From the moment I found out we were going to become parents my brain started to swirl with questions! I read all the books on what to expect, pinned my Pinterest boards with mommy blog posts and yet somehow to my dismay I was still totally unprepared for the beautiful mess that is motherhood. Here's what I wish I knew before I had a baby... or THREE!
1. Stock up on diapers.
I'm about to let you in on a fun fact that no one bothered to filled me in on... Heads up, your baby ain't the only one leaving the hospital in a diaper! Here I was, a first time mom having just experienced the miracle of child birth and in walks my nurse with an adult diaper. I was in utter shock when she casually brought me mesh panties, a jumbo pad the size of TEXAS and an ice pack for my VIRGINIA. Yes friend. I just went there. We're all girls here! So, here is my best advice: ask for lots of mesh undies and do yourself a favor and stock up on those giant maxi pads, aloe, and lots of witch hazel. You are going to need it!
2. Babies cry, a lot.
There will be moments when your baby is crying and you will want to wail with them! Believe me, I've been there. When I find myself feeling overwhelmed I take a Mommy timeout. I walk away for 5 minutes and breath. I pray and sometimes I hide in a closet. Ultimately I just try and separate myself from the situation long enough to gain my composure and calm myself down. It's my job as a mom to bring calm to my child's chaos. Mommy timeouts are a must in my life. I send myself to timeout frequently. Babies need to cry in order to communicate. If your infant is crying it is usually trying to tell you something it otherwise cannot express. It can be difficult to decipher your child's high pitched screams. I've caught myself asking, "What do you want?!" More Times then I care to admit. What has helped me enormously is going through a check list. Is he/she hungry? Dirty? Tired? Gassy? Bored? Lonely? The list can very from child to child but the concept remains the same, how can I meet a need? It doesn't always work, I am no parenting expert BUT I can tell you this approach has helped me with our three children.
3. Delegate and ask for help when you need it.
The transition from one to two children was difficult for me. I was overwhelmed and a hot mess (and that's putting it nicely) but pride kept me from reaching out. It took someone forcing me to accept their help for me to realize just how badly I truly needed it. Something as small as a friend stopping by with a coffee, bringing us a meal and visiting long enough for me to shower was a God send! I wish someone had told me before I became a Mother that it wasn't a weakness to ask help. There is a reason people say it takes a village! I was humbled by this experience and will forever be grateful for the people who loved and supported me through that season.
4. Spit happens.
Motherhood is messy. Spit happens, both literally and figuratively! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrambled to get our house clean just to find the dishes looking at me dirty again 5 minutes later. As a new Momma I always had these massive to-do lists and of course I never checked it all off at the end of the day. A shift in perspective and the discovery of minimalism saved me! Instead of I HAVE to do something I reminded myself I GET to do that thing. Laundry to do? Awesome, I have little humans to clothe. Grocery shopping to do? Thank God, we have the ability to buy the food we need! (You get the point.) Also, no one can do all the things, all the time! Give yourself grace. Which leads me to my last point...
5. Self care and Soul care.
It goes without saying that once you become a Mother you go through various changes both physically and emotionally. As a mom it can be easy to put yourself on the back burner, especially if you’re sleep deprived and hormonal. I’ve been there! Self care looks different to different people but the concept is very basic. Take good care of yourself! Listen, my life runs on dry shampoo so I am the last person to judge BUT if you haven’t showered in awhile and you’re wearing the same leggings 3 days in a row... You might need to set aside some YOU time! Don’t neglect yourself, you cannot pour out from an empty glass...
If you find yourself unable to get through the day, and you’re struggling to take care of your baby, or yourself this could be signs of more than pure exhaustion. 1 in 7 women experience a serious mood disorder called postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety is thought to be even more common. I suffered with PPA after having our second daughter but I was scared to admit it. I got really good at concealing my anxiety but when it got to the point of me declining invitations to do things I’d normally enjoy I knew something was wrong and I spoke to my doctor. I was able to overcome my PPA without medicinal intervention but not everyone is that fortunate. I wish someone would have told me that struggling with these things doesn’t make you a bad mom. If you find yourself battling debilitating depression or anxiety, please seek help! Make an appointment with a specialist or reach out to a trusted friend. Don’t suffer in silence. I know it seems taboo to talk openly about this topic. Which is why I’m bringing it up! You are not alone in this. Speak up.
My faith is a huge part of who I am, it’s as close to me as my skin. If you’re familiar with my story you know that I’ve clung to my faith in both tragedy and triumphs. For this reason, I feel that soul care and self care are of equal importance. This will undoubtedly look different for each person but for me it means finding moments to pray and listen to worship music. Maybe for you it’s as simple as carving out a little bit of time to meditate and reflect. Perhaps prayer journaling, a gratitude list or a brisk walk alone is more your thing. Whatever it is that feeds your soul, do it. It is time well spent and so good for you!
Written By: Cassandra Speer