While many moms would still call me a new mom (I've only been a mom for 19 months, so I get it), I feel that I have recently really blossomed into my role as a mother. Everyday I feel more confident in who I am and the choices I make for my precious girl. As Lilah grows everyday, I feel like time is really slipping through my fingers. I want to pump the brakes and really soak in these moments before they are gone! Just the other day I was thinking about the fact that this time last year, Lilah was a tiny 6 month old who had just begun crawling. Now she is an adventure loving, running and jumping, rambunctious 19 month old who stops for NO ONE. In one short year so much has changed and I know it will only continue this way. So as I sat there thinking about how much has changed in a year I reflected on my first year as mother. On the highs, the lows, and everything in between. In doing so, I reflected on the things that I would go back and do differently. And while I can't go back, I thought I could share this wisdom with you, if you are still in the throws of the first year of motherhood. And if you are past the first year, I think this post is also for you because in all stages of motherhood, we can still make these applicable.
I would have had more boundaries around the postpartum period. When I was pregnant, my husband told me his whole family (5 people) wanted to come from Chile for the birth. The thought made me a bit uncomfortable, but I didn't want to take that from him so I agreed. Having five extra people around day and night for two weeks as soon as we got home from the hospital put a ton of extra pressure on me and I feel it really took away from our time to bond just the 3 of us. I started resenting my husband for this and it took a lot of time and talking for use to move past this. If I could go back I would agreed to have them come a month after she was born. I would have set healthy boundaries that would have allowed us the quite and sacred time together as a family while still allowing his family to come at a more reasonable time. Boundaries are very healthy and we should never regret or feel bad about setting boundaries.
I would have enjoyed the first three months more. I was a nervous wreck the first three months of Lilah's life. I hated leaving the house because I was afraid Lilah would start crying in public and I was SO nervous to feed her in public. I also wouldn't leave the house in fear of messing up her naps. If I could go back, I would have done whatever I felt like doing and I wouldn't have worried about people looking at me because my baby was crying. I also definitely wouldn't have worried about nursing in public, because #DROPTHECOVER and I wouldn't have worried about messing up naps, because newborns sleep anywhere and pretty much sleep through anything (except when their parents want to nap too!)
I would have nursed Lilah to sleep from the beginning. I believed the lie so many mothers are told, "Don't nurse your baby to sleep, or else you'll create a bad habit." In feeling like I shouldn't nurse her to sleep, I went against nature for months! Bedtime was so hard on my husband, Lilah, and me because I was fighting something that would have made it so easy. Instead of just nursing her to sleep, my husband would spend sometimes over an hour bouncing/rocking her to sleep. It was not enjoyable for anyone. I think back to that time and regret it so much. It would have been so much more easier and enjoyable to have nursed her to sleep.
I would have sought the guidance of a lactation consultant. Lilah and I struggled SO much with nursing in the beginning. It hurt a lot. Lilah had a very hard time latching for about the first month and I really didn't think we were going to make it. I pushed through and here we are 19 months later still nursing, but if I would have sought the help of a IBCLC (lactation consultant) I would have been able to enjoy nursing from the beginning. I found out when Lilah was about 14 months that she had a lip and tongue tie, I know this is the reason nursing was so hard in the beginning. I am positive that if I had reached out for help, we could have had the lip and tongue tie released and it would have helped us both!
I wouldn't have stressed so much about Lilah's sleep. I read all the books, all the apps and all the websites, and was SO stressed when Lilah didn't sleep anything like they said she was "supposed" to. I began to obsess about her sleep. We wouldn't leave the house during the day because of naps and if we went anywhere at night we had to be home exactly before her bedtime. It really strained my marriage because my husband felt like we weren't really living life and it gave me so much anxiety. If I could go back I would know that how she slept was normal and that her sleep would adapt even after an off day. I would have gone into the world with her more, I would have enjoyed nights at my sister's house, I would have enjoyed life without the anxiety about her sleep.
I would have started safely bedsharing from the beginning. I also believed the lie that bedsharing was the most dangerous thing I could do with my baby. When I later discovered that it was the most natural place for a baby to be and that it could be dont safely, it was a total game changer for us! If you want to learn more about breastfeeding check out Dr. James McKenna's book Safe Infant Sleep or check out the La Leche League's book Sweet Sleep
I wouldn't have stressed about milestones. I would have just enjoyed watching Lilah grow everyday. I would have trusted that by giving her plenty of unrestricted time on the floor during the day I was giving her the opportunity to grow and develop in her own time. The books and apps love to give you a time when milestones should start happening. All this does is create stress. Trusting that each baby is unique and develops in their own time is so freeing for both mom and baby! I would also like to point out that if you believe something is happening with your little one that is prohibiting them form developing, should reach out to a Pediatric OT for support!
I would have asked for help and started taking time for me from the beginning! When Lilah was about 14 months I reached a point of total burn out. I wasn't enjoying motherhood and I didn't even know who I was anymore. This is because I wasn't taking time for me or asking for help. Once I started making a point to take time for me and not feel guilty about it, I was able to show up better as a mother! If you are struggling with this, see my blog post on Finding my worth outside of motherhood!
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