What I want new moms to know. A quick run down- I know you're busy
The most important thing new moms need to know boils down to two things: "You'll be fine," and "you are doing your best and that is good enough". But telling and knowing are two different things. So here are my 5 cents.
When my sister Alba gave birth to her son Kyle, me and Dex flew over to Germany to stay with the freshly minted mom for a month. I’m proud to say that during our stay I managed to only give her a limited amount of advice.
You do you, momma. Pick the brains of people you trust regarding motherhood and who respect you. Ideally, you have already built a small circle of non-judgemental mom-friends who understand that there are many roads to a healthy and happy child. Talk, rant, brainstorm, then stick to what feels right to you. Ignore the rest of the blaring crowds which might include your own mother and/ or mother-in-law. You are the most important person to the baby, the anchor point to his existence. You rock his world, you make the rules.
Eight or higher, bro. In How I Met Your Mother first time parents Marshall and Lily are exhausted, sleep deprived and can barely focus since their baby Marvin has arrived. They set up a rule that their friends can only bother them with things in their lives which, when rated on a scale from 1 to 10, are eight or higher. You will have never been this tired and drained in your life. As a new mom sleep and energy will become rare and precious commodities. It needs to be jealously guarded.
Love, love, love. In the first year we’re basically just keeping them alive. I only thought about active child rearing when Dex turned one. In short I had to slowly come up with a game plan to prevent my son from turning into an asshat. But before that your day will be ruled by meeting their needs. The world barely agrees on the physical needs like warmth, sleep and food. How much? When? What? Don’t worry you’ll figure it out. When it comes to the baby’s emotional needs just love that little mazza ball and bond with it. That is the most important need and often the most neglected one. Being that young you cannot be manipulated by him, spoil him, dissolve his backbone or stunt his autonomy with too much love.
Mom does not equal lone martyr hero. There is that stupid notion that motherhood is ALL about sacrifice. Caring for yourself once you become a mother might suddenly be judged as selfish. Sacrifice is a huge part of being a mom, BUT it should up to the mom what she chooses to sacrifice, when and how much. If she decides she cannot go on with no sleep any more and needs to pass the baby to someone else for a few hours, it’s okay. If her nipples are sore and decides to give the baby the bottle for some respite, that’s okay. That’s the sad thing: Moms need to be told too often that getting help, taking a long shower or resting is okay so they can feel a little less guilty.
Consider teaching your child baby sign language. This is the only hard skill I would like moms to consider, not sleep training, not being able to hold a bottle by themselves or to self-sooth. I was so glad that I taught Dex baby signing around 8 months. First of all, it gives you a small glimpse of how much their little brains already understand once they start signing back. Secondly, it’s a way for you and a child to communicate and it takes some of the guesswork away. What do you want? Milk? A nappy change? Go to bed? WHAT?! Thirdly, like many multi-cultural expat children Dex is also growing up in a multilingual environment. With him also being a boy it was more likely that he would be a late talker. And lo and behold, he only started talking around his second birthday. It saved us from a lot of potential frustration, tears and meltdowns (and that was only on my side) as Dex was still able to communicate somehow.