Thursday, August 4, 2011

3 Weeks - This is the Hardest Job

Yesterday marked THREE WEEKS with our little guy.  Some times it feels like he has been here forever; and other times it feels like just yesterday that I was hugely pregnant and wondering what our boy would look like.  Now, here he is literally growing up before our very eyes.

Before I share some of my heart about motherhood so far, I want to share a few recent pictures so I can remember these days next month when he's basically a teenager. Enjoy these baby blue eyes!

Classic naked pics on Daddy's blanket from when he was a baby.
Loving the activity mat!
Learning to sleep in his crib.
Now, to reflect on these last three weeks... Here is an excerpt from an email I sent to my 11 best girlfriends last week on Sam's 19th day:

I'm currently listening to my baby cry.  We are rounding out 10 minutes.  I wanted to try crying it out, then I didn't, now I think Sam needs it.  I don't really know what I am doing - except hiding in the basement and emailing you girls.

... I just caved and went and put a paci in his mouth.  Another thing I said I wouldn't do for at least a few more weeks.   Being a mom is HARD. I am constantly readjusting my expectations and my philosophies.

Please, don't get me wrong... I LOVE being a mommy and am thankful EVERY DAY for this precious life God has given me. But, the experience so far has blown my expectations out of the water. Despite all the classes I took, books I read, and (yes) kits I made during pregnancy, I don't think I was fully prepared for ALL the decisions I'd be responsible for in his little life.  I second guess myself A LOT.  Most of the ideas I had about parenting before he was born have been completely changed now - just a few weeks in.  I'm a different mom than I thought I would be.  It is hard.  Really hard.

There, I said it.  

For all the years I've thought "I was made to be a mom," I've been surprised by how unnatural a lot of this mommy stuff feels sometimes .  Sure, I can look at my little guy and immediately swell up with pride and love for him.  I think he is the cutest thing in the whole world.  I can function on MUCH less sleep than I thought I could.  And, I don't really mind poop - in fact, I find it kind-of fascinating.  But, I also find myself staring at the inside of his tiny screaming mouth (even though he is well fed, changed, and soothed) and wonder "What in the world do you want?" and "will I ever understand you?" 

In my heart, I know that the answer to that last question is YES. I know I'm not the only person that's ever survived the first month with a newborn.  I also know that God made Sam just for me, and He has and will fully equip me to care for him.  But, when I am tired, my boobs hurt , there are soiled onesies everywhere, and my little guy has been crying on and off for three hours, I worry

I worry about scheduling - Am I creating a monster if I feed him every hour instead of every 2.5?  Is he starving if I wait three hours between meals? Will we ever be able to leave the house comfortably? 

I worry about sleeping - Is it horrible if I let my two week old cry himself to sleep?  Or, am I just teaching him bad habits by rocking him to sleep instead of allowing him to self-soothe?  Should I put him in my bed if it gives both of us an extra hour of sleep?  Is he too hot?  Too cold?  Should he take all his naps in his bassinet, or should we reserve that only for nighttime sleep?  When visitors come, should I let them hold Sam while he is sleeping, or keep him in his crib?  Should I wake him after 2 hours even if he is sound asleep?

I worry about eating - Am I making too much milk?  Will I only make more milk if I pump so I'm not so sore?  Am I giving Sam gas and indigestion?  Why does he cry in the middle of a meal, but act like he is still hungry?Are Mylicon drops and gripe water safe? Should I give up dairy?

I'm a control freak, and this little one will not be controlled.  So, I walk, and sway, and "shush," and worry.

Sometimes I find myself wishing away the days until Sam passes the 6, 8, 12 week milestones and things get "easier."  Then, I talk to another mom and realize that she's been there too, that I am not alone in this journey.  And, that I can't get this stage back.  One day, he won't want to be held 24/7, and I will miss it.  Perspective is a beautiful thing.  

