Q&A! PREPPING FOR A NEW BABY + COPING IF BABY IS "HARD"

Friday, March 23, 2018
One of my best friends is about to have her second baby. I am thrilled for her. I watched her become a mother for the first time during law school, and I wish I could describe the strength that surfaced from her already stalwart soul after welcoming her baby into the world. A mantle seemed to settle on her shoulders, gracing her with a literal presence of power. She had brought a human being into the world, her son, and she was going to sustain his life every single day. 

Women are powerful, and putting them into a position as influential and monumental as motherhood is almost dangerous -- step back, world, and watch the dragon soar! It goes without saying, though, that the work is unbelievably taxing. There is no way to describe a mother's sacrifices. You have to feel them for yourself. And once you feel them, especially for the first time, two things happen: after a while, you forget the growing pains of motherhood's sacrifice until your next baby's on the way, which is when you become very aware that you have to feel them again. That's why my giant-of-a-friend reached out a couple weeks ago with the question below. She's preparing to shoulder her daughter's new life, and forecasting all of that sacrifice and change can be scary. You know what you have to go through now...can you go through it again, and is there anything you can do differently to make the trek from the valley to the mountain, your new baby in your arms, any easier? 

Her unedited Q is below, followed by my unedited answers. The photos are of mon amie - my Emmy! 4-week-old, precious baby Emmy.
Q: I was wondering if I can get your insight on baby sleep, since it seems like you have had three babies that were pretty different sleepers. Sleep, or lack thereof, is what I'm most concerned about with this baby coming our way. My impression is that there is little even the most attentive mom can do to influence how baby sleeps, especially for the first few months. I feel like the sleeper you get is a matter of chance, but please enlighten me with your thoughts!

A: Girl I wish I could console you, but you've nailed it. It's a wild card game.

However, looking back at infant Emmy - my worst sleeper - I definitely would've done a few things differently to cope with her not being a good sleeper, and I'd say that's where you can empower yourself right now before this angel girl comes. 

1) Don't bite your nails too much right now about whether or not she'll be a sleeper, as well as after she gets here. For example, "Susie" (another friend from law school - I changed this friend's name for this post) had her third baby a few months before I had Emmy, he was an easy-going baby, and he made her transition to mothering three appear to be perfect, so naturally, I sat back and hoped and hoped and hoped for a baby like hers. I didn't want three kids to overwhelm me. However in doing so, I set myself up for failure. I set a standard of what a "good" baby was, and what being a mother to three could/should be by watching Susie, and that's not okay. Because every little thing that ended up being different for Emmy than John ("Susie's" baby) let me down. And feeling let down made me sad. And then worried -- we were actually going to have a hard time?? And then I stressed, and then yes, haha, we had hard time!

Another way to say that is do NOT set up expectations for how your baby should be. Other than the vitals - she can breathe and eat - let her be. You two do you two. Review the newborn basics right now, like common sleep patterns, and then when Baby Girl hits the basics with her own twist, let it be.
2) This goes along with the above thoughts: get rid of EVERY stressor that you can right now. EG, if you had a job that even semi caused you stress, and you didn't absolutely need to work, I'd say quit it right now and eliminate the stressor so that the sleep deprivation will feel a little more manageable. Apply that job analogy to your life in general right now: is there anything nice but unnecessary you're doing or holding onto that is draining you somehow? If so, quit it.

I should've done better at this regarding looking ahead at our future. We had Emmy two months before graduation, as well as that "lovely" Bar summer, and I held onto picturing what it was going to be like too much. I looked ahead too much. It's nice to look ahead a little so that you know what's coming; it's unnecessary to dwell too much on the future. I did the latter and it drained me, making any normal sleep deprivation worse. My stress stressed Emmy. It was lose-lose at best.

3) Trust yourself. You've done allll of this before. You'll be amazed at your physical and emotional "muscle memory" with this baby. She will sense your confidence (or lack thereof) and respond accordingly, so puff yourself up starting now about how you've got this. Because you DO. You're a mother through and through. You already know this beautiful girl. Your time together will be a sweet re-aquaintance. 
4) Last one: ask Heavenly Father for EVERYTHING that you want. Lay it all out. Don't hold back with your dreams for this baby. Ask Him for them. Then let them go.

You'll see Him answer a lot of your requests (He will surpass your expectations!), and then you'll see Him leave some struggles for you so that you can grow. And so that you can develop empathy for another mother later, which is such a beautiful thing. "Strength and struggle travel together. The pursuit of easy things makes men weak" (something my mom used to say). 

5) Okay ONE more. ๐Ÿ˜Š Take special care of yourself along the way. Do NOT talk yourself out of taking time off to recharge. Be adamant that "Peter" (my best friend's husband) step in and take the kids while you go. Or get a sitter. I absolutely failed at this. When I told Ryan that I needed a break - I wanted three nights away in a hotel by myself - he said of course, "after the Bar," and then when the Bar was over, he forgot about it and I didn't push it. I should have pushed it. Because I crashed, you know. I needed those nights to catch on sleep. I should've been braver and shared my feelings again. I should've been braver to find a good babysitter and went out for a pedicure once a month. I should've respected myself enough to give myself what I wanted to recharge. No one can draw from an empty well -- not you, not your husband, not your babies. Recharge. Physically and spiritually (pray and read the good word every day). You absolutely deserve to recharge!
Okay end of convo!๐Ÿ˜Š ๐Ÿ’›

Long live new motherhood and sweet, sweet newborn babies. The stage is tough, and the strength you gain from it is tremendous. 

XO!

Jeni

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this!!! So insightful and appreciated❤️

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so welcome, mama. Thank you for reading. <3 Cannot, cannot wait for your sweet girl to be in your arms!

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