Whether you adopt or give birth to the child you hold in your arms, there is nothing like a mother's love. That fierce protectiveness, that surge of emotion that reminds you that you are forever changed, and even the nerves and twinges of fear that color many moments in those early days and that never quite go away all remind you that you are now a mom.
It sounds daunting, doesn't it? But no mother would tell you that it isn't the greatest job in the world.
This past weekend I attended a baby shower for friends of ours. It brought back all of those memories of before Emily was born. Could it only be four years ago that she was still inside me as my husband and I argued over names, planned the nursery, and I read every baby book I could get my hands on?
The table I sat at at the shower was a motley group of women from a college student who didn't have children to a grandmother who was well versed in child rearing. There I was the mom of two toddlers with another baby on the way. We found ourselves talking about the latest research on tv watching and children, labor, lamaze reunions, and breastfeeding.
I thought of the most baby items (60 to be exact) even while talking with one of the women at the table about all the things you think you need when your expecting baby #1 and then realize after they turn one that you didn't need ALL of those things after all. One of the women from farther back in the room asked that I read them aloud after everyone went through how many items they had. Thank goodness no one made me.
Its no wonder I could think of so many. This is my life most days.
We all got it when we were expecting or when our babies first arrived. Advice. Some sorely needed, some we didn't want to hear, and some that has stuck with us as our children have grown. There is nothing women who are mothers like to talk about more than what it was like when their children were born, the trends at that time, and how much things have changed.
I really started to think again about the advice I got from other moms or that I read in the myriad books and magazines during my pregnancy.
Choose a pediatrician that you trust
A pediatrician is often going to be your second line of defense (after a mother's and father's instinct and that phone call to grandma) when dealing with the health of your child. Sometimes they will seem to be a lifeline when you need to hear an expert's opinion and to be reassured that your child is okay, especially when they are sick. They are also great resources for any questions you have regarding your child from sleeping to behavior (not just illnesses). You need to be comfortable asking them questions such as does poop really come in that many colors.
Don't lose yourself
Let's face it your life as you knew it is over. You now have a precious little one who depends solely on you 24/7 and who looks to you to make all of their decisions for them. You have to be willing to give up part of your former life but not all of it. Many moms go back to work while some may stay at home. Regardless of which ever you choose still find time to do the things you enjoy even if it is just finding a few minutes to read a book. There is a such thing as mommy burn out. Talk to any mom and she will tell you all about it. It happens to us all at some point (and not just in that first year). Find a support group
Motherhood can be isolating especially during the winter months when it is cold outside and trips to the park just are not an option. Find other moms to connect with at storytimes, moms groups, at mommy and me classes, etc. Having a group of women with children similar in age to your child will give you a chance for some adult conversation and they are a great resource for any questions you may have. These women are going through the same things you are so not only can they be a sounding board but also may become good friends who understand the day to day challenges of motherhood since they are in the trenches right beside you.
Trust your instincts
Trust your gut. It really is as simple as that. No one will know your child better than you. You know all their little coos and you'll probably have their movements memorized. You know better than anyone what is and isn't normal. Don't doubt yourself.
Stick with the basics
When your registering for baby items, your child really doesn't need every single toy or baby item known to man. Really.
As far as toys, a lot of what your child is going to learn in the beginning is going to come from you. Just because something is labeled educational doens't mean your child must have it especially since many toys are teaching the same skills. When trying to decide what you really need or that was useful ask other moms who recently had children.
Walking into any baby store can be overwhelming. Just since I had my second daughter two years ago, a whole slew of new products have now appeared on the shelves. Looking at some registry lists I usually can pick out three or four items that most moms will get and never use. I have several still sitting in the closet from when my first daughter was born. They are things I was sure I would need but which still sit in their original packaging. Ask other moms for advice when making your lists to register. Better yet, have one of your mom friends go with you (and your husband who you don't want to forget in this process). She'll be able to steer you away from all the hype around what all moms "must" have versus what they really need. This will save you time shopping, money, and space in your home.
Forget your perfect ideal of motherhood.
You'll beat yourself more than anyone else possibly could about whether you are doing the right thing. Your child needs your love more than anything else and you are the best mother ever in their eyes (even though as they get older they may say the opposite). Do what is right for you and your family based on the lifestyle you live. Don't get caught up in the "do this" and "don't do that" mentality or you will drive yourself crazy. I literally drove myself crazy the first year trying to do everything "by the book". That lasted until my daughter was six months old and I finally said enough was enough. It felt like a weight had been lifted. Not being so hard on yourself is the best gift you can give yourself as a mom. Even though we all have those overwhelming days of "mommy guilt", don't let it take over. Move past it.