We just celebrated our daughter’s third birthday. I don’t know about you, but for me birthdays always seem to bring with them time to reminisce. This year I caught myself thinking back to when Emma was born and our first weeks together. As I sifted through my memories, I also realized that I learned a lot of lessons during those first few weeks as a new mom. Sure, there were lessons about how babies actually function, pumping and breastfeeding, etc. The lessons I don’t always remember right away were those about taking it slow, about embracing the slow-ness of new motherhood.
Lessons I Learned as a New Mom
Not everyone needs to visit right away
As new parents tend to be, we were so excited for everyone to meet our little bundle of joy. This is absolutely not a problem! However, we had lots of visitors starting with family and close friends in the hospital. We had visitors almost every day the first week we were home, which led to me finally having my first new mom meltdown before Emma was even a week old. I felt I had to be “on” for all of our visitors, and for those of you that have been there, the last thing you want to be is “on” when you’ve just had a baby.
People will want to come visit, and that’s great! It means they love you! It’s okay (and healthy) for you to make the schedule for when you feel comfortable having visitors, and they will understand if you aren’t ready yet. Those first few weeks should be spent bonding with your new baby. You’ll need that time to get used to not sleeping, breastfeeding (which is another post all in itself), and getting to know your new baby.
Check out my post on handling visitors after having a baby for strategies on dealing with all those excited family members and friends after giving birth.
The house will not be clean, get over it
My husband will attest to the fact that we still haven’t recovered from this, almost three years later! I remember feeling so overwhelmed with stuff everywhere (“how can something so small have so many things?”) and feeling like I had to maintain a clean, tidy home in the same way I did before I got pregnant (let’s face it, the house fell into chaos once the tiredness of pregnancy got the best of me).
My husband told me time and time again, “You just had a baby, the house is going to be messy. It’s fine!” I think he was grateful once my mom had a heart to heart and finally convinced me that my sole job during those first few weeks was to keep myself and my new baby healthy and alive. Once that pressure was gone, I felt a lot better. This brings me to my next lesson…
We are blessed to have not only both sets of grandparents close, but also a support system of friends and neighbors where we live. During the first weeks of being a new mom, I had people come and help with laundry, dishes, and hold Emma while I showered or napped. One amazing friend later brought her kids and watched all three while I recovered from mastitis. I was able to rest and pump all day. It was such a blessing. We were also blessed to have regular meals dropped off by friends from church. These small things were so helpful to us in the beginning and allowed us to focus on the one thing we needed to, our baby.
When you’re ready, accept help from those who offer (you will likely have plenty of offers). Don’t be afraid to let people know exactly what help you need. If you just need help getting the dishes under control, or to pick up some groceries and drop them off, let them know. The people who love you want to be there for you, in whatever capacity you need them to be, but it’s up to you to tell them what kind of help you need.
Seriously, sleep when the baby sleeps
It’s hilarious to think of it now, but I was terrified the first day my husband went back to work after the baby was born. My mom was able to come for a few hours and I shared with her how afraid I was to sleep while Emma slept, and as much as I had tried to nap during her naps during the day I just couldn’t ever actually fall asleep. I was worried I wouldn’t wake up if she cried…even though we would be sleeping in the same room. I remember the first time I was actually able to nap while she napped; it was glorious! Of course, I heard her when she woke up. I’ve only just now started sleeping deeply enough not to hear her on occasion.
Put whatever fears, concerns, or chores aside and sleep when your baby sleeps. You will be happier, less stressed, and overall more pleasant if you do. You just spent ten months growing a baby and then birthed that baby. Your body needs all the rest it can get in order to recover!
It is perfectly acceptable to spend all day snuggling
To this day, snuggling is still one of my daughter’s favorite activities. Despite what anyone might tell you, you absolutely cannot spoil a baby. Period. Emma and I spent many of our days just snuggling during those first few weeks together. There’s just something so special about holding your baby close to your heart, cuddling them while they sleep and basking in that sweet new baby smell.
Snuggling is essential in helping to form and strengthen your bond with your baby. It aids in healing as well as breastfeeding. Snuggle that baby, Mama. Babies don’t keep, so soak it up while you can.
Find some “me” time during the day
Before I became a mom, I had plenty of “me” time. I was able to regularly engage in the activities I enjoyed. I was able to just spend hours reading a book, binging whatever television show I wanted. It was lovely. Then, boom! Along comes a baby who needs you every second of every day. Suddenly, all of my “me” time went out the window. I needed to find a way to squeeze out any time during the day just for me. I have to be honest here, my doctor did me a favor by prescribing a sitz bath as part of my recovery plan. This gave me twenty minutes of guaranteed alone time every single day. It became something I looked forward to. I would sit and do my thing, text a friend or read a book. I would try to find another 20-30 minutes each day to do something just for me while Emma napped, but in case that didn’t happen I knew each night I would get that twenty minutes.
It is so easy to become overwhelmed by all of the new tasks that come along with being a new mom. I became so overwhelmed that I started to lose who I was. Yes, there is a transition period every mom goes through but it’s important to remember that we aren’t leaving ourselves behind in order to become a mom. Take time to do something that you enjoy, if only for a few minutes a day. This practice will keep you grounded and will set good habits in place as your child grows.
Growing on from here
I’ve learned a lot more in the last three years, and I’m sure I will be able to write a book of lessons I’ve learned once we are out of this current three-year-old stage we are in. Lord help us! As I look back over these five lessons, I am reminded that these are actually pretty good things to remember throughout childhood.
If there’s one good thing to come out of our current quarantined situation it is this: a reminder of how good a slow life can be. Stop, take time to rest, snuggle, play. You’ll work together to clean up the house later. Make those memories, get in a few extra snuggles, the slowness is more than worth it in the end.
About the Author:
Stephanie LeBlanc is a writer and educator. She lives in Central Texas with her husband and their daughter. She enjoys good Tex-Mex and baking with her family. If she’s not experimenting in the kitchen or burning up her keyboard, you can find her chasing her three-year-old in the yard or splashing with her family in the pool. Connect with her at www.inspiredmrsl.com, on Facebook or Instagram at inspiredmrsl.