Now that I have been a mother for two whole months… and carried Turner for nine… I think I am experienced enough to list the top 5 things I have learned so far. I have had time to try out things and through trial and error think I know a thing or two about this motherhood business.
1) Do not take advice from anyone.
Now, I understand the irony in that statement considering it sounds like advice.. but it is something that I have learned. From the moment people learned you were pregnant, I am sure you started getting advice on everything from Huggies or Pampers, paci or no paci, sports or ballet, paper or plastic… literally EVERYTHING. Everyone has an opinion on the best way to do things. When you hear these things just smile, nod your head and say thank you…. then let it go in one ear and right out the other.
I understand the sentiment. They are just trying to help, but either the advice is useless or you will drive yourself mad trying to remember it all and make sure you follow it just right. It is not worth it. Not to mention, that what works for someone else’s child probably won’t work the same for you because all children are so different. I can not tell you the right way or the wrong way to do anything, all I can do is tell you how I did something and whether or not it worked.
Don’t drive yourself crazy seeking advice online either. I googled everything. Pros and cons of a pacifier, formula tips, sleeping habits, milestone information, and really it just gave me unneeded stress and nervousness. Just trust yourself that as as soon as that baby gets here, you will know what to do, and what is best for YOUR child. Its that motherly instinct. Within hours of meeting your new little friend, you will instantly believe that you know best for your child and get annoyed when even your own mother tries to help. Its your child, you know them better than anyone.
2) Regardless of how nervous you get during pregnancy, the second you hold that baby, it all goes away.
I was freaked out when I was pregnant. What if I didn’t love my baby, what if the crying was too much, what if I thought he wasn’t cute? What if I don’t feel a connection, what if I do not know what to do? But it was no sooner than the doctors sliced him outta me and I heard him cry that every angst and doubt I had the previous nine months went straight out the window. I did not even need to see him or touch him to feel relieved. Just the sound of his cry, and I knew he was perfect and that I was more than capable to be everything he needed.
I was no longer worried or nervous or unsure. It was crazy how quick everything changed with the sound of that first cry. It was not until that very moment did I feel like a mother, but that feeling is the most incredible calming experience I have ever had. So I assure you, that whatever you are feeling during your pregnancy… just wait, because before you know it, without you even realizing it, that will all be over and you will be on your own remarkable adventure into motherhood.
3) Take really good notes at your baby showers.
At every baby shower, there is someone taking shorthand notes about who gave you what so you are able to send out thank you notes. But you should try to be more attentive than just the minimum needed for a thank you card. A lot of what your baby will use in the early stages of his/her life are from other people, at least that is the case for me. From bottles, to pacifiers, to creams, to wash cloths, they were all gifts. And smaller items like that don’t come with a gift receipt so you have no idea where they came from.
Well since Turner, there has been two instances where I wish I would have known who got us something. The first were the newborn bottles, Tomee Tippee I think. Turner loves them. They are “close to nature” and are very similar to my actual breast. So they are easy for him to use and he likes them. Well, We got a two pack and decided we needed more, but because they were gifts and were not at our local Walmart… we had NO idea where to get them from. We don’t have a Babies R Us or Target or anything other than a Walmart within an hours drive from us, so before we went on a scavenger hunt, it would have been nice to know where they came from. I got lucky and while shopping outside of Atlanta with my mom and Ruby (you know, the one who would rather watch paint dry than read my blog) found a gift set pack of the bottles at Ross. Ross is similar to a Target, and even with the discounted price the bottles were still $16. If I knew who gave them to me, I would send an extra thank you note just because those suckers are not cheap!
The next, and probably most crucial gift was specific pacifier, it has a special texture on the nipple. We received a two pack of the pacifiers. Originally we had planned to not give Turner a pacifier. I had of course took advice from other people and googled it, and even listen to the doctors suggestions…. that lasted half a day after he got here (prime example of why you should not take advice and instead figure it out on your own). So the pacifier we had to give Turner was one we got at one of our showers. No idea who got it for us or where it came from, but it was a lifesaver. We started with two pacifiers, and soon lost one. So we opened up some other type that we had that were age appropriate and Turner refused to take it. He would spit it right out. So for over a month we clung to this one pacifier and threatened anyone who held him not to lose it. It was our lifeline! We searched our Walmart and couldn’t find it, and without any sort of branding on the pacifier, could not even google to order them online. Finally Andrew’s grandma found them at Target so now we know where to get them regularly. We also found them at a specialty store on the side of the highway called Baby Depot. It was an off brand, non-chain store similar to Target somewhere up North.
