One Month as Mama :: What I’ve Learned

On July 31, 2017, my life changed drastically.

Finley Jo entered the world at 5:29 PM and just like *that* I became a mama.

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It’s been a little over a month and I’m still no expert by any means, but I believe baby girl has trained me somewhat! Since I did a post after being married for a month, I figured I’d share what I’ve learned this far in mamahood.

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To the soon-to-be mama,

You can’t control a thing.

The crazy thing about it to me is that there’s no real preparation for it. You can read all the books you want, ask all the questions, and watch someone else mother with your own eyes, but nothing can fully prepare you. I think God did that on purpose so we’d learn to trust Him. Because if we’re being honest, when everything is working by my own efforts (and it never really does…), I don’t feel that I need God in that area of my life. Motherhood is so very far from being one of those areas. 🙂

From the naps taken to the gas pains to the cry fits in public, there’s just no control. And I’m learning to love that, learning to embrace those opportunities to seek God in them. God’s had to teach me this lesson quite a few times in my life, and He’s teaching me again.

There will be setbacks in sleep training and times where you have to clean poop off the wall. And that’s okay. It’s all part of the humbling and sanctifying journey!

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Be picky about your pediatrician AND his/her practice.

This is one thing I would do much differently if I had the chance to go back in time. In my experience, there have been issues with getting questions answered and feeling like when they were answered, it was just to get me to go away.

If you’re searching for a pediatrician for your little one on the way, do yourself a favor and do these things:

  • Go there. Meet some of the people in the office and get a feel for how you’ll be treated and prioritized when you come in for appointments.
  • See about setting up an appointment to meet the pediatrician. Make a list of questions to ask him or her beforehand that you’d love to know!
  • Ask the front desk how they go about answering questions you call with over the phone. Do they transfer you to a nurse? How long does it usually take to get a call back?
  • Ask them what the typical wait time is for an emergency appointment, should your baby need to come in on a whim.

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Just assume Baby’s stomach is ultra-sensitive.

About three weeks into mamahood, my milk supply went down drastically and we had to start supplementing formula. As a new mom, I had no idea which brand or type to start Finley with, so I called my pediatrician and they suggested regular ole Enfamil.

Now I’m totally not a medical professional, and I know Enfamil works for a lot of little ones, but in our experience and the experience of a couple of my friends, that lactose just made our little ones miserable. If I could do it over again, I would have just started with formula for sensitive tummies (we use Semilac Sensitive, which is soy-based), because that way you have all your bases covered and don’t even have to worry whether or not they’ll have a reaction to it. It’s not any more expensive (the cost for us actually went down) and it’s a whole lot cheaper in regards to Baby’s comfort and your sanity. 🙂

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Decide ahead of time that you’ll keep your marriage a priority.

Before I had Finley, I decided that when she came, I would make myself let someone else take care of her every now and then to give me a break, and more importantly spend some time with my husband. Because if we’re not in sync and our marriage is suffering, how in the world are we supposed to be good parents for our girl?

Tyler and I are a much stronger team since Finley has joined our little family. Parenthood can be hard on marriage, but can also be so so good for it. You almost have to make up instantly when you bicker (at least, in these early days) because you need each other too much and can’t afford to not help each other.

Every mom is different, but for me, I felt like I could start letting people babysit Fin as early as 3 weeks old. I know moms that have one year olds and still haven’t left their babies for longer than a couple hours at a time, and that’s okay too! For me, it was hard at first to do this, but I have actually already let one of my family members keep her overnight. It seemed crazy when I made the decision but it was the best thing I could have done that particular day for my sanity and for my marriage. It gave Tyler and me the chance to get some uninterrupted time together to get back on the same page and to really talk about how we were both doing with transition to this new season of parenthood. It also gave me the humongous gift of a full night’s sleep. I felt so re-energized and replenished after that one night!

Like I mentioned before, every mama is different, but when you feel like it would do you some good to get a little break, find someone you trust and don’t be afraid to ask! Chances are, those around you are dying to spend time with your beautiful baby anyway and would love to keep him or her! Which leads me to my next point…

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Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to accept it.

Ever since I moved off to college and started buying my own toothpaste, I’ve been pretty adamant about doing stuff on my own, but since having Finley I’ve had to learn that it’s better for me to let others take over sometimes.

Having a newborn can sometimes be overwhelming, and that’s very normal. On top of all the crazed hormones, you have a little person that is totally and solely dependent on you for everything which can sometimes make it hard to take care of yourself and your house and your husband and all the other things.

So, if someone offers to bring you food or clean your kitchen or watch Baby while you shower, let them.

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Babies aren’t robots.

This seems like a very silly thing to say, but it’s almost like I subconsciously believed it, that babies will give you certain results if you do certain things . . . and that if you go down the list of their needs, making sure their diaper is clean and they are fed and warm, that they will be happy and pleasant. Not the case!

Believe it or not, babies have bad days too. I have to keep reminding myself that Finley is just a little woman, which means that sometimes she’s just a diva and just needs to be a little salty from a long day. And that’s okay. Allow your little one to have bad moods and bad days and extend grace when they do!

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Anxiety stresses Baby, too.

I came to realize this the hard way after the first couple weeks. I started to notice after a few days that Finley seemed to be a lot more pleasant when other people were feeding her or spending time taking care of her, and it really hurt my feelings. I would wake up in the middle of the night for her feedings, and she would just cry and cry and I couldn’t figure out why she “didn’t like me,” because Tyler would take her from me to try and calm her down and she would be just fine.

