My Peaks & Valleys Of Momhood: Blips, Hiccups, & Wins
"One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak" - Gilbert Chesterton
Listen Mama.... this parenting thing is a massive learning curve and it would be outrageous to act like it's been smoooooooth sailing the entire time. I'm sure we all can look back (or even catch yourself in the moment) and think... ohhhhh this was not the best decision. hmmm that didn't go as planned. HA! Jokes on me.. to live another day. My "mistakes" - if you will- have taught me just as much as my successes. Trial and error is an amazing way to test limits, find the boundaries and learn what works best for you and your family. It nurtures adversity, resiliency and adaptability. It encourages you to try different things and is a gentle reminder that we are all learning, growing and trying our best. I've decided to bring the good and the bad together and share both my mistakes and wins with you today. Going through the mud feels shitty sometimes, but the pride and confidence you gain once through it overpowers the doubting feeling you felt mid-trudge.
Blips, Hiccups and Mistakes
1) Not Learning Sleep Cues and Wake Windows
Simple yet effective. Google it anywhere and it will save everyone a lot of trouble during those first few months. I talk about these often to all my mamas who are home with a fresh squishy babe. Feeding a crying baby, soothing an overtired, overstimulated baby SUCKKKKSSS. I WISH I had looked into this before bringing Beau home. TakingCaraBabies is amazing at breaking this stuff down!
2) Seeking Validation/Approval
I FULLY understand why I did this, but I feel bad for new mom Ellie when I look back. New moms are like adorable lost puppies who mean well and kinda have a sense of direction, but need some encouragement.. and that's all dandy until the encouragement goes against what you feel in your heart of hearts to be true. Learning to trust yourself takes time, and feels so wonderful once you get there.
3) Not Delegating/Sharing Responsibilities
I'm a don't-worry-I'll-happily-do-it-all-but-then-get-exhausted-and-tired-and-overwhelmed type person. I genuinely enjoy taking care of things and being that homemaker stereotypical woman. Seriously. No joke. It's how I show my love, how I like to serve my husband and family and it is just as much a selfish thing as it is unselfish. It makes me feel good to make others feel good. AND, I need to remind myself that not only is it silly to expect to do it all... IT'S NOT MY JOB to do it all. Brandon is just as crucial to our family as I am, and I am robbing so many opportunities (for growth, joy, balance) from him and Beau by not delegating/sharing particular roles. I could get into this for a loooonnnggg time because there's so much to unpack, BUT I hope you catch my drift. Sharing responsibilities and learning to let things go into other peoples hands is certainly a learning experience for me... any other control freaks in the house?
4) Pushing Beau's Limits Too Far
There's a learning curve to find those limits, but sometimes once you figure that out you're tempted to push it a little farther. The best example I can think of would be learning to leave by a time and sticking to it. Leave by 2, not 2:30... We all suffer when things get pushed too far.
5) Not Locking The Sink Cupboard
There are only a few babyproofing things we set up in our home. We put outlet covers on, installed a baby gate and ensured all harmful and toxic things were placed far out of reach. I wanted to create a space that was functional for parents and babies. HOWEVERRRRRR... when Beau ever-so-quickly opened the kitchen sink cupboard and got into the dish soap, it was clear that one cupboard needed to be locked. There was dish soap everywhere, a baby burping bubbles, and a hysterical panicked guilt-ridden mom. Lock it up mamas.
6) Forgetting Overstimulation Exists... For Us All
Noise has an entire new meaning to me now. Gone are the days I could have the music blaring and the stove sizzling while maintaining a normal conversation. Seriously... when Brandon's in the kitchen he always has the music going, the stove fan on, and something cooking on the stovetop. Add in Beau's babbles and any kind of conversation and I'm loosing my mind. Turn down (or even off) the music, turn off the fan, look at me and repeat what you said. It's a lot for me to process. HAHA.. I often forget that I need to check in with myself too, just like I check in with Beau when there is lots of things going on.
