The truth is, being a mother has made my life so incredibly amazing that I can’t give enough thanks to the universe for such an amazing gift. With that said, it’s important to also acknowledge how extremely challenging it is.
If you are a mommy reading this, you will know exactly what I am talking about. It’s so physically exhausting and draining. Especially in the beginning during the first few weeks. I remember many days and nights where I was brought to tears from being physically and emotionally exhausted and sleep deprived by this new demanding task. Keeping this tiny itty bitty baby fed and happy.
I won’t ever forget the very first night we spent together. Penelope was born at 10:59pm after a very long and difficult 33 hours of labor and delivery. All I wanted to do was eat and sleep and rest. While at the same time I just wanted to hold and stare at my baby. Meeting her for the first time was surreal. I had felt her moving around for months and even though she was literally a apart of me moments earlier, I now had to introduce myself to her and continue our relationship as if for the first time. I could barely keep my eyes open, but the last thing I wanted to do was close them.
There have been a lot of freaking rainbows and a lot of really yummy and delicious custard filled cupcakes. In other words I lucked out. I won the lottery or whatever you want to call it. I know, hate me. Since the moment Penelope came into this world and was put on my chest, the bond, the love, for me it came instant. Now that we had her in my arms, I never wanted to let her go. She latched right away. It was the neatest thing I’ve ever witness. She found her way over to my right breast and just started feeding all on her own. No one told her she had to eat, or how to do it, she just did.
I remember they wheeled me down to the recovery room with this tiny fresh new born in my arms. As soon as they got us comfortable in bed Penelope starting nursing again. I remember looking at the clock hanging on the wall in front of me. She nursed from 1am to 1:50am and every two hours after that. She was hungry! And I exhausted. And that is how our relationship started.
Penelope has been exclusively nursing like a champ and has never missed a single feeding since day one. Keeping my milk supply high. It’s all about demand and supply and NOT supply and demand. She also has never been given a bottle which has helped. Only the boob. Exhausting? Yes. Rewarding and the best bond in the whole entire universe? Yes. I honestly feel blessed to have a beautiful breast feeding relationship with my baby. We took a breast feeding class as a couple before Penelope was born and I would have to say it was hands down very helpful and I give credit to that class and the lactation consultant at Kaiser as well as the wonderful and supportive breast feeding support group at Baby Garden in South Park to our success in breast feeding. Well and huge credit to Penelope for being so good at it, even with a lip and tongue tie (more on that later).
As much as I am completely lost in love with her, there are moments where I want to throw in the towel. Moments where I want to clock off and take a really really long break and come back in a few days and try it again. Moments where you think you finally figured it out and then, oh wait, you didn’t. The responsibility is heavy, permanent and as real as ever.
As a new mommy, my advice to other new moms is to allow yourself to be vulnerable and open minded. Allow yourself to feel so completely overwhelmed and alone and exhausted. And then let it go. Let it go because it’s what you have to do and because it’s the nature of the job description. And then remind yourself that you really aren’t alone. That each and every single day, there are babies being born and there are new mommy’s joining in this procession. We aren’t the first or the last, we are part of the creation of life and it’s not something to take lightly. It’s demanding as heck, but somebody’s got to do it.
It’s ok to admit you don’t know what you are doing at first or ever. Even if you are convinced you secretly somehow might be an expert at this new gig. Especially if it is a new gig. Being a first time mom is hard and and it’s ok to admit it and to reach out for help. I think it’s really important to allow yourself the opportunity to have support from family and friends but most importantly from other mommas because if you don’t, you can isolate yourself and feel very alone.
Advice from other moms can be tricky. It can be hard to appreciate, especially when it’s thrown in your face without even asking, so it’s important to keep in mind that sometimes it’s best to be a better listener. It is best to wait to give advice. I appreciate and try and give advice in terms of what worked for me or what I read or what I wish I’d done differently instead of telling others what they should do or what will work for them. Ha ha as I’m giving my advice I have to laugh because it sounds so contradictory 😉
So here I am, sharing my story. Sharing what life has been like being a mommy for the first time and to my sweet Penelope. And with this, I hope to capture and hold in time memories of what the first six months ever looked liked (and counting because this post is published 3 months later!).
