Insights into the new role of mother
I have officially been a mom for 8 months and 3 weeks. Ella has proven to be an incredible baby and becoming more fun and playful as time goes on. I have already learned alot about being a mother, and figured it was time to share a few key things thus far. So here are some of the parenting epiphanies we have encountered thus far :)
1) Babies definitely have a schedule of sleeping, of eating and of play.
It took us a few weeks, if not months, to learn Ella's schedule. At first, I thought "She is a baby and will pass out in my arms". Sometimes, obviously, yes she did. But when it came to night time, there was a strict schedule that needed to be adhered to. At the beginning I would try the whole she will fall asleep in my arms thing and tried to watch a movie or relax in the family area... but then what seemed out of nowhere, she would begin whaling and crying like crazy! For a while we thought she was allergic to lentils, as they were a regular in our evening meals and this seemed to only happen in the evenings. But it just so happened, that it was not an allergic reaction, but an overshooting of bed time! We learned that quick and had to readjust a few times until we found our groove.
So now...Ella will wake up around 8am and feeds upon waking then play until about 1:30. She will nap any where between 20 minutes to 2 1/2 hours and then eat and play some more. Come 5:30 we are getting ready for bed, will eat again and then sleep by 6-6:30ish. I have to breastfeed about 2 times by the time I come to bed around midnight, and then generally once more before morning time. Its become quite consistent and working out brilliantly for us as a family unit. Thus, be willing to be patient in order to find what works for you, your child and the family as a whole.
2) How to properly pick up a baby.
Tom and I had to learn this lesson through soar backs and wrists. Its amazing how many times a day you have to pick up a baby. And to most new parents, thats something that goes from 0-50 times a day, almost instantaneously. At the beginning, Ella was sleeping with us in our bed. This lasted until about 6 1/2 months when we got her her own crib because she was becoming mobile and no longer safe there. When I would put her to sleep and feed, she was really close to the wall... so when she would cry to wake up... I/we would lean all the way over and pick her up into our arms, and then into our chest. This strained the back and the wrist continually. Plus all the holding and lifting through the day adds to the mix. As a result I even got De Quervain Syndrome and have been rehabilitating ever since I realized this is what was happening.
If I can save any new parent time and pain... then I would suggest a new technique, one we learned and adopted. We referenced this website for lifting a baby correctly. Ya, it sounds silly to have to learn how to properly lift a baby, but you do! lol and I also began strengthening wrists and back exercises to not only help correct the injury, but to also prevent any pain or injury in the future. Apply these techniques and be mindful in all your actions. In mindfulness, we can only promote a present state of mind, which can only be helpful and thus preventative. Work with yourself, not against it. Check!
3) I have come to learn that the sabotage of our peace of mind while having a new baby is a) judging yourself and basing that judgement against what you see other moms doing or not doing with their kids and b) seeing your child as getting in the way of what you want to or should be doing. These thoughts are toxic to us. They blind us to what is actually going on, by choosing to see through judgment instead of clear vision. To add more depth here I will begin with reason A. Instead of being loving to another mother as you would want to be loved, and gentle with her in her process of learning how to do this whole thing called parenting and grateful to her for bringing forward the peers that your child will be growing up with, we are judging, condemning and hating what others do and do not do. Sometimes these thoughts are vocalized, sometimes kept hidden, sometimes barely noticed at all..but if we listen, they are generally there. Its the worlds thoughts! We are conditioned to judge, as this world is a very very judgmental place. To move beyond this, we have to do our very best in every now moment to choosing loving thoughts. Use the tools we have acquired, and seek for more tools that can help and bless your vision and situation. As you learn and allow the practice of parenting to be a joyous and evolving one, you can help share this knowledge with others, so we ALL can live good and happy lives together and live in a happy world. As we do our part to the best of our ability, others will do the same. We are innocent of all our mistakes, we are learning, and can help each other to be our best selves and encourage our children to be their best and brightest selves. Now with reason B. This is a big one, for before we were parents we could basically do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted (of course there is some limitation there, but not like when a baby comes on scene ;)). I have learned that this same mind that judges (ego) is the same mind that plans, and planning more often than not, sets us up for disappointment and frustration. With a baby, every day is different. They are always learning new skills, we are learning to be new parents, and this whole transition is taxing in many ways and thus opens to many different events taking place each and every day. We cannot be up late like we used to, and party with friends like we used too, and its important NOT too see this as a loss, but instead, to focus on everything you have gained in being a parent. We now can be part of the raising and shaping of our future generations, and we have some one who will love us unconditionally and call us mom, or dad and provide us with an infallible mirror to look at our own stuff so we can finally be truly happy and at peace. This is what ego does NOT want to look at, our "stuff", but this is the very thing our soul is so grateful for and will assist in bringing to light. If we learn to give our day to God, to the Universe, and trust that we will get done what is needed that day, and be okay with things not going the way we "think" they need to go.... well..... then we will be able to find peace within ourselves that we can bring into each and every day and teach it to our children by being peaceful. Let go of expectations of how tidy things need to be or how perfect the image must look or what you think you have to do... because in fighting for those things, you miss the joy and new milestones that are unfolding in this now moment with your child. And by letting those go, you open to the unlimited ways for the universe to bless you and carry you to new and enlightening experiences as a family.
