Sometimes, I think back to when I first started out and all the worries and struggles I was going through. I wish that I could go back in time to tell myself what I know now. I struggled so much in the beginning and thinking back on it I have to laugh. I can’t believe I put myself through all the stress! For what?
So, I wondered what I would tell myself if I could ever travel back in time and here are few things I wish someone would’ve told me before I had my baby.
You don’t have to go through this alone.
So many times, I kept my struggles and worries internalized. It made it far worse than it needed to be. It wasn’t until I started to verbalize what I was feeling that I got the advice or help I needed. A lot of the times, I felt that I was going to be a burden to my spouse or friends if I said anything negative about my experiences being a new mom.
I always worried that I was going to wake up and find my baby unresponsive. It was a big fear of mine up until he was close to 7 months old. I would constantly wake up in the middle of the night to check on him or make sure he was breathing. I know most moms felt that way, too. I never understood it until I went through it myself.
I also had this anxiety that I wasn’t doing enough to help my baby grow developmentally. For example, he hated tummy time. Would immediately cry when I laid him down on his tummy and I tried everything I could to make it easier and fun. I knew that it was important to help him pick his head up and it was stressing me out that he wasn’t a fan of doing it. I remember telling my mommy friend about it and she would ease my worries and let me know that she felt the same way with her first. I was still a little anxious about him not meeting milestones right away but then that all changed when he suddenly did all the things at once.
You know your child the best.
The amount of advice you get as a first time mom is overwhelming. Sometimes the advice you can doesn’t necessarily fit your kid. I had to learn the hard way. I saw a quote that said “Go by the baby, not by the book” and I wish I saw that two years ago. I tried to go by the book on a lot of things and it wasn’t working out with our little family. We tried to do the sleep in bassinet and the crib, and it made us lose so much sleep. We tried the gentle ferber method and it wasn’t working out. He wasn’t sleeping and we weren’t sleeping. And my heart was breaking that I wasn’t responding to his needs.
I decided early on that I would be a responsive parent and every other parent out there told me that I would raise a very needy, very clingy child. And to be honest, they were right. But I also had a baby who would fall asleep faster and slept longer through the night (as an infant, toddler is a different story). I had a baby who knew to come to us right away when he was scared and immediately felt better. I have a toddler who can trust us and tell us how he feels and knows that we will be there for him through his big feelings. I have a toddler who can get hurt and instantly feel better with a hug or a kiss. He knows I’m his safe place and if he needs more time I will give it.
I think I wouldn’t have had that relationship if I listened to the people and the books. There’s a lot of information out there and you can always pick and choose what works best for you. You don’t have to follow a strict path or line. Find your balance.
It’s okay to have big feelings, too.
Entering every stage up until now, I’ve had some pretty strong triggers and feelings. I don’t understand fully my triggers, but as our communication gets stronger I feel the triggers coming less and less. I think it’s more of the not knowing what he needed and the auditory sensory overload of his crying.
My toddler knows about emotions and is super concerned about us being “happy” all the time. He doesn’t like it when we show big emotions and frankly I’m worried he feels it’s up to him to be the one to “make us happy”. I try to tell him that mommy is feeling frustrated or sad or sometimes even hungry and that’s okay for me to feel this way. But he’s big on asking, “Are you happy?”
But yes, you can have big feelings. If and WHEN they are ever directed at your child the best course of action is to apologize later when the moment had its chance to calm down. Doing so helps them recognize the need “repair”.
Relax and take a deep breath.
Easier said, than done. But man, I wish I could’ve just taken some moments to relax as and enjoy watching the little baby grow into a tiny human. It’s wild, I almost don’t remember the first few months. I feel like I was on survival mode that I never really had the chance to enjoy the snuggles and the cute little noises coming out of my baby. Suddenly he was a big baby and I don’t know what happened between newborn and infant.
Sit back and take it in. Don’t rush things, it’ll happen in due time.
Just enjoy the show of your baby’s life.