When a baby is born a mom is born too.
I am mommy to a nearly 2 year old girl and 13 weeks pregnant with another
girl boy. The fact is that I am not the same person I was before I had my girl and I never will be again. As soon as my girl was born my life changed in so many ways I don’t think I would be able to explain it properly to anyone that is not a mom.
As you can see by previous articles I have written I often find being a mom the hardest thing and there are so many days where I wonder how I made it through the day in one piece!
I’m sorry if the articles I write sometimes scare new moms or moms to be, but I only write what I feel and experience and try to be as honest as possible about how things are. The intention is not to scare anyone or have them dread becoming a mom. Quite the opposite, despite the difficulties I face I absolutely LOVE being a mom.
My life has changed in so many ways and I embrace those changes. I was happy before I had my baby, but life is so much richer in every sense. Don’t get me wrong I would love some free time, but when I manage to get snatches of free time now I don’t seem to know what to do with it anymore.
What have I learnt so far about being a mom? There are a number of things that come to mind. Looking back on the early days when my girl was a few months old I realise I wasted so much time on books. Like probably every mom to be I read everything I could get my hands on about every topic from pregnancy, birth and labour to topics such as routine, colic, reflux, how to get baby to sleep, what different cries mean & how to wind your baby.
I was obsessed with having as much information as possible. By the time my girl was born I had read all the “theory” and what I found out is that my baby is not in those books and she does not conform to what “a baby should be doing”. I remember when she was about 3 months old trying to get her into a routine and trying to get her to “fit” into routines I read about and after about a week of constant trying my daughter and I were both exhausted, irritated and upset.
I then found something in one of the books that worked beautifully. I read that my child is her own person and has her own habits – she will never fit into someone’s routine. This book told me to not change a thing for 2 days, to simply do everything like I always have but I must spend these 2 days watching MY child and learning about her.
I must learn what her cues are when she is tired and what she does when she is over stimulated or bored. Then on the 3rd day I was to follow my daughter and watch for these cues.
I was told to follow her for about a week and that I would notice a pattern emerging… and it worked like a charm. Within less than a week my daughter was in a perfect routine – her unique routine and it was wonderful.
The next thing I learnt is that as soon as you “get” something…. it changes! No sooner had my girl settled into this awesome routine and I started feeling confident of the times she would be awake and asleep so I could work, everything changed and suddenly she needed to drop a nap and her routine went out the window and we struggled for about a week again until it settled down.
I learnt this was also to become predictable; as my daughter grew older and reached milestones her routine would change and her needs and wants would change too. Today swaddling her would comfort her and put her to sleep, but next week swaddling is out! It was a constant task trying to keep up with her and adapt my methods to suit her.
I stopped reading books for quite a long time until someone recommended the book called “What Mothers Do Especially When It Looks Like Nothing” by Naomi Stadlen and it really changed my life and how I looked at things.
After reading this book I looked at my mothering in a whole new way and I stopped being so hard on myself. I was always so irritated and I would say things to my husband when he got home like “I had such a tough day, I couldn’t get anything done. This baby just wants and wants and wants. I couldn’t even have a shower”. When he would ask me bewildered why I couldn’t have a shower I told him I couldn’t unless she was asleep and then when she was asleep I was scared if I showered she would wake up and cry and maybe I wouldn’t hear her.
The truth is that yes, this is exactly how I felt, but the book explained that I made a choice to put my daughter’s needs and comfort before my own. This doesn’t make me a bad mother because I “couldn’t get anything done”. It means I am a good mom because I decided not to shower because I don’t want to risk leaving my girl to cry for even 5 minutes without me there.
It also taught me that I am not doing “nothing” all day. I am nurturing and caring for my child all day. Yes, the house might be dirty and the dishes not done while I am spending hours holding her because she doesn’t want to be put down, but my daughter is happy and cared for and this is the most important job and must be the priority in my life.
All these frustrating stages (like not wanting to be put down at all) pass rather quickly and rather than fight against it I learnt to surrender and be at peace with it.
One of the hardest things I found with mothering, especially in the early months is that I cannot do whatever I want when I want anymore. Before my daughter was born I did realise that things would change and that my new baby would take up a “lot of my time”, but I had no idea how all consuming it would be. I was also aware I would be tired, but I had no idea that it could get so extreme.
There have been nights when I was so tired that I cried. There was one evening when my daughter was sleeping and I was sitting watching tv with my hubby and I told him I was tired. His response was “well go to bed” and I told him that I’m actually too tired to stand up and walk to the bed! Tiredness is something to be very wary of. If you are too tired you can make mistakes.
This was made obvious to me on another occasion hubby and I were sitting watching tv and he said he was going to the shop and I replied “Oh would you like me to come with you?”. I couldn’t quite make out the strange look on his face. He actually had to remind me that I can’t because someone has to be at home with the sleeping baby.
It might sound quite amusing writing it down, but the fact is I was so tired I couldn’t even remember I had a baby! Would I have been able to go out and leave my child alone without even realising it?
As a new mom I felt completely bombarded from all sides with advice. Even strangers in the mall would come and give advice if my daughter started crying. I didn’t ask for them to come and tell me what to do, but for some reason they felt they had to come and give me their little bit of advice. It was quite overwhelming. At times I tried some of the advice, other times I didn’t and what I have found is that if something sounds wrong to me it probably is.
There is no 100% rule about mothering – there is each mother’s unique way of doing things and they need to learn this themselves. I have learnt to take the advice I like and disregard the rest. I have learnt to trust my own instinct. When I made mistakes it was usually when I was trying to make other people happy, following books word for word or trying to follow advice that felt wrong to me.
Yes being a mom is hard and learning my own mommy style has been difficult, but it has also been the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. I hope I remember every little milestone as if it happened yesterday. I was all alone and the only one to witness when my daughter uttered her first word “mamma”, it was the most exciting thing ever!
Seeing her take her first steps running. Yes, I can’t say walking because my girl didn’t walk for a long time. She just started off running. Some of these milestones are awesome but sad at the same time. A good example of that is when she started saying tomato instead of ‘mati – yes she was doing it correctly but ‘mati is so much cuter!
She is growing up so fast and learning at such an incredible pace. I have to constantly remind myself to slow down and remember what is really important in life. Is it doing the dishes or is it holding her hands so she can jump on the bed with a face of absolute glee while she screams “jumping, jumping”?