I will never judge other moms again.  (Yes, I did before.  I'm sorry.)  I am learning - maybe for the first time in my life - how to REST and BE STILL.  I am reminded again (powerfully), that I am NOT GOD... I don't have to have all the answers or do it all right because He has had a plan for Sam from the time he was just a poppy seed in my belly. 

I still believe I was made to be a mom.  I just now believe that being a mom is a lot more difficult than I'd thought.  It isn't so much about knowing what to do, as it is about trusting yourself.  That is a skill they don't talk as much about in parenting classes. That doesn't seem to come quite as naturally as milk or the ability to change a diaper with one hand. But, it is coming.  I am figuring this stuff out one day at a time... I am changing; and, as much as it pains me to say it... CHANGE IS GOOD.

Three weeks down... a lifetime to go! :)
Note: I'm still OK with the paci; we are not crying it out anymore.  This is subject to change within the next hour. FYI.


  1. I love how honest and open you are on your blog! Sam is super cute.

    Best of luck getting through this mommy-newness! (As I am not a mother, I have nothing helpful to say :)

  2. This is so refreshing and encouraging to read! Thank you thank you mama E:-) We're gearing up for the arrival of our little guy in November, and even though I too feel like a "natural" (after nannying for so long!), I know that it's gonna be a whole new ball game with a newborn 24-7! We've got a whole lifetime of learning ahead of us:-) xoxo

  3. I just shared this post on my FB. I'm 22 weeks now and a lot of what you wrote are some things I'm already worrying myself about! Although we've been through a lot to have this pregnancy and I think I'm fully prepared because I've nanny'd and watched so many newborns,I know I'll be overwhelmed and questioning everything when my little one is finally here! Awesome post!

  4. This is such a gerat post and one I could have penned 7 years will get easier and it will get harder but it will NEVER be les worth it!
    Enjoy your adorable little man!

  5. I never let my babies cry it out and just held them as much as possible, especially if they were crying. Sometimes when I could think of nothing else, we went for a ride in the car and sometimes that helped!!!! Since you are going back to work, you should even let him sleep on you!!! You can do laundry and housework any time. This might be the only time you have a baby and you should make the most of it. He won't be like this forever and there is plenty of time in life to be on a schedule! If he is sleeping, let him sleep, don't wake him to eat. If he wants to eat every hour, then he must be hungry. Just let him be a baby. That's his job! Pretty soon you will be back at work and you won't have the joy of being around him for 6-8 hours a day! Think how much you will miss that! My husband always said my babies were attached at the hip, and they were! Now they are scheduled, older and sleep in their own beds. It will all work out, but just let him be a baby.

  6. Girl, you said it right, Trust yourself! Try everything, Sam will let you know what's best for him at that moment. I'm sure you're doing a GREAT JOB! You guys are in our prayers!

  7. You know what is best! You are doing a good job!!

  8. I don't at all want to be judgey, I swear. I'm a new'ish mom too--so I get it. With that being said, I fully, fully, fully believe and and truly passionate about the fact that 3 weeks is much too young to let a baby cry-it-out. I just truly believe that the foundations of basic trust are formed as young as in the womb, not to mention in the newborn age--and when they cry, there is a need. Even if its just to have their momma hold them, not to mention the many other factors it could be (gas, especially). I felt so strongly about this I didn't even attempt anything remotely close to crying-it-out until she was over 10 months old. And honestly? She is an amazing sleeper now.

    Also, do not let yourself get in your head about the 'rights & wrongs' of mothering--especially when it comes to nursing him. If he's hungry or acting like it, I say to feed him and not worry about the clock, in fact? Don't look :)

    The bottom line is, you should be doing anything you need to do to get sleep, or whatever, so if that means he's sleeping next to you/in a swing, or anything, Fine :) Don't let the fear of the future (and making bad habits etc) ruin your enjoyment today. That was the best advice I ever had and its true. For as many nights as E slept in her swing, you'd think she'd never like her crib, right? Wrong ;) There were no issues whatsoever.

    So take a deep breath, and relax...and most of all, trust your gut. If it really, truly feels wrong, maybe it is. But you do what's best for you and baby boy. You're doing a great job.

