A year ago today, Daniel and I brought Aria home from the hospital. She was dressed in her adorable hedgehog coming home outfit and her grey homemade knitted hat. The house was spotless from months of obsessive nesting. There was a vase of purple tulips on the table that Daniel had had delivered to me in a snowstorm a day or so before she was born. Everything was calm and peaceful and perfect- but inside I was falling apart.
The reality of motherhood had hit me hard. I struggled with PTS from the years of Daniel being ill and I brought it with me into pregnancy and beyond. Aria was so tiny and helpless. The nurse who assisted during delivery had told me some less than helpful things that terrified me to the core (looking back, she should have been fired for what she told a first time mother fresh off the delivery table). I was paranoid and felt I had to watch over Aria every second while she was asleep. My body had just been through Armageddon. I was exhausted. I had no idea what I was doing but I felt the pressure to figure it out fast because I had a human life totally dependent on me!
We survived the first few days- thanks to my mom and sister in law giving amazing support and advice, and here I am today realizing that we survived our first year! I’m sure every mother would do things differently and enjoy the first year more if they could go back and do it over again knowing what they know now. I am going to do a series of posts about my journey from trying to get pregnant all the way through my first year. This series will offer tips, encouragement and insight for anyone embarking on the amazing (and sometimes daunting) journey of motherhood! However, before I go back to the beginning, this particular post is going to be a recap of some of the BIG takeaways looking back on this past year and what I would suggest for not just surviving, but also THRIVING as a mother. If you like what you read here, stay tuned for more in depth content in the upcoming series!
1. Allow Yourself to Put Your Needs First
Obviously when you have a baby, your main job is to take care of this tiny, completely dependent human life. Don’t get me wrong: Baby comes FIRST. However, looking back, I know I didn’t put MY needs where they should have been. As a first time mom, I didn’t know what to expect or what lines to draw. I didn’t nap or have my husband help out at night the first week because I was scared that once he went back to work I was going to be totally on my own and wouldn’t be able to handle it if I took it easy now. I felt pressured to let people visit because they wanted to see the baby right away. I remember not being able to meet with the lactation consultant in the hospital because I had visitors there. Think about that- I needed help learning how to do my MOST important job of feeding my baby, and I was putting other people’s desires over my and my baby’s needs.
Never again will I make that mistake. YOU are the mother. You have one job, and that is to take the best care of your baby that you can. In order to do that job, you have to take care of YOURSELF as well. Nap when you can, take a soothing bath, have your husband take a turn feeding baby at night, don’t feel bad about limiting visitors if you’re not ready for them, and don’t ever feel like a copt out if you need to ask for help. Nobody else in the world matters right now accept for you and your baby. Do what is best for you and don’t feel bad about it!
Sleep. Eat. Go to the bathroom. Cry. That’s about all your baby is doing the first 6 weeks of life and let’s be honest, that is about all you are doing as well. Life becomes very primal in the early days of motherhood. A simple task such as taking a shower is suddenly a major accomplishment. For me, I had been working from home and was in the final stages of launching my company, so I definitely didn’t take it easy like I should have.
My advice: Have someone come hold baby while you shower or nap. Make sure you are eating and drinking well. Go to the bathroom (baby wearing is super helpful for this. I loved my Moby Wrap while Aria would tolerate it because it freed up both my hands and opened a whole new world of possibilities!)
Realize this is just a STAGE. It will pass. Baby will become more independent and you will slowly get your life and your routine back. I was trying too hard to get my routine back immediately because I thought this was the new normal. It’s not the new normal. The newborn phase (and every phase) is exactly that: A PHASE. Do what you need to do in that particular stage to survive, to take care of yourself, and to enjoy your sweet little baby. The stages go by so quickly. Don’t wish any of them away and allow yourself to adapt and do what you need to do to survive through each one.
This final point is a topic that has been on my heart quite a bit this past year. I am so thankful that I am able to be a mother, and I love my daughter with all my heart. If motherhood and homemaking is what completes you, then I hope you are enjoying every second of it to the fullest. However, for me, I didn’t feel that way about motherhood right away- in fact, I still don’t.
I have aways been a career woman. I have big goals and I am on my way to accomplishing them. Now, I KNOW 100% that being a mother is the most important job I will ever have. That is why I decided to stay home and created a business where I could achieve my career and lifestyle goals while being home with my kids. That doesn’t mean everyone should do that, it’s just what I decided to do.
Whether you are going back to work, or working from home, or letting motherhood be your full time job (which it totally is- accept for even more exhausting and more demanding hours than a traditional full time job) my best piece of advice is to make sure that you are still finding ways to feed your soul.
You don’t cease to exist once you become a mother. You have your own unique gifts and abilities that you bring to the world. God has given you a purpose in this life. Yes, part of that purpose is now to raise your child. However, I want to encourage you to continue to thrive as a person as you do that. If you love to read, continue to make it a priority to read. If you love to workout and be healthy, keep finding new ways to do that for yourself. If you are creative, allow yourself some margin and alone time to let your creative juices flow. If you want to be home with your children but don’t want to be penny pinching your whole life, there are tons of ways to make money from home- find what works for your life and feel the satisfaction of providing for you family financially as well as all the other ways you take care of them.
As I mentioned earlier, each stage may look a little different as far as what you are able to do, but I want to encourage you to not put your own passions on hold for the next twenty years. God still wants to use you in those ways. He is big enough to be working in multiple ways in your life. Follow His calling for you and make time for things that give you life and renew your soul.
I hope this added some value into your life today! If you like this and want more, stay tuned for my upcoming motherhood series! I hope we can grow and thrive in this journey together!