I’m officially a mommy!! We welcomed our son, James, on September 12th at 6:26 am. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, with emotions ranging from joy and excitement to anxiety and frustration. In this time, I have learned a lot about myself and my relationships. Andy and I have been working on our balancing act in parenthood, including communication with each other and dividing our various roles/responsibilities. I think we’re doing pretty well so far.
I’ll admit, I’ve had my share of emotional fits here and there…typically in the wee hours of the morning when I had seemingly just dosed off to sleep. Sometimes tears occur for no apparent reason (thanks, hormones!) and I acknowledge that it’s ok to feel a little out of control sometimes. Yet through it all, I have found solace in writing, specifically in keeping a gratitude/milestones journal. I’ve also developed a deeper appreciation for the simple things that I may once have taken for granted. Below are a few things that I have been reflecting on lately:
Taking a shower is a form of self-care.
Of course showering/bathing is a part of a regular hygiene routine, but lately for me it has become a way to refresh both physically and mentally. Night showers (I’m talking around midnight, or after James has just eaten) have been especially rewarding.. the house is quiet, and I am not on a schedule to do anything else or be anywhere else. It just so happens that I am writing this at midnight. I’m a night owl by nature, and although sleep would probably be wise at a time where everyone else is asleep, I have managed to find sleep during other times in a 24-hour period.
It’s ok to ask for help.
This has been a bit of an adjustment for me. I’m used to being very self-sufficient and I have a tendency to want to do everything myself. In my current parenting situation, it’s not necessary to do it all. I have had to communicate my needs with Andy, and I try to be as specific as possible. For example, if I am nursing, I may need my water filled or a burp cloth that is out of reach. Maybe it’s asking for help with bringing something upstairs or downstairs because I’m holding the baby. It’s strange for me to constantly request little things like that, but it takes some of the stress out of trying to do everything on my own if I don’t have to. When I am on my own during the day, I try to be flexible with what I can accomplish.
I only have two hands.
Don’t we all?! This kind of goes along with the previous statements. I have learned how to do some things with one hand, including wrapping up a dirty diaper. However, sometimes I need both hands to do certain things such as cook, fold laundry, and carry things in or out to the car. Sometimes I need a hand, literally, to accomplish chores and errands. I am so grateful for my husband’s initiative and willingness to pick up where I leave off. He recognizes when I need a break, and he offers help despite having been at work all day. When it’s just James and I at the house, I strive to hold him as much as possible, while balancing out what I need to do. Sometimes I feel bad when I put him down in his lounger pillow or bouncer chair and he starts to get fussy and/or cry. I’ve heard of the term mom guilt, and I am trying not to succumb to feeling like I am not doing things right. My goal is to balance the various needs of my child while not completely neglecting my own needs.
I don’t lose sight of the pre-baby life.
Having a baby has meant making changes to various aspects of life. However, I feel that keeping my own goals and interests in mind help me to maintain my sense of self. Sure, most of my conversations lately have revolved around adjusting to parenthood and baby-related topics including breastfeeding, poop, sleep, etc. My days have recently been filled with feedings, dirty diapers, and catching naps when I can, so obviously these conversation topics are relevant. I still aim to find time to do the things I am interested in such as writing and creating art.. and ultimately these things are influenced by my new mom role anyway. My most recent artwork was inspired by my pregnancy, and I have a few ideas for new artworks that have been inspired by my experience in motherhood.
In addition to keeping up with my own interests, I’ve found it helpful to get out of the house when possible. At three and a half weeks old, James has had quite an eventful life thus far. We have been fortunate that he is an easy-going baby for the most part. He usually sleeps in the car and while we are out and about, even in loud situations. Thus far, he’s only been fussy if he’s hungry or gassy. As adults, we can get fussy about these things too, so it’s totally understandable for a newborn baby! Taking a walk around the neighborhood has been an easy way to get out of the house and get a little exercise in (I’m holding off on anything too intense until I get the OK from my doctor). Walking has also been a nice way to connect with my husband and to get some fresh air.