Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there!
As a first time mama, I have never had more appreciation for mothers than I do now (now that I’ve been “in the trenches.”) All mamas should be appreciated year-round, but it’s nice to have this one day to truly celebrate!
Instead of sharing another spiralized recipe today, I figured I’d share a little of what I’ve learned as a mother thus far, nearly 8 months into motherhood.
Motherhood is different for everyone and these are the lessons and notes that I’ve taken so far – they may look very different for other mamas out there. Alas, this is my blog, and I’m sharing my personal experiences, but hopefully some of you can relate!
Here are the 7 Things I Understand About Motherhood Now That I’m a Mother
You’ll beg them to go to sleep and once they’re asleep, you’ll miss them (but not really.)
Without fail, everytime I put Luca down to sleep, I find myself sitting there, flipping through photos of him from the day or photos from months ago. Every single time. But, prior to that, I’m practically begging him to go to sleep. In the way beginning (like, the first couple of weeks), this is a moot point because they’re basically just asleep the whole time. But then, as they start to wake up from the newborn fog and don’t sleep well and you need a break, you’ll find yourself working your hardest to get baby to nap. Once the baby’s napping, you’ll oddly find yourself flipping through your phone, wishing he was awake so you could hold him in your arms and cuddle and kiss him (but then, like, put him right back to sleep of course.) They are just so absolutely adorable you will yearn for them when they’re so peacefully asleep but when they’re due for a nap, all you want them to do is sleep. It’s a funny thing.
The phases are just phases, they always pass.
When you’re really in the thick of it, it feels like you’ll never get out of it and it will last forever. I remember during Luca’s “gassy stage” (their digestive system is useless at first and takes time to mature) almost broke me. It was awful – he took in a lot of air while breastfeeding at first (while we worked on perfecting our latch.) He would be so miserable and couldn’t fall asleep because of his gas – we’d just wait for hours for a burp. Thank God for the Windi by Fridababy – saved us a couple of times. I remember something saying to me, “This too shall pass” and I wanted to smack them because I didn’t find it helpful – but once I realized that EVERYTHING is literally a phase and nothing lasts forever and I just needed to make it through the phase, it alleviated some of the struggle. Up until about 5-6 months, Luca was a HUGE spitter-upper (they call them happy spitters) and I was afraid to breastfeed him in public because of this (he’d throw up what seemed like a full ounce or two of breastmilk all over everything – me, chairs, carpets, etc.) This was the hardest phase and I almost stopped breastfeeding because of it, but I am SO happy I worked through this phase – and I’m happy to say that now, he rarely spits up like that anymore. Now, it’s random – and normal baby spitup. So just hang in there. Even if it’s going to take months to get through the phase – it WILL pass. And time flies.
Sometimes, you’ll be bored with the baby, especially in the first few months.
During the first few months, there’s not much you can do with your baby (like, months 0-3.) They wake up and it’s kind of the same thing over and over again and they’re just not capable of doing much at that age. They can’t really “play” – and tummy time and playing underneath a playmat only takes up so much time. I’d find myself after 30 minutes sometimes saying, “Ugh… what am I going to do for the next hour?!” I would actually be bored — I’d end up going on walks with him because there was just literally nothing else to do with him (you can only shake a rattle in his face for so long, ya know?) But, after the third month, he really became more interactive. And now that he can sit up on his own, it’s SO fun!
You do need fellow mama support – whether IRL or virtual.
I’ve always been someone who only needs a few best friends and I’m good. Quality over quantity. Well, none of my closest friends were going through what I went through (I’m the first of my 3 best friends to have a baby!) and I found myself having so many questions that I needed trustworthy and personal answers (sorry, Google, you’re too all over the place sometimes.) Luckily, Lu has friends who have multiple children (he’s 9 years older than me) and they were invaluably supportive. However, I did meet a couple of moms in the area and that helped tremendously – especially during maternity leave for walks. Once you go back to work, you want to spend all your time with your baby and your partner, and those IRL mom friends are harder to see — that’s where the Internet comes in handy. I joined a local moms group and it was so helpful and comforting – so much, in fact, that I created Inspiralized Mamas, a safe place for mamas to support and connect. This has been my #1 resource for mom questions! From breastfeeding issues to what high chair to buy, these groups will be key as you stumble through motherhood.