  9. You penned what I think most moms go through in the first month of motherhood. I had a lot of the same concerns, only I wasn't nearly as well-read as you were. I worried that if I fed him every hour, that he'd be spoiled and expect to eat every hour, etc. And with exhaustion, "baby blues," and hurt boobs, the idea of feeding that often seemed like the world. But honestly--as others have said--it is easier to just let go and go with the flow. Babies that young are crying out of need--to be held, fed, changed, etc.

    I thought we wouldn't do a paci until later (to avoid nipple confusion), but I realized that sometimes my son's crying wasn't because he was hungry (I'd try to feed him and it was obvious that he wasn't eating when he was nursing, just pacifying). So, we started with the paci. I eventually took the paci away at around 5 months, and after a few rough days, he got over it and forgot all about it. All this to say...relax! :-) With an active 1 year old, I miss the days I used to just hold my son all day. I remember feeling so incompetent, and I still do on many levels. Bottom line is that you're doing your best, and it gets easier as you become more adjusted and get into a rhythm.

  10. Oh all so true. I hate to say it but I'm not sure all that goes away. We are into the cereal/solid foods phase and I still worry about them getting enough. Then throw in the whole nap business. Does it mess them up if you take them out of their crib when they're crying and it is nap time, even if it is so they don't wake up their twin who is still sleeping? Will they learn to cry so they get "mommy time"? The other thing I've found is that my husband looks to me for all the answers and I have to remind him that I'm new at this too. I'm sure you're doing great and baby Sam will be fine whatever you do.

  11. I should also note the "lightbulb" moment I had as a new mom. Everyone kept saying, "it gets easier. it gets easier." They'd throw out times: After 2 weeks nursing becomes easier. After 3 months sleeping gets better. Etc. I had it in my head that it was my son that was doing the changing, so it was just a matter of waiting until the next developmental stage when things supposedly, magically, got better. In reality, it gets easier because I GET USED TO IT. I realized that I was the person doing the changing and the adjusting, and certain aspects of being a new mother were only as difficult as my ability to handle the change. Because to be honest, there is ALWAYS a change. Once they sleep more, then there's the challenge of teething, or trying out solid food, or rolling over, or crawling, or walking, or self-feeding, or changing nap schedules, and the list goes on. I hope this helps--it's something I have to remind myself of constantly!

  12. Did you just copy/ paste my first few mommy posts to make this one?! Ha! You are SO not alone. My little one just turned 6 months old and I have to tell you it gets so much easier and then harder again and then easier... at least so far. :) The first month or so is CRAZY!!!! Here's some words of wisdom/advice/encouragement that got me through it. 1) There is no such thing as spoiling your baby until about 3 months. So cuddle, feed, hold as much as you want! They know no different. You'll know when it's time to set the routine... they get very smart at the 3 month mark. 2) If you're breastfeeding... they get SOOOO much faster, so quickly. I remember feeling like a milk machine like it was all I did all day. Now he can empty me out in abut 5 minutes. 3) GAS DROPS! WE used Mylicon Infant Gas Drops because Donovan fussed all the time after feedings. It may not have been magic but it sure felt like it in the middle of the night when he'd been screaming for no apparent reason for hours on end. 4) Embrace the paci! Do not let anyone make you feel guilty abut it. I'm convinced that nipple confusion is a myth. If they're hungry, they'll eat. 5) Just know that this time flies by and in no time, you'll look back and think... how did we make it through all of that? Loved reading this post. I was right there with you. ;)

  13. I love the honesty of this post. I think so many women have these unrealistic ideas of what motherhood will be like and then when things don't go as planned they think something is wrong with them.

    There's nothing wrong - it's just women don't talk to other women about the problems they face, we all want to be so strong. The issue with that is it doesn't help the struggling mom and it doesn't give the expectant mother the full story :)

    Thanks for courageously being honest!

