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10 Lessons I’ve Learned Since Becoming A Mom

10 Lessons I’ve Learned Since Becoming A Mom

The college days of me dreaming about becoming a famous actress have long gone and has been replaced by me settling into my new and exciting permanent role as a mom! It’s been quite the adjustment, starting from pregnancy to body changes, life adjustments, failed expectations, harsh realities, and painful moments. But even through the struggles that sometimes makes its way into being a mom, the moments are appreciated because they come with beautiful meaning. However, if you’re at all like I was in the beginning and can’t see the beautiful meaning, you’re definitely not alone.

Below are 10 lessons I learned from being a mom. I hope this resonates with you and you find comfort that we’re all in this together!

1. Getting pregnant is just the beginning!
After years of doing everything possible to avoid getting pregnant, I suddenly found myself wanting to be a mom. As it turns out, trying to get pregnant can be its own challenge. The thought of becoming pregnant and actively trying to get pregnant are very emotionally draining. Additionally, if you’re working full time and trying to keep a social life in check, it can become just another task on the daily to-do list. Some parents suffer from infertility and that’s even bigger undertaking when trying to conceive. But once you get pregnant, you realize how pregnancy is only the beginning.

The lesson: Don’t stress! Don’t compare yourself to other women or couples that didn’t seem to struggle or plan for a pregnancy, but managed to get pregnant. Don’t get discouraged or feel as if you’re being punished. Your time will come and if it’s not meant to happen for you biologically, think about adoption and fertility treatments. Hey, you might even decide that planning for a family is not your thing. Some couples are childless and happy!

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2. Once you’re pregnant, everyone will have an opinion!
It’s funny how everyone feels the need to express their opinions. For me, it was especially aggravating because we did not find out the sex of our baby until after the birth. Additionally, I had no news to report since I didn’t suffer from any physical ailments, except for swollen feet towards the very end of my pregnancy. For the most part, I wanted my pregnancy to be MY experience before anyone else and didn’t feel the need to broadcast every detail. I found that some people actually felt entitled to know everything. Others felt a need to remind me that I could still miscarry – yup, thanks!

The lesson: Opinions are just opinions. Some people feel the need to scare new mommies because that’s how they were treated. Other kind souls will wish you well and some will disregard everything, to each their own. Just remember not to take it personally.

3. You will change.
We all know we physically change and whether we get back to our “old” pre-pregnancy body isn’t the point. We change physically, but we also change emotionally. We suddenly care A LOT about someone else. We become a mom by providing a safe world for our babies from day one. We sympathize with other moms who struggle and look tired, we celebrate each other’s triumphs, and we understand the juggling it takes to build and maintain a household.

The lesson: Even if you can fit into those old jeans, revel in the fact that you’re not the same. You’re a better version of yourself and your children will help you grow, learn, and mature more than any other person will. Embrace it.

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4. No amount of baby books, research, or advice will prepare you.
Although we wish to be extremely prepared (getting the best crib, researching the best stroller, visiting the daycare options etc.), there isn’t a way to 100% prepare for parenthood. The sleep deprivation isn’t like the deprivation you experienced after a night of partying or during college, cramming for finals – it’s real deprivation. Deprivation to the point of hallucination. There’s no preparation because it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

The lesson: A relief. You can’t test out parenting or do a sample session and think you’ve got it. You’ve got to do it all the way. Once you have all those perfect supplies and tools in place, then all you can do is take it day by day. Each family is different, but there’s comfort in knowing that being a good mom means doing what is best for your family.

5. Expect the unexpected – always!
I have been blessed with a first child that is very unpredictable. He is also extremely sweet, fun, energetic, intuitive, and amazing. For example, our journey with breastfeeding was extremely difficult, but we persevered by seeking support. I didn’t expect such a challenge ahead, but once I realized I had to work harder, I stepped up. Additionally, all those situations – including when he pooped through his onesies or spit up on other people or the dreadful crying through the bewitching hours of the night – became glimpses of the surprises ahead. As a former manager in retail (who’s always in charge and a bit controlling), I was taken aback with this sudden craziness, but in the end, I learned to let go and revel in the fact that I had no control.

The lesson: Live your life! Enjoy the chaos and use it as a learning tool! This is a chance to learn under pressure and use the fight or flight intuition we are so blessed with. This is the beauty of challenge: it passes and you learn!

