I have been granted much great wisdom and experience in parenting. A whole year of it. Ok I’m kidding about the ‘much wisdom’ part, but I do have at least just a little experience. It’s been on my heart because I have several soon-to-be first-time parents in my life. Naturally I wanted to share. When I was pregnant with Aurelia, it was a hailstorm of “just waits,” and horror stories. You’ll never sleep in again. This or that is a game changer. Your relationship with your husband will totally change. Your body will never be the same. Now don’t get me wrong, thanks for the warnings you jerks, but while I was joyfully anticipating the arrival of my firstborn, I was simultaneously terrified. In this age of over-sharing every.single.thing about every.single.thing, to say I was annoyed by all the advice was an understatement. There are certain people from whom these conversations were always welcome. And that list, my friends, is very short. Nothing worse than some stranger giving you the run-down of how your life is about to change, with implications that it’s for the worse, whilst tapping my foot in an elevator praying get me the hell out of here. (saying hell in a prayer- no sacrilege ok?)
You see, every mother has a completely different an unique experience because every child is as unique as their one-of-a-kind fingerprints. Very profound, I know. In my experience, there are certain kinds of people who want to slam you with their opinion to make themselves feel validated in their own choices. This is why I try to always keep my thoughts to myself and not click on those 1,048 activities/ideas/meals/tips for your baby/toddler/middle-schooler on Pinterest. Thanks Pinterest for reminding me all the time that I suck as a full-time working mom. But I digress. There are a few things I would like to share because *gasp* there is hope if you are having/will have/have had a new baby.
Favorite myth #1: You are just so exhausted.
You might hate me for this if you’re having sleep troubles with your little one, because I don’t have magic fairy dust to fix things for you. However, this is what happened to us: I had severe, severe anxiety for the first few weeks at home as soon as the sun started going down. I loved people telling me that I was just exhausted. I was like, I will punch you intheeffingface if you don’t stop trying to tell me what I’m feeling. The fact is, I wasn’t exhausted. Sure, sure you say: but it’s true. I was tired, yes. And there were nights that I was overwhelmed by the saddest little cries that only a few times we were not able to calm. But overall, anxiety was the the hardest part. That subsided soon enough though.
Favorite myth #2: You will never sleep (or sleep in) again.
This might be my favorite. You know why? Because I work full time, and I write this little blog for you which sort of feels like another, funner job, which means I get up at 5:00 am on the weekdays. Aurelia sleeps 12-13 hours at night. I usually get her up around 6:45 on the weekdays so I can get the very best hugs on the planet before work, but on the weekends, she wakes up and plays happily in her bed, usually until 7:30, which she starts whispering in the cutest voice ever, “Dadadadadada.” (total Daddy’s girl, which I love, love, love. Sweetest thing ever). Therefore, I get around 2.5 more hours of sleep on the weekends. It might not be 10:00am, but that is sleeping in, by God, and she is not yet 14 months old. And this is how it’s been for a long time. Whether or not this is a miracle, this is our reality, and it’s possible that it could be your reality too. Don’t let people scare you to death with these threats about not sleeping. Talk to your mom, or other moms you trust, who don’t annoy you to the point of murderous thought-bubbles, and find out what worked for them. For us, the scheduling thing worked. I didn’t read Baby Wise, and we didn’t spend all day tickling her feet or running cold water on her toes to wake her up. We just made a schedule for her mealtimes and we forced everyone helping us with her to stay on schedule.
Favorite myth/comment #3: Just wait until she ___________.
Ok maybe this one might be my favorite because Aurelia has de-bunked most of the first-year “just-waits” so far. Listen. The first few weeks were extremely challenging, and I seriously do not know how I would’ve survived it without my amazing husband. He was my salvation, pure and simple. The first time he took the first two middle-of-the-night feedings, I climbed into our cool sheets and said out loud to myself, “this is really happening right now.” And I’ve never slept so hard in my life. He always says, “whatever it takes,” and he means it. My Mama has never shared any stories with that begin with “just wait” and I’ve found along the way that there were some struggles with my brother and me when we were babies. But she didn’t say a word until I asked about something applicable to her experience, because she didn’t want to scare the bejesus out of me and make me worry about something that may never happen, because by way of being ME, I do that enough to myself as it is. Thank you, Mama. I’m so thankful for you and your precious heart, I don’t know what I would do without you.
So, these are just three small points that you should not let people slam on you and get in your head. There are lots more, so maybe I’ll do this again sometime. I just want to give you hope that your experience as first-time Mom or Dad may, in fact, NOT be terribly horrifying or scary. Maybe it will, but you won’t know until you’re in the middle of it trying to figure it out. There are people you trust in your life: go to them for counsel. The best part is, your experience might line up with some of your closest friends, but it may be wildly different. We sort of think Aurelia might be an actual angel on earth, but that’s because she’s ours and we find her to be as close to perfect as can be. We sort of hold our breath for something to happen, but every milestone is met with the most precious spirit and a what seems like a willingness within her to be purely sweet and just a good girl. That could always change, I know. But you know what? People that like to crush that for you aren’t there as a support. They’re either jealous, they think you have it too good, or that you’re lying. For today, if you’re expecting your first, thinking about having your first, or are in the trenches of newbornland, my advice is to seek your own reality. No one can make it for you. And take it easy. It’s going to be alright, I swear.