Three Month Crash Course
Three months, three days, and three hours ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Her name is Aria Marie Taylor and she has been the most life changing teacher I've ever had the pleasure of learning from. Since she was born I have repeatedly realized one thing: I know absolutely nothing.
I used to think I knew how to manage my time. I mean, I'm a college graduate after all, that has to mean something...right? No. It doesn't.
I used to think I was organized. Nope. Wrong.
I used to think I would know exactly what my baby needed the second she needed it. Her two plus hours of screaming last night shot that theory straight to the pooper.
I used to think being a mom meant having the answers to all of life's most difficult, confusing questions. Ha.
Basically, I used to be a twenty-two year old young woman holding my beautiful $100,000 piece of paper, smiling because that piece of paper meant I was ready for anything life could throw my way. Then the stick said "pregnant" and everything I ever thought I knew was flipped on its head. My life became a roller coaster of cloth diapers, projectile spit up, and a smile that could make all the rest of it disappear in under a second. In other words, I became a mom.
Now, I find myself accepting a fact I wish I had accepted years ago: I. Know. Nothing.
And, surprisingly, this is actually a beautiful thing because it means I'm willing to learn anything. I'm wiling to look in the mirror and say, "You have no idea what you're doing. Now, figure it out." Which, somehow, I always do. It's been hard. Sometimes it's felt impossible, but throughout this insanely beautiful three month crash course I've learned a few things that I will never forget.
No matter how many times you check to make sure your baby is breathing, you'll still need to check one more time.
And that's okay. Whether it be your husband, your own mom, or someone else, there is probably going to come a time in every young mother's life when someone says to her, "You're checking on him/her again?" The first time this happened to me I got nervous. Was I doing something wrong? 1 week in and I'm already over bearing? Great... Then, after about a month of this, I finally stopped feeling guilty. Now, if someone asks me that question I feel no guilt at all about saying, "Yes. I am." I even take a little pleasure in putting some attitude behind it. Why? Because it's normal. It's natural. It's expected. Check on that baby as many times as you see fit. He/she is your baby.
Crying doesn't mean dying.
Every baby in the world will cry. Think about it. If you were just shot through a dark tunnel into a big, bright, loud place after living in a cozy bubble for ten months (let's all accept that pregnancy is actually ten months, not nine) with no way to express your confusion, you'd probably scream a little bit, too. Babies can't talk. They have no way of telling us what they need. Crying is all they have. Let them have it. I promise, it doesn't mean they're dying.
Mental checklists are the brainchild of a genius.
Now, just because a baby is going to cry at some point no matter what, doesn't mean you ignore them. I used to think that "letting your baby cry" was something every mom was supposed to do at some point. Yeah. No. That's stupid. If a baby is crying they need something. Milk. A clean butt. Milk. A blanket. Milk. You. Milk. It took me a while, but after I implemented the mental checklist my stress level decreased astronomically. Take it one thing at a time. Fed them? Didn't work? Change them. And so on and so on...
You can out last your baby.
Remember, babies need more sleep than adults. So, in the wee hours of the morning when you feel like that precious little thing is going to get you checked into an insane asylum tell yourself that Dory had it right and just keep swimming. Or in a mom's case, just keep rocking, bouncing, walking, and singing.
In the words of my sister-in-law, "Opinions are like butts, everyone has one and some of them stink."
There is not a person alive who is going to agree with every single parenting decision you make. I can't count the number of people who called me crazy for using cloth diapers (seriously, they are a financial life saver). At first, like everything, it made me doubt myself, but after seeing the $$$ add up in our savings account I put all the negativity out of my mind.
Just because your mom did it, doesn't mean you have to do it.
My mom would tell me that my brothers, my sister, and I all managed to eat on an every four hour basis. Naturally, I thought I should strive for this with Aria. Until I realized that my little squirt is a piglet and wants to eat way more often than that. Which, I love, because it means she sleeps through the night. She's 3 months old, has more than doubled her birth weight, and is 22 inches long. She's a beaut. More importantly, she's a healthy beaut. Do things your own way. As long as your child is healthy, it isn't wrong.
Most importantly... You're doing just fine.
The best lesson I ever learned was to take a second, breathe, and look into that gorgeous, smiling face and remind myself that I'm doing the best I can.
So, when life as a momma becomes a bit more than I can handle, I embrace my absolute ignorance and start from scratch. Sometimes, figuring it out can be the best part.