Dear New Mom,
Congratulations on the birth of your new baby. I am so happy for you. I want to take some time to encourage you as you begin this wonderful journey. I am a mom of 2 young boys ages almost 5 (we’re talking weeks here) and 3 and 1/2. They are 14 months apart, and those new mom days are very fresh in my memory. If you are anything like I was, you are being bombarded from everywhere with advice and
information, and most of it is conﬂicting. It can be very overwhelming because, of course, we want to be good moms, and we want to do everything “right.” Well, I want to encourage you to take a deep breath in...now let it out slowly. I have some very good news for you:
Short of true safety issues there is no “right.”
There are messages everywhere about how to be a “good mom.” They come from the internet, magazines, television, books, the 75 pieces of mail you get everyday now that you put your name on a list somewhere, and even from well meaning friends and family. Often, the information is very passionate and yet utterly contradictory to each other, with both sides saying you will ruin your baby if you don’t subscribe to their
view on issues such as:
- Attachment Parenting vs. Cry It Out
- Breastfeeding vs. Bottle feeding
- Cloth diapering vs disposable diapering (Do you know that even though we didn’t have a washing machine at the time, and had to go to my mom’s to do laundry, we ended up trying cloth diapering out of fear? We went to a “baby boutique” to get the special bottles Little Z needed because of his reﬂux, and became absolutely convinced that disposable diapers could kill him. They had a whole packet explaining it. We read it and bought a set of cloth diapers that day. After all, we couldn’t risk it. That lasted approximately 1 day. He is still here, and so are the millions of other kids who use disposable diapers. Now I’m not saying cloth diapers are a bad idea. I think they are a great idea for some people. I may even consider them now that I have a washing machine. But my point is that it is very easy to be swayed by fear of doing the wrong thing for our kids.)
- Organic vs. regular baby food
- Store bought baby food vs. make your own
- Vaccinations on Schedule vs. No Vaccinations vs. Delayed Vaccinations
The truth is you can’t spoil a baby by holding her too much. The truth is it’s not going to hurt your baby if you need to put him down and let him cry. Sometimes, we need to do that just to save our sanity. The truth is sometimes, bottle feeding is the answer for your family. I could write a whole other post on what happened with my babies and breastfeeding. This one is one that people get so passionate about and judgmental. It can cause a lot of mommy guilt. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay.
The truth is, I do have strong personal opinions about some of those things, but that’s just what they are, personal opinions. And my opinions may not be what’s right for you in your situation. You need to do what’s right for you and not worry about whether others think you are “doing it right.” Your child will not be scarred for life if you feed her non-organic baby food from the store.
At my blog Embracing the Process we shun perfectionism, and that is what I want to encourage you to do. There is no perfect mom. Embrace who you are as a mom - the mom God designed you to be.
Survival mode is okay, and it doesn’t last forever. Maybe your baby is sick, like both of mine were, maybe he has colic, maybe you are sooo sleep deprived, maybe you have post-partum depression (if you do I strongly encourage you to get help), or for whatever other reason you are in survival mode: as long as you are not doing anything that will harm your baby, yourself or anyone else, do what you have to do to get through the day.
Your motherhood will not be deﬁned by whether you got all the dishes done and the laundry put away. It won’t be deﬁned by whether you found time to take a shower every day, or by whether you put the baby in her crib and let her cry, so you could have a few much needed minutes to yourself. There were times, when I was living in survival mode, and my honest to goodness only goal for the day was everyone stays alive and no one gets injured.
If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Don’t think that you should automatically know all of the answers. While, we are living in a time of a plethora of information, we are also living in a time of much less community than we used to have. Years ago, women taught each other how to care for babies and children, and they helped each other in the actual doing of it. That doesn’t happen in today’s busy world. There are resources out there if you need help. Please don’t hesitate to ask. And if the ﬁrst place/person you go for help is not very helpful, try someone else.
I just want to encourage you to relax, enjoy your baby, and don’t worry about doing everything “right” or being the perfect mom. You are exactly the mom your child needs. The little things that seem like such a big deal, soon will not seem so big. You will sleep again. You will be able to eat a complete hot meal again. You will be able to shower regularly again (by the way, it’s okay to put your baby in the bouncy seat - strapped in properly of course - and put her in a safe place in the bathroom while you shower). And you will cherish the memories of these days as your baby grows.
You are an amazing mom!
More about Stephanie: "I am a 27 year old wife, mother, and Jesus follower. I have 2 boys, 14 months apart. Little Z just turned 5, and Little N will be 4 soon. Until about a year ago I was a stay at home mom. That's when everything changed, and I went to work. I am currently a substitute teacher. Our goal is to bring me back home when the school year ends, and begin homeschooling Little Z for Kindergarten in the fall. I'd love for you check out my blog over at www.embracingtheprocess.com where I blog about marriage, family, God, homeschooling, and this crazy journey we are on."