There have been so many times in the last year when I was afraid to ask a stupid question. About parenting, about nursing, about starting solids, etc. Countless times. But I was too scared to be judged or thought of as an incapable parent. So, I’m sharing some things I eventually figured out and wish I had the courage to ask about in the first place. *Disclaimer* I am NOT an expert on newborns, babies, and/or child development and I do not claim to be. But I had a lot of needless anxiety and worry about really simple, silly things. By sharing them here, my hope is that someone else finds comfort in knowing other mamas are going through the same things.
It’s okay when your baby falls asleep on you/with you/next to you. We chose not to co-sleep with Theo and I had so much guilt when I did let him sleep on me or in the bed with me. We occasionally fell asleep together due to sheer exhaustion on my part and I’d be so hard on myself afterward. I felt like I was undoing all of the sleep training we were trying to establish. But I didn’t, and starting at about 9-10 months, Theo began sleeping 10-12 hours a night. This might be earlier than some or much later than others, but the point is that it all works out in the end. My mantra was this sweet message I found and eventually bought a print of:
*My sign version is slightly different, but you can shop the one pictured here on Etsy.
It’s okay if when you’re nursing, you’d rather take a few minutes to yourself than pump extra milk for storage. Because I was home, I preferred to nurse Theo directly versus giving him a bottle of breastmilk I’d pumped and stored. But if Michael and I ever wanted to go on a date night, I needed to pump to keep some on hand. There were days I cried because I felt like a human milk factory between feeding and pumping. To save yourself some stress, set a schedule for yourself. If you’re producing enough and don’t need to keep a steady amount stored, just pump between 1 or 2 feedings a day. Don’t freak out when you hear or see other mamas with freezers full of milk! If you don’t have a critical need, then keep as much on hand as you’re comfortable with.
It’s okay when you commit to a few minutes of tummy time with your newborn versus the encouraged 30 minutes a day. Every baby learns and develops differently. Your baby is not falling behind if you only get 10 minutes in one day. In my case, I had a hard time seeing Theo struggle to hold his head up, and the little pillow which comes with the play mat always looked uncomfortable for him. But I committed to spending some time each day and he began to develop and strengthen his muscles. The stronger they get, the more they’ll enjoy the tummy time.
It’s okay when you don’t know how to do any of the following quickly: fold your stroller, secure baby in the baby carrier, buckle baby in the carseat, etc. You’re a new mom. Take as much time as you want. Don’t let people waiting for your parking spot rush you. Don’t feel like everyone’s watching you buckle and unbuckle the Ergo a million times over because it’s still not sitting right. It happens to everyone. There is NOTHING natural about using any of these contraptions for baby. It’s a big learning curve, so take your time to figure it out. Watch instructional videos online from the manufacturers or on YouTube. These things are holding precious cargo after all!
It’s okay if you don’t use overnight diapers. Just buy diapers one size up for baby to wear through the night. And we didn’t even need to do that until about 6 months old because Theo was still up a couple of times a night until that time. We just changed him when we needed to. We’re still using a size up for nights now at 14 months! You’ll still get some leaks, but I’m almost sure you’d get them with overnights as well.
It’s okay if when you start something new, that baby rejects it ALL. I’m talking new foods, new activities, new toys, etc. Don’t be discouraged right away. Try again later that day. Or the next day. He or she will change by the hour it seems, and it will all be different tomorrow. Which is so much better than it is worse at this age! Also, don’t be afraid to stretch or push your normal routine. Slightly changing feeding times, nap times, and/or bedtime may help your baby make the next “leap.” It also helped Theo adjust more quickly when we traveled, and helped us better read his sleep and hunger cues.
In a nutshell, just do your best. Try your best every day. And remember that it’s okay to give yourself a break every now and then. It’s crucial to maintain your sanity and will help you to be a better mother. You can do this, Mama!