All set to go home from the hospital! Everything was WAY too big on our peanut!

All set to go home from the hospital! Everything was WAY too big on our peanut!

Well I’m finally passed the 6 month mark with Ava and let me tell you, that FLEW by. Seriously, I feel like I have had whiplash, like “Wait, what just happened there”?! No joke. For a while there, my days and nights just mushed together like apples and bananas. No telling the difference between the two at times :). Now I feel like I’m swimming to the surface though. My friend Jen calls the first 3-4 months “the dark side”. Seriously, I get why now, but I mean that in the most loving way- LOL.  I’m no expert believe me, as Ava is my first child but I wanted to at least share with you my experience in the hopes that you may find some comfort in your own adventure. I will also be sharing in another post some tips, tricks, and tools in regards to websites, blogs, stores, products, etc because as they say, it DOES take a village folks!

This blowout took 4 hands- LOL!

This blowout took 4 hands- LOL!

First let me just say, the funny thing about parenting is well, everything. I’ve been “Auntie K” for 10 years now to a plethora of nieces and nephews as well as have many friends with kids. I’ve paid attention, I’ve babysat, I’ve asked questions, I’ve observed, and I’ve taken away information- both the good & bad, on how I’d like to raise my own kids one day. Knowing all that, I was still thrown completely for a loop when my own little bundle of joy arrived to bless my world. I quickly realized that my parenting style tends to be a bit more relaxed for most first-time mommas, at least thats what my experienced momma friends tell me. Maybe its because of my own laid-back go-with-the-flow personality, or maybe its because I have been around babies for the better part of the past 10 years, or maybe its because I just feel like I was meant to be a mom. Whatever it is, its uniquely mine, just as YOU will have your own style, which is what makes parenting so authentic and real.

It’s funny, I’ve always loved to be organized and be busy and want to do and be everything, and of course since its a part of who I am, I still desire those things. Honestly though, its taken a backseat to more pressing matters and I don’t even miss it on a day to day basis in the least. In fact, It’s been fun for me to see how I’m evolving as a person, not just a mom, and quite honestly Ava has made me a better person already, and she’s still just a peanut. Anyway, here are 10 highlights of what I’ve learned in my own experience the first 6 months. Take away what you want but most importantly remember this: there is no wrong way to raise your baby. You do what’s best for YOUR family & only YOU know your baby best. End of story.

No caption needed.

No caption needed.

1. The 4th Trimester: The most glaring thing that nobody told me though about having babies was that there is this “4th trimester” thing that happens. That in reality the baby that you have birthed is still somewhat “cooking” so to speak. They don’t yet have to ability to self-soothe and everything is new to them; that warm and cozy womb they’ve been in for 9 months is no longer, & all their senses are being bombarded from every direction 24 hours a day. How would YOU feel? I’m assuming not great. Thats how our babes feel too at first. Tired, confused, scared at times, lonely, cold, needy, hungry….its a lot to take in for a wee little human being. Simply pay attention to them and they will show their little personalities bit by bit. I’ve learned that I have quite the mild tempered child on my hands, except that she was very needy at first- wanted to sleep ON me only at all times, but eventually she figured out how to sleep alone. My advice: helping your baby through those emotions day by day will make your days and nights much sweeter those first few months.

We had a thumb sucker from the start…even came out sucking her thumb!

We had a thumb sucker from the start…even came out sucking her thumb!

2. A Great Support System: There will be people, and you all know you have them in your life, whether it be family or friends, or even strangers {which is super annoying}, they will tend to tell you what your in for next, instead of supportive of where you are now. You know what I mean, those who say things like “you better get & enjoy your sleep now”, or “wait till you have 2 kids (or 3 or 4)”, or “wait till they start walking “, or “wait till they can talk back to you”, “you think you have it bad now, wait till”……those kinds of unsupportive comments drive.me.mad. It has taken me a LOT of practice to just shrug off those frustrating comments. My advice: figure out a way to take a depth breath and smile, meanwhile just continuing to do your own thing. It will help your anxiety and irritation in the long run, trust me.

First bath- mommy was nervous & babe was scared = no bueno. She loves them now though!

First bath- mommy was nervous & babe was scared = no bueno. She loves them now though!

3. Mommy Competition: You will also come to learn about mommy competition….which can be the single most frustrating thing ever. You know the type- “how much does your baby weigh? Really, mine weighs more”, “What percentile does your baby fall into?”, “You had an epidural?!”, “well my baby takes this many ounces”, “I’m still nursing, your not, wow, I’m sorry?!”, “my baby can totally talk now, I can’t believe yours isn’t yet?!”….I could go on & on & on.  There is absolutely no need for this kind of behavior. All it does is tear you down and make you feel inferior which is the last thing you need in your life right now. My advice: separate yourself quickly from these women and if you can’t completely, find a way to not play their silly juvenile games. Rise above it all and just be your loving self. It’s not worth it and in both the short & the long run, does not matter in the least how your baby compares to others!!

Becoming a US Citizen!

Becoming a US Citizen!