Both times we lucked out, but not without headache. So I learned that next time… I will be more specific in my note taking in case I need to know where something came from in order to get more!
4) It doesn’t matter how important or popular you think you used to be, your baby now out shines you.
This works two ways.
1) Since having a child, Andrew and I have had more people come to visit us than fathomable. Do not get me wrong, I am elated that so many friends and family want to be in Turner’s life. I could not be more grateful for all of them. But I had family members that generally I do not see other than the annual obligatory Christmas get-together either come visit or call to wish congratulations. So even though I think pretty highly of myself and consider myself the bees knees (joking a little bit here) the second Turner was born, he became more popular.
This sounds terrible and I do not want my family and friends who read this blog to take offense, because I do appreciate all the love beyond words, but it is kind of true. An aunt I had not seen (and can safely talk about because I am sure she does not read this) in any capacity other than my dad’s funeral, came to the hospital to visit Turner. I am so happy that she did because I think family is the most important thing in life, but it took a death or a birth to have communication with her. Ruby, ( you know, my sister who is generally too busy for things I am interested in) even cancelled a few photography sessions to be with me in the hospital, something that is so uncharacteristic of her, because her work means the world to her. She and her husband Will (who can get credit for showing more of an interest in my writing even though I do not think he reads this, he at least shares some interests with me) visited several times, which I appreciate because of how busy they are. But they did that for Turner, not for me.
Obviously I cannot compete with Turner, he is perfect, nor would I think I should, but I just learned that you should be prepared for attention from family, friends, and strangers who you would not normally associate with, because regardless of your social standing, you just had a rock star and people are going to be lining up to meet him/her.
Just a side note… We had a “guestbook” that Andrew ran to the store and got. It is just a small decorated notebook, but everyone who came to the hospital, we got them to write a note to Turner. This was great for two reasons, one, it helped us keep straight all of the people who came, and two, I think it will be something great to pass on to Turner one day. It has little welcome messages, people first impressions of them, and just hello messages. It is really sweet. We have continued to get people who meet him for the first time to write in the notebook… just an idea you might wanna try. 🙂
2) The other way this works is the complete opposite. While you will have people you did not think cared one bit about what goes on in your life, you will have people who you once considered really close not acknowledge you at all, and it is going to hurt.
I expected some friends to not be super excited because they are young and single and enjoying their 20s, but still expected them to care. When some of the people who were supposed to be my very best and closest friends did not reach out to me to want to meet Turner or even tell me congrats, I was furious. There were people I expected to call or txt and if I got anything at all from these close people, it was the obligatory Facebook post, the most impersonal thing someone can do. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends that the Facebook post were sufficient, that is the level of friendship I have with them. But others who were supposed to be on a different level, and didn’t call, or didn’t see my son after he was born for whatever reason…. have hurt me dearly. To the point to where I have considered reevaluating my priorities and where these people play into my life. The birth of my child is one of the most, if not THE most important event in my life, and if those closest to me don’t care… then maybe they should not be the people close to me.
So prepare for people who will smother you with love and attention and brace yourself for the disappoint of being let down by others. Both will inevitably happen.
5) Motherhood is truly an adventure.
The real life dive into motherhood is better than anything you could watch on reality tv show or read about in someone else’s blog. From the moment you consider your journey beginning, there will without a doubt be ups and downs, twist and turns, failures and successes. It will be the most exciting, invigorating, rewarding experience you will have in your entire life, and hey, I can say that and it has only been two months.
You will spend every second of your life learning something from your child, all while you think you should be teaching him. That little miracle is the most incredible being you will ever come across and your soul purpose in life will be to live for him/her, whatever that calls for.
You will gain superhero powers like the magical bladder control, where you can avoid going to the bathroom longer than you ever thought was possible because your child needs you more at that moment than you need to pee. Literally everyday is new and open for anything, everyday is an adventure.
There is no set path, no set schedule, no set plan of action. You just figure it out as you go and you figure it out together with your child and if you’re as lucky as I am, you have a great partner to help you on the way.