In early March, we welcomed our second baby into the family. My second pregnancy was not as easy or enjoyable as my first and I was being constantly plagued with the projection that, because our first, Elliot, was such an easy baby, surely number two would rock our world. I don’t know about you, but that kind of sentiment didn’t rest well with me and I am a stubborn person, so I was that much more determined to not need people after the birth of our son, Clark. Enter advice for new moms.
Don’t let the opinions of other people dictate your actions. As I said above, I am, perhaps to a fault, a very stubborn person. I like to pretend that it translates to determined, but for the most part it’s me not wanting to be vulnerable. Mommas, the most humbling and perhaps most important thing I’ve learned is to not let what other people say change how I decision-make when it comes to my children. Sometimes that means eating your words and succumbing to what everyone was telling you, but I find that more often than not, it’s giving other people a polite smile, followed by doing exactly what you intended to in the first place. You see, there is this thing called a mother’s instinct. And it’s real-life. I have found that when I ignore that, I always end up regretting it.
Listen to your body. After I had Elliot, I didn’t want help at the house from anyone. I had felt great the entire pregnancy and bounced back relatively quickly. When I delivered Clark, I knew that I would need help with Elliot, so my sister came to stay with us for a few days, but I still fought letting her and my husband take care of me. Another part of that maternal instinct is to, above all else, care for our little ones. The problem there is that our bodies need healing. Because I didn’t want to forego changing every diaper, my body suffered and I ultimately took twice as long to heal. Give yourself a second to get back on your feet and don’t be so hard on yourself. Ultimately, we can’t be at our best mom-selves if we aren’t feeling our best human-selves (and there is a difference).
Make a routine. Children want boundaries. They want to know what to expect and what you expect of them, even at birth. I think it’s fair to say that most of us function best when we can plan our day out and know what is required of us in that day. I fought this with my second baby. I think, perhaps, because I had, “He’s going to rock your world” stuck in my brain that I was just trying to make him happy, regardless of the fact that it was nothing like what I had done with my daughter. I would face an inevitable “witching hour” in the evening and dance around my living room like a fool, just for some silence. I thought that every time he cried he just needed to be fed so I stopped writing down everything I did and threw my second time mom experience out the window (huge mistake). I didn’t trust myself and my whole family briefly suffered for it. Finally, at six weeks, I stepped out of my new-mom-fog and smacked myself back to the reality that my babies like designated nap-times. They like routine feedings and structured active time. I wrote out a schedule on Sunday night that I intended to follow Monday and stick with no matter how challenging it became. It was a glorious day. He ate well, he napped well, he smiled when we played and when witching hour came, I heard silence. I’m not going to give you my schedule because it likely won’t work for you. It’s important to look at your family and block things out in a way that makes the most sense for you and fulfills the need of your newborn. I promise you, if you do this, you’ll feel like yourself again. It gives you a sense of control in what can feel like an uncontrollable new norm. It frees you from the anxiety of leaving the house and not knowing what to expect.
Stop. For me, there is always something that can be done. I struggle daily with enjoying little moments and taking care of a task that feels like it’s looming in the corner. After having our son, I was very nervous about how I would give one hundred percent of my time to two children. Friends, that isn’t possible. Don’t burden your brain with that. It requires mental discipline to not go there, but you have to find ways to stop and enjoy the moments with each child, with both and as a family.
Seek out other moms. This goes for moral support in addition to advice and finding great products that your kids will love. If you’re reading this blog, you’ve got a jump because you’ve already realized that our greatest assets are each other. I can’t tell you how many Instagram accounts have brought me to some of my most useful and helpful baby products. It’s this gift that we, as new moms, should definitely take advantage of more often.
I could probably write a book about different things that I’ve used or women who have helped me along the way, but those are the five that, I found, have given me the most peace of mind. Let’s be honest, we all need a little bit of that when we bring home tiny people who rely entirely on us for their care and nurturing.