Things the Baby Books Didn’t Tell Me
I’m in the process of creating a baby book for Atlas. I’ve been sifting through thousands of photos in hopes of picking just a few of our favorite moments with Atlas to highlight in a custom made book. It is amazing to me how much he has changed in less than 2 years. How much our lives have changed. How much my heart has changed. Being Atlas’ mom is such a beautiful balance of work and wonderful.
Looking at pictures of Atlas as a newborn obviously made me think of the journey we are about to embark on yet again when our baby girl arrives in June. I remember how scared and unsure I was when we left the hospital with Atlas. I found the whole experience quite terrifying, despite all the baby books/blogs/websites I devoured in the weeks leading up to his arrival. The reality is no book can totally prepare you for parenthood. Today I thought about what I wish I would have known back then. I thought about what I would tell myself if I could go back in time and what I will tell myself in June when I start over with a brand new baby and I start navigating life with 2 babies under 2 years old.
Things the Baby Books Didn’t Tell Me
- Stock up on the mesh undies the hospital gives you. Seriously, stuff them all in your suitcase. 2 week’s worth. Yes, they are hideous. Yes, they are worse than your mama’s swimmin’ trunks…worse than granny panties. But you’re going to want them. Actually, you’re going to need them. Disposable underwear for the win! Oh, and while we are on the general subject – you won’t be able to walk home from the hospital like you planned, but I promise you’ll walk normal again. In fact, you’ll even run again – faster than you ever ran before.
- Preparing your heart for motherhood is as important as preparing a nursery. Get off Pinterest and pick up your Bible. When you’re bouncing a colicky baby around at 1am you’re going to need a whole lot of Jesus. Spend more time trying to line your heart up with scripture and less time obsessing over getting that perfect Instagram photo of the new nursery decor. Your baby needs a mother who is overflowing with God’s love more than they need the best decorated crib.
- Don’t forget who you are. When you lose yourself, your entire family loses. You need you. Your husband needs you. Make time for yourself. Don’t feel guilty for leaving the baby with your husband while you go for a run or go out alone for an hour or 2 just to breathe. If you don’t carve out regular time for yourself you will wind up alone in a Starbucks at 9pm on more than 1 occasion sobbing into your latte. Trust me on this.
- Do what feels right. Read all the baby books, but in the end you have to do what feels right to you. If co-sleeping feels right for your family, do it. If the crying it out method suits you, go for it. If rocking your baby to sleep when they are 3 years old is your thing, then do that and own it. Trust your gut.
- Not every moment is magical. You won’t bond with your baby every minute of every day. Life with a newborn doesn’t always look like a Pampers commercial. Actually, it rarely does. It is messy and exhausting and it is okay if you don’t enjoy every second of the ride. Lower your expectations just a bit.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. Cut yourself some slack. There isn’t actually a mom-of-the-year award so you can drop the super woman act. You won’t be able to run 8 miles, have a six pack, shower, do your hair AND make-up, read your Bible, cuddle your baby, walk the dogs, clean the house, make a gourmet meal for your husband, write that freelance project and research ways to help your baby talk before they turn 6 months old every day. In fact, you won’t be able to do a quarter of that. And that’s okay. Prioritize. Do what you can and forget the rest (except the shower – try to squeeze that one in everyday). Comparison kills contentment. Don’t try to look like a Victoria’s Secret model, cook like Ina Garten and organize like Martha Stewart. Do the best YOU can do and be proud of that.
- This too shall pass. Whatever you and your baby are going through together, remember – it is just a phase! The colic demon will eventually leave your house. Your baby will eventually sleep through the night. Breastfeeding will get easier. That tooth eventually pops through and your happy baby returns. Everything – the good and the bad – will pass…almost in the blink of an eye…almost.
- You’re not alone. Every new parent is clueless. You’re not inadequate. You’re not stupid. You’re normal. Every new mom feels unprepared.
- Create a home filled with laughter, not perfection. Your life will never be perfect. Your baby won’t be perfect. Your house won’t be perfect. You won’t be the perfect mother. Embrace the chaos and laugh it off.
- Let your husband be right. There is more than 1 right way to do things when it comes to babies. Let your husband help and let him do some things his way. He may not pick out the perfect outfit or hold the baby exactly how you do, but that’s okay. He has a relationship to build with his child too and he has to find his own groove.
To all my mom readers: If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself after having a baby?