With three months of motherhood under my belt, I'm finally beginning to think clearly again, finally beginning to feel like I'm regaining some of ME, and finally beginning to spend more of my day enjoying my little boy than panicking about how to be his mother.
I'll be completely honest and tell you, it has been a rough road. I entered motherhood with a baby IQ of about 10. Before he was born, I'd changed about 25 diapers in my life, never bathed a baby, never cared for one for more than three hours. Because he was born 5 weeks early, we didn't even have time to attend the baby care classes. For a Type A person, this was a frightening situation!
I've always heard it said that a mother's love is instinctual and natural, and I am so grateful it is. Because that love is all we had going for us. Our poor baby has suffered through more clumsy diaper changes, discomforting baths, and and weeping mommy moments than I wish he had, but I have learned some things.
1. Pick three or four people, besides your spouse and doctor, that you're going to take advice from. If anyone else gives you advice (And they will. Oh, they will...), listen politely, thank them graciously, then either toss it out the window or run it by one of your chosen advisors.
2. Let people take care of you. Make a list of things you need help with - so you remember when people ask - and then don't be too proud to share your list. Even if what you really want them to do is watch your baby so you can steal an hour's worth of uninterrupted sleep.
3. Take a shower every day. Even if you don't put on a speck of makeup or blowdry your hair or wear anything besides stretchy pants, you will feel so much better.
4. Take a walk every day. Even if you have to go to the mall and walk laps with the orthopedic shoe crowd. You'll feel better for the activity and getting out of the house.
5. Ask your mom or mother in law to come spend a few days with you - once in the early weeks and then again at about six weeks. Mine both offered such valuable support and ideas, plus they were more than happy to take care of diaper changes, feedings and even rocking at night to give us a break. I realize this is ironic, but thank God for mothers!
So that's what I know. The other stuff - practical stuff about diaper changes and burping and comforting - well, that's all better learned the hard way.
My mom told me, "It's trial and error. Try something and if it doesn't work, try something else. And maybe that first thing will work later." Comforting, right? Ha! For someone who thrives on checking the box when I've completed the task, this ambiguity is difficult to accept. I've found that one of the few constants in my day is the way I love my son. Whether I show it by holding him when he cries, changing his diaper when he's wet, talking and playing with him when he's awake or comforting him when his tummy hurts, I do believe he recognizes the love in spite of the sometimes clumsy attempts.
Fortunately, love isn't one of those things you have to learn.