There are so many millions of adjustments in the life of a new parent. Getting it all perfectly right is impossible. But by grace and sheer survival skill, we make it through. Colton was by no means an easy baby. And he can still give us a run for our money in the sleep department. However, I’ve gained a bit more perspective than I had at the start. So as I think back through our approach those first head-barely-above-water new parent months, a few things stand out that I’d do differently.
1. be flexible
When preparing for a newborn, I had so many things I said I’d never do. I would never co-sleep. I would never use a sound machine. I would never put up blackout shades. Guess what? I did them all. But breaking each of those ‘promises’ to myself was traumatic. I’d get upset or cry (looking at you, hormones) and take forever to come to the final decision. So I’ve learned it’s far better to be flexible and see what suits your and your babies needs best.
2. accept help
I’m a rather type A personality. So accepting help from anyone who wasn’t my mom was a challenge. I didn’t want to bother other people. I didn’t want to worry about other people doing things wrong (a.k.a. simply not the way I would do them). I didn’t want to seem like some wuss that couldn’t ‘handle’ this motherhood role. Folks, that was all foolish. What I look back and see now is how other people genuinely wanted to help and to serve a new parent. Moreover, it doesn’t matter one teensy bit how my dishwasher is loaded or my laundry folded. Those items are completely inconsequential and I could’ve ignored them to focus fully on new baby and new motherhood.
3. anticipate change
This is a point I constantly have to say to myself. Just when you’ve nestled into a cozy routine or feel that schedules are under control, your little one will change. Emotionally, mentally, and physically they are constantly growing. Instead of desperately clinging to some semblance of stability, I’m trying to take these changes in stride. I enjoy the routines while they last; but I remain expectant of new developments. While it doesn’t come naturally, I try to see these spurts as exciting rather than stressful. Colton is learning a new skill or perfecting a tiny talent. I want to nurture that and not stifle the growth or change he’s experiencing.
4. prioritize your health
It sounds so cliché but the adage is true: take care of yourself so that you can take care of baby. I had a super slow recovery from delivery. I was constantly exhausted, lightheaded, and couldn’t even shower on my own. But because of those things I felt weak. Not just weak physically, I felt weak emotionally. I should have been more cognizant of what my body needed so that I could better serve little Colton. There is mega grace in those first weeks and just feel free to soak it all in.
5. go with the breastfeeding flow
If I had a rooftop to shout from, this is the one I’d be yelling about. Anxiety and breastfeeding are incompatible. But they’re also undeniably linked. It’s this awful cycle of trying to navigate unfamiliar (and painful) new parent waters while remaining calm. Yet you’re supposed to be keeping that tiny human alive so, um, it’s kinda important. But hear this from the bottom of my heart and the top of my lungs: whatever needs to be done for a healthy you and a thriving baby, do it. If that’s supplementing with formula, exclusively feeding with bottles, nursing only from the breast, it’s all perfectly fine. Forget the self-induced pressure. Un-tense your shoulders and realize that this is not the end-all of your child’s development.