When people hear I have four children, they automatically assume I know everything there is to know about parenting. This assumption, like so many others, is incorrect. Yes, I have four children, but I still do not have the golden key that unlocks the secret to parenting.
My youngest is four years old and every day I wonder how I managed to get my oldest to 15 because it feels like I have no clue what I am doing. What I do know for certain is that having a newborn does not get easier. For me it was the most stressful time with each child. It was easier in a few ways, like I knew that it was ok if they cried while I went to the loo, but I had four non-sleepers and 3.5 screamers, and it was exhausting.
“I believe that moms need to do what is best for them, guilt free.”
Everyone has an opinion when you have a child, especially a newborn. Everyone knows why your baby is crying and how to fix it. Everyone implies they can do it better or that their child is better. It is because of this that I try not to overwhelm moms with advice and suggestions. Instead, I just listen or take them some coffee and tissues to wipe away the tired mom tears because newborn life can be overwhelming and tough. That said, though, these things have rung true for all four of my babies and maybe they will help you navigate those early weeks.
1. Don’t forget about dad!
Did you know what to do when your baby popped out and started screaming? Probably not. You had to figure it out by trial and error. Allow your partner the same opportunity. He knows as much as you do; in some cases, your partner may have read a little more than you did and may be able to help. Dads are parents too and can be as involved as you are, if you let them. I never bathed one of my children until they were six weeks old. That was their dad’s job. It gave them a chance to bond and develop something that is theirs. Most nights my husband still does bath time with our seven- and four-year-old.
2. Shut out the noise
As wonderful as Dr Google and Facebook groups can be, they can get too noisy very quickly. Every baby is different, even siblings. They respond to different things and what works for one may not work for another. Instead of blasting information from every corner, pick a few people you trust and when you are unsure or need advice, ask them.
3. Asking for help does not equal failure
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t have to do it all yourself. Exhaustion can be dangerous and negatively impact both you and your baby. When you feel you’re reaching you limits, ask for help. Reach out to your partner, a friend or a healthcare provider.
4. Breastfeeding is not always best
I breastfed all four of my children and none of them were pleasant experiences. With my first child, I was made to feel so incredibly guilty for not wanting to feed him that I pushed through for six weeks and then just couldn’t carry on. I believe it is the reason that it took me almost a year to properly bond with him. If breastfeeding works for you and your baby, carry on with it – but if it does not, then stop. I am not anti-breastfeeding at all! I believe that moms need to do what is best for them, guilt free.
5. It is ok to take a timeout
Having a baby is a life-changing experience. Your whole life changes, even when you are adamant it won’t. Mothers often feel the change the most and it takes many of us a while to adjust. Allow yourself this time and when you need it, take a time out. Go and get your nails done or have coffee with a friend or even get away for the weekend. It is so important to put yourself first and fill your cup, so that you can be there for your family.
I struggled for the first six weeks with each of my children, even the easier ones. It took me a while to adjust, get to know them and figure out life with a new baby in the house. I was fortunate to have a great support system, but it can still be challenging and that is ok. It is normal to feel clueless, exhausted, elated, in love, resentful and deliriously happy all at the same time. The most important thing to focus on in those early weeks is your health and spending as much time as you can cuddling and getting to know your new baby.
Laura has four children ranging in age from 16 to four. She runs her own business from her home in the mornings and in the afternoon, she turns into mom’s taxi and takes her many kids to and from their various afterschool activities. In-between all of that she blogs over at HarassedMom about her journey as a mom.