Tell us about your sweet new baby? How old is she/what milestones have you experienced with her?
My sweet new baby girl’s name is Maison. She is 16 weeks old or almost 4 months. She has rolled over (only once) and has gotten really good at grabbing her toes. She is starting to teethe so there is slobber (so much slobber) and hand chewing. She wants be up and seeing new things all the time. She never wants to sit and cuddle, and she fights sleep like a divorcee fights her ex. Her favorite toy is the ceiling fan (don’t ask me why). She is awesome. I don’t really watch TV anymore and I don’t care because I just stare at her ALL. DAY. LONG. Yes, I know that’s creepy. I don’t care. I was reading her a book the other day called “Love You Forever.” I don’t know if you’ve read it or not but I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, this is super creepy.” I ended up sobbing crying at the end though (and I never cry). I want to be like that mom in the book… HA!
What did you do to prepare for a new baby?
You name it, I read it. I knew absolutely nothing about babies before her. I had never even changed a diaper or held a baby while standing! Yikes! I had a hard time sleeping when I was pregnant, so I spent most of those long nights reading about everything from how to bathe your newborn to breastfeeding. We went to all the classes: Prepared Childbirth, Unmedicated Childbirth, Breastfeeding, and Infant CPR. Our house went from minimal furniture and gadgets to endless baby gear and equipment. I still can hardly believe that such a small, tiny baby requires so much stuff! I hired a doula and prepared my mind for an unmedicated birth. I felt like we had done everything possible to prepare ourselves, but in truth there is really no way to fully prepare for what was about to happen. You just have to jump in feet first and learn as you go.
What is the smallest way your life has changed since having a new baby? What is the greatest way?
Smallest way? I’m not sure if there is a small way. My life has changed in EVERY way so I guess I feel like it’s all huge. Everything that I used to do before a baby, like going out to eat, pumping gas, or even being gone for more than 2 hours at a time, used to be so simple, but now seems almost dang near impossible. Maybe I’ll get it one day… maybe.
There are 3 main major areas in my life that changed post-Maison. My relationship with God, my marriage, and my work life: the three biggest and most important areas to me. First, my relationship with God has changed for the absolute better. I depend on Him even more now than I did before. I pray daily that He will protect her, provide for her, and use me to do His work by raising her how He has planned for her life. Just as Maison grows and with each plumpy pound she gains, so does my faith. We can worry ourselves sick about what could happen, but I give it to God and trust that he will keep my baby safe. Second is my marriage. We have been together for 9 years and married for almost 3. Our relationship has always been strong, very very strong. Most people say the first year of marriage is the hardest, well… not for us. I think because we had been together for so long that our first year of marriage was a piece of cake. For us, it’s the first year with baby that has proven to test our relationship the most. Yes, I was expecting it and braced for it, but until you actually experience what it means you really can never understand or prepare for those many (oh so many) sleepless nights and painfully tired days. Or how it takes every bit of energy and attention we have to A) keep the baby alive and B) keep her happy. Or trying to balance baby’s needs with my basic needs (like eating and hygiene) with work AND our relationship. At the end of the day I sometimes feel like I can’t give anymore and there is almost nothing left to put into our relationship as husband and wife. This bothers me, in the comparison to how things used to be. That is the biggest devil, comparison. But things will never be how they were in the past and letting go of that familiarity and embracing a new way is challenging for me because it was so easy before. In the end, I know it will only make us stronger and our roots grow deeper and deeper. I believe that anything GOOD, you have to work for. Lord knows I worked to have Maison and I will work for our marriage too. I think most people don’t want to share that or talk about it because it isn’t picture perfect. But I don’t think I’m alone in this, and I’m all about being real and telling the truth no matter how vulnerable or uncomfortable it may make me. Truth is, it ain’t easy but we’re working on it. Finally, my work life. I am suuuuuuuper fortunate to be able to work from home and stay with my baby. I wouldn’t want it any other way, but it’s been way harder than I thought it was going to be (shocker!) I thought… “oh, I can feed her and play with her and then lay her down for a nap in her crib. I’ll be able to get work done while she sleeps because babies sleep so much, right?” WRONG. Yes, she sleeps a lot but she will not sleep in her crib or anywhere unless I’m holding her so I end up trying to peck at my computer with one hand until she wakes up. I love what I do passionately and I love to get lost in my work but I am trying to, again, embrace this new way. I can’t compare myself to how much work I was able to get done in the past because it’s different and I just have to learn how to work differently.
What has being a new mom taught you?
