Friday, January 10, 2014

Navigating New-Mommyhood

I got a lot of parenting advice while I was pregnant.  Advice is great...when solicited, but more often than not I had seasoned mothers piling on a bunch of things that I absolutely must do or my child would fail at life.  I'm learning that an important part of parenthood is learning to take advice with an added measure of grace.  I'm glad I had so many people who cared enough to try to prepare me for what was coming, but let's be honest, there's no way to be completely prepare to be a mommy for the first time.

The day we left the hospital with James was ever so slightly terrifying.  It's kind of a wonder that they let clueless people leave the hospital at all with teensy helpless babies.  We got home and I had this moment of panicked what now?  All my life I'd heard that your maternal instinct kicks in when you have a baby and you automatically know what to do.  Apparently my maternal instinct decided to take a raincheck, because I had (and still have) plenty of moments where I was holding a screaming infant without the slightest clue what the heck was wrong with him.  Perhaps the maternal instinct is something you acquire over time.

I can't believe how fast he's growing!
And then there's the breastfeeding.  I would like to personally punch in the face whoever said that breastfeeding comes naturally and the baby just magically knows what to do on his own.  I've had plenty of friends struggle with this aspect of caring for their baby, and the first three weeks were tough for me too.  All the lactation consultants told me, "If it hurts, something is wrong."  Well we worked at it for days and sometimes it just hurts even though you're doing everything you're supposed to.  I think it's one of those things that you have to give your body time to adjust to and toughen up for.  Things in the nursing department aren't smooth sailing for us yet, but we're certainly getting there.

He's cute even when he's angry.
The hardest part by far was dealing with the emotional tangle aptly called the "baby blues."  I'd been warned about this so I at least knew what I might be in for.  I assumed that since I had such a vast support network of family and friends the random bouts of crying might be kept at bay.  Boy was I wrong.  The emotional roller coaster you're on after having a baby isn't just about being sleep deprived and overwhelmed by this new responsibility, though that's certainly part of it.  For me it was a feeling of loneliness like I'd never experienced.  This is weird to me since most of the time I'm surrounded by other people.  It was especially rough there in the beginning, but over the last week things are settling out and I've been feeling more like my old self.

This is how we spend most of our time.
Becoming a new mommy has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life.  During my pregnancy I kept thinking that I wouldn't want a lot of people around when we brought James home and that we should bond as a family of three for those first few days.  After our first horrible, sleepless night at home however, I was singing a very different tune.  Since then we've had one of our moms stay with us every few nights to help out with him at night, and it's been a huge blessing.  I believe my initial issue was one of pride.  I don't like asking for help with things that I know I should be able to do.  Recovering from surgery showed me how much I help I really need and how blessed we are with family and friends willing to give it.

Lest you think my experience as a new mom has only been negative, think again!  It's amazing to me that God chose us to be James' parents, and I love every minute I spend with him.  It's so cool to see how he grows and changes each day, and we seriously spend hours just staring at him.  It's no wonder I don't get much done around the house.  I love the silly expressions he makes when he's falling asleep and the way he holds onto my finger so tightly.  I love that he's such a snuggly baby and wants to be held a lot.  I love how tiny he is, though I'm sure he's almost to 8 pounds by now!  I love watching his big eyes take in everything around him and know that he's learning so much already.  I can't wait to see the little person he grows into!  I'm ecstatic that I get to be his mommy and watch him grow everyday!  What better blessing could I ask for?


  1. Love your insight into new motherhood...dispels a lot of myths you hear too often! (PS, give James a kiss for me)

  2. I am so happy for you two! what a blessed child james is! I echo all of your thoughts about the beauty and pain of those first few weeks--and you can't be prepared, it just has to happen to you and beat you black and blue. but its wonderful, too. and I completely agree about nursing...after 3 babies, I came to learn that IF IT HURTS and YOUR BABY IS GROWING, you're doing it right ;)