Childcare / Family / Home Life / Maternity Leave / Wellness / Work Life

Reflecting on Advice I Gave to a Friend after My First Child

When my son was less than three months old, my best friend’s mother asked me to provide advice as part of a baby-shower gift for my friend.  She was compiling a cute book with advice from friends and family.  My feelings and emotions at that time were raw.  My son had colic. and reflux. and cried. a lot. for a very. very. long time.  My father was dying in the hospital.  I was suffering from post partum depression and anxiety.  I was returning to work with no leave and a baby that would wake every 45 minutes to an hour.  I was stressing about breastfeeding and cry it out and my commute to work.  I had to plan a funeral and prepare a eulogy.  I had to be strong for my mother and family.  It was hard.  Really hard.  But I did it.  I’m looking back at the message I sent to my best friend’s mother.  The reflection brings back memories, but the advice stays the same.  You do you.  Take care of yourself.  Don’t be too hard on yourself.  You’ll survive and be a better person because of it.  Below is the original message I sent:

“1. When putting a diaper on a boy, point the penis down (or else when he pees later, it will shoot out of the diaper).

2. Every baby is different – some are easy and some are difficult (Jameson is on the DIFFICULT end of the spectrum). There is no mold for baby behavior and level of fussiness. If your baby hardly cries, consider yourself LUCKY and know that every other parent is hoping you get struck by lightning or run over by a car.

3. Advice is present everywhere, especially the variety that says, “NEVER do X with your baby”. I’ve found that you must do what works specifically for you and your baby and don’t feel guilty about it – you love him and have his best interests in mind. For example, Jameson sleeps in bed with me around a fortress of pillows I set up to ensure we both can sleep comfortably and safely. At this point in his life and mine, it’s the only way he will sleep and I can sleep.

4. All the advice out there indicates that you should enjoy every waking second with your newborn – the people that say this had babies over 20 years ago and forgot what it is actually like. It is the biggest lie on the face of the Earth and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you think some aspects of newborns just plain suck. For example, if you didn’t enjoy being sleep deprived before you gave birth, chances are you won’t enjoy being sleep deprived after birth. What you will have are many moments of joy and happiness and many moments of “Why did I think having a baby was a good idea??!” Bottom line – it’s okay and normal and don’t feel guilty if you don’t enjoy every single second of it – it doesn’t mean you love him any less that you do, it just means that you are human.

5. Babies cry because they are trying to communicate. Sometimes, what they want will be lost in translation – that is, you will not know why they are crying even though you’ve tried all the obvious and maybe not so obvious remedies. It’s okay for them to cry. The important thing is you go to baby and try to soothe him even if you don’t know why he is crying. Try your best to separate your anxiety and frustration from your baby’s crying. Baby isn’t crying to be a pain in the ass – he is crying because he hurts or needs something. Try to reach your Zen with his crying, as Steve says.

6. If you have a fussy baby, the best money you can spend is on a sling or a wrap. The fastest way to soothe a baby in my experience is to attach him to you so he feels something familiar and comfortable.

7. You and your husband should go ahead and apologize to each other in advance. Sleep deprivation, crying, and the fact that mommy is the only one who can feed baby make for short tempers and saying things to each other you wouldn’t normally say. Also, you guys will be each others’ help so don’t judge each other for being frustrated at any point. You are partners in this.

8. Your hormones will be whack after having the baby. It’s okay to be totally irrational and cry inconsolably for no good reason…like someone accidentally scratching one of your nonstick pans.

9. Get out of the house. It will make you feel better. Seriously.

Use any of these that you think are good. My key ones are 2, 3, 4, 6, 9.

I’m so happy for them!!! 🙂

Love, Julie”

 

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