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Monday, February 23, 2009

Tips for New Moms

By Rachel H and Guest Blogger Megan B

Rachel H:
I am happy to introduce my friend Megan as our guest blogger today. We met about 8 years ago when I started teaching with her mother. I liked Megan right from the start. She comes from such a good, friendly family with exceptional morals and values. I was so fortunate to be able to see her get married, and begin her job as the Associate Director of Clinical Operations at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Not only has she always been a Smarty Woman, but a few months ago she also became a Smarty Mom! Megan and her husband, Bob, welcomed sweet baby Julia into the world on November 14, 2008. Megan was on maternity leave for 9 weeks and has recently started back to work.

Even though my youngest child is only 3 years old, I cannot even remember what life was like when she was a baby. And I especially do not remember what it was like to be a first-time mom 5 and half years ago! So, I have asked Megan to share some thoughts with new moms and soon-to-be moms while it is fresh on her mind. Thanks, Megan!

Megan B:
Hello Smarty Moms and soon-to-be Smarty Moms! The past weeks have gone by so much quicker than that last trimester when Bob and I couldn’t wait to have Julia here with us. I really thought labor would be the hard part but looking back on it, labor was the quick thunderstorm with the rains coming for the next few weeks. Below are a few thoughts to share. Please don’t get intimidated by some of this advice, as these times have also been some of the most rewarding times of our lives. Feel free to take it or leave it, but a few reflections after moving past this beginning stage.

• Don’t feel that you have to be productive during this time. Your only job is to feed your baby, keep them clean and love on them. The time each day will fly by with just these items. I found the days that I expected to get a lot more done, I felt like a failure. So I got to where I would plan for one small thing to get done and base my success on Julia’s schedule. Learn to find small things each day to make you smile. Julia’s morning feeding was at sunrise so we got to watch the sunrise together, which was some of my most treasured times. Also, I would watch Grey’s Anatomy (from DVR) during feeding to take my mind off of it sometimes. If you have time, finish all of your thank you notes and anything that might hang over your head before the baby arrives so there is nothing to do during these 10 weeks but to enjoy baby. Visits were always something that I enjoyed but also really made me tired. I’m such an extrovert that this was tough for me to say no to people, but they can always come another day.

• Talk to friends when you need a pick-me-up but don’t feel that you have to call anyone. Sometimes contact with the outside world gives you adult interaction and reminds you how many people care and love you guys. Talk about the baby since that is what you’re going through, but also talk about other things. It’s okay to have things in your life beyond baby!

• If you decide to breast feed, hopefully it will come easy to you. Unfortunately it does not come easy for many people. When we had feeding issues, I was really down at first and thought I was the worst mom; however, so many friends and family shared that they have had similar issues. It turns out that a baby doesn’t have to have 100% breast milk to receive the benefits of breast feeding. Beyond anything, think about yourself in this case, too. You will take better care of your baby if you are not stressed out and exhausted (too much because you will naturally stress and be tired during this time). Call for help with your pediatrician if you feel something is wrong because your gut feeling is usually right. They don’t mind us first time moms calling with questions. They are used to it. If you want to talk to friends or just vent about frustrations, call them!

• Get lots of hugs and shoulder rubs from your husband! It’s really easy for you both to focus your attention on the baby and forget that you each have emotional needs, too. Many nights Bob and I would watch TV and relax with Julia on the couch next to us, which was a lot of fun as a family. However, there were times we would put Julia to bed and just have time together. Moving her to her room was also a good move for us as it gave us our bedroom for just us. We started naps in her room at 3-4 weeks and moved her at 4 or 5 weeks.

• Annabel (our 5-year-old black lab), as hard as this is for me to admit, did become 2nd priority to Julia even though she will always be our first child. Some things to try for your pet are to bring home a blanket from the hospital for him to snuggle with and have a new toy for him when you come home from the hospital. Bob carried Julia inside and I went in to see Annabel first. As we transitioned over several weeks, I tried to give Annabel some attention while Julia was sleeping so she knew I still loved her but don’t feel guilty if you can’t give him as much attention. Dogs are great in the fact they love you no matter what… a very good example of unconditional love.

