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To a first time mom…

(Photograph below by AGR Photography)

(My sweet Frank…my 3rd little love…now preparing for his 5th birthday…is telling me he wants yet another Knight party:)

Today I had the SWEET joy of capturing one of best friend’s little niece. She is under 2 weeks old–and oh what a joy it was to capture this sweet one. Having spent years and years as a newborn photographer and having retired to solely be a mommy–it was a fun gift to give this new mom bursting at the seams with joy toward her new one. As I sat with her–soothing her new one to sleep for treasured photographs–we talked about mommy hood and all the advice that had come her way from other new moms. We laughed at much of it–and I encouraged her to RELISH the moments of this new one…not allowing the comparing with others to ever steal her joy. I thought of all the little nuggets I have gathered along the way…and shared some with her–and it was sweet to watch her take a deep breath and begin to breath in this tender, sweet time that goes by in a blink.

I shared with her these little nuggets (some no-brainer obvious things that we often make more difficult than we should)–and thought some of them are just too good not to share with other new moms as well…

1. When you new baby cries, pick him up. Feed him. Change him. Soothe him. Meet that little love’s need and remember you can never spoil a child from loving him too much. I hate Baby Wise. It was the first book I read as a new mom. And the first book I threw away. Something in my heart just felt–this isn’t right. Strict schedules–crying it out–all of it…just didn’t feel right. Psalm 139:14 is truth–your baby is fearfully and wonderfully made. If you will simply watch your baby’s sleep cues–put your baby down when she/he is tired–feed your baby when he/she is hungry–and hold that sweet one as much as he/she will let you–you will be VERY surprised how easily schedules fall into place. I’ve never let a baby cry it out–and my babies are all amazing sleepers. They sleep in until 8am. Go to bed at 7:30pm. And they are rockstar nappers. (Ask the sweet girl here today–as my 8 year old politely interrupted and asked if could he please go upstairs and take just a short nap. For the most part my littles all drop their naps around 5 years old–but every now and again they beg for them. Nap time has been a sweet time–with no tears–so it’s a restful, sweet place for them. It’s that for me too!).

And for some…like my first–you may have a babe who has colic–that lasts for 6 months and there is absolutely nothing you can do to make the late afternoon crying stop. I understand this situation all to well…and I’ll never forget discovering we were expecting again while this colicky love was just 5 months old (they are 14 months apart!) and wondering how I would ever make it. If you have a colicky love–just hang in there…try everything you can think of and trust your mommy instincts. For our colicky love the noise of a vacuum cleaner helped–and we had one spot in our bedroom that was cleaner than any other place. Get creative and hang in there. This too shall pass. And remember you are not alone. (My colicky baby ended up being my BEST napper! Just hold on to that until you get through it!)

2. Never, ever compare your child to someone else’s. (This includes Baby Center and those updates on what your baby “should” be doing at so-and-so age/stage.) The comparing–this starts early. Susie Cue–your dear friend who happened to give birth weeks before your sweet one’s arrival. You get a phone call when her babe smiles, rolls over, sits, coos, says mama, etc, etc, etc. NOTE TO SELF: Beware of Susie Cues. And limit your time and play dates with them as well. They will be comparing for years to come–and this is unhealthy for both you and your sweet one. Love the Susie Cues–but don’t fall into the comparison games. By 2nd grade, trust me–no one is sitting around asking when their child rolled over, sat or how many words they could say by that 18 month checkup. No one even remembers by then–and Susie Cue has moved on to comparing pages in Chapter Books too. Go back to Psalm 139:14–your child is fearfully and wonderfully made–and each will do their own thing in his own time. Some will do things in much later times as well. We brought home our 4th little one from Ethiopia just before he turned one. He couldn’t lift his head or sit. He is four years old now, and he caught up just fine with lots of love and encouragement. Remember to keep the main thing the main thing–and enjoy loving your little one…and let Susie Cue give her update on the answering machine next time she calls. OR grab it and encourage her how wonderful that step is for her little love…just don’t jump in with comparing.

