My youngest sister Shenandoah had her first baby on October 9th; a boy named Teddy. I have other siblings and 8 nieces and nephews from them, but there was something special about this particular birth, probably because my sister was really my first baby.
She was born when I was 13 and I jumped into the “mommy’s helper” role right away. When I look back at it, I realize how important it was for me to have this early introduction to motherhood. Shenny was also a “needy” baby, so when Arizona was born 10 years ago and cried from dawn until dusk, I felt somewhat prepared.
Looking back on the newborn phase, I have to confess I was a hot mess. I had the baby blues and hemorrhoids and a propensity toward a short fuse. In other words, I hated it.
Here were my Top 3 Challenges :
Losing My Autonomy – there was an overwhelming, sinking realization that MY LIFE AS I KNEW it was over. It was a huge transition. I was no longer just responsible for myself; I had a child to take care of around the clock.
Sleep Deprivation – I was exhausted, but never slept during the day when Arizona slept. I felt like I had to do a million other things. And for what reason? NO good one. Sleep should always prevail. Operate from a full tank, mamas!
Worry & Anxiety – They send you home with this 2 day old baby; I mean, we’re just supposed to be experts? I never felt like I could do anything right. My confidence was shot. It was debilitating.
If I had to do it all over again (something I never had the chance to do), I would offer up this humble advice :
SLEEP – whenever you can; don’t worry about entertaining anyone else or doing the laundry. I spent so much time organizing visits from folks, thinking I needed to be around others all the time. Yes, they would bring food and keep me company, but it also made me have a SCHEDULE – taking a shower, getting ready, making sure baby Arizona and I were presentable. My favorite times were the non-scheduled days; just me and Arizona napping together, eating whenever we wanted, wearing sweats all day. It was a much needed break and took so much of the pressure off.
TRUST your gut / instinct; put the books down : YOU GOT THIS. You know much more than you think you know. Your body and your baby will guide you to do what’s best for both of you. Trust this.
Ask for HELP : when you need it, ask for help – It’s okay to be vulnerable and needy from time to time. You can request help from neighbors, family, friends, doctors. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and can’t figure out how to get through each minute of the day, reach out to someone. It takes a village. Truly.
What advice would you give new parents? What worked for you and what didn’t?