My little guy is a little over a month old now and my God, it has been such an incredible learning experience. As all mothers know, raising a child is hard. The worries, the sleepless nights, the constant crying that pulls at your heart strings… motherhood is most definitely not for the feint of heart! But that innocent and content face and those inquisitive eyes make it all so worthwhile. It still boggles my mind that I actually cooked this guy up for nine months and now he’s this living, breathing, beautiful little person. Just…WOW.
What surprises me most of all, however, are the many things I have discovered about myself in the process. The boundless patience and newfound ability to calm myself down, the incredible instinct to nurture and protect, the desire to be the best that I can be while allowing myself room to make mistakes, and the amazing capacity to thrive on little to no sleep! Don’t get me wrong, deep down inside of me is still this person that strives for perfection, but luckily the more logical, sane, and imperfect part of me has taken the drivers seat.
So, from one new mom to another, here are a few words of advice from a recovering perfectionist:
1. LET IT GO. That mess will still be there for you to clean tomorrow. Your post-partum belly will not disappear in a day, a week, or even a month. And your precious little package (aka…baby) will not die if slightly off his feeding schedule. Instead, get some rest! TRUST ME. Letting it go is the best that you can do for yourself and for everyone around you. (And sometimes I need to learn to take my own advice…!)
2. Speaking of a feeding schedule, and for those that are breastfeeding: DON’T PANIC if your babe doesn’t feed by the books. I still struggle with this one, but it’s imperative to your sanity and peace of mind. Putting it nicely, most babies become pretty darn vocal when hungry. If they seem perfectly content after a feed, and if they are gaining the appropriate weight, there is no need to freak out. This said by the Queen of Freaking Out.
3. DON’T BE AFRAID. I’ve heard stories of mothers that are too afraid of making one little mistake to handle their own baby. Fortunately, babies are malleable, squishy little creatures. They are meant to be handled, cradled, snuggled, and often contorted into awkward positions. They will be ok, and so will you. Just give them that hands on comfort they will inevitably crave…and scream for.
4. Watch out for what I have dubbed as the “MONSTER PHASE.” It is something I am currently experiencing and I cannot understand for the life of me why this phenomenon isn’t more often vocalized by mothers around the world. For all you newbies and moms-to-be out there, if you think you have a quiet, sweet baby…just wait until the 6 week mark. I will tell you now, shit will hit the fan. That innocent baby of yours will become the devil reincarnated. This may last for a few days and even up to a few weeks for some of you poor souls out there. If you hear nothing else, hear this: it will get better! Those horrific screams will slowly subside into laughter and smiles. At least, that’s what I have been told…
5. Lastly, if you do choose to breast feed, don’t ever let anyone undermine your feelings of frustration and despair. Breastfeeding can be hard. It puts all the pressure of sustenance onto one human being. Add to that the fact that you are feeding every 2 hours or so and you quickly begin to feel like nothing more than a milk machine! And yes, there may be production problems, allergy problems, and/or extreme gassiness problems. I’ve already had numerous meltdowns over breast feeding and have on occasion substituted formula just to give myself a break. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, feel like a failure if you choose to give your baby formula sometimes or all of the time. I was a formula fed baby and I turned out ok (if I do say so myself!) so turn a deaf ear to any naysayers out there! No one knows what’s best for you and your baby but you.
Perfectionist or not, the most important thing you can do is enjoy this time with your little one. Despite the screams, despite the messy house and dirty diapers and the sleepless nights, take pride in this little human you created and remember, there is a very bright, sparkling light at the end of this tunnel. It will all be worth it in the end!
ps….for all you non-mommas out there, I will get back to the basics soon! Please bare with me while I revel in babydom for just a little longer