7) Set myself up for Success
This took some time to fall into a proper routine, and I really started noticing the benefits once we started BLW. Planning my week/meals ahead, pulling out meat, waking up BEFORE Beau (still working on consistently doing this), and going to bed with a clean home/kitchen all 1000% starts my day better. Help yourself out. The little things can make the biggest differences. Set up your coffee the night before to make a pot so it's ready for you. Clean your kitchen after supper, make the lunches and have your home in order so your morning is calm, clear and ready for the new days adventures. When I do these things, my day is better, my MOOD is lighter and there are more smiles and laughter (from everyone) in our house. It makes a huge difference, and I wish I tried harder to establish this earlier on.
8) Don't Do Anything When The Baby Is Asleep That You Can Do When They Are Awake
I heard this somewhere and it really stuck. Now I will say I'm am not a huge advocate for the "sleep when baby sleeps" advice... ( I know.. sorry?). I'd describe myself as someone who would advise a "do what feels good to you when baby sleeps" kind of person. If that looks like napping.. cool do it. If that looks like cleaning the house so your mind feels at peace.. I see you, and support that. But I liked this broad mindset of generally keeping tasks that baby can be around for, for when they are awake... and reserving the baby free time for tasks that can't be done while they are awake (showering, napping, exercising... emptying the dishwasher if your toddler always tries to climb inside and touch the blades....).
9) Apologizing For Prioritizing/Advocating
I DID/DO THIS ALL THE TIME. And I gotta cut it out. "I'm sorry, but we have to go it's nap time. I'm sorry, Beau can't have that to eat/play with. I'm sorry, but we'll only be visiting outside." It's not that people make me feel crappy and so I apologize, I just automatically apologize. And I want to stop doing that.. it's annoying and unnecessary.
10) If I Were You Mindset
If roles were switched, if I were them, if that were me.. TOXIC. Different people, different priorities, different decisions. It's a bad hole to get into and steers you far from empathy, understanding perspective and respecting other peoples decisions.
11) Postpartum Rage, Postpartum Anxiety & Decision fatigue.
I'm not sure I would say I experienced PPR to it's fullness, but I will say my patience and tolerance in the first few months with anyone who wasn't Beaus was very short. Skipped naps would instantly anger me, if Brandon would be late from work for any reason I would be frustrated and I often felt annoyed over small things. It felt out of character for me and when I took time to think about why I felt the way I did, it usually boiled down to unmet needs. In terms of PPA, I remember feeling really anxious around timeframes. Learning to breastfeed and making sure I fed from both sides for an equal amount of time, and fed within the proper timeframe and rotated which breast to start from definitely caused anxiety. I just didn't want to mess it up, you know? What an incredible advantage it is to fall into your groove and get a hang of things. The anxiety I felt had subsided tremendously. And lately, more so than ever, I find myself not only unable to but couldn't care to make mundane decisions. I feel like I make decisions allllll day long that when it comes time for deciding between chicken or beef for dinner, not only am I unbothered by which we have, I don't even want to be part of the decision making process. I literally don't care.. and don't care to pick. I don't know if I'm the only one.. but maybe some one out there can relate? Haha I can't explain it any better. I don't care what we eat, I'm happy with whatever decision but someone else make the choice. I wish I had read up more, recognized the signs, and set up a support group. Learning how to deal with it in the moment or talking it out has helped. But reminding myself not to apologize for my feelings has been hard. Sometimes I think people expect moms (whether FTM or not) to chuck their baby at whoever wants to see them, babysit them or hold them.. purely because.. it would be rude not too? I understand offering a break or providing an opportunity for momma to do things she wants and needs to do. But when those times were pushed on me it really just increased my anxiety and validated that shameful voice in my head saying my feelings were silly and unnecessary.
12) Buying Clothes That Fit Me Now
Girl, I've got pre pregnancy clothes that don't fit me now and I'm over trying to make do. My hips are wider my chest is larger and (believe it or not) my waist is slimmer. Those clothes fit a different body and now I need to find some that fit this body. Looking good helps me feel good. No shame there. I just gotta stop being so cheap and invest in things that make me feel good.
Wins & Successes
1) Listening to Momtuition
Once I started to feel comfortable in the uncomfortable. Once I started feeling confident in the unknown. Once I leaned into those moments of uncertainty... that was when I felt that momtuition grow. Sometimes I'll call a girlfriend to validate my already strong gut feeling, but for the most part I trust that I know my baby the best and will make the best decision with the information I gather.