She could sense my anxiousness. Ever since I realized what was happening, I have forced myself to stay calm when I start to get anxious, and I’ve seen a huge difference. She sleeps better, eats better, and so do I!

Think about when you’ve been around someone who was anxious, especially if it was the person in charge, and remember how that feels. Your baby feels the same way! Unsafe, unsure, frustrated, scared. There are times you’re gonna feel anxious as a new mama, and that’s okay. This is where your prayer life is nurtured (man oh man, let me tell you…) and you tap into a strength not your own. Take those opportunities to overcome fear by resting in His peace that passes understanding, and passing that peace on to your sweet little one.

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“It gets better” and it all really is worth it.

These days, my conversations with people usually go something like this:

“Congratulations on the new baby! How are you doing?”

“I’m good, just adjusting and very tired.”

“Girl, I know. It gets better. The first three months are just the hardest.”

I’m not to that third month yet, but I can already tell you that they’re right. I don’t know about with the second baby, but having your first is a huge adjustment. Everything about your day-to-day life changes completely and it’s hard in those first days to feel normal. It’s a beautiful yet hard adjustment. It takes time to settle into a new norm, and that’s okay.

You will sleep again and you will get past the fog of those first weeks. You’ll find a new routine and feel sane again. You’ll get to a place where you remember to eat again and where showers are once again a part of your day. Promise!

At five weeks, I’m just starting to get to that point, and it feels good. I’m loving being a mama and spending every second with my sweet girl. Her smile completely melts me and I feel so unworthy to be her mama. What a gift this season is!

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My new mama must-haves

I’ve been a mom for just a month, and already have so many fun things that have been lifesavers in this new season with a newborn.

If you’re gearing up to welcome a little into the world, check out what’s helped me below! If you’re already a mama, feel free to share what’s helped you!

*There are affiliate links in this post!

Feeding

BREAST PUMP

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I have the Spectra S2, and I love it because it’s super quiet, small/easy to tote around, and easy to use!

MADELA NIPPLE SHIELD

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They handed me one of these in the hospital right after Fin was born, and it’s been great for her to learn to latch. It’s also been great to help her switch between drinking from bottles and from me, as it gives her a similar effect when it comes to the ease of drinking!

DR. BROWNS BOTTLES

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Y’all. These have been a lifesaver when it comes to helping Finley with her gas issues. We started out by using the bottles the hospital gave us, but switching to these definitely reduced her gas issues (which is a blessing for baby and mama).

BREAST PUMP BRA

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I understand this sounds/looks ridiculous, but the struggle is real when you have to sit in one spot for 15-30 minutes at a time, and don’t even have access to your hands! I bought this on the chance I’d find it useful, and boy have I! This has made my experience so much more enjoyable – I can read a book, hold my baby girl, and even write a blog post while pumping! 😉 I may or may not also fall asleep while pumping in the middle of the night… If you don’t want to buy one, I’ve also seen where some mamas make their own out of old sports bras!

COVERED GOODS COVER

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These can be used for multiple things! Breastfeeding cover (came in handy even in the hospital, when folks were uncomfortable with watching her nurse), shopping cart cover, car seat canopy, and even a pretty scarf! This brand is the best in my opinion – such pretty patterns and very well made!

Pain and Discomfort

LANISOH NIPPLE CREAM

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Just trust me. This is good stuff. AND it’s safe for baby when breastfeeding/pumping!

NUMBING SPRAY

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If I ever met the person that invented this, they would get a huge hug from me. And probably a box of chocolates.

Sleep

HALO BASSINET

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I just love this thing. Allows Fin to sleep right beside mama, safely and conveniently for middle of the night feeds.

NOE & ZOE BERLIN SWADDLES

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In my opinion, these are the best. We’ve tried other brands and they just don’t work as well as these muslin wonders! They are a great size (larger than most) and really keep that baby in tight!

Travel

CITY MINI STROLLER

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People told me this was the best stroller, and now I’m totally on that fan train. SO easy to maneuver and a delight to use. Just be aware there are different versions with the main difference being the wheels – wish we would have gotten the one with wheels for tougher terrain!

BOTTLE COOLER

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MY DIAPER BAG 

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When I was picking out a bag to register for, I did a lot of digging. This one has served us so well, and is such a beaut!

STROLLER FAN

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I grabbed this at the last minute before Fin was born, and so glad that I did! Eases mama’s mind when strolling baby around in the summer heat and keeps baby cool! I also may or may not have clipped it to my hospital bed while in labor…

For Baby

GAS DROPS

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You guys – Fin is a different baby since gas drops. Her witching hour (for now) has gotten so much better, and these drops of liquid goodness soothe my baby’s tummy. This mama is so thankful!

GRIPE WATER

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Although this is supposed to help with gas too, we actually just use this for hiccups. Literally within seconds of giving Fin a tiny dose of this, her hiccups are gone!

For Mama

LARGE WATER BOTTLE

Especially when breastfeeding (but regardless!), mama needs to stay hydrated! I have a huge jug of water that I keep full and drink throughout the day. I take it with me everywhere and keep by my bed for middle of the night wake up times!

BASKET

This isn’t something I thought of until Finley was actually here, but has been so helpful. It really depends on your routine, but for us we move all-the-things to the bedroom at night and move them all again in the morning. I decided to just put everything in a basket and tote it that way! It saves so much time and helps me stay organized. When in doubt, it’s in the basket. 🙂