1. Be prepared, (but know that there's only so much you can prepare).
Get stocked up on the practical, basic things you'll need for the first little time after you get home from the hospital. Get some witch hazel and some mega-huge pads. Find a comfortable nursing tank top, and maybe an item or two that makes you feel pretty, like a nail polish or a lip balm, because you are going to look for a while, as Grace puts it, like you've been hit by a truck. Know, however, that there is only so much you can do to get ready for this new life. At some point, she's going to arrive, and send your expectations flying, and you will be the mom.
2. Remember that the days are short but the years fly by.
You are going to get tired of hearing "enjoy it now, it flies by" or "they grow up so fast!". When you are sleep-strained and wishing that they would just know one thing to do on their own, you don't want to hear that you're supposed to enjoy something! So, as Ellie puts it, "tuck away as many memories of your sweet baby as possible...how he smells and smiles and giggles, his fat rolls and soft skin. These memories will serve you well when he turns into a rowdy, unruly toddler who draws on your new couch in black permanent marker".
While it's not really realistic to "sleep when the baby sleeps" (that's often the only time for showering, dishes, vacuuming, calling a friend or painting your nails as well...), the sentiment is true for sure, especially if you're using up a bunch of calories by breastfeeding. Your sleep is going to be disrupted, so snatch it where you can. If a friend offers help, ask them to hold the baby while you take a nap! Otherwise try to keep a restful attitude for the first few weeks so that your body can recover. Don't try to have tons of company over to go to all the events there are. Lay low, start slow.
4. This too shall pass
I think the most helpful piece of advice I received as a first-time-hassled mom was also from Ellie. She told me that the super-fussy day/night flipped schedule Leo was keeping was just a phase that he'd grow out of by about 6/7 weeks old. I was so relieved! 6-7 weeks may sound like an eternity, but just knowing that there was an end in sight made it all easier. I have continued to remind myself of this advice as the boys have gotten older. With each new weird sleeping pattern or frustrating behavior that requires constant re-direction, I think "it's just a phase", and it's true! Moreover, we need them to have these phases, because they are forming us too. As mothers we are constantly called to rebirth. As our little one's babyhood passes away, toddler-hood is born and on and on. So in each stage we face a newness and an overwhelming that molds us into better mothers. Don't fight this pruning. It's OK, and it definitely doesn't mean you are a bad mom.
5. It's OK to feel like you have no idea what you're doing
It's completely normal to feel overwhelmed and shocked and unprepared for motherhood. It's healthy to have these feelings because they are the beginning of learning. They are, as Ellie puts it, "the birth pains of your path of motherhood". You're learning as you go, but you are that baby's mom. You are the one whom God chose from all time and eternity to be the mother to this baby at this particular time in your life, and in history. Your particular gifts, talents, strengths, weaknesses, personality, experiences, doubts, and knowledge are what your child needs.
|My Momma rocking it with her cutest child ;)|
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