9 months ago I had so many theories of how I would be as a mom and what my adopted daughter would be like. Then….I actually became a parent and all the theories I had, went out with diaper pail trash! So that’s my first tip here, as I take you on a journey of all I’ve learned in the last nine months…whatever ideas and theories you may have about becoming a momma, just throw them out now, and open yourself up to “no expectations” and be willing to adapt and change. But have no fear, because with all I’ve learned in the last 9 months, you are surely to take away some tips to try…which leads me to my next tip…
1. One size does not fit all. You will read books, you will hear lots of “you should try this” advise from friends, but keep it mind that what works for your friend down the street with her baby will not always work for yours. Each little bambino is so unique, and that’s good! Instead of implementing every infant tip and trick under the sun with your infant about what they “should” be doing according to all the research, let them simply tell you what they need through body language, sleep and eating routines and so forth. Your baby will develop it’s own routine if you don’t stand in the way expecting them to behave a certain way. Try something that resonates with you, but if it doesn’t work for your little one, move on. The best thing for you and for baby is being as “stress-free” as possible. Meaning that, even if something you are doing seems like the “right thing to do” based on what your doctor, or mom, or friend has told you but it completely stresses you and baby out, then keep it simple and do what feels right for you. Example? I tried using cloth diapers for about a week because people kept telling me how much money it saved and how much better it was for the environment. While I won’t argue with those attributes, I will say the diapers leaked, they smelled up ZiZi’s whole nursery, and no matter how hot my water was in the wash cycle, I always wondered if I was truly getting them clean. Not to mention the fact that adding another 10 loads of laundry a day (slight exaggeration) to an already booming laundry room with a new baby is not so cost effective if you know what I mean. So I opted to keep using the disposable, and biodegradable diapers from Honest., Co, that I had started with. Still environmentally friendly and safe for baby, but most of all, easy and stress-free for me! Your baby doesn’t look like anyone else’s baby. She is her own unique person, so be okay with allowing something not to work for her and finding what does.
2. Warning: Not everyone will respect the way you parent. I’m putting it out there because I’m not afraid to say that I have researched (and am still researching) both side of vaccinations. I’m not saying I’m “anti or pro” vaccines, but I will tell you that my daughter has not been vaccinated. I’m not looking for your opinion here, I’m just explaining my reasoning, so please don’t email me your hate mail or your advise. I’m saying based on the research I uncovered on both sides of the ‘vaccination volcano” that is out there, my husband and I chose not to, even though I show no disrespect to those who choose to vaccinate. It is a personal choice. And not everyone will respect you for it. You will hear things like, “Well, that’s not fair to my child to put their health in danger because you won’t vaccinate your child.” To that I simply reply, “Are you saying you don’t believe in the vaccine your child has gotten, if you feel that mine might be able to infect yours? If your child has been vaccinated, then you have nothing to worry about, right?” Several close relationships of mine have been severed because of the decision my husband and I made regarding our daughters health. And I would do it again in a heartbeat, even though I miss those people who walked out of my life because of it. The health and well-being of my daughter is of my utmost concern now, and that means knowing what I know about the heavy metals, toxins, poisons, and chemicals in vaccines and the studies behind what they are doing to children’s bodies and brains, I can’t knowingly infiltrate her little system with that stuff. No matter what the situation is in your decisions as a parent, you will come across some naysayers, and that’s okay. Respect them for their opinion to care about you enough to share it with you. And politely just agree to disagree. You know what is best for your children. And how do you know? Because you have educated yourself thoroughly. Or have you? I encourage you as a parent, the most life-altering, heavy-duty decision making process you will ever be a part of, to research BOTH sides of any decision you are about to make regarding your child. And by research, I don’t mean, do what your mom did, or what your doctor tells you. Read studies, investigate articles, look up as much as you can ahead of time to make an informed decision when the time comes to do so.
3. Be okay with who you are and don’t change that. So you are a fly by the seat of your pants kinda gal? A mermaid momma who swims where the current takes her, right? Don’t change that just because society tells you that baby should have routines and schedules. Or on the other end of the spectrum, you are structured, organized, and your whole day is mapped out, as is babies. Perfect. Stay that way. Going back to the issue of do what’s the least stress-inducing for both you and baby and life is good. If you need to come and go like the wind, your baby will adapt and be fine. If you need breakfast at 8, lunch at noon, and dinner at 5 everyday with routine focus, your baby will be fine with that too. The main thing your baby wants is you, so no matter if you are all over the board, or sound and structured, as long as your baby can be near that, he will be just fine.
4. One part mommy, one part You. Being a mommy is such an honor and a blessing…and it’s 24 hours a day. You are never off duty just so you know. However, that doesn’t mean you have to lose yourself, and create an anxious state of mind about worrying, fretting, obsessing about every little detail about your little one. You must take time to do what you love too. This will only serve your child. When ZiZi and I go on the paddle board together, she sees how happy I am and I truly believe it makes her even happier. When I teach my yoga classes and she goes into the yoga nursery for a couple hours, I come out thrilled to see her and her thrilled to see me. It’s good to be apart, because it helps your love for this little energy-drainer be re-invigorated. To raise healthy, happy, well-rounded individuals we must show them that we too have passions, so that it gives them permission to have passions. If we only wrap our world up in them and leave no time for our own loves, they will only grow to resent the over-bearing, over protection and be unable to discover their own unique talents and loves. Do a service to your child, and keep YOU alive. The You that you were before you had them. How will you show them the way, if you have no way?
