**SUPER LATE POSTING** because life – and admittedly, my partial laziness – keeps on rolling and our baby has been experiencing one milestone after another; and with it comes more wake times and less sleep times for our entire household =P
For those who are new to my blog, I’ve assigned the last day of every month to be a ‘FOUR|EIGHT MONTHLY’ blog post, where I will give a list of four things and a list of eight things – but both will relate to each other somehow. You can check out the previous post here or see a full list of all the FOUR|EIGHT MONTHLY posts here!
In honor of Mother’s Day being celebrated during the month of May, below I’ve shared four encouraging (and helpful!) reminders I try to remember as a mother, as well as eight items that I’ve found to be very beneficial to have as a parent. Read on to find out what they are!
FOUR ENCOURAGING REMINDERS FOR MOTHERS:
- ‘This too shall pass’. This was a reminder I had to constantly remember, especially while being very deep in the trenches of what seemed like never-ending breastfeeding, coupled with sleep deprivation – a mombie, if you will. The first three months with our newborn was the hardest thus far; no wonder it’s been referred to as the 100 Days of Darkness! I felt like a cow (just sitting there feeding every hour on some days) who was trying to figure out how to take care of this little human who was entirely dependent on me and my husband! Each passing day just blended with each other – the days felt very monotonous (eat-play-sleep-repeat) and I hardly had contact with the outside world nor do anything that was not baby-related. But I had to really keep in mind that the phase I was in at the time would not last forever! The hourly feedings are now just memories. Our son Joshua now sleeps through the night (most nights, anyway). I have enough social interaction that allows me to have adult conversations on a daily basis. And as a stay-at-home mom, I actually do enjoy doing the household chores since they’re not baby-related activities (except when I’m hand washing his clothes since we have no washer/dryer). And as for my ‘me time’, I genuinely enjoy watching my DVRed shows/movies during Joshua’s nap times, as well as my bathroom breaks (I take my time when I have to use the toilet; and don’t even get me started on taking showers – it feels like I’m on vacation =D). And now that things have become more predicatble, smoother, and way more fun – the ‘this too shall pass’ mantra also helps me not to get so easily fazed and frustrated whenever Joshua throws us a curve ball or two (you mamas out there know what I’m talking about!) But just when I think I have a good rhythm going, it gets thrown out of whack. A month ago, Joshua went through a phase of not taking naps unless being held. And currently for two straight days now, he’s been waking up at 5AM! After I let off sighs of frustration (and exhaustion), I have to tell myself ‘this too shall pass’… hopefully it already did =P
- Trust your own maternal instincts. As a first-time mom, this was (and still sometimes is) a hard thing for me to do because nine months in, the feelings of insecurity and incompetency still occasionally rear its ugly head. Sure, I’ve taken care of babies/kids before but that’s not the same as having your own kid. For the first few months, I’ve driven myself crazy with reading countless articles and parenting blogs – where the advices on what the ‘right’ thing to do all contradict one another! Waiting for Joshua to be able to sleep through the night and wean off his night feedings was probably one of the harder challenges for me. And I couldn’t help but think I was doing something wrong, especially since I would read or get told that other mothers have had their babies as young as two months old who are able to start sleeping in 5-6 hour stretches at night! Meanwhile my husband and I would be lucky if ever ours slept for three hours straight at any point of the day! After trying different (variations of) methods and strategies, my husband and I came to the conclusion that we will just do what works best for our family. So whenever he did wake up and cry at night wanting to be fed, I fed him and just accepted (as hard and frustrating as it was for me in those moments) that this will be the norm until this phase finally passes. A week or so later from that point, he suddenly dropped one of his night feedings on his own. And then two weeks later shortly after he turned six months, he slept through the night for the very first time! I admit though that I still didn’t get a full night sleep that night since I kept waking up to stare at the baby monitor to make sure he was still alive! =P Since then, he normally sleeps through the night; and it basically happened with our handling it in a way that worked best for our family (which for us meant that since we didn’t want Joshua to cry it out, we had to be willing to persevere through the night feedings and answering to Joshua’s cries at night). Now whenever we face a curveball or challenge, I still research a bit about the topic and I still ask others about what may have worked for them; but I’ve learned to sift through all the advice with a grain of salt and I’ve gained confidence in myself and my maternal instincts – keeping mind that I, as a mother to my own baby, really do know him the best. What may be working for one family does not certainly mean that it will also work for mine. Seeking and listening to wise counsel is awesome; at the same time, don’t forget to listen to your own maternal instincts ❤
- You need community as a mom (as with other aspects of your life). I realized this early on that in addition to having my husband and our families (whom I’m very thankful were so supportive and encouraging, especially during the first several weeks of being new parents), I still needed the support of others in this new parenthood journey of mine. Especially during the first few months and those moments where I’ve felt (and still feel) like I’m failing as a mom, it’s incredibly encouraging to have other women in my life who can be sounding boards, who can let me know that I am a good mom, and who speak truth to me when discouragement and lies infiltrate my mind. And when I go through times where I feel like I’m going crazy, it’s so comforting to know that I am able to turn to people who let me know when I really am worrying myself to death and who validate and can empathize with me when I express that being a mom is so fun but also so hard at times. And if I have a random question about sleeping schedule, ways to soothe my teething baby, etc. – my mama community is right there for me! It’s also important to have a community that includes non-parents. I admit this is something I still have to work on having more robustly again; I know it’s crucial to have them since although I am now a mom, who I am goes beyond just being a mother. God does not mean for me – or anyone – to live life alone but rather in a community where we do life alongside each other. Two are better one. More than two is even better ❤
- You are enough. Nine months in as being a mom and I still have to remind myself with this encouraging truth. The first few weeks was particularly very challenging and being the analytical person that I am, I would resort to reading a lot of online articles. And while doing so, I stumbled upon this post whose message God knew I desperately needed to be reminded of:
Satan wants you to fail. And to feel alone. And to feel inadequate to what Someone Else has CALLED you to do… Today I am locking the door tight to whatever evil enters my heart and home. Today I am going to remember the One Who gives life and knows I am a mess but loves me anyway… Today? I am going to be okay. Take back your motherhood. It is a gift. Listen to the Life-giver, not the liar.
