This blog’s first year anniversary is just around the corner. As I was browsing through some of my old posts, I realized that I have not really written anything much about first-year parenting. The fact that I started this blog only after sonny’s third birthday may have something to do with it. But the reason I started this blog – besides the obvious one of chronicling sonny’s formative years – was to ease the confusion around first time parenting. And I have not really done it that much. So this is an attempt at providing my share of insights to the crazy, chaotic and marvelous time when you bring your little one home for the first time. Hope it helps! Here goes my list of 10 slightly unconventional tips for first-time moms:
1. It’s your choice:
- whether you chose natural delivery or an elective c-section
- whether you decide to breastfeed or formula-feed (or a combination of both) and how long you do it
- whether you co-sleep or not
- whether you do (cloth or regular) diapering or start elimination communication (and when)
- whether you apply kajal or massage the baby day in and out
and every other decision, big and small, in between, it is your (and your immediate family’s) choice alone. You can read a thousand scientific journals and parenting books to make an informed decision, sure! But it is entirely up to you how you raise your baby. The baby is born to you, from you and hence is customized for your family. So it’s your prerogative alone. Don’t let anyone make you forget that or berate you for your choices!
2. Don’t beat yourself up:
Of late, parenting has become a cut-throat competitive sport. From the moment you become a parent, you are pushed into the arena as a willing or unwilling contestant along with your baby and the comparisons begin left, right and center. It could get overwhelming. It does get overwhelming. But don’t beat yourself up. For the choices you make in #1, for the things you do and don’t do for your baby, for how your baby is supposed to be (and probably is not), for how your baby is supposed to behave and so on, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP. As long as you are doing your best and your baby is alive and thriving, you don’t have to sweat the small stuff. And believe me, these are trivial in the long run.
3. You don’t need a thousand things:
First-time parents have a tendency to go bonkers over baby gear. I had tons too! I used, mostly none 🙂 You don’t need a thousand things to raise a baby. He/she will just eat, sleep, poop, be bathe, and watch the world go by from your arms (yes, that’s his/her favorite-est place in the world!). As long as you have the stuff to cover these needs, go easy on the rest. Better yet, don’t become a shopaholic before you have had a chance to get to know your baby properly for the first couple of months.
4. You will not break the baby:
No first-time parent will really believe it, but it’s true. Babies are not terribly fragile. You will not “break” the baby by holding him/her close and hugging. As long as you support the baby’s head and neck right, you should be fine. You may also wake up in the middle of the nights just to make sure that the baby is still breathing (and it is normal to do so!), but you don’t need to worry if you have taken basic precautions regarding baby’s bedding, sleep position etc. So go easy on the worrying. And never mind if you can’t help it. This exhausting, nagging anxiety that something terrible is going to happen to your baby will fade away by the time your little one is about 3-4 months old, so hang in there! Just a side note: The worry fades but never goes away completely, it’s one of the perks of being a parent! 😉
5. Ignore the house, not yourself:
Easier said than done, but this is one thing that you need to force yourself to follow at least for the first few months. Sleep with the baby, eat well and take showers (yes multiple)…every day! Rest of the chores can be taken care of by others. Accept help whenever offered. Your focus should be just you and the needs of the baby.
6. Trial and error are how it goes:
Some parents will readily accept it, others will pretend they never made a single mistake with their firstborn. But the rule of thumb is that every firstborn is (and if I may be allowed to extrapolate, all babies are) a product of numerous trials and errors that their parents make while raising them. And the good news is, none of those trial and error experiments will scar the kids for life. So, go ahead, make those mistakes without an extra helping of guilt. Learn to be a parent from your first child. That’s how it goes for everyone else too!
7. Things will never “go back to normal”:
The earlier you reconcile to this fact, the better. Be it your body (lucky are the few who bounce back!) or your way of living, another tiny human being has changed it permanently. Accept your new reality. As Kerry Washington rightly said “My body is the site of a miracle now. I don’t want to be pre-miracle.” It is true indeed. Not just your physical being, but your emotional and spiritual being is the site of a miracle and nobody can deny the power of that. So just accept it as your new normal and forget the past (including your old clothes 😉 !).
8. Your baby looks like any other baby:
Don’t feel bad when visitors tell you that your baby does not look like you (or looks just like your hubby!). Every parent wants to have some part of themselves reflected in their child’s looks. But for the first few months of his/her existence, he/she will look just like any other baby (If you have read biology, you will remember that one image of how embryos of all animals look the same in early stages!). The well-defined parental features will not get obvious, probably before his/her sixth month. Moreover, babies change their appearance a lot during the first couple of years (at least), so yeah, just wait. You will find your reflection and your soul in your child (if not in appearance, then obviously in his nature!), just give it some time.
9. The love connection builds over time:
You will feel an overwhelming sense of love and urge to protect your newborn, no doubt. But the love connection may not happen instantaneously, so don’t bet on it. Exhaustion from childbirth and the fogginess that a new baby brings may make it a while before you actually feel connected and develop that special bond with your child. I totally agree with Rufus and Alisa’s TED Talk when they say that the love grows in leaps and bounds over time and does not necessarily happen overnight.
10. Don’t take every advice seriously:
Listen to all advice, sure. But do what you feel is instinctively right for you and the baby. You are the best judge of your baby’s well-being, so listen to yourself at all times. You may feel like an impostor in the beginning, but there is such a thing called mom-instinct. The more you listen to it, the more it will become powerful enough to drown the hundred tiny “advice” voices floating in your head. So, go ahead and tune into your “inner mommies”, rest is just white noise (including this post!).
Revisit the key points of this post here
Bringing home a baby is a life-changing event and you, dear first-time mom, are at the center of it. So, be good to yourself and keep track of the baby blues. Before you know it, you will be a pro at handling your newborn. Good luck!