4) Breastfeeding is a controversial issue in this world.
Those who do it can often feel greater than other mothers who choose not too or cannot do it. I feel its important to cover both ways for a moment. I personally chose to breastfeed and have learned through it thus far, that it truly is a time to bond with the baby. To have an engagement of exchange while feeding and cuddling and nourishing. I have seen how helpful it is to turn over and feed her at night, or day, and the closeness we experience. There is no way however, that I feel this closeness cannot be experienced with a bottle fed baby too. If we cannot breastfeed for medical reasons, physical reasons or surgical reasons- then we must keep in mind that you are not a bad mom because you cannot or were not able to feed your baby yourself. You still fed them, the best way you could, and you love them. That's what matters. Again, this is back to the judgment idea. Breastfeeding is controversial, only because we just moms against what they do or do not do! The reason why the woman cannot or chooses not to breastfeed is up to them, and between them and the baby and God. Its noone's business, and we definitely do not know what is best for some one else. So its safe to say, bless everyone for the choice they make and be happy in the decision you made.
5) The importance of having a pre-stocked, ready to-go baby bag for spontaneous travels
There have been a few times over these many months where we have either forgotten the baby bag, extra clothes or extra snacks; resulting in a baby staying longer than necessary in a poppy diaper, or showing up at friends houses naked or hungry. Even though they were absolutely harmless mistakes, why make your baby be uncomfortable when there is a way to get around this right.
What I learned very early on was to pack a baby bag and stick it by your purse. Where ever you go, so does the bag, with lots of goodies in it! My baby bag includes: obviously diapers, at least 5 to 6. If I use any when out, I stock up as soon as I get home. Next is wipes, blankets, at least 2 outfits, toys and snacks. I used these rice cakes when she was really young as they dissolve in her mouth, as well as organic pre-made food in a pouch and more rice cakes from love child after about 7months. I always make our own baby food at home by steaming veggies and using the Baby Bullet, so I will often throw a green lid on top of her pre-made food and take that too. I also have my breasts, which she is still taking too every day which is a help. :) But just in case, snacks are stocked and have been a really savior at times. I also add in a bib, a spoon, face/butt cream and face cloths. You can never go wrong with having too much in the bag :)
6. Establishing good communication from the beginning
We started teaching Ella sign language from really really little. When we would say the words drink, hungry, water, poopy, pee pee, we would sign the word to her. After a few short months she was signing right back. Honestly this has saved us much time and frustration in trying to understand what she needs or wants at any given time. If we are consistent with it, so is she. Its now second nature for her and we almost always know what she wants and asks for.
Anytime she has a tantrum, we get to her eye level and talk to her. We full out communicate with her as if she understands us, and you know what, very very often she does. Its amazing how much they know, pick up and learn before they can even say a sentence. We have to keep in mind that just because they are little bodies, doesn't mean they are not their Souls.....cause they are. And they understand and pay attention more than we think.
When she does something good we applaud her and say the thing she did good, "Good JOb Ella, you took those steps really safely" and we DONT accentuate what we dont want. We talk to her. We explain why she cant do that thing, and offer her a way to do it differently. For example if she throws her fork, we tell her why she cant do that, what might happen if she does and give her back her fork only for her to hand it to us without throwing. This establishes patterns and habits that we want to have instead of what we dont want to have.
We also are conscious of the energy or tone we are using when with her. If I ever get close to being frustrated at night when putting her down, I tap out, its Daddy's turn. He comes in to help, I step away refocus my mind and come back to the task at hand. We are responsible for what we think, and how we respond to our babies all the time. It can be tough, they demand a lot, but when we remember that we are responsible for these little ones we can let them teach us how to be the best parents we can be. And honestly... effective communication with the child, with self and with the other parent is integral for working and thriving relationships.
To be continued...