Nearly 5 months in on this adventure and I’d love to say it’s been the best, easiest, time of my life.
It’s been hard, there’s been moments where I thought, “what have I done?? Why did I think having a baby was a good idea?“. I’ve cried, laughed, cried some more, gone longer than I’d like to admit between showers, and cherished every moment of it.
I think miscarrying, as terrible as it was and how I wish I’d never experienced it, has granted me the unique ability to enjoy even the painful moments of being a mother. Because even though he’s been crying for 2 hours and nothing can stop it, I’m running on 3 hours of sleep, and there’s baby vomit in my hair (that’s falling out in copious amounts, thanks PP hormones), I know that I might never have gotten to experience it at all.
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster since giving birth and starting on deployment, but the ups and downs have taught me so much about being a mom, who I am, and what I want in life.
Here’s the top 10 things I’ve learned in the past 4.5 months.
1. Don’t Lose Yourself
I might still be struggling a little bit with this one, honestly. Maybe it’ll get better once Ev is bigger. But I have to remind myself everyday that I am someone besides Everett’s mom. I was really losing who I was in the day to day. I woke up with Ev, did everything with Ev, went to bed with Ev. Heck, I couldn’t even shower alone.
It’s hard to admit, but it was making me sad. I know that I was prepared to sacrifice lots of things when we decided to have a baby, but being alone and dealing with deployment really messes with your head sometimes.
I finally had to move Ev out of my room and into the nursery, where he sleeps for at least half the night (😂) everyday. Sure, it’s a little tiring getting up and walking down the hall every 2-3 hours at night to feed him, but he goes to bed and I can shower alone, lay in bed alone, watch TV alone, clean the kitchen alone.
It might not be the easiest choice since he’s not sleeping through the night currently, but it’s made me mentally feel more invested in myself, and that’s what’s important. I can’t take care of anyone else if I’m not taking care of myself.
2. Bad Days Are Normal
Not everyday is a good day, ever, whether you’re a mama or not.
Sometimes, the baby wakes up at 4 am and refuses to go back to sleep. There are days where he’s going to cry nonstop unless you’re holding him, and sometimes, even then.
There will be days where you feel like you’re drowning in baby clothes, baby toys, diapers, swings, bottles, whatever.
There might be a day where you just lose it. You just sit down and cry with the screaming baby because you don’t know what else to do. Those days suck.
But it’s okay to have one every now and then. It doesn’t mean anything other than that you’re human, and you need a minute to pull yourself together. And because you’re someone’s mom, you’re gonna do it. You’re an expert inherently at pulling yourself together and getting through the day.
So don’t beat yourself up for the bad day you had yesterday. One day, he’s not going to cry because he wants you to hold him. One day, he’s not going to want you to sing the same song for the fifty billionth time in a row.
Love all the days, even the bad ones.
3. Don’t Forget To Take Care of You
This one? Easier said than done. Especially when your husband is deployed and you’re home 24/7 with no actual need to get out of sweatpants. Or put any pants on, really.
Except, there is a need.
I am the absolute Queen of undone hair, no pants, and doing nothing.
For a while, it’s great. And then you start to realize that you don’t really remember the last time you were actually dressed, and you kind of start to feel bleh, especially with the new and (un)improved postpartum body.
So yeah, 9 times out of 10, my hair is still undone and 10 times out of 10, I have no makeup on. I don’t have time to do those. But I do have time to get dressed. So I do. Maybe not everyday, but 5/7 days, I put real people pants on, and get out of my pajamas. It makes me feel like I at least did one productive thing, even if I really didn’t. But sometimes, getting dressed is the biggest thing I accomplish on a bad day.
It’s a small thing. Probably made smaller by the fact that I won’t put a bra on, but hey. Baby steps.
4. Ignore The Mess
Absolutely harder to do than it sounds. 100%. Especially for me.
For someone who hates clutter, my house is always full of it. It’s full of nonessential items that I could throw out and not think about it ever again. I won’t do it, but I probably should.
When you’ve got a baby and little help, sometimes you go a while between cleanings. I’ve been home for almost a month and I am just now starting to get on top of the mess that is my home. I dusted a ceiling fan last night and was like, uber proud of myself. That’s sad, and I know it. No need to point it out.
Even though my house is a mess and it’s hard to ignore, sometimes I just have to, because there’s a little person who needs me more than I need to vacuum. And sometimes, I need sleep more than I need to clean. And that’s okay.
There will come a day where I can clean my house top to bottom and Everett won’t even look up from his playing besides to get away from the noise of the vacuum. There will come a day where I’ll miss when he needed me so much, but instead I have a clean house.
So until that day gets here, I’m just going to try and pretend that I don’t see the mess.
5. Accept The Skin You’re in Now
Being pregnant sucked. Giving birth? I’d totally do it again. But being pregnant? No, thank you. I hated it.