• Get a calendar for the new baby. We have a calendar hanging in our kitchen that we received as a baby gift. It allows us to write notes on certain days as we think of it rather than having to do major scrap booking. Our calendar has stickers for the monumental items like first smile and other things. Then at the end of the year, you simply cut it apart and past in a scrapbook, add some pictures and you have easily documented the entire first year.

• All of the other things you will learn along the way. Taking care of a baby isn’t rocket science, but it feels like it at first. There’s such a steep learning curve and the good news is there are so many people that love you in your life that are there to help. There’s a book that goes through the first year week-by-week. We have enjoyed reading that together each week to look forward as to what to expect with Julia’s development.

• Last and definitely not least… Between 6-7 weeks, babies start to develop personality and start to respond to you and communicate with you through smiles and “baby talking.” This is the fun time and each week from there is more fun. Of course you get to enjoy the cuddly hugs before week 6, but then know you’ll have a little person in your presence, an amazing creation that God has blessed you with. No matter what, at the end of the day, you will love this little baby more than anything you ever dreamed. For me, it’s not an explosive love like fireworks but rather the warmest, deepest satisfaction that I have ever felt. Feel free to give tons of hugs and kisses, cry a lot, smile a lot, and reflect on yourself as a person as well as what’s important in your life.

• On going back to work… This is an area that has to be right and work for you and your family. For us, it was for me to return to work after 9 weeks of being home with Julia. The transition has gone very well for me thanks to support from my family. We chose to place Julia in a loving home while Bob and I were at work during the day. However, the first week Bob stayed home with her. This made the transition much easier because I could focus on just getting myself out the door during the first week. It also gave Bob a chance to bond with Julia. The next week, my parents stayed home with Julia for a couple days and then Julia started going to Mary’s home towards the end of the week. This gave us all an ease into the new schedule. Also, my husband and I sat down and planned out all logistics. This was helpful to think through and write down everything that needed to be packed the night before, time to wake up, morning feeding, getting ready, and getting out the door. More than anything, the fact that Bob and I are a team in taking care of Julia has helped the most. Of course I will continue to give work more than 100%; however, my priorities have shifted a bit and it is so much fun to see Julia at the end of each day.

• One last thing on balancing working and being a mom… Goodness knows I am learning each day through trial and error how to make this work. The CEO of Pepsi was once quoted (I’ll paraphrase here) that the balance between work and home is more of a rhythm. You can never be the best at work and the best at home at the same moment in time. However, you can give your best to work when you are there and then your best to your family when at home. Her thoughts about this rhythm rather than a giant balancing act have really helped me strive to give my best at what I am doing in that moment. It helps to put things into a bite size reality rather than an impossible task.

At the end of the day, when Julia looks up and smiles or cuddles into me, it’s all worth it plus some. Good luck and enjoy the ride!

Thanks for all your Smarty tips, Megan. If you have any other tips to share with new or soon-to-be moms, please comment below!


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the "being productive" part. I always felt so guilty when my house was trashed even though our baby was just a few weeks old. Looking back, it really did not matter at all, and if people came to visit, they absolutely understood why my house looked like a tornado came through!

Rachel said...

Thanks for all your Smarty Tips, Megan!
I just thought of something else for pregnant and new moms - make sure you let people know if you would like visitors while you are in the hospital. I LOVED having people come to see me during my hospital stay, but some moms are just not up to it. Be sure to let people know so we can visit if you want us there or hold off until you get settled at home. Like Megan said, this time is about you, your husband and the baby, so it is OK to say no!

Jane said...

Great tips, Megan!

Elizabeth said...

So fun to see you on here Megan! Your little Julia is adorable :) Time flies...enjoy these sweet moments!


Anonymous said...

The calendar idea is a great one...I have 3 calendars waiting to be put into my sons album..

Anonymous said...

Hi Megan! Great to hear all about you, Bob, and Julia! I work with your mom and absolutely ADORE your family and the values which have helped you become the woman you are now and will be to that sweet baby girl! I too have a new baby girl, Palmer, and have recently gone back to work and have struggled many days internally with this decision. Thanks to an excellent working environment, a supportive husband and friends, and an amazing miracle of God, I've been very happy with our decision! Best of luck to you and your family! Nikki Francis

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