” When a baby is born, so is a mother; each unsteady in their own way. Matrescence is profound and it’s also hard. And that’s what makes it human.”-Alexandra Sacks
It was a sunny summer day when we were finally going home. Everything I packed for both myself and the baby were untouched except for my grooming essentials. We stayed in the hospital for a day but after going through the whole labor and delivery, the day felt so long.
As a first time mom, I got so excited and yes, I made it!
“Congratulations! You’re good to go…” the nurse said. Sure enough, I felt my experience wasn’t that bad even though it didn’t turn out as expected. Of course, it’s because my body was full of happy emotions that I have a tiny human with me going home.
“Oxytocin helps the mother’s brain zoom in and pulls the attention in so that the baby becomes the center of her world”-says a reproductive psychiatrist, Alexandra Sacks from a TED Talk in which she broke down the tug of war on the transition to motherhood.
As a new parent, were you confused on what motherhood looks like? Was it something you expected? Did you feel different and thought that maybe there’s something wrong? Can you clearly say that your motherly instincts kicked in? Did anyone tell you what to expect?
Let me recall how little M changed my world in different ways. I’d like to share that it was a lot of firsts: placing him on the carseat and settling him inside the car, having a receiving blanket on my shoulder, having a sanitizer handy, wrapping with a swaddle blanket and rocking to soothe him. The list goes on and these are just a few. Where do I begin? Its’ a fresh start!
So now we’re coming home. I haven’t slept through the night and now little M is with us and is solely dependent on me.
The question is …where do I begin? It’s a fresh start!
Then it’s time to feed and change but little M keeps crying… I tried to rock, feed, sing, and sway but he won’t stop.
Where do I begin? It’s a fresh start!
For a new mom like me, there’s information overload from books, friends, family and the internet.
Where do I begin? It’s a fresh start!
Let me point out some of the few lessons I learned for the first few days and months of parenting:
1. Ambivalence is normal.
That feeling of being different? It’s because of the hormonal shift. You have a new identity, the sense of being another person. A new YOU is born..The world is now revolving with not just yourself or your husband but a little human being beside you. Feeling happy and overwhelmed yet anxious? Yes, it happens.
2. “Cry it Out or Live with it”-it’s not for me.
If only my baby can speak, he’ll also ask…where do I begin, how do I start?
Babies cry and attending to their needs is the way to soothe them. It’s either they need a change, they’re tired, overstimulated, or hungry. It’s their way of communication. Eventually, you will learn and identify what your baby needs.
As per William Sears, MD, Author of The Baby Book, “Telling the difference between needs and wants is not a problem that parents have to wrestle during the early months of parenting. In the beginning, they are the same.”
“Crying out” just breaks my heart and “Living with it” just won’t help in developing baby’s independence. So don’t ignore.
3. The E.A.S.Y schedule is an easy schedule
Yes, we hear a lot of moms asking about a Sleep solution for their little ones. Are they even realistic in the beginning? Their sleep cycle is still adjusting and it will take few months for it to change. Yes, moms need sleep to feel sane but it may not work in the beginning. However, you can slowly introduce the Eat, Activity, Sleep, Your time schedule. It’s an easy way to follow and it may work for you as it worked for me.
4. Follow the newborn’s lead.
I can remember that bedtime was a battle. I was rocking the baby for several hours even though he was crying so badly, and this made me feel exhausted. Then I learned how to follow his lead which made it real. If he’s awake, he’s awake. Either it’s reading or playtime, it does not matter. Don’t force him to sleep. Eventually, things changed and it made a huge difference in the amount of rest we were getting.
5. Day 1 starters-Tummy time and Skin to skin.
I admit I wasn’t consistent with this. It’s my Mom guilt. As recommended, tummy time is an essential aspect of baby’s development. It helps strengthen head, neck, and upper body muscles. The sooner you begin encouraging your baby to lie on his tummy, the more likely it is that he’ll accept this position naturally. So do it consistently. Practice, practice, practice!
In addition, your baby does not have the ability to regulate his own temperature. Thus, babies find it easier to adapt to her post-birth environment if he is being held through skin-to-skin. It also reduces common newborn issues such as infections, allergies and feeding problems. Without a doubt, it’s a Day 1 starter.
6. Lastly, this may sound the simplest but when you’re about to give birth, don’t pack everything!
Yes, there’s a lot of Pregnancy and Birth Apps and there are tons of items listed to pack for Mom, Dad and Baby. Are they all important? Yes they are. But are they all realistic and necessary? No they aren’t. So don’t pack too much! Pack the essentials!
So there it is. My few firsts. Everyone has their own opinion and experience. This is not to degrade what you prefer doing. Mom shaming is hurtful. Do whatever is comfortable with you. Whatever works for you and the baby…follow it as you are the mom and you’re the only one who knows your baby best.
Now my question is…What were your first learned lessons as a parent? Where and how did you begin? It’s a fresh start! I’d like to hear your thoughts!