And thanks to being pregnant for what felt like forty years, I’ve got a new body. It’s not my favorite, to be frank. There are stretch marks everywhere. I didn’t even know I could get stretch marks behind my knees, but they’re there.
I’ve struggled with my body for a while. I miss being 120 pounds, fitting into size six jeans, and not wondering if that dress would zip.
So postpartum body has me a little peeved, sure. I weigh almost 30 pounds less than I did when I got pregnant, so that’s great. Thank you, breastfeeding. But nothing will ever look exactly the way it did pre-baby.
When I say accept it, I don’t mean to stop working on yourself. I’m not. I’ve still got 25 pounds to go before I get to where I want to be. What I mean is, accept the fact that you’re never going to have that pre-pregnancy body back.
And while that might suck a little bit, remember: you carried life, dude. I literally grew a human inside my body. I don’t know about anyone else, but my kid wasn’t tiny either. So yeah, I’ve got stretch marks and the boobs that come with breastfeeding are more a nuisance than a blessing. But hey, it’s where I’m at now, and I’m just going to accept that.
6. Realize You’re Different Now
This is probably the biggest one. So many people I went to school with are like, “you got married? You had a baby? But we’re so young!”
Dude, we’re all in our twenties now. I’ve been married for more than two years.
Us settling down and starting a family is normal. We aren’t kids anymore. This is normal. This is what people do.
But very few of my friends are at this same point in their lives. And that’s okay, too, because we’re all different.
Being a parent propels you into a different kind of club. You’re no longer the person that gets late night calls to parties, or the person that drops everything to do whatever her friends are doing. You’ve got responsibilities and a little human that depends on you now.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping up with the friends you’ve always had. It’s good. You just have to remember that you’re part of the parenthood club now, and this membership doesn’t really expire.
7. Take Pictures
This one seems pretty obvious. But for real, take pictures. Take videos.
It might not seem like a big deal in the moment, but one day, you’re going to wish you’d captured it. We live in a world full of technology; use it.
They grow literally so fast in just a month. Take pictures and that way, when they’re big and annoying teenagers, we can look back at those itty bitty newborns and reminisce on the good ol’ days. And then we can say, “okay, we’re going out, see you when we get home,” and we can enjoy that season of life, too.
8. Breastfeeding Is Hard
In case anyone was wondering, breastfeeding was a 3 person job in the beginning. Me, Ev and Rick we’re all trying to figure it out and more than once I thought, “wtf. This is hard. Why is this so hard?”
The answer rests largely on the fact that there was a tiny baby who didn’t know what he was doing and a first time mom who didn’t know what she was doing either.
We figured it out though, and you know what? It’s great. Yes, it’s sometimes frustrating to be used as a “pacifier”, and yes, sometimes (all the time) I wish I could have way smaller boobs. But I don’t have to drag around formula or bottles or anything.
You’d never think that nursing was empowering, but it kind of is. Especially in an age where people are okay with the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, but not okay with nursing babies.
So, just because I feel like listing my accomplishments because I’m proud of myself to making it 4.5 months of EBF, I’ve nursed:
- In California
- In Texas
- In an airport
- On a plane
- In a car
- At a college football game
- In restaurants
- At a soccer field
- In Walmart
There’s probably a few more but hey, those are what I remember. I’m proud of myself for sticking with something that was hard at first, and being almost halfway to our goal of a year.
9. Days Can Get Really Long
A day is 24 hours. Everyday. All year long.
Except when you’re nursing or your baby is growing through growth spurts or you’re having a particularly bad day, it seems sooooo much longer.
You wake up looking forward to bed time. Trust me, I’m there. Hopefully that passes.
I’m currently running on coffee, dry shampoo, and leftovers like my life depends on it. Mostly because it does.
10. Take a Minute
Being a mom is tiring. Sometimes, the minute the baby falls asleep, you want to, too.
But take a minute. Take a shower, or sit down and eat with both hands (Lord knows how rarely that happens now), or just lay in bed for a second.
Maybe it was a good day, or maybe it was a bad one. Maybe he went to sleep in 10 minutes, or maybe it took 2 hours. Maybe you’re tired and want to cry, or maybe he rolled over for the first time and you’re sending that video to everyone you know.
Take a minute and look at your life.
Sure, you’d had 4 cups of coffee before 10 am, and sure, that might be spit up on your shirt.
But you’re blessed. Do you know how many people wish they could experience your worst days of motherhood?
Take a minute to take the day in. Commit to memory every laugh that baby had today, every thing he did new for the first time.
Then let it go.
Take a minute, and then know that tomorrow is a new day.
Good or bad, it’s a new day, and all you’ve got to do is take it one day at a time, and raise a good person. That’s in the day-to-day; it doesn’t happen overnight.
So those are my top ten.
It’s been 4.5 hard, long months. But I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I love it more than I can say.
I’ve got to get back to raising my good person now, though. Til next time.