6 Things This Mom Learned in the First 6 Months
Today, my baby is 6 months old. I can't believe how fast the time has gone! And naturally, after 6 months, I am a parenting expert so I am sharing with you...
6 Things I Learned in 6 Months of Mommyhood
1. You can't plan. There is no schedule. You should plan on having no idea what is gong to happen next.
When we first got home EcoBaby cried and cried... and cried. She was nursing every 2 hours and it took 30-60 minutes each time; which in reality meant I only had a shirt on every other hour (not as sexy as it sounds). After 2 weeks my husband went back to work so he took the early morning feedings -- (this is of course after we realized that nursing was not enough and accepted the use of a bottle). But this transition into parenthood wasn't easy for him either. You can read about his Descent Into Madness (and stay tuned for a funny dad and poop story -- these are the amusing things in life now).
In addition to our breastfeeding issues, we also had a baby who refused, for whatever reason, to sleep in her bassinet. She slept in her swing next to our bed (made me nervous as anything!) for at least the first 3-4 weeks.
The nights were rough and so were the days, which leads me to number 2.
2. Sleep. Whenever.
"Sleep when they sleep." Advice you will hear (and probably roll your eyes at) repeatedly when you are pregnant and when you first have your baby. I know I ignored it -- but not for long.
Assuming that 11am, 2pm or 5pm are not appropriate times for naps is silly. Anytime during the day is appropriate for a nap when you have a newborn (and possibly when you have a child of any age; I will report back in a couple of years). Pulling an all-nighter or an all-dayer for that matter, does nothing except make you look tired and feel terrible. Since there probably isn't a schedule (see number 1), day and night are probably interchangeable, at least for the first couple of months, so assume all times when the baby is sleeping are bed times. Fight the urge to do the dishes, throw in a load of laundry or go on the treadmill to get rid of that baby weight (I mean seriously...); sleep = rested, happy mama.
And just so you know even when you manage to put together something that resembles a schedule: You are still tired. The tired is always there. Even when the baby sleeps through the night. Read about my schedule when I returned to work and my underwear here.
3. You spent way too much time complaining about doing nothing before.
Yes, you read that right. I am talking about all of those times you thought "Ugh, OMG, I don't have time to get anything done." (By the way I want you to read that as a totally over the top valley girl).
When you bring a baby home, the tiny little thing that just sits there, you will realize how you actually have no time. You will start thinking "What the hell was I doing before I had a baby?" The answer... Nothing. You were doing nothing.
4. Thanks for your help and also, shut up. Harvest all advice and then pick out the crap. Trust your instincts.
As a new parent you can simultaneously seek out help and hate when someone offers you advice (even when it is solicited). It is only natural. Because who doesn't want to be the best parent, with the best kid without ever needing anyone? But save your eye rolls and sarcasm for another time. Sometimes people give you advice you didn't even know you would need. Then again, sometimes people give you advice that makes you wonder if maybe they received some sort of partial lobotomy since the last time you saw them. But don't disregard everything right away -- some of it comes in handy. And remember, just because you don't take all of the advice does not mean it is bad advice.
Example: My family kept asking me when I was going to start cereal with EcoBaby. I kept saying the doctor said to wait until at least 4 months. My Mom said she started us much earlier than that and it is why we all slept through the night. That worked for her and all four of the children she raised. But for me baby was doing fine without it. AND, when we did start her on cereal (at 5 months), it didn't change her sleeping at all. Every baby and every mama are different; it wasn't bad advice it just wasn't advice that I needed to take.
5. Let people help you. Get out of the house. And for the love of god take a shower.
Let your Mom come over and babysit, even if it is only so you can take a 20 minute nap or a 5 minute worry free shower. It is OK for other people to hold your child -- don't go passing her around Babies R Us when she is 4 weeks old -- but let Aunt Betty hold her. Babies need to get used to people; invest in hand sanitizer especially during flu season, but still let family and close friends hold the baby.
I can't tell you how many times I said no to people who came over to visit and offered to watch the baby while I napped for a bit. What is wrong with me? I didn't have this handy post to encourage me to take them up on the offer.
On the weekends my husband would insist that I get out of the house. He is great. But at some point I explained to him that while I love the time alone out in the world, I would like the time alone at home just as much. The chance to be at home and relax while I didn't have to worry about picking up the crying baby was wonderful (once I tamed my instinct to check on her even though her father was home).
If you need a shower but you are home alone, it is OK to put the baby down somewhere safe and jump in for a rinse -- even if the baby is crying, I promise. Most of the time I waited until she was napping -- which meant I was foregoing rule number 2, but there were a few times when she was sitting in the bassinet or swing in ear shot while I showered. This was advice that someone gave me (see number 4). I am glad that I took it.
6. YOUR baby is the BEST baby. Everything is happening on time. Don't worry.
It just so happened, and I swear this wasn't planned, my 3 closest friends from growing up (friends I made in elementary school) had babies at the same time as I was having a baby. When I went to my best friend's house to tell her -- well let me reenact it for you:
BF: So, I have some news...
BF: I am pregnant!
Me: Well...SO AM I!
You can only imagine the screaming that ensued and the shock on the faces of our husbands. We jumped and hugged to the point where they had to separate us and remind us that we were indeed developing little babies in our bellies and should probably go easy.
Within a month and a half, 4 baby girls were born and it was really exciting. But, it is easy, especially in this age of social media, to feel like you need to be in competition with one another. Every baby has a different sleep schedule, starts rolling over, and reaches other milestones at different times. Remember that it is a great opportunity to support each other. Don't feel like your baby needs to be reaching milestones at the exact same time. And your baby is always the cutest and best baby. I know EcoBaby is the best baby.