Advice for New Moms

This week my baby turned 15.  And all I can think about is this one moment in the middle of the night, when he was less than two weeks old, and I was completely sleep-deprived…and I hadn’t worn pants with a button for almost a year…and I mostly smelled like baby spit up…and I had cried almost every day that week…that I held him in my arms with his little head in my hands, and the smell of new baby all over him and I thought…

“This.  Is totally worth it.”

IT. IS. TOTALLY. WORTH. IT.  New mom, hang in there.  You’ve got this.  And don’t listen to anybody’s advice.  Including mine.  Unless you ask for it. But unsolicited? No. Everyone is going to have lots of advice for you, but just smile and nod and head home and roll your eyes and then do whatever you think is best for your little family…because your baby will be fine.

But in the event that you really do want some advice… totally unsolicited, and easily ignorable…here it is:

Breast/Bottle:

Either one is fine. Just feed your baby. They will be hungry and will  care less about whether or not they drink breastmilk or formula than you and the rest of the world do. They. just. want. food. I tried breastmilk with Kaitlyn until I realized that she slept better through the night if I gave her formula…and with Carson, I just told the nurse at the hospital to please bring me a bottle because seriously…I had just spent 9 months giving my body to my child and that was pretty much my limit. Also…I was ready for some wine.

And ironically, it’s my breastfed child that is constantly sick and costs me way more money in visits to the doctor than any can of formula ever did. That being said, both of the kids have turned out relatively well and have gained plenty of weight and their brains developed the proper neurons…and ok, so neither of them is a valedictorian…but they’re pretty well-adjusted and your baby will be too. So breast? Bottle? Either way, just feed them. They’ll be fine.

Work/Stay at Home

I don’t know. Do you like to work? Do you have a job? Do you need a job? Do you prefer play dates and mommy and me groups? IT DOES NOT MATTER. YOUR CHILD WILL BE FINE. My kids have had a combination of daycare, babysitters, me at home, and days in which they rocked in their car seat under my desk at work. I had a season at home in which I spent time with other moms sharing tips about healthy snacks and watching Caillou, and seasons of work in which I dropped my kid if at a daycare center where they played with other kids and made macaroni necklaces and handprint valentines. So far, my kids’ biggest complaint about me is that I try to pry into their private lives too much, but I’ve never heard them say, “I can’t believe you had the nerve to drop me of at daycare when I was a baby,” or “Why did you think it was a good idea to take me to playdates and feed me Cheerios?” Your kid won’t either. They will be fine. Because you love them and will do what’s best for you and your family. And that is all that matters.

Cry it out / Pick them up

I mean…sometimes do one and sometimes do the other.  I’ve spent plenty of nights with a crying child and a stopwatch to see just exactly how long I was letting them cry.  My limit was always 10 minutes, but to be honest, they never really made it past 3…although those 3 felt like 586 hundred million.  And then one day they just sleep through the night. 

Look, do what you feel is best.  Some moms swear by the sleep schedule (I’m going to be honest…I did this and it SAVED MY LIFE.)  And some moms feel it’s better to pick up their child when they cry…or co-sleep…or sleep-nurse…or all of the other things…and their children seem normal too.  It’s possible that one day my child will be in therapy and will blame all of their issues on the fact that I let them cry themselves to sleep as an infant…but so far they blame their issues on other things… like the fact that I write blog posts about them and hug them in public.  So, new mom, as long as they get some sleep…in a crib, in your arms, in a carseat, before eating or after…they will be ok.  Here’s the truth.  Moms always know best…and I promise…that begins the minute you bring your little one home.  So welcome to the club.

Because soon enough your baby will turn 15 and you’ll still feel completely inadequate as a parent…and you’ll wonder if you’re ruining his life…and you’ll wonder if you’ve done everything wrong…and answer is maybe.  But probably not.  Your baby will always be your baby, but one day…as you look at him across the gym, laughing with his friends and acting like a goofy teenager…you’ll realize that it’s probably not because you’ve fed him breastmilk or formula, you took him to playgroup or daycare, or you let him cry himself to sleep.  It’s because he has you for a mom and you’ve loved him through every stinking minute of his fifteen-year-old-life…and honestly…that is the only thing that you need to know.

With lots of love from an experienced, but still completely mediocre     Small Town Mom.