3. Remember everything is for a time. A blink. A short, short time. There will be things that are not easy. For me–it was the beginning and no sleep. I wanted my babies to sleep through the night SO BAD. I remember. But now. Now. Oh–I’d give anything to be woken up in the middle of the night 4 or 5 times…to get to rock them again…feed them again…to have that quiet–just the two of us again. This time is fleeting. It goes by fast. SAVOR every moment…even what seems hard. You might need to drink coffee in the morning. I didn’t drink coffee until I became a mom;). And if you are nursing–I promise one cup of coffee won’t destroy your milk supply. I promise. Many times our babies would only sleep in our bed. Whatever works! I couldn’t talk our oldest into climbing into bed and snuggling with us now–so enjoy this sweet time while you can. I promise a 16 year old kiddo isn’t going to want to sleep in the middle–so if your baby sleeps cuddled up with you better–then do it! If she sleeps better in a pack-and-play beside you–do that! Find what works–and meet that little love’s need. (You can’t spoil a child from meeting their needs…their wants maybe–but never their needs.)

4. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Finally. You got her to nap. There’s a pile of laundry. The house is a wreck. I remember those days. I also remember climbing back in to bed almost every time and napping daily with my loves. Looking back almost a decade later–this is one thing I will never regret. Live a life where you ask yourself, “In 10 years, will I be glad I did ____ or ____.” I do not regret leaving the laundry. I may have regretted not snuggling with my love and napping beside her while she napped. Oh I wish I could go back! You will still have a pile of laundry in 10 years, but you won’t have that tiny love and you certainly won’t be able to nap. Sleep while your little one sleeps! You will probably need it for the night ahead!

5. Enjoy life…and leave the music on. My best sleeper and easiest little love are my 3rd, 4th and 5th children. By then–I wasn’t on edge…waiting for every little move to see what I should do next. They rolled with the punches and often times had to be on the go. I came home for naps and such–but outside of that–we enjoyed life around us…visiting parks, friends and daddy at work…and I left the music on (because I love music). I didn’t tip toe–so they learned to sleep in almost any environment–and because we did this they were easy to put down any where–as long it was nap time or bed time. Children are so resilient–but if you tip toe you teach them to require that–so keep the music on and run the errands you need to. Just be home in time for their naps and be consistent. Be consistent leads me into the early years of discipline…but that post is for another day. This one…is just for new mommies…in the first months:)

6. Remember that He is enough for your baby–and enough for you. I remember losing sleep over my first love. I let fear control my heart–and even steal my JOY. I worried. Worried. And worried some more. Would he stop breathing in his sleep? Would the congestion lead to RSV? Was I making enough milk? Would he weigh enough at his next checkup? Would he ever get on a nap schedule? Will his brain develop properly if he doesn’t nap long enough? It took me a few babies to learn that congestion was just snot–and it’d often work itself out. It really didn’t matter if they sucked their thumb or a paci. Nap schedules take time to work themselves out. And if they were under weight that probably means they are petite. I wish I could have just ENJOYED my first love. I think I passed down more worry to my first love as I let worry steal much of my joy in my first months of motherhood. I wish then I’d known the power of the Lord is 100% capable of caring for the little things–AND the big things when it comes to babies. My 4th love–I wasn’t there for the first year, and he was given coffee the first year of his little life simply because it was what was available. He had not met any major milestones that were normal for the first year for healthy babies. YET it was the Lord that watched over him and sustained him when I was across the world. He was enough then. He is enough now…for you–and for your little one. And my 4th, well–he has caught up just fine and is running around like a wild little 4 year old cowboy with the best of them…the same stage as Susie Cue’s 4 year old too despite his early delays. He will care for your love whether your little is beside you in a bassinet or across the world. So sleep…rest…and trust Him to care for your little one. He is enough.

Some times, mommying is as sweet or as hard as you make it. We’ve had special needs, colic, and 2 years olds newly home from other countries…but in just a couple of weeks with lots of love, attention, listening and watching their cues–we were on schedules and in our groove. It can be very overwhelming though the first time around–but don’t let it be! If it’s too overwhelming–then maybe you need to get out, have a breather and add a little something to your day to get your mind off it being perfect. It never will be perfect…but it can be sweet. So focus on simply enjoying the moment and meeting your love’s needs and you’ll be surprised how things begin to fall into place. I’d give anything to go back to those first weeks! So enjoy every moment…because they go by in a blink!

Mary (Owlhaven) - July 24, 2013 - 1:37 pm

Love this, Andrea!

sarah hurst - July 25, 2013 - 1:56 pm

absolutely beautiful post! i have one little girl, hoping to have a second child soon, through adoption and i couldn’t agree more with what you’ve typed out above! i stressed and worried so much about every little thing when my daughter was a baby, and sometimes i still do. having this reminder and something that new mommies can read is such a blessing! thank you for taking the time to share your heart and words with us!