During those nine long months of that first pregnancy, most of us first-time moms probably did all sorts of research about pregnancy.
First, we probably focused on figuring out if that new ache or pain that showed up during our first, second, or third was normal. Then, as that 40-weeks mark drew closer and closer, we studied up on signs of the onset of true labor and what to pack for the hospital. And then, of course, we read all about labor and delivery.
Finally, with each passing day, the anticipation heightened to where we were just ready for this baby to come.
And then suddenly, it happened: the baby that we had waited so long to come finally arrived!
The baby was in our arms.
We were now a mom.
What an incredible experience.
And then we realized that, despite all the studying and reading and researching that we had done, we hadn’t covered everything. We still had a lot to learn.
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, here are some of the things we wish we had known about being a mom and caring for our new little bundle of joy!
Postpartum is hard. For some women, those first few days and weeks might even be harder than labor and delivery, so give yourself time to recover. It is okay to give yourself permission to say ‘no’ to extra activities and allow yourself to take it extra slow those first few weeks. Your body just went through a major ordeal and you hit the ground running. Feel free to ask fellow moms about their postpartum experience, as well as their labor and delivery experience! Most women are more than willing to share their experiences in all these areas!
Milk let-downs are painful! No one warned me that in those first few months of breastfeeding there would be multiple times a day where my breasts would feel like there were a thousand prickles poking into me. They also didn’t warn me that I would be almost frozen in place while waiting for the sensation to pass. I thought something was seriously wrong and that I might have had mastitis. Eventually, it got better but I still didn’t know if it was normal. At a later appointment, I mentioned it to my doctor. She laughed it off and said “Oh yes! I can remember being in the store, just standing there waiting for it to pass.” Four kids later and I can now also attest, it’s normal.
Breastfeeding isn’t as easy as it might look. There are so many facets of breastfeeding that can go wrong. And sometimes breastfeeding can be hard. Really hard. So if your breastfeeding journey is so much harder than you expected it to be, it is okay to make the decision to pursue an alternative method of feeding your child. You are not less of a mom if you choose to not exclusively breastfeed!
Having a simple manual breast pump on hand is a lifesaver. Even if you’re not planning to ever use it, get one. With my first child, we had latch issues, so when my milk first came in, I was in so much pain! My little hand pump relieved the incredible pressure and helped me to endure during those first six weeks until I could finally say “Ok, I think this is how nursing is supposed to work!” I am so thankful for that little pump.
As a side-note, if you are having trouble with breastfeeding, getting an appointment with a lactation consultant is money well-spent! They take their time with you and are ever so helpful! However, if you’re tight on money, there are a lot of great, free resources online that offer help in this area as well. If you are on Instagram, @karrie_locher is a postpartum nurse and has an incredible amount of helpful information in her story highlights on postpartum in general, as well as tons of help for troubleshooting problems you run into while breastfeeding or pumping.
Parenting is not all black and white. I started my parenting journey thinking it was going to be pretty cut and dry as far as teaching my kids what is right and wrong and training them with yes or no. Boy, did I ever have a lot to learn (and the water is only getting deeper). For example, my child has a meltdown. Now I not only have to address that their fit is wrong but also evaluate their little heart because it is not wrong for them to have sadness in many instances. So here I have to correct sin while at the same time caring for genuine emotion. Parenting takes a lot more grace and wisdom and TIME as we nurture little hearts!
It is okay to make exceptions to good habits. Working to establish routines and schedules and sleep habits and so on can feel all-consuming at times. And then, when bedtime ends up being an hour later than usual or a road trip throws routine all out of whack, it is easy to feel like all of our hard work for the little progress that we have made is being thrown out the window. But you know what? In the end, it usually doesn’t end up being as bad as we expected it to be. So relax, take life as it comes, and try to not stress too much about those exceptions when they come your way!
Parenting reveals the sin in my heart. Before I became a parent, I had no idea that God would use parenting as a tool to help me grown in my sanctification. I am slowly learning that more often than not, it is my own sinful heart that is to blame for a rough day of parenting, not my child’s misbehavior.
Being a mom is definitely not an easy job–so many ups and downs, joys and sorrows. However, there really is nothing that can quite compare to the incredible joy of having someone call you Mom!