Flipping back through the pictures of my very first few days, weeks, and months as a brand new mom brings back a whole flood of memories and feelings. It was such an exciting, nerve-wracking (am I doing this right?), and exhausting first month learning the ropes of being a first-time mom.
Fast forward to today. I’ve been pregnant for more than 4.5 years of my life, breastfed babies for another 5+ years. I’ve been in the ups and down, the thick and the thin of parenting for over 10 years. There’s so many lessons I’ve learned through the bumps along the way.
I’m so excited to be partnering with Graco as part of the Generation Graco Team this year. We have depended on Graco products since my first baby, and all his brothers that followed. This post today is sponsored by Graco, but all opinions are my own.
1. Released from the Hospital
I can remember my first big experience as a new mom – taking my new baby home from the hospital. It was such a weird, strange, surreal experience.
I remember they wheeling me out in a wheelchair (hospital policy) and my baby all bundled up in his Graco infant car seat all buckle checked and approved and ready to go. When we got to the curb, the hospital staff double checked car seat installation (another hospital policy) and then it was time.
We were officially off, on our own, and this whole motherhood felt like it started right then and there.
I remember my husband looking across at each other with a “what now?” expression. We had only planned up to this point. We made lots of preparations for getting to the hospital with packing and prepping and inviting family to come visit.
But now we were officially release from the hospital. What would be do with the rest of our day, week, month… It was that moment where we realized how little we knew about parenting and what our lives might look like going forward.
It’s funny how that realization hits you. Or at least, how it hit me. I had planned for and wanted to start my family, but now that it was here I just wasn’t sure what that meant.
2. The Breastfeeding Experience
The next big surprise for me was nursing. I wished it was something people had talked about more and prepared me for. I planned to nurse my baby, but I didn’t think about it more than that. It would be natural, easy, piece of cake, right? After all, women have nursed their babies for thousands of years.
My first overnight in the hospital things went pretty well. But my baby wasn’t depending on milk so much at that point.
By the next evening, when we were not home and settled in our own place, I was in for a surprise. What was it that the nurses had told me to do? Why isn’t he latching? Is it supposed to hurt like this?
But there was a whole other realm of surprise. Like leaking breasts, and milk sprayed all of my tiny newborns face, and my milk coming in with all the changes that brings along with it.
We were able to figure it out, my son and I, but it wasn’t always easy and I wish I had spent more time preparing for this aspect of being a brand new mommy.
3. The Sleeping Newborn
I had one of those scare-you-away-from-teen-pregnancy dolls in High School. You know the ones, right? It would cry out all through the night and need feedings, diaper changes, and attention. I was all geared up and ready with help on hand to assist me our first week at home.
Did you know, babies are really, really sleepy their first week? It is wonderful and very welcomed and lets mom and baby both recuperate from labor and delivery. However, those sweet snuggle days that could have been all about me and my baby and bonding ended up as visitation time with company.
By the time I really could have used their help, closer to the end of that first week and into the second week, my help was heading home and now it was crunch time. Me + a baby + no sleep + so many diapers + a husband back to work. It was rough. The baby blues can start kicking in by the end of that first week, too, as your hormones return to a pre-pregnancy levels.
The first week you expect to be out of sorts and you’re at least a little bit mentally prepared to just focus on you and the baby. I wish I would have known to plan family’s help for the weeks that followed, rather than that very first week.
4. Diapers, Oh My!
I might sound like a completely naive woman by now, but hopefully you’ll relate. I was woefully surprised by the diapering experience.
I was warned about meconium poop at my childbirth class, but just a warning not much beyond that. Dealing with those first tar black diapers were an interesting experience, but they didn’t catch me completely off guard. What did, though, was breastfeeding diapers. The seedy, super runny, poop was never discussed.
When the blowout goes up their back, it’s best to cut your losses and put them right into the sink!
We faced lots, and I mean lots, of diaper drama with our first. Blowouts, a surprise middle-of-the-action diaper change by grandpa (we still joke about that), and messes that soiled just about everything baby was touching – including whoever was snuggling with the newborn.
5. When Naps Rule the World
I never expected I would tip-toe around naps. But oh, my, naps completely stopped everything at our home with my first. There would be no movies, vacuuming, errand-running, and definitely no waking the sleeping baby!
I would arrange things around naps, cancel plans if nap time ran long, and even find myself pacing the floor antsy to leave just waiting on a sleeping baby. It is so funny to me now, looking back on those early months with my first child.
By baby number 2, there was no option of tip-toeing around and catering everything to a nap schedule. Life happens, plans exist, babies learn to adapt and sleep everywhere, it’s a pretty magical thing. There was probably no convincing new mommy version of me that such a possibility could exist.
The Name “Mother”
Those moments, while so funny to look back on now were both sweet and trying at the time. They shaped me into a mother. A woman who is more than just her own anymore, because she has children. And those children really become such an all encompassing part of us that there is no other way to describe us any longer, than as mother.
There’s a reason our first name is replace by “mom” through all those years raising children, and why it sticks even past when the kids are grown and out of the house.
It’s because mother (aka: mom, mommy, mama, ma, moooooooom…) is the name for that woman who spent those sleepless nights tending and caring for you as a newborn, those days worrying about you, those years spent by your side training and leading you, that example she was of kindness and love and patience.
Mamas, you need to know how good you’re doing. You are amazing and you are exactly what your little one needs. If you’re still in the thick of raising babies, don’t be discouraged. If you’re hoping and praying for babies, don’t give up! For any that weren’t able to have children, know that you can still wear the badge of mother by caring for the children around you. Mother is a word big enough to accommodate every one of us that plays that role.
The Generations of Graco
Wherever you may be on your own motherhood journey, it’s good to know you’re not alone. There’s a lot of us out there. We’re experiencing it all right alongside you.
Picture with my first in his Graco Infant Car Seat
That’s one of the things I love about the Graco brand, and why I’m thrilled to be partnering with them this year. They have been there for me since before my first little one arrived and are still by my side helping me through the tough times and the happy times. They’ve seen it all, and have generations of experience that I can rely on and trust.
Graco has been caring for babies and helping mothers for more than 60 years. That’s back 4 generations in my family tree. My grandparents were raising their babies 60 years ago, my dad will be turning 60 later this year. With all their experience helping parents care for their little ones, Graco knows a thing or two about what matters most and that the littlest things can make such a difference for their care.
What surprised you most about your first few weeks as a mother?