Today I am excited to welcome our newest contributor, Sara of Happiness is Here, to share her thoughts on growing into parenthood.
I remember the feeling of having my first daughter. The excitement we felt of welcoming this new little person into our family.
I also remember the anxious feeling when we left the hospital, pushed out into the world, this newly formed family of three, expected to care for this tiny human all on our own. I think I had a conversation with my husband about how strange it was that they were just letting us take this baby home, by ourselves. Us! What did we know? How on earth would we know what to do?
We worked it out, slowly. And as we all know, it’s not hard to find advice. The parenting section of any bookstore is full of it! Online there’s even more. All around you there is advice about what you should (and should not) be doing.
You should not rock your baby to sleep.
You should not feed your baby to sleep.
You should not pick your baby up every time they cry.
Your baby should sleep by themselves.
You should most definitely not create bad habits.
So many rules! So many ‘should’s.’ No wonder new parents often feel so stressed!
What am I doing wrong?
When your baby isn’t sleeping all night, when you’re sleep deprived and can’t even get a shower on your own, it’s hard to keep those doubts out of your mind.
Nothing at all.
It took me about 8 months after I had my first daughter to really let go. To trust myself. To realise that my baby hadn’t read the parenting books, she was just a baby needing her Mum. I was her Mum and I knew what to do. I didn’t need to keep fighting to change her into this fictional baby that she was supposedly meant to be. These parenting ‘experts’ may know what works for some babies, but they have never had my baby.
I am the expert on my babies.
Now, having had three babies, things are a bit different. I know what to do. I trust myself. I am more relaxed, and things are much easier. And so I want to tell you something I wished I had learnt a little earlier, to save myself some stress…
Dear Mama, wading through the advice, you’re doing alright. Put down the books. YOU are the Mama to this tiny person. That makes YOU the expert. Listen to your heart Mama. You know what to do.
Dear Mama, this time goes fast. Soon enough that tiny baby, who is so dependent, will be pushing chubby hands against your chest, wriggling to be put down and explore. This time of little sleep, of big demands on your body and time, will be over all too soon. Forget about the ‘rules’. Let it go. Enjoy yourself. Do what works for you. Choose the easiest path. You can’t spoil that baby. You can’t give him too much love.
Dear Mama, you’ll find your way. Take all the support around you. Take the help too. But, leave the advice if it’s not for you. Leave the ‘should’s’ and ‘should not’s’ behind.
Dear Mama, just follow your heart.
How did you manage all of the advice as a first time parent? Did it also take you time to trust yourself to know what’s best as a parent?