Lessons I'm learning As a First time Mom
Nearly three months ago my husband and I welcomed our first child into the world - beautiful baby boy. A child we'd been praying and longing for for quite some time. A child we'd been preparing for the second the pregnancy test showed us the plus sign. My dream of being a mother was about to come true. But was I ready for the reality of motherhood?
My entire pregnancy involved waves of confidence followed by even more waves of insecurities and fears. I was about to be responsible for a real life human being. I was about to dive into the full time career of being a mother. And it's not a career you can give in a two weeks notice if you decide it's not for you. Suddenly, my dream started to feel a little bit more like a nightmare. I wasn't capable to handle the responsibility. The first thought that entered my mind when it was time to head for the hospital was, "I can't do this. I'm not ready."
But then, after hours upon hours of labor (which is a whole other life lesson in itself) my son arrived. They laid him on my chest and I held him in my arms for the first time. An unspeakable love drowned out my fears and a strong resolve took over. I would be the mother this little baby needed. I would love him for all I was worth. And I would forever cherish my new job title.
However, motherhood does not come with an instruction manual. And while motherly instinct kicks in to some extent, the learning curve is steep. Being only a few months in, I know I have so much more to learn and very little advice to give. I've learned a lot, made plenty of mistakes already, but have somehow earned the love of this precious boy. Here are some things I've learned so far. Okay, let's be honest, I'm still learning.
1. Trial and Error
First time motherhood is all about trial and error. They say you learn your baby's cries. Supposedly their "I'm hungry" cry sounds different from their "I'm tired" cry. Levi just reached three months and only now can I confidently (for the most part) distinguish his cries. Especially during the first month, I basically went through a checklist every time he cried. Is he hungry? Does he need changed? Has he been burped? Does he need a nap? Once I got a positive answer on one of them I would have some peace until it started all over again. Each time I began from the top of the checklist and worked my way down yet again.
Now that I know my baby better and he's learning to communicate his needs through more sounds other than crying, the checklist routine isn't always my go to. Now I have an easier time deciphering his cues. Although he is learning new things which means I get to keep learning and using the trial and error method right along with my little man.
2. I'm not perfect and neither is my baby
This lesson is probably one of the harder lessons to learn. Both my baby and I are human. Meaning, we are going to have our good days and our bad days. I think on some level, every expecting mother has this inner confidence that her baby will be different from the others. Or, that she'll be able to have her act together and do it all, no problem. The truth? It's pretty much impossible to have it all together. No baby is the perfect baby who sleeps exactly when they're supposed to all the time or remains content throughout the day. And that's okay! We as mother's can't expect perfection from ourselves or our babies. These kinds of expectations will only add unnecessary stress to our already stressful new job.
3. It's okay to ask for help
I'm still horrible at this one. I think this lesson will be forever ongoing for me. I hate to admit when I need help, especially when it comes to my baby. I'm his mother. I should have all the answers. I'm his mother. I should be able to soothe him and stop his crying every time. Right? .... haha, wrong! Sometimes, Daddy or Grandma can be the best option for the baby. There have been times when I'm too tired and tense from dealing with everything, and my baby picks up on this. So he, too, becomes tense. And let's face it, grandmothers are gifted with a magic touch. They've been through it all before and they have this longing to feel a motherly bond with a newborn again so the crying and the fussing doesn't phase them. Plus, they're not as sleep deprived as the new parents are! I have to remind myself that asking for help with my baby is nothing to be ashamed of. And neither is asking for help to get other things done. Babies chew up a lot of time and often times, the day is gone before I've even realized it began. In fact, this post has taken twice as long to write due to many interruptions from little Levi. I have many people in my life more than willing to lend a hand. I need only ask.
4. Have some grace and enjoy the moment
This is the toughest job I've ever had. There's no clocking out at the end of the day. Moms never have a day off. Along with our responsibilities to our little humans, we also have responsibilities to our husbands, our homes, and our jobs outside of the home. We have many tasks and titles to juggle. So we need grace. We need to accomplish what we can do, but accept what we cannot do at the same time. I didn't get everything checked off my to-do list today. It's okay. My baby wanted to be cuddled most of the day so I skipped cleaning the bathrooms. Not a problem. My baby is only a baby for a limited time. I won't get these cuddling moments back. So I choose to cherish the one on one time with him for as long as I can.
I obviously have a lot of learning ahead. There will be smiles, laughter, tears, and heartache on this road. It won't be easy raising a child. But I couldn't ask for a better journey.