Sunday, January 1, 2012

What I've learned so far

      As we start the new year, it's hard to believe that I've been a mom for nine months. A year ago today, we were on a plane to Washington and I was 25 weeks pregnant. And now here we are with arguably the cutest, most hilarious and precious 9-month-old boy. Our life has changed so much in just a year. And I have learned so much in that time. And because we are so far away from family, a lot of it has been trial and error and figuring things out for ourselves. It still amazes me that they let us leave the hospital with a baby. But it's amazing how just by becoming a mom, you know so much instinctually. Here are some of the things I've learned in the past nine months as a mom.

1. The first two months are the hardest. Once you get through that, you can get through anything. Even teething. 
2. Every baby is soothed in a different way. And things that didn't work initially can suddenly begin working, so don't throw that baby swing out just because it doesn't work the first time. When you get about a month in and your baby is going through the "colic" stage, try any and all combinations of swaddling, pacifiers, rocking, bouncing, sound machines, and shushing. Eventually you will figure out just the right method for your baby and you will feel like Superwoman.
3. It's okay to stand your ground. Whether this be with a family member, your spouse, the pediatrician, etc. I am Owen's No. 1 advocate and I have no problem pissing anyone off to do what is best for him.
4. Having a baby can be hard on a marriage. But if you see it as a new way to partner with your husband in the greatest parenting team ever, you can grow even closer. Work together, laugh together, and tag team whenever you're exhausted and cranky. 
5. Take lots of pictures. And try to keep track of firsts and other details whenever you get a chance. It's so hard to remember everything. And FYI, pregnancy brain becomes mom brain. So for all you organized girls out there who have it all together (like pre-baby me), enjoy it while it lasts. For me now, the monthly blog post updates on Owen's progress are a way for me to not only keep everyone else updated, it's serves as a way that I can go back and remember things so I can fill in Owen's baby book when I get the chance. 
6. At the same time, don't spend so much time documenting everything that you don't actually experience it! Snap a few pictures and then be in the moment!
7. For those of you who do want to have an entire photo session with your baby every once in a while, do it immediately after they've eaten and had a nap. And work fast. Be prepared with an arsenal of amusing noises and facial expressions. And don't be disappointed if a photo session doesn't go exactly as you would have liked. Perfect pictures don't always have to include a smile. Someday you will treasure that precious photo of a yawn or a baby who has fallen asleep mid-shoot or is crying as hard as a tiny newborn can with his fists all balled up (believe me, when they graduate to screaming banshee cry, you will miss that pitiful newborn cry). 
8. Don't feel guilty if you can't breastfeed. The mothering community will tell you that "breast is best" and do its best to make you feel inadequate and horrible. But there are numerous ways to make sure a baby is fed and you can only do what works for you and your baby. For me, that meant pumping for nine months and counting with the occasional bottle of formula to supplement. This same concept can apply to anything having to do with parenting really. So whether you disposable diaper or cloth diaper, formula feed or breast feed, co-sleep or not, rock your baby to sleep every night or let them cry-it-out, rest assured that as long as you are doing what you think is best, what other people think doesn't matter.
8. Love on your baby. Ensure that they know that they are the most important thing in the whole world and that you will love them unconditionally. Tim and I give as much of our attention as we can to Owen when he is awake, and once he's finally asleep, that's when we take time to do things for ourselves. 
9. Distract and disorient! This is the best method to calm Owen down when he is upset. Give him a toy or sing a song or whatever it takes to take their mind off whatever made them mad to begin with. 
10. Don't freak out every time your baby bumps his head or falls down. Many times Owen will look up at me after doing so to see my reaction before he decides whether to cry or not. If I'm not rushing over to check on him or appearing concerned, he generally goes back to playing. 
11. Learn to laugh at yourself. Because when you're exhausted and covered in poop, it's better to do that than to cry. And when your baby is refusing to eat peas for the five billionth time and you want to cry watching your hard work (there's breast milk in there!) flung across the counter, relax and let him play with his food. You'll get some great photos. 
12. Share your baby with others. I see lots of mothers continue to carry their baby into church services with them when they are old enough to be in the nursery. It's good for babies to be around other people and other babies. I think mothers who raise their babies to be solely dependent on them are crazy. And also probably really tired.
13. It's not a mom-petition. I think it's easy to compare yourself and your baby to others, but it is so important to find other mothers for the support and it's a waste to worry about whether you're worse or better than them. 99.9 % of moms want the best for their kids so there's no point in comparing.
14. Your baby's cry affects you more than it does anyone else. So when you're freaking out because he is crying in public or on an airplane, it really isn't bothering others as much as you might think. Also, we are really good at flying with a baby, but I could do an entire post on that so I won't out anything on here about it.
15. Babies grow up too fast. 

So there you have it. A little list of some of the things that I have learned since I became a mom somewhere between this
and this.

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