Since the last entry was getting pretty long, I thought I'd save this for another post. :)
Now that I'm the Mommy of a one-year-old, I've been reflecting on some of the things that I wish I had known a year ago. It didn't matter how many books I had read, or how many children I used to babysit. I didn't matter how many people had shared time honored advice with me. There were some moments when I really had to learn from my baby, and trust my instincts.
Especially as a new mom, don't underestimate your own instincts! There will be times when everyone else is telling you to do one thing, or to do it the way they did it with their babies, but you need to trust that no one else knows your baby like you do. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating ignoring a doctor's advice, or blatantly doing something you know could endanger your baby. However, God designed you to be this baby's mother, and he will graciously give you the wisdom you need for her care. Trust that wisdom!
Some things I had to learn the hard way. Olivia only liked to sleep in a certain position. She would scream for long periods of time - which I attributed to "colic." She would crane her neck back as far as she could when she was being held, or lying down. After a while, (and thanks to the wisdom of my Mom!) I learned to watch for "triggers" in Olivia's behavior. It was after this, that she was diagnosed with infant reflux. Learn from your baby. It really is true when they tell you that every baby is different. No matter how many babies I had had experience with, not one of them would have been the same as my own. She still likes things done a certain way!
Looking back, I wish that I had accepted help more readily. I was always too proud to ask for help, and when a dear soul did offer it, I always responded with a cheerful "Oh, it's okay! We're doing great!" instead of accepting their generosity. Let go of your pride, and allow others to bless you with some help! There were days when I had no clean laundry, I hadn't showered, had barely eaten anything all day, and was practically sleep walking, trying to figure out why my baby was crying non stop. I sure could have used two or three hours to catch up on sleep! Trust me, others will understand! They have most likely been in your shoes a time or two as well. Heaven forbid someone think we don't have it all together!
From here on out, I am trying to be better about letting my Husband fly solo. Just as I wasn't born a mother, my husband wasn't born a father! He will never learn how to be comfortable caring for our children if I'm always swooping in to his rescue. I was really terrible at this when Olivia was very small, and her little cries felt like they were literally wrenching my heart inside my chest. I knew I could soothe that cry faster, so I just "helped" my husband by relieving him instead of allowing him to struggle through - even as I had done once upon a time. Daddies need to learn too - and they will never get the opportunity if we are always doing things for them. Take it from me - the baby won't even be scarred for life! ;) There are some things that Mommies do better, it's true. But babies need their Daddies, and it's okay if Daddy doesn't do it the way you do.
More than anything, this past year I have had to learn to prioritize. Maybe some of you won't struggle with this as much as I did, but especially in those early days, maintaining order in my home helped me to feel orderly in my spirit. With a newborn especially, most times that just isn't possible! Remember that feeding your soul is more important than vacumming carpeting. Folding laundry can wait if you need to nap. You may have to do things differently than you did before. Instead of trying to maintain your pre-parenthood lifestyle while trying to fit a baby into things, give yourself some grace and re-invent your way of doing things.
Be prepared - you will never be the same after you lay eyes on that brand new little life. Your heart will swell with more love than you ever thought yourself capable of feeling. And as that sweet little love grows, you will love each new stage even more than the last! It is bittersweet, how fast these babies grow. Olivia is such a little toddler now, and I just have so much fun with her every day. I love to watch her learn, and enjoy so many little things that I take for granted.
If you're disheveled, and in the midst of sleepless nights, wondering how in the world you're ever going to figure this mom stuff out, hang in there! Before you blink, you'll be watching your precious baby blow out the candle on her first cupcake.
Most of all, remember:
"He will tend His flock like a Shepherd; He will gather the lambs in His arms; He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40:11
He is merciful, and gentle with us! When we are desperate for wisdom, He is there. When we are insecure, He is there. When we are weary with exhaustion, He is there. And He will always gently lead us.