4. “Sleep when They Sleep”: Once you have your baby, everyone will tell you to “sleep when they sleep”. And I get that, I really do. But sometimes I want to brush my teeth, or take a shower, or go pee, or shave my pits, or eat a sandwich,  or talk to my husband, or stare at a wall, etc etc etc. My advice: Figure out a way to get yourself some rest during the day for sure and take advantage of any and every help that comes your way. Trust me- you will definitely need both the rest and the help those first 8 weeks no doubt!!

She's got some moves our girl!

She’s got some moves our girl!

5. Breastfeeding: Can I get an “AMEN” on how hard breastfeeding is?! I’m not one of those women who are blessed with an abundance of milk. I worked my a** off from the start to give her what she needed. I took fenugreek (amazing results but made me smell like maple syrup), started pumping to increase supply around 1 month, ate everything I should have and didn’t eat anythingI wasn’t supposed to, and rested up as much as possible. I quickly realized that I had enough for Ava, but nothing extra really, which was ok. God knew what she needed from me and He provided enough to make her happy. But beyond the supply thing, the actual process of breastfeeding takes real honest to goodness work to get the wheels moving. You need to work on latching, and timing, and hygiene (for the nipples), and atmosphere- those hooter hiders are great but man I hate them; it makes me and her super HOT. All that being said, I LOVED my time breastfeeding Ava. I’m actually quite sad now because she has already weened herself. She’s such a busy body that she has no interest in it anymore (as of 6 months) and wants to suck down her bottle and get on with playing already- LOL.  I subsequently stopped pumping as well because she’s super quick and is on the verge of crawling and it just did not work for us to have me tied down to the pump. Its sad for me, I feel like I’m losing that bond and connection and time with her that nobody else ever had or ever will get. But its a part of her growing up right? I’m coming to terms with it, and a part of me does love having my body back already.

At around 4 months I began to supplement 1 formula bottle a day which really helped me to relax a bit and to not stress so much about it all. I also had a nasty bout of mastitis which was not fun at all so the supplemental feed helped tremendously. Now  that I’m all done breastfeeding & have used all my frozen milk too, its straight formula & baby food now. In the beginning, my pediatrician said that she was not gaining weight quick enough and said I needed help and gave me human milk fortifier to put in my breastmilk, which kind of freaked me out. Then my midwife said no don’t worry- she’s happy, she’s growing, she’s getting what she needs. Then at 3 months I found an old newborn photo of me and realized, she’s just like me- a long skinny mess of a baby that will eventually chunk up, and sure enough she’s getting there. Every babe is different and they all grow differently. My advice is to just take cues from your baby- if they are happy & satisfied, you are feeding them well :). Just do what you gotta do to say afloat my friends. Don’t worry about what others say.

Loving her walks in her Bjorn!

Loving her walks in her Bjorn!

6. Finding your Happy Place:  For me, the first 3 months were all about survival, finding a groove, and fitting her into our lives. My husband and I had talked many a time before having her about the kind of parents we wanted to be. We knew that we wanted her to “join our lives”. Sure life would be different: schedules, naps, bedtime, dinner time, travel abilities, and more. But at the end of the day, we have chosen to look at having kids as them joining our lives. What I mean is that just because we have children, doesn’t mean we stop living. Do you know what I mean? I know many people who just completely change their lives, at least for 18 years, and end up unhappy. Thats not what we wanted. We want children because we want that enrichment, that joy, that unconditional love, that ridiculous high that only your children can give you. We want to show them the world. We want them to be able to grow and adapt and love others and go with the flow. Sure that all takes time, but my advice? My advice: start thinking about your happy place from the beginning & eventually you will hit a groove. I think we are slowly but surely getting there.

Nothing is sweeter, nothing!

Nothing is sweeter, nothing!

7. Get Out & About: From the start I made myself get outside. I took her (& my mom), shopping for nursing bras and tanks I think it was about 8 days after she was born. It was a complete disaster, hahahahaha. She had a massive blowout in the store- I’m talking massive. Through her diaper, through her onesie, on her car seat, massive. So we cleaned her up and then she was hungry, so I stopped and fed her- hooter hider in full effect in a store. It was so funny looking back on it and so stressful for me at the time but I’m really glad I did that. It forced me to just deal with the matters as they come, and where they chose to come- LOL. After that we slowly chose days we wanted to do just 1 thing outside of the house, and not every day, but a few days a week. We ventured out for breakfast with her, we took her to church, we went for a walk. Just something to feel like we were a part of society again, if only for 30 minutes. As the days turned into weeks and then into months, things just sort of fell into place a bit more every day and our adventures got grander and grander. She has come to LOVE being out and above and is such a social butterfly, super chill little lady we’ve got on our hands! My advice: force yourself to join society again with simple little tiny steps at a time.

First time daddy got pooped on!

First time daddy got pooped on!