We reached our six month milestone and with it so much came I don’t know where to begin. Within the first week, we got a tooth, started solid foods and got in some pool time. Penelope also started signing for leche! Penelope can sign for milk! It’s all so exciting. She’s getting really mobile too. Rolling over and over while reaching for things and knocking down anything in her path. Her naps have even gotten longer and she is sleeping through the night with minimal interruptions. We try and keep her bedtime and routine the same every night. More about that later. Ah, six months! Where has the time gone?
Who is this baby? My little baby girl is growing up so fast. Penelope our tiny 6 lbs 12oz and 19.5 inches infant is now measuring 26 inches and a little over 17 lbs (at six months, she is now 9). Even though I see her everyday. I am blown away by the difference. Folks it’s true what they say, I am saying it too, they grow up so fast so enjoy every single little tiny itty bitty moment because a blink of an eye and it’s gone forever. Making a life and watching it develop and grow I must say hands down is one of the neatest most beautiful gifts, privilege, and job that we will ever know.
She is a self soother, I have not once rocked her to sleep while at home (occasionally in the ergo if we are out and about and its nap time). I know crazy eh? I made it my mission and personal goal. I had experience with other babies as a nanny or had seen other babies to toddlers still getting rocked to sleep and I never wanted that. The first six weeks, I pretty much wore her most of the day and had a lot of skin to skin. But for the most part and as soon as she turned 7 weeks I always made sure to have her take all her naps in her own crib when I wasn’t wearing her. And at night she would sleep with us in the arms reach co-sleeper next to me (for the first 5 months of her life). It wasn’t as hard as I imaged it would be because I literally had her at my hip when she was awake and when it was time to sleep, it was time to sleep and for mommy to get a break.
The key for us was to keep her naps and bed time consistent. Routine, routine routine. I’ve shared how Baby Wise really worked for us. The sleep, eat, play rhythm has really worked for our family. Perfectly? No. But overall, yes. Swaddle, pacifier and white noise every time for each and every nap pretty much same time each day too. I can pull this off because I am a stay at home mom, but can see how hard that is if not. I plan my outings in-between naps and or plan for her to nap in the car and or while I wear her if out and about while trying to keep the sleep, eat, play rhythm. It has seriously allowed me so much freedom knowing when she sleeps, eats, and plays. I can roughly plan my day, week, life accordingly. For bed time, swaddle (sleep sacks now) books, pacifier, kisses, white noise, down in crib. We never let her fall asleep in our arms, but in her co-sleeper or crib. I’m glad we started from the beginning because now at six months she pretty much puts herself to sleep. Yes, she cried a little in the beginning, but after a few days, we were set. I am not a fan of letting them cry it out, so there is hope. I promise!
She rarely cries and is seriously constantly smiling and being silly. I have pictures of her as a new born with that silly smirk showing us a sneak peek of what was to come. The first 3 months I nursed her every two hours (leaving me super exhausted) but she calm, content and chubby. It wasn’t until her 3 month growth spurt where she started crying. It was kind of nuts she rarely cried in the beginning. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to her hunger cry thinking who’s baby is this and where is my sweet P? Growth spurts are not fun, but good thing they don’t last forever. But not so good that there are so many of them! You finish one and only get a short break it seems until the next one rolls around.
As I shared in our birth story I was a pool of happy tears the first few days. I would look at my baby and at my husband and I couldn’t stop telling them how much I loved them. I felt so much. It was so raw (literally speaking too). The joy factor was off the charts. I’ve heard a lot about postpartum depression and I believe it is very real. The hormones in our bodies during and after pregnancy are intense. I can see how it can be really hard emotionally. I am very thankful I didn’t experience anything to that level.
