If I am being really, really honest…I never expected to find myself back in the throes of the newborn phase at 30 years old. When we had our youngest son in 2012, I really thought that was it. We’d have two kids-two brothers at that-and our family would be complete. We wouldn’t be outnumbered and we wouldn’t have to stress the idea of one child getting more attention than the other. Not to mention, it took us a little over 18 months to get pregnant with him and that time period of waiting took its toll on me. So when our Jonah man arrived and we thought our family was complete, I threw aside all notions of doing the newborn thing again. We got Jonah sleep trained and I got back to sleeping eight or more hours a night and he’s starting Kindergarten next year. I’d have time during the day to do things around the house, finish my degree or expand my business or whatever God called me to do.
Then, Jonah turned four. He started to grow up a little quicker than I wanted and my husband and I realized that just maybe we weren’t quite ready to call it quits on the baby front. Maybe we should try for one more and see what happened. Six months later, the strip turned pink and baby number three was on the way. Fast forward to October and our sweet Sarah Elizabeth was born.
Now, here I am at 30 with a nine-year-old, a five-year-old and a newborn…and let me tell you #HotMess doesn’t even do justice to what I’ve got going on.
You’d think I would know that since I’ve done it twice already. Since Sarah came along I am reminded once again that most people don’t understand what life with a newborn is like. Even if they have kids, they tend to forget. I have put together a list. Call it advice from a newborn mama.
And I don’t just mean we are sleepy or sleep deprived after being up with a newborn the night before. I mean we are physically, mentally, emotionally and likely spiritually exhausted. The sleep deprivation is one thing. Most of us expect to be sleepy and walking around in that zombie-like trance those first few months. We expect to live off of coffee and whatever caffeine we can get our hands on. What we do not always expect is the toll that having a newborn takes on every other aspect of our lives. Physically, our bodies are still in “hey, you just had a baby!” mode (despite what well-meaning doctors say). A lot of us still hurt from pregnancy or delivery. For those of us who are breastfeeding, the physical toll of nursing every one-two hours or pumping milk for our little one is demanding and draining. The mental stress of not only caring for someone so tiny but operating under those sleep-deprived conditions wear on a person. Throw in the fact that there are likely other children to tend to, homework to get done, sibling squabbles to break up, laundry to do,
take out to order food to cook and a home to keep livable clean. So, when your wife, sister, daughter, bestie who just had a baby says, “I’m Tired…” she isn’t saying she’s sleepy. She means that she’s stretched as thin as she possibly can be and is running on fumes…help a sister out.
[bctt tweet=”No matter how good we may be doing, every mama is terrified that she isn’t doing enough.” username=”@CourtneyKirklnd”]
Y’all. I remember now why I lost pregnancy weight as quickly as I did when I was nursing Jonah. Aside from the fact that breastfeeding burns an additional 500-600 calories a day, most of us tend to forget that food is a vital part of existence. If you were to ask me what I have had for breakfast and lunch the last two weeks (excluding weekends), I can honestly tell you that I have had at least two cups of coffee (possibly three if it’s a Monday) by 11:00 and if I’m lucky, what is left of Jonah’s pancakes. Most days by the time dinner rolls around, I’ve survived off of my cups of coffee and whatever bit of food I can scarf down in between feeding Sarah and getting things done. And that “bit of food” is typically nothing more than a handful of almonds or a granola bar. When a newborn mama says she’s hungry…she likely hasn’t eaten anything more than a few leftover bites of pancake or some stale cheerios. Feel free to buy her lunch.
I have a very dear, sweet friend who has four children. She homeschools. She keeps a pretty clean house. She does all the crafty things. She is a remarkable friend and listener. She is a stellar cook. And she is one of the sweetest and most compassionate people you will ever meet. She is ROCKING the mom thing, y’all. She is also one of the most humble people I’ve ever known and if she reads this, on Sunday I will hear all about how she’s not really doing as wonderful I think she is. Despite all that she does and how kick-butt I think she is, she doesn’t agree. She sees her failures and not the other areas in which she is thriving. Me? I sit back and I consider my day a win if my kids all get a bath and we eat dinner. Bonus points if we do our family devotional time before someone gets too cranky or too tired. So far we haven’t run out of clean underwear and we haven’t missed dinner. Everything above and beyond that is a bonus. No matter how good we may be doing, every mama is terrified that she isn’t doing enough. Next time you see your mama friend, tell her how awesome she’s doing. I promise she will love you for it.
This one is a person by person type thing, but most of us do not really want your advice. We appreciate your intention, but sometimes that’s unsolicited advice seem condescending and leave us worrying that we aren’t not doing it the right way. I’ve had two newborns before Sarah came along. We know how we feel about vaccinations. We know what we want to do in terms of sleeping arrangements. We’ve made all of the decisions about how we are going to feed our daughter. Thank you for your concern but unless we are specifically asking you, we likely aren’t looking for additional input.
Hence why we have three little ones now instead of two. Despite all of the exhaustion and hunger and worry that comes with parenting…I would do it all again in a heartbeat for any one of my babies. The frustration is worth it. The physical pain is worth it. The sleep deprivation eventually goes away and I’ll get around to eating again like a normal person. But, until that time comes, I’m going to enjoy my babies and remind myself that these days are fleeting and that I would absolutely do it all over again (except I don’t want to do it again…baby factory is closed).