One of my closest friends is expecting a baby boy in the next couple of months and I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to hear such great news. You see, we have been friends for over 30 years, which means we have been in each other’s lives as long as we can remember. We have been there for each other through our highest highs and our lowest lows and now here we are, celebrating this special stage in her life!
I still remember when we were little and we would play with our Cabbage Patch Kids. The days we dreamed of growing up and getting married. We had BIG dreams. She wanted to work for United Nations and I wanted to be a pediatrician. She made it to New York and works for an NGO and at some point in my life; I decided I wanted to cook for a living.
Being a mother has always been one of our dreams and now HER dream is coming true!
I am not an expert on motherhood, but if I could give her a piece of advice, I would say:
Motherhood is an incredible journey but it is also a hard one. There will be nights when you are so tired you won’t even be able to think straight (you’ve heard of “Mommy Brain”?, well I hate to break it to you: it is true!). There will come a time when you will not remember when the last time you had a good eight hours of sleep was, but trust me when I say that sleepless nights will soon be gone and the joy and love you will have for this little angel will be like no love you have ever experienced before.
Follow your instincts! I learned this on my second pregnancy. At 42 weeks, I was having constant contractions. I called my doctor to see if I should go to the hospital at this point or wait a little longer. I may have down played my pain level because he said I could wait for another half hour and see how the contractions progressed. I waited a few minutes walking around the house but in my mind all I could think is I should just head to the hospital now. Hubby was on his way to the airport to pick up my dad and Mom and would be driving me to the hospital so I thought, we should leave now and calmly make our way to the hospital. I am glad I did or my baby Jack would have been born in the car! I literally had him within minutes of checking into triage and my son became known as the “triage baby” amongst the nurses.
Ask for help. This one is super important! As moms, we want to do everything on our own, but when you are feeling overwhelmed, tired or frustrated please ask for help. Ask your loved one or a family member who comes to visit, to fold laundry or load the dishwasher for you. Ask them to take care of the baby while you rest for a few minutes. Do not feel bad for putting your guests to work. People want to help you, so make sure you take advantage and use their help. These tasks may feel insignificant now, but if baby is taking a bottle, before you know it, there will be a pile of dirty bottles in the sink. Baby clothes seem to multiply in the hamper, just wait and see!
Find a mom tribe. I know what you are thinking. When I was pregnant for the first time, I was lucky to find an amazing group of moms through Jewish Baby University (JBU). This was not only a great 6-week course where we learned about childbirth and how to raise our child with Jewish values, it also helped my hubby and I get to know other couples that were in the same boat as us. I was also fortunate to attend a prenatal yoga class at Modern Milk and through this class, I met some great mamas who I may not see on a regular basis, now but are still part of my mom tribe.
Take advantage of free classes for you and your baby. Several swim schools in Phoenix offer free lessons from 4 weeks up to 5 months of age, like Aqua Safe or Hubbard to name a few. This is a great activity to do with your baby.
Enroll your baby in a music class. Whether it is at the public library or places like Music Together or Gymboree, please enroll your baby in a music class. Your baby will learn so much and you will be able to meet more moms, which may become part of your mom tribe. Most places offer a free trial.
Reach out. Reach out to the new moms you meet at prenatal yoga class or baby and mommy music classes. Ask them if they want to go out to lunch after class. You might find your new BFF!
Write a journal. Time flies by and documenting some of their cute moments will be a great gift for them when they are older. I love to journal but you might find it easier to do with the help of an app where you can take a picture of your baby reaching a milestone and documenting it on your phone. I love going back to my journal every now and then and reading my kids’ birth stories or reading about a milestone.
Take a break. You need a break for your own sanity. I remember when my little girl was a few weeks old; she would not stop crying. It was at night, I had already changed her diaper, fed her, and she was still upset and would not stop crying. Hubby was not home yet and I could tell I was getting very frustrated. Nothing I did would make my little girl stop crying. I had to place her in the crib and walk away for a few minutes, breath, take a break and go back to check on her. It turns out all she needed was to nurse again.
Go out on a date: This was great advice we received from our JBU teacher and now beloved friend. Go out on a date with hubby. If you are worried about leaving your baby for a long period, just go out to get ice cream or tea, take your four-legged baby on a walk with your hubby while your family stays with the baby. Take some time to be with your hubby, enjoy your time and you will feel so much better when you come back to your baby.
Do not be so hard on yourself: Mom guilt almost comes as a bundle packet with your baby. We are always wondering if we did the right thing or are pushing ourselves too hard because we want to be the perfect mom to our baby, but I have a secret for you: to your baby you ARE perfect! You are baby’s mommy and that is more than enough. If you had your birth plan all laid out and it did not turn out that way, or if your dream was to breastfeed and it did not work for you, please do not be so hard on yourself. Baby will love you the same whether you had a natural birth, or a C-section. If breastfed or bottle-fed. Baby will love you for you!
You got this! You are already an amazing mom. You have been taking care of your baby in the womb. It will take a while for you and baby to get the hang of things, but you will get there!
Enjoy the ride. Motherhood is an amazing journey! Of course, you will have challenging days when you will question if you are doing the right thing, if you were hard on your kids, if you did not spend enough time with them that day. Then there will be days when you are counting down the hours to put your little one to bed so you can take a few moments for yourself and relax. It is all part of motherhood, just sit, buckle up and enjoy this crazy ride! You are in for a treat and I cannot wait to share this journey with you!