I experienced a lot of uncomfortable pain from engorgement the first six weeks. I was both feeding and pumping after every feeding to try and help but only realizing later that pumping was making it worse and therefore telling my body to make twice as much milk. I ended up donating a freezer of milk at 4 months to two mommas who needed it since I realized it was going to go bad (because I didn’t own a deep freezer). That was an awesome experience.
Simply learning how to use this new tool that we’ve always had but never had to use, was challenging. For once in my life I understood why we had BOOBS. Oh, that’s what they’re for! I felt like a dummy. Learning how your body works nor matter how natural it is, can be very challenging. Thank god for us, overall nursing has gone smooth. I did however experienced a blocked duct at five months, that was not fun.
It hasn’t been all smiles, but my passion and love for motherhood has made this journey much smoother than I imagined. And I think because I wanted it so bad, I believed in it and myself. Thanks to Penelope too. She has been there for me with that goofy smile that melts away all my worries. So because of her, I can say, life is pretty darn good these last six months (now 9).
We have spent every single day together since the moment she became a part of this world. It’s crazy what they do to you. The love of a child. It’s insane. The love and bond between us is one that I can’t describe because there are no words. It’s more than a feeling and a knowing that this tiny little being is literally a part of you. Someone once described it as watching your heart live outside of your body. I would say that comes pretty close to summing it up. And yes, I am part of the mommy club that take a million pics a day documenting every single thing. And you know what? I don’t care, I love it! I want to savor every second with her. Watching her grow has been the best gift and biggest privilege.
I know I have really enjoyed meeting other moms and sharing in this solidarity of motherhood. It’s been really great actually. I’ve reconnected with old friends and built new ones as well. I want to thank all those mommies that have been super supportive to me (you know exactly who you are 🙂 ). Selfishly I wish more of my childhood friends would jump on the bandwagon but I’ve realized that not everyone wants this. At least not now. I had a friend ask why do you want us to all have kids so bad?! I wasn’t sure how to reply, but not until you are a mom do you wish this beautiful gift to others.
Every baby is different and therefore so is their momma and dada and parenting philosophy etc. The important thing to keep in mind is the fact that we all share in the solidarity of new life. We will meet other parents with different philosophies and that’s ok because I truly believe that as long as it – whatever that may be – is working for both baby and parents, then that is all that matters. If your baby is constantly showing signs of unhappiness, such as constantly hungry, gassy and crying then it’s ok to seek help. You’re not a bad mom, but your baby might be telling you something needs to change.
My experience has been over all a very joyful one. But no, it isn’t all rosy. As I’ve shared here, I’ve had my fair share of challenges. Being a first time parent is hard. It’s very demanding and draining. It really does change you. Everything is different. But you have to keep in mind life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it. There is a lot we can’t control, and sometimes it is the way we react and how we feel. We are only human right? But I try each and everyday to be positive and grateful as much as at there have been times where I want to throw in the towel, clock off and come back in a few days. Especially during childbirth and postpartum, but I personally believe that we have to try our very hardest to keep positive nor matter how challenging it may all get, because it will get very challenging. And you know what? It will also get a lot easier too. I promise.
Oh and one last thing. I can’t forget to share how awesome and supportive my husband has been. I can’t forget about him. Honestly, I couldn’t have done any of this without him. Really! He is my rock. He is my safe haven. He is the provider of this little family and my first love. Yeah I madly love my baby, but daddy comes first. I totally and completely believe that the foundation to a strong family and a happy home is in the foundation of love between the parents. Oh and one, one more thing, I can’t forget my SAN DIEGO, my blue skies and sunny warm days, my ocean breezes, my Mexican food, the sand between my toes, and the great energy, vibe and love that SOCAL brings to me. I can’t take any of these things for granted because without them, I wouldn’t be the happy mommy that I am today.
Cheers 6 months and counting! xx