8. Building your Confidence: Once I hit the 3 month mark, I sort of just “got it” a bit more. I was starting to sleep a tad bit more, I trusted myself more, and I didn’t feel like such a COW (and I don’t mean fat, I mean like with utters- you know, the whole nursing bit, but although I could stand to lose a few lbs too) and I felt like I could follow conversations around me as well as partake in them, without feeling completely lost. My little babe wasn’t so fragile to me anymore and I felt more confident in how I held her, rocked her, fed her, bathed her, sang to her, changed her clothes, changed her diapers, strapped her in the car seat, etc etc etc. Mind you she turned 3 months AFTER I had taken her on a journey from SE Asia to the USA. Um yea, that was an experience for sure! My advice: trust yourself & go with your gut- your the mom!

Another sweet sleeping moment….

Another sweet sleeping moment….

9. Ahh, Scheduling: Around 4 moths I really worked hard at getting her on a schedule. Schedules aren’t for everyone, but for us, they worked wonders for both Ava and ourselves. You need about a 2 week stretch where you are pretty strapped to your home, but once you get it under control (the napping, sleeping, eating), you can start to live again and have days where the schedule isn’t followed and thats ok from time to time. It allows you to live and it allows the baby to adapt. I’m getting loads more sleep as she is finally sleeping 12+ hours a night about 95% of the time which let me tell you, makes a WORLD of difference in my daily energy levels and outlook. My advice: Find a scheduling system that works for you and get your baby on it! There are a ton of different books, so research one that works for you and your family. We used “Happy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child”. Godsend.

She's always loved "stretching" out!

She’s always loved “stretching” out!

10. Learning about your Baby: It’s funny- in the beginning we were like- “every cry sounds the same”. Now we know her hungry cry, her tired cry, her hurt cry, and her “I’m just bitching” cry. We know what makes her happy, what calms her down, what helps her to sleep, how she likes to eat, what makes her giggle uncontrollably, her favorite toys, and when she’s had enough. This whole “being a parent” thing is the hardest work ever, but its also the most satisfying work I’ve ever done, and will continue to do for the rest of my life. That being said, every time we find our groove, she switches it up on us again & is on to the next stage of her development- LOL :). Yes another reason its best to just “go with the flow” as her changing is going to keep on happening for the rest of her life!

I also think that you can never be too prepared. Read the books, check out the various websites, pray, and listen to your experience momma friends. Get your basic necessities in order and then when your sweet little bundle of joy arrives to bless your life, sit back and take it all in. There will be hard days, easy days, emotional days (boy will there ever be!), and laugh-out-loud days. Savor these times with your loved one and bond with that babe! You will never know fulfillment like this. There will also be people, books, websites, and doctors who say things like: nipple confusion, sleep training, coddling your baby, and more. Take it from me- do whatever works for YOU those first 3-4 months. Then you can think about more long term things. For now, just do what you can to soothe your baby and keep you sane. I will also say this: I was a lucky one- no colic (at least this time around), which I hear from my mommy friends who have felt with/are dealing with that it is not fun at all. Ava was adamant about sucking on something all the time though for the first few months, so to give my boobs a break, I finally gave in to the pacifier at about 1 month. Best thing I ever did, regardless of what the baby books told me and what others told me to do/not to do. Funnily enough, she weened herself off the pacifier already too. My advice: Just listen to your babe, they will tell you in one way or another what they need or whats bothering them.

Ahh, teething at its finest!

Ahh, teething at its finest!

Finally, the thing I’ve learned about this whole trip is this: You are doing GREAT. You’re doing the best you can & only YOU know what your baby truly needs. You grow this innate sense of all-knowing when it comes to your baby as soon as they arrive to bless your world so TRUST YOUR MOMMY INSTINCTS. You are the only momma for your sweet little babe and God knows that. He created YOU just for them, and He created THEM just for you. Give yourself a huge pat on the back and treat yourself to a nice warm bath and a massage, along with a glass of wine filled to the top. There is no “wrong way” with your baby. Take in the advice and read those books but at the end of the day, do what works for your babe and for your family. Get rid of the naysayers and surround yourself with your staunchest allies. Get ready because you are going to need all the help and positive influence that you can muster up. This is a game-changer. A life-changer. THIS is why we live. This tiny little human being that you and your loved one have created will fill up every nook and cranny of your heart and soul and never let it go…and you will never be the same without this little bundle of joy. Remember this through all the sleepless nights, all the confusion, all the sore boobies, all the dirty diapers, and all the crying for god knows what reason (both YOU and your babe!!). THIS is the best thing that will ever happen to you, and possibly will happen again, and maybe again…and if your really on the crazy train, again and again and again- LOL!

Big girl- she loves her food!

Big girl- she loves her food!

Until next time, keep on keepin’ on mommies~

Kimbra

 

3 Responses to Bringing Home Baby- there is no wrong way.

  1. Don/Mary Ann Royce says:

    Loved reading your mommie experience for the first 6 months. You are truly a wonder that blows my mind. I wish I had been as prepared as you have been to deal with all the “new” baby experiences. How blessed little Ava is to have such wonderful parents. You and David are so great to work together to make a happy family.

  2. […] posts: Bringing home baby, there’s no “wrong way”. If not, you can view it here. I have been meaning to write this post for a VERY long time but Ava has occupied so much of my […]

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