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6. Your child’s father may or may NOT be a great parent.
The truth for married women is that we married our man because we love them. It’s can sometimes be a different story when husbands become fathers though. I truly believe that it’s all learned, so if your husband did not have a great example of a father growing up, you might unfortunately deal with that repercussion. Truthfully, I’m a teacher in many ways, so I use this experience to help my husband grow and not lose sight of what life is about. Some men inevitably drift away, and the sooner you realize that, the better. For me, in my household, we are spiritual and we believe in prayer. Find what works to keep the marriage alive.

The lesson: After 15 years of knowing my husband and 5 years of being married, I still can’t say that I know everything about love and relationships, but I do know that it takes work. Remember to be a wife/companion first and foremost, and remind yourself that women are naturally better at some things. Additionally, seek a support system and execute goals and expectations.

7. Perfect babies do not exist.
Our children’s health and internal well-being isn’t always a given. Colic, allergies, ear infections, autism, jaundice, heart conditions, vision problems – you name it – our babies can come with health problems or even hereditary ailments and it sucks! Some are lifelong and others are temporary. As the mother to a special needs child, I know better than most that perfect babies don’t exist, but you’ll love your child all the same. I won’t allow my child’s journey through it to dictate our happiness.

The lesson: Research, find the BEST doctor, join some support groups, ask for prayers, get out more, and live! Unfortunately, a lifelong diagnosis can be very difficult to accept, but once you do, it becomes easier to be a warrior and the support system your child needs.

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8. You might enjoy the little things more!
Because you don’t necessarily have the time or space to carve out alone time for yourself, you really cherish the moments that you do. How awesome is it to enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee at your leisure? Or going out alone? Or even using the bathroom in peace? It’s actually awesome to enjoy life like this because as your former childless self, you might have never seen the beauty in life’s simplest moments because you never truly appreciated them for what they were. Plus, having the energy to do anything might feel amazing for a change!

The lesson: Everyday is awesome and every challenge is an opportunity! If you felt stuck, alone, or depressed, that’s also normal. Know that this too shall pass and it will! Just think, you carried a human inside your body and became a mother to a beautiful child through a miracle/adoption. How amazing is life? For the moms in need of a little more help, reach out to a friend, family, or babysitter!

9. You will become your child(s) biggest supporter!
Moms know best. We are blessed with this ability to know our children and help them in life. I can attest that I feel deeply connected to my sons, without even having to speak to them. The depth of our bond and connection is beautiful. So, don’t be afraid to say “no” to others’ suggestions or thoughts. At the same time, don’t be shy to recognize when your input isn’t needed or if you’re wrong. Maybe your kids know best too.

The lesson: You are your child’s strength! They felt comfort in your arms from day one and look up to you! Be the voice and example you would want or the support you never had in a parent, but always wanted.

10. You will find purpose.
Maybe you had an immense amount of purpose before having a baby, maybe you always longed to be a mother, maybe you happened to become a mother without any effort – whatever brought you to this reality might have given you purpose or reinforced the purpose you already felt. For me, I feel an incredible amount of joy watching my kids grow. I also feel a need to use my time as a stay-at-home mom to make crafts, cook/bake, and continue to be a great wife/friend/sister, etc. Whatever passion you have as a mother gives you purpose and will also bring you happiness, ability, and peace.

The lesson: Follow your passion and do it willingly and happily. Be the best version of yourself. Don’t forget about your sanity and joy. Let your “yes” be your “yes” and your “no” be your “no”!

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Marlene Patti

Stay at home mom/Real Estate

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Published on November 20, 2020

13 Practical Pieces of Advice for New Parents

13 Practical Pieces of Advice for New Parents

I have given birth to four babies (in the span of five years, all full term babies too). I have been a foster parent to several babies as well. Our first born only lived 8 weeks. He was diagnosed with a fatal genetic disorder several weeks after birth. Our second baby was actually a foster baby we had for 15 months. She was placed with us when she was seven weeks old. When she was eight months old, I gave birth to a baby girl. It was like having twins.

    And then we actually had twins. I learned quickly that twins are hard. Really hard. But they are fun too. Our twins are no longer babies. They are six years old. I do remember that first year clearly, even though much of it felt like a sleep deprived hazy existence.

    The first six months with my twins was sheer survival mode. They would both sleep for two hours and then wake for feeding. I would bottle feed them, while pumping milk (they were not good at nursing). After I fed them in the wee morning hours and middle of the night, I then changed them, swaddled both, and placed them in their bassinets close to my bed. Then it would start all over again. They would sleep for two hours and then wake to be fed once again. This routine went on for six months.

