Oh wait. This isn’t babysitting, this is real life. MY real life. And this baby is MY baby that I’m completely responsible for.
This is an approximate summation of the mindset I had during the first 10 weeks of parenthood. Total deer-in-headlights-can-I-do-this-what-have-we-gotten-into mode. At times, the task seemed daunting. But luckily those times were few and far between. For the most part, it was just getting to know our new baby girl, learning her needs and wants, and accepting that taking time to adjust was just part of the game. I wish I was able to have written more during the first weeks, even if just for my own purposes, but it just wasn’t in the cards with our newborn. I kept thinking things would slow down, but before I knew it, it was time to go back to work and now the days are flying by even more quickly.
The first few weeks were easier than I thought they would be in some ways, but more difficult in others. Ellyson was a typical newborn as far as sleep went, and we actually got more sleep than I thought we would. Feeding, however, has been another issue. She developed a milk protein intolerance around 3 weeks and after a lot of trial and error started her on soy formula, which was ok for awhile until around 9 weeks when she developed an intolerance to that too. We’ve finally gotten her on the concentrate form of Nutramigen because the powder mix was too thin, and she seems to be doing really well with it. Other than the feeding issues and related unhappiness that came with them, she was a happy, content baby most of the time and allowed us to truly enjoy some days with this teeny tiny precious new life. It took some teaching on her part – she was NOT going to ride in her carseat happily if she was the least bit hungry –she would NOT swing or sit in her bouncer if she didn’t want to – she would NOT allow us to lay her down for a nap if she thought it was snuggle time...(I can’t imagine where she got this strong will from…) but we’ve heeded our lessons and are all working together harmoniously now. Until she changes her mind, of course.
Despite the feeding issues, our baby girl has thrived. At her first doctor’s appointment at 6 days old, she had already surpassed her birth weight at weighed 6lbs, 10oz. We didn’t even have to come back for a two-week check up! She was still on the small side though – she was in the 25thpercentile in height and weight. In the throes of trying to figure out the issue with her formula, we did take her in at 4 weeks where they did an ultrasound to make sure she didn’t have pyloric stenosis which could have explained her feeding issues, but thankfully, we were just dealing with the protein intolerance.
At her two-month appointment, which was really when she was 10 weeks, she continued to show us how perfect she is. She weighed 10lbs 6oz (45thpercentile), was 23 in long (65th percentile) and her head was 14 in (50th percentile.) We were so thrilled and thankful. She even did great with her shots, calming down and smiling at Nana on the way home. No fever or welts on her legs or anything. Again, so thankful. The doctor congratulated us on making it through the difficult times that test even the most seasoned parent and encouraged us to start enjoying the next few months when it gets “fun.” Believe me, doc, we’re going to do just that.
Her little personality is starting to develop and she is getting increasingly curious with her developing abilities. She has gotten so much more satisfied with her feedings and is starting to sleep on a more regular schedule which is improving everyone’s lives. And this is all in spite of the crazy schedule I keep with work and dragging her back and forth from Glasgow to Bowling Green. She’s a trooper, that’s for sure.
I personally have handled this transition better than I expected, too. It has been a huge adjustment and I do get easily overwhelmed, but then we would have a good day or something would reinforce that things were going ok, so we just trucked along. I kept waiting for post-partum to take me under (way to employ positive-thinking, huh?) but with the exception of having a good cry every evening when Michael got home for the first couple of weeks and only a few breakdowns thereafter, I was shockingly fine. While I did enjoy any adult interaction I had, and would take opportunity to get out for a few hours when mom would watch her periodically, I didn’t go crazy being at home 90% of the time like I thought I would either. Once we got sorted out on the best way for Michael to help and thanks to a lot of relief from my mom when I needed it, the notoriously tough newborn weeks were made much more bearable. Hallelujah for that! The “mommy guilt syndrome” got me down a few times – constantly worrying if I was doing the right things for her, comparing her to other babies her age, wondering if I was ever going to be able to cook a meal or take a long shower again. I was constantly beating myself up for not taking more pictures, not blogging every little move she made, not dressing her up from head-to-toe every day; basically not doing what I thought everyone else was doing or what everyone expected me to do.
And then this little gem of an article appeared:
Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You To Chill Out
by on October 12, 2012
FACT: If your children can’t read by age four there is a 95% chance they will end up homeless and on drugs.
FACT: If your children eat any processed food there is an 85% chance they will contract a rare, most likely incurable disease, by age 12.
FACT: If you’re not up at dawn reading the Bible to your children, you are most likely a pagan caught in the clutches of witchcraft.
FACT: If your children watch more than 10 minutes of television a day there is 75% chance they will end up in a violent street gang by age 17.
Obviously, the “facts” listed above are not true (at least, I don’t think they are). But, I’ve noticed that the Internet has made it much easier for people, and moms in particular, to compare themselves to each other. Now, just to be clear, this is not a post against “mom blogs”, or whatever they’re called. If you write a mom blog, that’s cool with me. This is a post to encourage the moms who tend to freak out and feel like complete failures when they read the mom blogs and mom Facebook posts.
Moms, Jesus wants you to chill out about being a mom. You don’t have to make homemade bread to be a faithful mom. You don’t have to sew you children’s clothing to be a faithful mom. You don’t have to coupon, buy all organic produce, keep a journal, scrapbook, plant a garden, or make your own babyfood to be a faithful mom. There’s nothing wrong with these things, but they’re also not in your biblical job description.
Your job description is as follows:
- Love God. This simply means finding some time during the day to meet with the Lord. It doesn’t have to be before all the kids are awake. It doesn’t have to be in the pre-dawn stillness. Your job is to love God. How you make that happen can look a million different ways.
- Love your husband (unless you’re a single mom, of course). Your second job is to love and serve your husband. Husbands are to do the same for their wives, but that’s for a different post. If your husband really likes homemade bread, maybe you could make it for him. But don’t make homemade bread simply because you see other moms posting pictures of their homemade bread on Facebook.
- Love your kids. Your calling as mom is to love your kids and teach them to follow the Lord. They don’t need to know Latin by age six. If they do, more power to you. But that’s a bonus, not part of the job description. Your job is simply to love your kids with all your exhausted heart, and to teach them to love Jesus. That’s a high calling. Don’t go throwing in other, extraneous things to make your life more difficult. If you want to teach your kids to sew, great. But don’t be crushed by guilt if your kids aren’t making stylish blazers by the age of 10.
Love God, love your husband, love your kids. Keep it simple and chill out.
+photo by pedrosimoes7
Even though I had heard these things before and Michael and mom were constantly telling me similar things, for some reason, this short article spoke volumes to me. I almost immediately let my anxiety go and resolved to just be the mom I need to be to my baby and leave the rest alone. My goal every night is to lie down knowing I did the best for me and my baby and be satisfied with that. Especially after going back to work, I can honestly say I’m doing a pretty good job of doing just that. I might just be a reformed control-freak people-pleaser after all!