My name is Teri and I’m the proud mama of a busy, hilarious, brilliant toddler and an awesome, beautiful, snuggly baby. Being a mom is a challenging and beautiful adventure that nothing else in my life prepared me for. Luckily, I have an amazing husband who is there through all the ups and downs, awesome friends who are happy to share their parenting knowledge (or at least laugh with me through the chaos!), and an extended family who is always ready to help. I work as a marketing and communications professional when I’m not at home on maternity leave, and I love sharing my experiences as a mom.
We recently welcomed a baby boy to our family, and suddenly (OK, not suddenly, but it still feels a bit shocking, even after 40 weeks of warning), we found ourselves back in the newborn stage. With this being our second son, we weren’t strangers to this phase, and yet I found myself remembering things I had forgotten from the first time around.
We have all heard the regular wisdom people love to share with moms-to-be: sleep when the baby sleeps, you’ll miss these days when they’re gone, etc. This is my own list of random observations and/or advice that you might not have heard before. I’m definitely no expert—this is based solely on my own experience and personality. Also I’m the sleep-deprived mama of a newborn and a busy toddler, so honestly at this point I’m just happy I can string some sentences together.
Make your bed.
It might sound strange, but with as much in and out of bed as you’ll be doing during the first few months, this was something I found comforting. Each morning I try to at least somewhat make the bed so that when it’s time to crawl back into bed at night it feels a bit more refreshed, and gets whatever sleep you are getting off on the right foot.
You might not feel like yourself.
If you’re anything like me, your self-confidence will be all over the place and your world will suddenly seem quite small—not unimportant, just very focused on this new little person. The things you would normally spend your time on get the short end of the stick for the first little while. Taking the opportunity to actually get ready and leave the house when I can goes a long way to helping me feel more like myself—not only a mom, but also a woman with friends, and a social life.
It’s tough not to keep score.
As the mom, it’s hard to not feel like you’re doing more of the work that comes with a newborn. Even if your partner is super helpful (and mine is), there just seems to be more responsibility that falls to mama (especially if you’re breastfeeding, obviously). Just know that your partner is likely trying to help you, even if it doesn’t always seem like it. Talk to them about it if it’s a problem, and try to keep the scorekeeping to a minimum.
Find your hot shower.
You probably already know that your time won’t be your own when your little one makes his or her arrival. There will be days when you literally will not have a minute to yourself. To keep your sanity, find something that you can do easily, probably at home, and in a short amount of time. For me, a hot shower is something that always leaves me feeling refreshed, less stressed and more like myself. Whatever that is for you, make time for it whenever possible. It won’t always be as often as you would like, but every little bit can help.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Having a baby is so overwhelming. It’s happy, exciting, exhausting, confusing, stressful and everything else all at once. Add on hormones, sleep deprivation and the sudden aloneness that comes with maternity leave and staying home with a new baby, and it all adds up to a pretty crazy situation. If you feel like you could use some extra help, reach out to people you know or to a professional. I saw a counsellor and a psychologist a few times after my first baby, and talking things through with an objective person really helped me gain some perspective.
There is no right answer.
Everyone is an expert on babies. You’ll get all kinds of unsolicited opinions on literally every baby-related topic, and if you go looking you’ll find even more. The truth is, there is no one right way to be a mom, or to care for your newborn, or to raise a child. So stop looking for the right answers and do what works best for you and your family.
It will go slowly, but also fast.
This is my last point, and it’s probably a variation of something you’ve heard before. Days will sometimes feel long, but all of sudden you feel like you blinked and your baby isn’t quite as much of a baby anymore. He’ll start to smile, and then he’ll be rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking. So take deep breath, soak it all in, revel in the madness. You’ve got this mama.