I choose to feed my son.
- Do whatever it takes to get sleep yourself. For me this meant that my son slept in his bouncer for the first 3.5 months of his life at night. And we used the swing for nap time for almost the first 8 months. I would let him sleep in the pack and play occasionally but he liked the swing for naps. He did transition on his own time. He sleeps in his crib all by himself and has since 4 months old. He still takes a morning nap in the swing for an hour but takes an afternoon nap for 2-3 hours in his own crib. Through all that I have learned that whatever works for your child is the best way to get sleep yourself.
- I absolutely love to hear my son laugh and giggle. And he has the best smile ever. I don’t ever want to go back to a home that isn’t filled with my son’s laugh or voice.
- Give your baby the opportunity to sleep but you can’t force your baby to sleep. I have been told by many that I was blessed with a good sleeper but that doesn’t mean it has always been easy. He did get use to night sleep relatively easy but he was still up every three hours but I never truly did any kind of sleep training because I believed that he would sleep through the night when he was ready. He was ready on his 1 year birthday. Since turning 1 my son has slept 12-13 hours a night. But it did take 12 months to get there and he has been all over the board as at 11 months he was up every 2 hours for a week but back at 6 months he had slept through the night (8 hours straight) for two days in a row. But I never could force him to sleep if he didn’t want to .
- I will always do baby led weaning. This meant that I didn’t buy or make a single pureed food until 11 months old (it was easier to fly with the pouches then finger food). I gave my son soft easily chewed food to feed himself and he has become an amazing eater. Just last night he ate half a serving of tilapia, half a serving or meatloaf, a handful of grapes, some snap peas, and cottage cheese just for dinner. He surprises me everyday with how much he eats. I think I did baby feeding the easy way as I got to eat every meal along the side of my son instead of having to spoon feed him then try to eat myself.
- Every development step is fun to watch and celebrate. I thought I would be the mom that really enjoyed the newborn stage but I am the mom that really enjoyes every stage and development with my son. I loved it when he started to crawling, sit, stand, put the right shape in the shape sorter, turn pages on the books, and every other new skill. It is so much fun to see how their own mind works and learns.
- Set aside my cell phone and keep the tv turned off. I think that has been the best thing for my relationship with my son. I try to only check my phone when he is asleep or once an hour when he is awake. I want him to know that he is more important then a piece of technology. It also keeps my priorities straight.
- Let the house and others expectations go. I choose not to worry if my house was perfect or if a meal was always on the table for husband in the first six months. I instead held my son while he was sleeping or I talked and played with him. I tried to remember that the days go quick and he won’t always want to sleep in my arms.
- Flying and travel isn’t as hard as it sounded. We have taken over a dozen trips either flying or driving with my son starting at 5 weeks old. And it isn’t as hard or scary as I thought it would be. We just planned for him and to meet his needs and it worked. I have learned ways to make it easier. I am glad that I have been able to travel and didn’t allow the unknown to scare me off.
- I wouldn’t want to be a mother without my husband. I am thankful for any support and help he has given me. The encourage in the middle of the night even if it is just another five minutes in bed before going to nurse. Allowing me to have time away from my son. But also watching him grow with my son. I love that my husband normally gives my son a bath every night. It is the time he can play and interact with our son. He has made this motherhood journey so much easier.
I am sure there are so much more that I have learned in the past year but these are the 15 that come to mind this afternoon. It was fun reminiscing over the past year. I think overall the best thing to remember as a mother is to make your decisions based on what is best for you and your child. No child is going to be likes yours and no mom is like you. There is no one size fits all mothering style. And it is a learn as you go. I look forward to learning more this next year and for the next decade.
What have your learned from being a mother?