Being a new mom has given me a totally new definition of hard work. I was no stranger to hard work before a baby (far from it) but having a tiny human depend on you for everything in addition to the rest of your responsibilities takes hard work to a whole other level. I love this article “My child is here, but my body is still not my own.” She said that she was told that “the big secret of parenthood was that the moment one has children one becomes a super hero.” (you should read it) I mean there really is no other explanation for how we’re able to do it. It requires super human strength, patience, and self-sacrifice. Something that I didn’t have until I had her. Self-sacrifices were something that went against my entire way of thinking. Not super proud of it, but before, I think I was mostly focused on my happiness, my well being, my comfort. Now, I totally give all that stuff up happily for her.
Another thing having a baby has taught me is to live in the moment. The thing I heard my entire pregnancy and especially now is, “they grow up so fast.” Well, they really do. I don’t want to miss a single smile. One day my husband will walk her down the aisle and give her away. These are the moments that I will want back. Right now. Holding my daughter while she sleeps with cheeks so rosy and perfect it would make a cherub jealous. As her hand rests on my chest with the softest touch and skin I’ve ever felt in my life. While I watch her chubby tiny frame take slow even breaths up and down up and down. Oh, I’m breathing it in. I cherish this time when I’m her favorite person in the entire world. The newness of everything seen through her eyes. And when she becomes a toddler and my hands really are full. Or when she is an awkward teenager and really starts to challenge me. I will still live in the moment and be thankful for every stage and precious moment. I will not look back and regret that I didn’t realize what a special time it was.
What piece of advice that you received would you want all new moms to make sure they hear?
Don’t worry about the dishes! I am reminded of the story in the Bible when two sisters Mary and Martha had Jesus over to visit. Luke 10:38-42. Mary only sat at his feet and listened to everything Jesus had to say while Martha was so worried and distracted by all the things that needed to get done. Like cleaning and preparing the meal. Martha came to Jesus and asked why he didn’t care that Mary had left her to do all the work. Jesus said, “ Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” I truly believe that Maison is a gift from God and I don’t take that lightly. He has given me the privilege to care for her and play with her and see her beautiful smile. I’m not going to miss that because my sink is full of dishes. Therefore; Martha, Martha, don’t worry about the dishes! The dishes can wait!
Go on a date! This was advice given to me by my OB/GYN! During our final visit before I had her, we talked about our normal things: symptoms, questions and concerns and then he asked me, “When was your last date?” I was so confused because I was like “Dr, isn’t our due date written on my chart?” But he meant a DATE date. OOOOOOOOOH… I couldn’t even remember. He ordered us to go on a date that night! So we did, our last date, just my husband and I. I thought then that it was so difficult to do. After all, I was a week past my due date and uncomfortable, I had nothing to wear, and when we got to the restaurant the waitress had to pull the table out further from the booth so my belly could squeeeeeeeze in-between. But that was easy compared to all that goes into going out to eat now. And I so treasure that memory and I’m so glad that we listened! So, Dr’s orders! Go on a date!
What is a piece of advice that you wish you would have been told/listened to?
First, I never got true maternity pictures. My mother begged me to do them, but I thought I looked huge and had nothing cute to wear plus I always hate pictures of myself. I thought I wouldn’t want to remember how I looked. But I was so wrong. SO WRONG! I now look back at that sweet, sweet time when it was only her and I, and I wish I would have listened to my mother (don’t we always) and just got the pictures anyway.
Second, listen to your instincts and trust it. Yeah so, during those pregnant sleepless nights like I mentioned before, reading about everything I could get my hands on so that I could feel “prepared.” I found so many things that totally contradicted each other. Don’t nurse your baby to sleep, she won’t learn to self-soothe. Do nurse your baby to sleep, it helps them feel secure. Start sleep training as early as possible or else you will never get sleep. Let your baby develop its own sleep pattern. Never let the baby sleep with you. There’s nothing wrong with letting your baby sleep with you because it comforts them to be close to you. And the list goes on and on. Bottom line. I have come to realize that I should just listen to my own instincts and do what I feel is right for MY baby. Let me tell you, a momma’s intuition is REAL and it is strong. Before I had Maison and in those first few weeks, I was terrified that she would cry or something would be wrong and I would have no idea what to do. I wouldn’t be able to fix it and she would break. But you know what?! I did know what she needed, I just felt it and she didn’t break! When she would get upset I just had a feeling for what she needed, and I have grown to trust that feeling and feel confident in that. Ignore the haters and negative people and do what is right for you and your baby.
- Koral Dean, Art Director