    Sleeping in two hour increments is not easy. I learned to go to bed at 8:00 pm, so that the two hour increments would add up to enough sleep to function by 7:00 am when our two year old daughter would wake and be ready to start the day.

    It was not easy to have three little ones at the same time, especially with twins who had reflux and colic to top things off. The non-stop crying every evening for hours is something I don’t wish on any parent. It is possible to survive this, in fact, I have friends who have quadruplets. They survived too.

    Our twin boys as newborns was a completely opposite experience than we had with both our foster daughter and our biological daughter when they were babies. The girls were easy babies. They required no “sleep training”, as both were sleeping through the night by three or four months of age on their own. They were happy, easily contented babies. I could take them to lunch with my girlfriends and they cooed happily and entertained nearby strangers with their smiles and baby talk. When I was caring for both baby girls, it made me wonder why so many mothers complained about lack of sleep, fussy babies, and the hardships involved in caring for a newborn. Having very difficult twin baby boys showed me that not all babies are alike.

    What I learned from all these babies I have cared for is that each baby is different. There is no one set formula that works for all babies. Each situation is unique, because every baby is unique. You can have an easy-going baby and it may make you think that all babies are that easy. They are not.

    If you are like most of us who have been blessed to become parents, you will experience ups and downs on a daily basis when you bring a newborn into your home. It will not be sheer bliss to have a baby. They are a great deal of work and take tremendous energy out of moms and dads. However, they can provide you with an overflowing heart filled with love and joy you didn’t know was possible.

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    Even though not all babies are alike, I can provide some tips to help you navigate the world of parenthood. Below are 13 practical tips I have for all new parents.

    1. Recognize That the First Year Is Usually Challenging

    I have heard people say that when they have kids it won’t change their life. They will simply take the baby along with them wherever they go. It’s a nice thought, but it doesn’t work out that way in reality.

    If you want to attend a concert, a newborn baby will likely not be able to be brought along. They will cry and interrupt others at the concert. Babies can’t go everywhere we go and do everything we are doing. They cry a great deal during that first year. They also require feeding every few hours. It puts a crimp in any lifestyle.

    The first year is challenging because having a baby will turn anyone’s world upside down. If you are the primary caregiver for a newborn, your life and schedule are no longer your own. You have a tiny human counting on you for feedings, changings, comforting, holding, rocking, swinging, being sung to, and whatever else it is that your baby will need from you.

    We like to think that our own baby will be an easy baby, especially if that is our own personality. The reality is that most babies are high maintenance. They require round the clock care and that it itself makes that first year challenging.

    2. Sleep When Baby Sleeps

    Because babies are so much work while they are awake, take the opportunity to sleep when they sleep. You can’t take a nap while they are awake. Therefore, don’t miss the opportunity to catch up on sleep while they are sleeping.

    It can be tempting to stay up late to binge watch your favorite show. However, the reality of struggling to care for a baby during the day when you are sleep deprived because you stayed up late and then they woke you up four times in six hours will make your day quite miserable. Avoid the misery and try to get enough sleep.

    Often, the only way this is feasible is to sleep when your baby is sleeping. It is exactly why I started going to bed at 8pm when my twins would go to bed. I knew that I would be woken up every two to three hours, so going to bed early was the only way I was able to get enough hours of sleep.

    3. Allow for Normal Household Noise

    My brother and his wife came to visit us a few years ago. Actually it was a 10-day extended stay because they had a hurricane in their area. They had a newborn baby who was two months old. I also had three small kids who were very loud and energetic all day long. We tried to keep the kids quiet so the baby could nap. Like most babies, their son was napping once in the morning and again in the afternoon.

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    At first their son would wake up with every tiny noise we made in the home. There was only so much that I could do. I wasn’t go to vacate our house for the majority of the day, just so their newborn could sleep. I knew one thing about babies that my brother and sister-in-law hadn’t learned yet. They learned this after a few days in our noisy home. I told them that if they didn’t rush to get him every time he wakes because of a small noise he will learn to sleep through the noise. By the end of the week, he was napping just fine through our chaos filled noisy household activities.

    I have done the same with my own children. We allow for normal household noise, including talking, cooking, and everyday activities to commence. The baby is often asleep in a nearby bedroom, but they certainly aren’t cut off from the noise.

