What I’d go back and tell first-time-mom me

5 comments

As a first time mom, in my child’s first year of life, I worried about my daughter’s development, eating habits and sleeping schedule. With hindsight being 20/20 and all, I now have perspective more than a year removed, especially after accepting that there’s no one right way to parent. Here’s what I’d go back and tell myself in all my shiny, new mom-ness.

 

Was she getting enough to eat?

I pumped. I supplemented with formula. I nursed every hour around the clock. I ate lactation cookies and swallowed fenugreek capsules.

Why the doctors were worried about my ten-pound-at-birth, ninetieth-percentile baby’s weight, I haven’t figured out. But as a new mom rife with raging hormones, I wasn’t questioning, just following direction.

What I’d tell new-mom me

I’m fairly certain my daughter wasn’t starving; that extra pumping sessions post-feeding and other measures to increase my supply may have been excessive. And by supplementing I did what I needed to maintain my sanity and, contrary to theories on breastfeeding, saved my nursing relationship with my daughter.

Your child was fed and healthy. You simply needed time to get into a breastfeeding groove.

 

Were we doing enough together?

I tended to worry about the breadth of experiences my child was getting in her first year of life. Social media sites are great for comparing yourself to others and making you feel like a lesser parent, right? I saw pictures of my friends’ newborns at the beach, infants in carriers on hiking trails and the backs of road bikes, and babies on a variety of vacations with their parents.

I felt guilt for not taking my child anywhere of real significance in her first year; hell, we barely made it out of the house those first couple months.

What I’d tell new-mom me

It took me a long time to realize that those trips and outings weren’t for the kids; they were for the parents. No child needs their first boat ride in infancy. Those experiences are great for children of any age, but I wasn’t depriving my daughter of anything by not being more adventurous in her first year, either.

Your child needs your love, care and attention. Fancy toys and day trips are not necessary for your child to be well cared for. Let it go.

 

Was she sleeping enough?

My daughter slept rocking in her swing, for the first 3 months of her life. It was the only way she’d stay asleep. She didn’t sleep through the night until she was one and a half years old. She took nearly every nap when with me in my arms, in a post-nursing coma. Slowly the motion of my moving car became necessary for her to nap. I worried about the quality of her sleep, the amount she was getting, and if she’d ever figure out how to do it better.

What I’d tell new-mom me

Your child is getting the sleep she needs. It doesn’t matter how you get it to happen.

 

What were the things that plagued you as a first-time mom? If you could go back, what advice would you give yourself ?

Happy girl (with her psychedelic dolphin) Photo credit C.Allard
Happy girl (with her psychedelic dolphin)
Photo credit C.Allard

5 comments on “What I’d go back and tell first-time-mom me”

  1. Christa- i just revisited momma guilt again this weekend. (Stupid me, i know!) About the very thing you just mentioned here- Still to this day i see all over my social media outlets tiny babies strapped into strollers at science museums, art galleries, and theme parks. I cringe every time i see a tiny baby at a place where older children or grown ups are rampant in the background. Should i be taking Jake to the zoo? Should i have taken him to disney world aready at 2 years old??? We’ve done our share of “firsts” in his first two years, but they were managable and age-appropriate, ie: trips to the library, voting on election day, playing at playgrounds, and our favorite restaurant, Lenny & Joe’s. There will be a time that he’ll appreciate things like Disney World and hands-on museums. Like my husband and i always say, There’s an age and a place for everything. Now if i could really remind myself of that when that stupid momma guilt sets in again!

    1. Mama guilt led us on a trip to the zoo last week – and my sweet little boy wanted NOTHING to do with any of the animals (‘no bears mama, no bears’) but instead we spent 2 hours throwing rocks into drains, climbing every staircase, running up and down every ramp and opening and closing every door. I realized he gets more joy out of trips to Petco (free trips!) than he did at the big zoo. My husband kindly refrained from an ‘I told you so’ 🙂

  2. I love this! I’m expecting my second and worry that I won’t “care” as much as I did with my first because I’ve simply learned to RELAX!

  3. Christa I really, really enjoyed reading this since I was right with you every step of the way. I am so happy and feel so lucky to have a close friend with a child literally the same age so that we could be there for each other. You are a wonderful mother and a wonderful person. Looking back I would have let my pregnant self consider the idea of formula and not be so 100% opposed to it. I felt like, at the time, the only right way was to breastfeed, and then faced a situation where I couldn’t and felt like a failure because of the pressure I had put on myself. That experience really helped open my eyes (and mind) to the fact that there are many different choices that are all OK.

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