I feel very blessed to have a great support system surrounding me. But I knew I ultimately needed God’s peace to really get me out of the rut I was in at the time – a rut so deep and dark that it was affecting how I was as a mom, as a person. I experienced a lot of anxiety and fear, especially when I had to be alone in taking care of Joshua I would get jealous and had feelings of resentment because other can people just do anything/nothing/everything if they wanted to, while I on the other hand had this huge responsibility of taking care of a baby. I had a lot of frustration because there were times where I really felt like I was a horrible mom; and I felt frustrated because I was beyond exhausted and wondered when I can get at least a three-hour sleep; and I felt frustrated because I didn’t understand why our baby wanted to get fed again when I just fed him about an hour ago! And there were a handful of times where I would be crying while breastfeeding because I didn’t know what else to do except that. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to take care of our house/family and that I wasn’t doing enough to take care of Joshua. The days felt very gloomy; I had no appetiite and was eating basically just for sustenance; I faced each day with dread and insecurity. I knew in my heart that’s not how God wanted me to be. And when I stumbled upon that online article, a wave of peace came over me; I knew it was God’s loving way of letting me know that through Him and because of Who He is, I can have full confidence of being able to be the mother I need to be for Joshua. He was the One Who allowed me to do be his mama, and He doesn’t call me to be a perfect mother – He calls me to love my child. Do negative feelings still come up? Yes, from time to time. But I remind myself to always always run back to God and that He is always with me. The road so far has been far from being perfect or easy; but boy, it’s definitely been full of overwhelming grace ❤
EIGHT BABY ESSENTIALS:
- Swaddle: Since babies have involuntary reflexes/movements which end up waking them up, swaddled are lifesavers to have! It not only benefits you but the snug fit around the baby’s body will also comfort them.
- Baby monitor with WiFi internet viewing: We ended up choosing this baby monitor because in addition to having all the standard features of other baby monitors, it has wireless connection that also allows me and my husband to view our baby even during a day/night out! It’s been awesome for me to be able to log on my phone and check up on my baby occasionally – one less thing to have to worry about for this new mama!
- Blackout curtains: These are so useful to have all year long, but most especially during the long summer days where it’s light outside for an extended period of time.
- White noise machine: I know that some parents choose not to use these because they want their kids to just be able to sleep regardless of what noise they may be hearing. But for our family who lives in a noisy city, this is a must-have!
- LOTS of baby wipes: Any parent (or even non-parent!) can tell you that baby wipes are awesome to have with you at all times. It’s not strictly just for cleaning butts
- … And LOTS of burp cloths: I use these a lot, especially in the first few months where spit-ups happened a lot more often. I particularly like the Aden + Anais burpy bibs since they can function as burp cloths and bibs!
- Comfy chair: Whether you want your chair to rock, glide, recline, or do all/none of the above – I suggest getting one where you know you can sit comfortably for hours! You’ll be so thankful especially during those times where you’d have to be there all night holding your baby who’s struggling to fall asleep by himself at night (I’m talking from experience =P)
- Baby carrier: When choosing a carrier, definitely try to see what works best for you. If you can, try them on before purchasing (maybe ask someone who already owns a carrier you’re considering to buy); otherwise I would suggest taking the time to read reviews about it. We got our Baby Bjorn carrier from our baby shower; and my sister-in-law gifted me our k’tan carrier. I also recently purchased an Ergobaby carrier that I can use; since I’m so petite and my husband and I are so different in size/height, I figured purchasing another one that’s different from my k’tan wrap wouldn’t hurt so that we wouldn’t have to keep adjusting the straps, depending on which one of us would be using the carrier =)
What words of encouragement can you give to the mothers in your life? What item have you found to be useful when taking care of a baby?