What I Wish I’d Known When My First Baby Was Born
When I had my first baby, I felt so overwhelmed. I felt like this little 7-pound person consumed my whole life, and in many ways, it was. In the moments, I wasn’t physically tending to her needs or showering her with kisses, I was worrying about and researching her sleep patterns, her developmental milestones, and her future.
Fast-forward 5 years. I just had my third baby, and in many ways, parenting has gotten much easier. Yes, the days are louder and crazier, with three little people running around, but I am far more content and calm (aside from the occasional mommy meltdown – it happens to all of us!). I’ve learned a few tricks along the way from other mommas, I’ve learned what my own needs are, and I’ve learned to roll with the punches a bit more easily.
To those of you who have just had your first baby, and feel completely overwhelmed, you are entirely normal, and we are 110% with you. You’re doing a great job even if you don’t feel like it, and, I promise, it will get easier with time. In the meantime, here are a few little tricks and tips I’ve picked up along the way, and wish I’d known with the first baby.
1. Put baby down when he’s sleeping.
With my first two babies, I held them through most of their naps. I loved snuggling with them, and I was worried I would miss something if I put them down. The only problem was that they got so used to being held all the time that they refused to sleep any other way. Before I knew it, they expected me to be by their side to help them fall asleep and to stay asleep. The snuggle times were so sweet, but I got overwhelmed with all of the other things in life that I just could never seem to get on top of because I was always either taking care of an awake baby or snuggling with an asleep baby.
With my third baby, I decided to be (relatively) consistent in putting her down when she slept. At first, I felt like a bad mom, because it seemed like I was putting her down all the time (they sleep a LOT at first). But the reality was that she got much better sleep when I put her down, and I felt so much more settled into the flow of life with a newborn when I had a few moments during her naps to take care of anything else that needed my attention.
2. Your own needs are important too.
With my first baby, I always put my own needs last, which meant many times I completely neglected myself. Over time, I’ve learned that I have to take care of myself well to be able to take care of my babies well.
So, don’t forget to take care of yourself, momma. If you have not eaten lunch yet and you’re hungry, by all means, put baby down in a safe spot or wear baby so that you can be hands-free and take a few minutes to prepare yourself a healthy meal. Ask someone to help you take care of your little one so that you can go for a walk. Coordinate your schedule with baby’s schedule so that you can take a shower each day and feel refreshed. The result? You will be so much more capable of pouring out your love and attention on baby when you are well taken care of yourself.
Related: 6 Postpartum Self-Care Tips
3. Breaking the routine is not always bad.
By now, you’ve probably read it a million times – kids thrive on routines. I learned very quickly the security and stability that came from having a routine – not only for my kids but also for me.
That said, I’ve concluded that there are times where it is worth it to break the routine. Here’s the thing – I always weigh the cost before I break the routine. If we were to get a sudden opportunity to go to Disneyland (a girl can dream, right?), then I would willingly sacrifice naps and routine for the day. Even though we’d all be hyper and crazy and exhausted by bedtime, we would have the time of our lives as we unraveled into delirium. And the next day, we’d pull it all back together and get back to our routine with happy memories to last a lifetime. My general rule is to stick to the routine 90% of the time, break the routine the other 10% and break it with enjoyment!
4. Soak up those sweet moments because they pass by so fast.
When I was learning to be a momma for the first time, it was hard to stop and really soak up the moment. Like truly, just pause everything and let it soak in. There was too much to think about, too much emotion, so much unknown.
With our third little love, it’s still hard to remember, but I have my five-year-old as a constant reminder of how quickly they grow up. I’ve learned that I can’t soak up every minute, as much as I would like to, but I try to consciously pause my mind for a few minutes here and there and soak in that particular moment. What does my child’s voice sound like in this moment? How do I feel reading them their bedtime stories or kissing their cheek as they fall asleep? How does their little hand feel in mine? The days can be long, but the years pass by oh so quickly. Every once in a while, remind yourself to pause and just soak it in for a moment.
I’m cheering you on, momma – you’re doing a great job!
Related: Mama of Littles, Babies Don’t Keep