5. Trust Your Momma-Mermaid-ness. You will know when something is wrong with your little one. You will feel it in your gut, your core, your inner knowing. No matter what a health-care practitioner says about your child, who generally speaking spends 7 minutes during an appointment with your child, you know best. If you have that inner feeling that something is not right, trust it and don’t stop seeking answers and people who can help you until you get your answer. If one doctor won’t help you, find another. Then it all goes back to that education. Education yourself so that you can clearly understand what is your baby needs.
6. Babies know the difference between real and fake. Whether it’s a person or a toy, babies know what’s genuine and what’s not. There is a reason why your baby does not want your Uncle Harold to hold her. So be on your guard about it. But typically what I’m referring to here is in respect to toys. I could give ZiZi stupid baby keys all day long to play with, but what does she really want? My car keys. While I don’t let her play with my keys, I have learned a key lesson from this. Babies can play with things that aren’t toys and they can still learn, texture, eye-hand coordination, dexterity, and other cognitive development. They don’t need every light-up, wind-up, sing-song, freaky, over-stimulating noisy toy in the baby aisle to stimulate development. What they need is involvement and interaction in what you are doing. If you are cooking, give the baby dishes that are safe to play with, like tupperware, wooden spoons, and spatulas. If you are cleaning, give the baby a soft cloth to play with and show her how to wipe things. If you are getting ready to go somewhere, give your baby a safe scarf or necklace to play with and talk to her as you get ready explaining “shoes, headband, socks, etc”. You will find that you buy all these crazy toys and they will just sit collecting dust. Yet, the cardboard box they come in, the apron you left on the floor, and the tupperware lid will become their favorite things. Bottom line here is don’t waste your money on tons of toys that is only going to stress you out because you are constantly picking them up off the floor and watching them take up space. Instead, introduce new genuine things to your baby each week that are safe to play with, and yet could be something they will use their whole life.
So there you have it. Some key things I’ve learned over the past 9 months. And that’s not all…here are some quick things to note:
– co-sleeping is fine and even beneficial to your baby, as long as you know you will wake up before you roll over on them.
– You can’t hold your baby enough. You are baby’s only security. You are the one person who keeps stress at bay for them. And being stress-free is key to amped up immunity, to good cognitive development and to creating a happy baby. Even if they become accustomed to being held, what’s the worst trait you are creating? A very affectionate, loving baby? I’m pretty sure that’s a good trait to have.
– Babies shouldn’t have to cry for a long time to be dealt with. This is very stressful on them. A good way to figure out what’s wrong when your little guy or girl can’t tell you is to learn the Dunstan Language. It’s the language of newborn babies cries. A good way to learn this is by checking it out on youtube so you can hear the different cries.
– Your baby does not need all kinds of fancy shoes. Take it from me, I’ve bought some of the cutest kicks for my little girl and with her houdini-powers she can pull any shoe off in 3.5 seconds. Until they can walk, just get some basic slip-ons and socks to keep their feet warm, and don’t waste money on all kinds of cutie-booties. Gracious May boots are freakin adorable, but I don’t even spend $60 on boots for myself that will last me a lifetime, let alone boots for my daughter that will last 3.5 seconds.
– Food for thought: we are the only culture who expects our babies to eat solid foods when they have no teeth. Most cultures don’t have their babies eating until they have most of their teeth intact. ZiZi is 9 months old and despises solid homemade baby food no matter what it is. She has no desire for solids in her mouth. Contrary to what “the books and the experts” tell you, let your baby determine when they want solids. Keep offering, but don’t force it. When they are ready, they will indulge.
– Pacifiers or “Nukies” as we call them, are a god-send. Babies love to suck, and this gives them that feeling 99% of the day. Not all babies will take to a pacifier, but sometimes that is due to the parent only trying one kind. Have a sampling of nukes to let your newborn try and when they find one they like they will latch on to it. Then only buy that brand. My girl likes the Mam brand and won’t touch anything else.
And finally, here is what my little mermaid has taught me in the past nine months we have been together. Life is an everyday adventure filled with all the beauty you can find, if you are willing to look for it. Even a poopy diaper is a miracle, because it means that baby’s system is functioning good. Quality time is crucial. They change, grow, and learn so fast, and I don’t want to miss a beat. I have no regrets so far about staying home and working only 5 hours per week. Hugs are endless and the way that JoZi looks at me everyday makes me understand a love that was only a dream before I met her. Parenting isn’t easy, but its also not hard, when you can look at every moment as a miracle and appreciate the small things. Everyday I strive to be more kind to others, and more loving in all my relationships because that’s what I want for her that’s what I want her to see me doing. So little does she grow, she is helping me grow, while I watch her grow. I will be forever grateful to my little bud for that.
Are you a mermaid momma (swimming through parenthood by trial and error and hope in your heart) and have some questions? Don’t be afraid to email me and let’s chat. firstname.lastname@example.org