    When you whisper while baby sleeps and insist on silence in your home for your sleeping baby, then your baby becomes a sleeper who is easily woken by any sound. If you condition your baby to sleep through normal household noises they will learn to be good sleepers in spite of the noise.

    4. Don’t Get Hung Up on Advice From Others

    New parents get a lot of unsolicited advice, especially from family and friends. Keep in mind that they are giving advice because they love you and they are trying to help. However, you don’t have to follow the advice of others just because they offer it. You do what is best for your own baby.

    Just because your sister tells you that you must use organic cloth diapers because it worked well for her children doesn’t mean that you have to take the advice. You can say “thank you” and then do whatever is best for your own family.

    5. Accept Help When Offered

    Babies and small children are a lot of work. I hope that if you can learn anything from me it is that no baby is really “easy”. They all require lots of time, energy, effort, and love.

    When you have trusted people in your life offer to help, then accept their help. My mother-in-law flew in to help us after the twins were born. She was going to stay a week. She offered to stay longer and ended up extending her stay twice, for a total of three weeks.

    If she would have offered to stay longer, I would have accepted the help. It was a blessing to have her there to help us, as we were in survival mode those first few months.

    6. Breastfeed or Formula: Do What Works Best for Your Situation

    The benefits of breastmilk have been proven by science to be better than formula. However, how much better? And at what cost? There are too many women who beat themselves up emotionally because they are unable to breastfeed for one reason or another.

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    If your baby is being fed, you are doing a good job. Our foster daughter only had formula as an infant. Many children only have formula because it is the only option available. Our foster daughter is now a healthy and smart girl. Formula did not negatively affect her development. What was most important was that she was fed. This is true of all babies.

    So do what is best for your own situation. If you end up giving your baby formula, remind yourself that millions, if not billions, of babies have grown up on formula and end up being healthy, intelligent, well adjusted people.

    7. Don’t Compare Your Baby to Other Babies

    All babies are different. It is not good or bad. Some babies have colic. It doesn’t mean that they will have issues later. My twins both had reflux and colic and they are healthy and happy six year old’s now.

    Babies all develop at different rates. You can have one baby who walks at nine months and another that doesn’t until 14 months and they are both healthy and happy.

    Don’t compare your baby to other babies. The range of “normal” for development is quite wide. If you legitimately have a concern about their development then ask your pediatrician.

    8. Take a Shower, It Will Make You Feel Better

    We often don’t take care of ourselves as new moms or dads. Many parents spend their life caring for their children to the extent that their own self care goes by the wayside.

    As a new parent, one way to care for yourself is by showering daily. It will help you feel refreshed. Even if it is a five minute quick shower it will help you feel better.

    9. Get Out of the House and Meet Fellow Moms/Dads

    Don’t think you have to parent alone! There are so many parent groups to join. As a new mom, I joined MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and developed some wonderful mom friendships that have lasted for years.

    Look for local mom groups in your particular area. Connection is something that is helpful to all of us; especially connections with others who are going through the same phase of life and have similar experiences.

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    10. Get Outside and Walk

    If you are the one who gave birth, then getting up and becoming active can be hard at first. Birth is really hard on our bodies. A simple way to get active that will help with your mood as well is to get outside and go on walks.

    Put the baby in the stroller and get yourself walking outside, even if it is just around the block to get started. You will find that the fresh air and blood pumping through your body will help brighten your mood and spirit.

    11. Find the Humor in Your New Life

    Don’t take your life too seriously. Be willing to laugh at the humorous things when they happen. For example, the blow out diaper that happens immediately after you have bathed and dressed your baby. Your little one is happily cooing and smiling at you when it happens, while you are literally covered in….poop.

    These things are bound to happen. Be willing to laugh and find the humor in life.

    12. Take Photos Because Time Flies

    The days may seem long but the years are short. Time goes by quicker than you will realize.

    Take photos and videos, even when nothing special is happening, because they grow up fast. You will blink and they are no longer babies, blink again and they are no longer toddlers.

    Capture life as it is happening, because tomorrow they are another day older and you can’t get that day back.

    13. Bond with Your Baby and Enjoy the Present

    Enjoy life with your baby and cherish the small moments as they happen. Take the time to breathe in the baby smell that comes from the top of their head, gaze at them as they sleep peacefully in your arms, and soak up the baby giggles. These are the precious moments and memories that will keep you fueled through the many days and nights that will be a struggle.

    They are only babies once, so be sure to take mental snapshots of those precious moments that you want to capture for a lifetime.

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    Featured photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon via unsplash.com

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