2) Mom Tool Box
EVERY MOM NEEDS THIS. A Mom Toolbox that holds all those types of mamas that make this world go round. Everyone needs the modern momma who's all for the epidural and pain free birth, who keeps the gripe water, baby tylenol and 12 soothers in their diaper bag at all times; the hippie mom who knows all the home remedies and hypnobirthed all her babies; the mom who says... the best time to drink wine is WHILE you're breastfeeding... because it doesn't have time to get to your milk ;) ; the mom who breastfed her children until they were three and knows all the crazy milk facts, mastitis remedies and best products on the market; the mom who has multiple children who reminds you they won't break and dirt won't kill them; the first time momma who is going through it for the first time with you. All these mamas have so much to offer you, and we can all learn so much from each other. And then you find the mama that you are inspired by. The one that parents similarly, shares common beliefs and values, and the one that you want to be like. And that's the mama you go for for advice. I love my mama tool box and am damn proud of each mama in it.
3) Researching & Staying Consistent With BLW
I put in the work when it came to BLW. I researched tons, read books, listened to podcasts and tried to gather all the info to somewhat prepare myself as best as I could. And I am soooo thankful I did. It's a lot of work maintaining wholesome and accessible food in your home. Ensuring you have fresh food, prepped veggies/meals and a somewhat organized schedule. I'm thankful I stayed consistent, let go of expectations and invited play into our meals. Enjoying mealtime is something I always wanted to achieve and am super thankful I moved forward with this approach. I've written two blogs around my experience... you can read them HERE and HERE.
4) Lovevery & Uppababy Products
I LOVE my stroller and I LOVE Lovevery. Hahaha! Not much to say here... awesome products. 10 out of 10 recommend. I wrote a blog a while back around investment pieces.. if you haven't read it, check it out! I'll link it HERE.
5) Protecting My Vulnerability
I continually ensure my heart and soul is protected during this sensitive time where there is a massive learning curve (the first year can be feel overwhelming and critical). It is a conscious decision I make around the company I keep and the people I follow. Momhood holds many opportunities to grow, and sometimes you need to learn about those in gentle ways. Just as I did during the months after my miscarriage, I honour myself by spending time with people who make me feel good. Right now, I am very intentional with who I follow on social media and those I spend time with in person. Things may look differently in a year from now or five years from now, but today I choose to follow people who inspire me, who educate me, and who uplift me. If they aren't doing one of those things, then I'm not holding space for them.
6) Writing Shit Down
My memory was poor on a good day, add a baby and shit hits the fan. I am forever writing things down in a consistent spot (family calendar, notepad in kitchen drawer, notes on iphone, etc). I still manage to forget things, but not near as much or as often. For me, writing shit down is a mom win through and through.
This will be forever evolving I'm sure. But being mindful with what I say, how I act and what I teach Beau is something I am conscious of. Words are powerful, and teaching your children your values and morals feels important to me as well. I'm thankful I keep my ears open with how I speak and allow space for Beau to learn and navigate his world. I want to support him through his experiences, and give him tools so that he can grow up to be someone who finds value in himself, who feels confident in his abilities to learn and achieve the things he desires to.
Whoever makes the most mistakes wins.
When I was younger, I'm sure I would have used the words failures, mistakes or losses without second guessing it. But today those words don't resonate with me. Today, words like lessons, trial & error, learning, growth, and approach feels better. I'm thankful I've learned things that don't work well for me. I'm grateful for the opportunities to learn differently, and in all honesty I hope I continue having moments where things go differently than I expect. It keeps me humble and open to new things. I think it's important to share our "mistakes" and "regrets". They are amazing learning tools and encourage growth among us all. Sharing them shatters the perception of perfection, and reminds us of the reality of parenting. We often see momhood through rose-coloured glasses and if we aren't careful we will think those glasses are reality. So if you would like, you can join me in walking... or sometimes stumbling.. through momhood. One step, one skip and one blip at a time.
All my love,