Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dear First-Time Mom,

The day the adventures began!
E is going to be a year old soon and I can't believe how fast the time flies and how drastically our family has changed since March 2013. Honestly, I don't even feel like the same person. That Gretchen Rubin quote really is true “The days are long, but the years are short”.

Looking back to those first few weeks after E's birth, I've thought of some things I wish I would have known. If I were able to go back in time, these are a few tips I would have shared with myself as a brand new first-time mom...

Listen to Your Body

This applies before you're pregnant, while you're pregnant, and after baby is born. You know your body best!

At 33.5 weeks pregnant, I was feeling more cramping and back pain than usual while at work. The feeling was more of discomfort; definitely not excruciating pain. A coworker told me I probably just had Braxton Hicks contractions and would be fine. I listened to my body instead and stopped in to Labor & Delivery before heading to the gym; Just in case, you know?

As it turned out, I was in preterm labor and, before I had much time to think, the nurses put me on a magnesium sulfate drip and then saline, shot me up with steroids for baby's lungs, and hurried me off to the nearest NICU via ambulance. I'm sure glad I stopped in before going to the gym!

Seriously, listen to your body. Everyone has a different level of pain tolerance. As a first-time mom, I didn't know what type of contractions I would feel when baby was really serious about coming. Personally, the "knock-you-to-the-floor" style contractions didn't show up until 5 hours before E was born.

You Are Unique!

Just because you are a FTM (first-time mom) doesn't mean you will make it to 40+ weeks.

It doesn't mean you will have a super long and crazy labor.

Just because your mom had a natural birth doesn't mean you will be able to.

And just because your coworker wanted an epidural doesn't mean you have to have one!

If one woman couldn't run at 34 weeks pregnant, that doesn't mean you won't be able to run throughout your pregnancy.

Because I am an active person and my baby arrived early doesn't mean exercise causes premature birth or that it will happen to you.

Below is a thought from a post I wrote back in August and it applies, not just to childbirth, but to womanhood, motherhood, and just plain old life.
"I find it ironic that a simple pair of jeans is manufactured in different sizes, lengths, and styles to adjust for women’s unique bodies, yet for childbirth, we are all supposed to fit in the “standard” procedures."
God made each one of us unique; each woman's experience with pregnancy and childbirth is different. Pray, listen to Him, and do what is right for your baby and your body. Wouldn't life be boring if we were all the same?

Have a Flexible Birth Plan

It's great to be prepared and have a birth plan, but don't have it set in stone.

Labor and delivery with E went really fast and it helped immensely that Leo and I had talked about "the plan" prior to the start of labor. For some reason, I was having a hard time thinking very clearly through the more powerful contractions! Strange, huh? When we told the nurse I didn't want any pain medication, she gave me a funny look initially, warned me when it was the "last call" for an epidural, and that was it. I was thankful that the nurse and our doctor respected our decision.

When I say you shouldn't have a birth plan "set in stone", I mean don't set yourself up for disappointment if things don't go as planned. If God blesses us with more babies, I always want to have a basic birth plan established before I'm in labor. BUT, if things don't go as planned, I don't want to feel like I've somehow "failed". In the end, who cares if you had a natural birth, a cesarean, or a if you were screaming for an epidural the day you hit 40 weeks!

Your baby really doesn't care how you brought him or her into this world! Yes, there is research that says there are benefits to natural childbirth but I'm not going there right now. What matters more is how you take care of your baby now. In all reality, how much time do you spend thinking about your own birth?! I don't even know what time I was born at! Those are the precious details only moms (and sometimes dads) remember :)

Assemble a Postpartum Support Team

I am forever thankful for my supportive husband and for my mom who took time off work to help me after E was born. Leo and I are blessed with great friends and relatives and church family who stopped in to visit, bought us groceries (AWESOME), and made us meals.

Being at home with a newborn scared me to death! Fortunately, other moms from our church told me it gets better after the first 2 weeks. That was my motivation; survival mode until the two week mark. I had no idea how hard on my emotions postpartum would be. Physically, I recovered quickly, but mentally, emotionally, and hormonally I was a basketcase! I don't consider myself to be overly emotional but I was in tears DAILY! What stumped Leo was that I didn't even know why I was crying. Ahh... the joy of being a woman! (BUT babies are so worth the night sweats, random crying, and breastfeeding hormone roller coasters).

Rely on God for your strength; He knows what you need. He surrounded Leo, E, and me with the exact support we needed. Just having company and going to Bible study helped immensely! Those moms were totally right; it does get better after the second week. And then it just keeps getting better... and better... and better.

After Baby Arrives, You Know Your Baby Best

Here you are with your first baby-baby EVER. Before E, I had "mothered" many babies, but nothing like this. My horses were my babies; my miniature weiner dog was my baby; my barn cats were my babies. But as a first-time mom to a human baby, I felt such a strong, amazing connection to this little boy.

As a first-time mom, you more than likely worry more often than veteran moms, but that's okay. Maybe you call your doctor over silly things or Google too many symptoms; you just care about that little bundle of joy! It isn't good to freak out when your baby just has the sniffles, but if you really sense something isn't right with your baby, get it checked out. Worst case scenario? Baby checks out just fine and the doctor shrugs and says, "This must be your first baby." At least you have the peace of mind knowing it isn't something more serious.

Every Mother Was Once a First-Timer

The next time someone calls you out on being a first-timer, just remember, they were once a FTM, too. You live and you learn; the best we can do is just humbly accept the title.

I probably worry a little too much about E's low iron and hemoglobin levels. Maybe I'm a bit too concerned about him refusing to eat solid foods when he's teething. I shouldn't be such a sucker for his sniffling and coughing while he's battling a simple cold.

This kid is too much fun!

Yes, I am a first-time mom and it rocks. It means God has blessed me with the honor of being a mom! I pray that He blesses us with many more, but everyone has to start somewhere :)

What advice would you give to your pre-baby or brand new mom self?

The Life Of Faith


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4 comments:

  1. Stopping by from Mommy Moments! I think these are all great tips! I completely agree with getting a support team. That is something I wish I would have realized and know to do. I was a total control freak and did everything myself. It wore me down and I was miserable, but I still wouldn't stop. I think that is the best advice is to make sure you let people help!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Julia! I still battle with my control freak side. Sometimes I just feel like I'm burdening other people if I ask for help but I'm learning people truly do want to help!

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  2. I don't think New Mom-Me would have listened to me if I had given her any advice. She wanted to do it all by herself. Thank goodness I know better now - moms need a tribe!

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    1. I agree - moms definitely do need a tribe!

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