Yes, we look like we are twelve years old. Yes, I weighed about 800 pounds. Yes, I was very, very tired.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Last week, I stumbled across this article and it made me pause.
I agree with it all. Particularly the one about not telling people they look tired.
This has always baffled me.
I don’t mean to sound insensitive here, but . . . it is never, ever OK to tell someone they look tired. New baby or not.
You might as well say “Gosh, I am so sorry but you look like total crap and the bags under your eyes could use a bra.”
Here’s the thing: the rule about not asking anyone if they are pregnant unless it’s completely obvious and they’re days away from giving birth? The same rule applies to telling people they look tired.
You just don’t do it.
So while I watched sweet Kate Middleton make her first appearance with the new baby prince, I could see right through the smile and the pretty polka-dot dress. Deep down, I knew she was terrified.
And for the record, I was as well when I went home with my first child. In fact, I can’t believe the hospital released Sarah to Jason and I almost nine years ago because we had no idea what we were doing.
But there are some things you SHOULD say to a new mama. There’s stuff I wish I had known when my newborns were shrieking at top volume and I wondered if I had made a very grave mistake.
So without further ado, allow me to share what I wished I would have known when I had my first baby:
1. It is so cliche and I know it makes you want to take a frying pan to my head. But I’m going to say it nonetheless: it WILL get better. Your baby WILL stop crying. And yes, while you might be in week two and the crying doesn’t typically subside until week twelve (if they’re colic like mine were) this will feel like a ridiculous eternity. Yet I stand by the old sages who say it will be over in a flash because it will. Before you know it, you’ll be jetting off to preschool and signing them up to play soccer (or futbol for you Brits!). It will pass and you will survive.
2. Speaking of survival, your kids will survive YOU. When I gave birth to Sarah, my friend Cindy, who birthed her last child at 45 (!) casually said to me, “Babies survive their parents.” Talk about ordained words! I NEEDED to hear this true statement because somehow, some way, our children survive despite our lack of knowledge. Sarah survived me looking away for a moment when she rolled off the couch. I once gave her a bottle that was too hot. She fell down our stairs while under the care of a sitter. None of these are my proudest parenting moments but she made it. She will turn nine in February and she’s still still kickin’ it.
3. Your baby will be just fine if you don’t breastfeed him/her. OK. Lean in real close, sister, because the La Leche League might be listening . . . And I don’t mean any hate towards them, either. I think it’s wonderful they all support each other and the unending benefits of breastfeeding. BUT. If nursing works for you, it’s great. If it doesn’t work for you? It’s horrid. Sadly, it didn’t work with any of my three babies because I have some weird issues with the word that rhymes with “ripples.” I was deeply depressed and felt like I was depriving Sarah of nutrients that could only come from me but now that my children are eight and a half, six and a half, and five, I see that it really doesn’t make a difference. My kids couldn’t be closer to me if they tried (Jason jokes they would go back into my womb if given the chance and they probably would), they are pretty darn smart if I say so myself, and they seem to be socially integrated into the world (for the most part. If you ignore the random shouting of the word “penis” by my boys.) If you must formula feed, take it from me: he/she will be just fine.
4. Your husband will always hold the Medal of Honor when it comes to night-feeding. So, my husband is a dentist. I get that you might not want your dentist to do a root canal for you if he has only had sleep in two hour intervals throughout the night. For this reason, we slept in separate bedrooms until the babes were able to be on his or her own so at least one of us could sleep and bring home the bacon. Yet on the weekends, Jason stepped in for night feedings (another benefit to bottle feeding – see above) so I could get one full night of sleep once a week. And you would have thought he won a WWII Purple Heart Medal. Sure, he made mention of his great sacrifice now and then but it was mostly OTHERS who recognized his greatness by saying things like “Oh, what a amazing man! He gets up with the baby!” And he is an amazing guy. But. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.
5. Yes, Virginia. There will be a day when it will take you less than three hours to get out the door. Oh, my. Just thinking of that time period makes me break out in hives because since I had three children within four years, it was a monumental feat to get ANYWHERE. I could tell you it wasn’t this way when I had only one child but I would be lying. Just this morning, I marveled over the fact I can now tell my children to get their shoes on and get in the car and that’s that. No big car seats. No diaper bag to pack. No poopie diapers just as I’m putting down the garage door. Sure, there’s prep involved but not THAT kind of prep.
And you want to know the sick and twisted part of it all? There are moments when the breeze blows through a scent of baby powder or I find a tiny baby sock tucked deep in a drawer and I stop.
It goes by so very fast. Who would have ever thought I would miss those exhausting days?
Turns out, He really was gently leading those with young. He was leading me. And He still does.
What about you? What would you like to tell a new mama?
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