There are just some things your husband/partner won’t be able to do (well), but some things he’ll do better – focus on those things.
There’s something very special about the bond between a mother and child – and also a father and child. However, there’s something EXTRA special about that bond with baby and mother for obvious reasons: baby grew inside of your body for 9 months! Don’t underestimate that power and feeling – sometimes, you’re just going to be the only one that the baby wants. Your smell, your voice, your warmth, just the way you hold baby, baby wants the comfort. There were too many times where Lu shouted from the nursery, “He just wants you, I don’t know what to tell you!” and I thought he was just being lazy/selfish, but in reality, the baby really just wanted his mama. So how do you get some reprieve and keep your relationship at ease? Focus on the things that your partner does well and let him handle it. For example, in the beginning, Lu was great at burping (I literally couldn’t get Luca to burp for a month!) and after I nursed Luca, I’d hand him off to Daddy and I’d go brush my teeth or pee or do whatever I had to do. Lu’s also great at changing Luca’s diaper– Luca loves the little song Lu always sings to him (he makes it into a game!) Focus on these things and give your partner the time here with the baby, it helps with the bond and gives you a break.
No walk is too short.
Do NOT under estimate fresh air. In the first 3 months, I can’t tell you how many times I stuck my head out of the little window slits (we live on the 27th floor so we can’t have traditional windows) to smell air because I hadn’t left the apartment in DAYS. You’re so overwhelmed in the beginning, and it was hard to get out of the house and it was just easier and more comfortable to stay home (it also quickly transitioned to winter when Luca was born.) However, getting out of the house is crucial for your own mental clarity – it’ll make you happier, clearer, and it’s good to get your blood moving. The fresh air is also good for your little one — my mother swears that the fresh air makes the babies tired, so there’s something. In the beginning, you have to choose between feeding yourself, taking a nap, cleaning, or going for a walk – try to prioritize the latter as much as possible. I would literally just lap my apartment complex which took 5 minutes and I’d come home feeling like a new woman. You need it, trust me.
You’ll find a way to pour from an empty cup, but remember to fill it eventually.
One of my favorite mantras has always been, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” but what I’ve learned about being a mother is that even though the gas tank is emptied or the cup is empty, you’ll still manage to putter along or find one last drop in the bottom of that cup. Somehow you find the strength. You’ll run a household on an hour of sleep. You’ll lull your baby to sleep in your arms while pacing the nursery at 2am for 45 minutes when you didn’t think you could even stand any longer. You’ll manage to nurse the baby with cracking, chapped nipples for 30 minutes when you could barely get a bra on. Mom strength is real mental strength – you’ll find a way to take care of this baby. Your maternal instincts take over, your adrenaline rushes, and you get that last trickle of water out of the cup. HOWEVER, this can only go on for so long — you can eek out a little bit, but once the cup is empty, you have to fill it up quickly. Ask for help when you need help, recharge your battery even if it only gives you 10%. You’ll be running on empty for a couple of months, but it will get better – just take care of yourself as much as you can and one day, that cup will be fuller more often. Everything’s just a phase, remember?
Happy Mother’s Day to all mamas out there – expectant mamas, first time mamas, seasoned mamas, and grandmas! And for those who have experienced loss, my heart, prayers and love go to you today.
Thanks for spending time with me today! Now, ask me next year what I’ve learned and I’m sure it’ll be totally different, but these are my main takeaways from this point in my motherhood. For more on motherhood, check out Inspiralized Ali.