  14. You're honesty is refreshing. You'll be JUST fine and so will Sam if you CHILL OUT! haha. As a mom of a 2 year old and a 12 week old.... I'm gonna be honest since you are so honest.... the newborn days are the easiest. Enjoy these days. Give him a paci, pump if it makes you feel better, rock him to sleep until he's 4ish months old then let him put himself to bed when he's a little hazy... but stop worrying and enjoy him. You're going to worry his newborn days away and I swear babies are like dogs... they sense fear and frustration. Every mom worries if they're making the best decisions for their child (if you didn't, then you'd have something to worry about!) but save those worries for big ticket items. I've never heard anyone say they regretted not worrying more.

    PS- A general rule on hot/cold. They like 1 more layer than you in the cold and the same layers as you in the warm weather.

    PPS- As a fellow Clemson grad "Go Tigers!"

  15. This is a great post - so honest and heartfelt. I appreciate it. You are doing a great job, the best you can. As new moms we are crazy, yup, I said it. I'm proud to be a crazy new Mom! We are always worried if we are doing the so-called "right" thing. Well, I think the right thing is what works for you and your baby. Keep up the good work Mama! xo

  16. I have 3 kiddo's and all 3 were AWESOME sleepers, (like sleeping through the night at 1 month, just over 1 month and 2 months old - awesome). I was SO blessed! One of the BEST pieces of advice I got was NEVER, NEVER, NEVER wake a sleeping baby!!! They will let you know when they are hungry or wet! Also, I read this quote the other day and thought it was GENIUS! "As hard as we thought parenting would be, we only wish it were that easy!". You are doing great and he is one handsome little guy!!

  17. Thanks for this post. I have a 6 week old and I feel like this constantly! I am starting to get a lot figured out, and starting just to understand my baby. It was so good to read this and know that I'm not alone in how I feel!

  18. I don't get on here much anymore but I love your blog and thing about you and little Sam often! Let me say this one thing, it's the most important.... you can never hold your baby too much. I know some people say that you need to let them cry it out and don't spoil them by holding them all the time, but he's just a tiny little guy, you're his source for security. I believe in letting them cry it out but not until he's older. It's not possible to spoil a baby too much so you just hold him to your little hearts content! :) What you said is right, you'll miss this time and before long he won't want to be held! (like my 2yr old! lol) Try not to doubt every move you make, you and Sam will learn together and you'll do just fine! fyi, mylicon drops were my savior with my first son.... they went in every bottle and if we forgot them, shame on us! Hang in there girl it definitely gets easier!

  19. I know I've said this before, but I promise, it gets SO MUCH BETTER. My first three weeks with E were truly terrible. I cried every night at 6 pm on the dot, my nipples were sore beyond belief, I still felt like I was going to rip in two, and I felt basically no connection to my child. I don't think you can understand it until you're a Mom (or at least I didn't). Hang in there - you're doing a fantastic job!

  20. I think you are experiencing the same things most new moms experience. Only one person I met was honest with me and referred to the first few weeks as 'survival mode' and it truly is! Having recently just gotten out of that mode (my son is four months old) I promise it gets better, and you will feel it when you get some sleep! That first night Rowen didn't wake up until seven the next morning I was amazed at how put together I felt and on top of my game I was all because of sleep ( one small cup of coffee in the mornings may of helped). Hang in there!

  21. Thank you for your honesty! I am 19 weeks pregnant with our first and am a worrier by nature. To hear your honest truth about being a mom is refreshing. Already I feel behind because I may not have read a certain book yet or thought about how to diaper our unborn kid so to read about your experiences actually helps me feel like there isn't some special system I need to get together before the baby comes. That just living it day by day and knowing that there will be a learning curve is enough. I am bookmarking this page so I can reference it when I need to in the future. <3

  22. Oh boy. I could have written this myself. Just had my husband read it and he said the same thing. Thanks for linking to this; it is such an encouragement to know I'm not alone in these back-and-forth, questioning thoughts and worries and anxieties. And to know that they will fade with time and we'll eventually figure things out. Ah. Thanks for the honesty. You have no idea how much I appreciate and needed that today :)


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