This is a letter to every new mom that is on the world wide web searching for someone to tell them what the crap is going on and why is everything so hard in motherhood.
(Or, maybe this is just a letter to myself back when I was a new mom in 2018.)
I hope this is encouraging but also wakes you up to smell the “you are the mom, now” roses.
Dear New Mom,
Trust your instincts. Seriously. You know how growing up you’d always ask mom because she’d know what do to (or maybe you still do that – #adulting is hard). Well, guess what? Now you are the mom. New mom, now you get to call the shots. You get to say how things are gonna go down.
Even if your Aunt doesn’t agree.
Even if that blog post says otherwise.
Even if the book advises something different.
When you’re a mom, there are constantly new decisions for you to make for someone else that will affect both of you. It starts during pregnancy with something as simple as giving a name to your new baby!
But, here’s the deal. As a new mom, you will want to do what’s best so you’ll look to your left to see what so-and-so is doing, then you’ll look to your right to see what thus-and-such is doing. Then, you’ll text 3 different moms you know. Then, you’ll read 12 different blog posts while up for a late-night feed. And then, after all of that, you feel like you can tiptoe into your decision.
But new mom, believe it or not, you know what’s best for your baby.
Yes, you. I know you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing but instinctively you will know what do to. Don’t forget that humans have been successfully raising babies for thousands of years, now! Humans that didn’t have blogs, books or mommy playgroups.
You spend hours and hours with your baby and, truly, you know your baby better than any of the advice-givers do.
Dig deep into your instincts and nurture – you were made to do this very thing.
Make it your goal to study your baby and read his/her cues harder than you study and read books/blogs/friends’ advice.
New mom, you have been chosen by God to be this baby’s mother for a reason. It’s because you are the very best at caring for the specific baby that grew inside of you (either in your heart or your belly).
Trust your instincts – you’ll have to give into them at one point or another. Save yourself the new-mom anxiety and stress by allowing yourself to mother in your own way. Because guess what? Your darn good at it and your baby knows that full well.
Love and Hugs,
Letter to A New Mom: Part 2
Why I Didn’t Trust My Instincts as a New Mom
I didn’t trust my instincts as a new mom because I didn’t think I had any. I flat out felt like I had no clue what I was doing most of the time. As a new mom, I walked with confidence, talked with confidence but inside I was doing a big ole anxiety freak-out.
I was terrified to mess anything up. Or -to be completely honest- I was terrified I’d mess my baby up. From what I understood, the newborn days were crucial to setting a pattern for the rest of their toddler years. So, yeah, I thought everything was a pretty big deal.
Baby not sleeping at 8 weeks? I thought I’d have a 3-year-old that didn’t sleep a wink because I’d spoiled her as a newborn.
Baby doesn’t like pureed veggies? Just keep trying it until she likes veggies – whatever you do, don’t give fruits because then you’ll ruin her taste for vegetables. You don’t want to end up with a toddler that doesn’t eat veggies.
See what I mean?
New Mom, I didn’t trust my instincts with basically all of the big moments of my baby’s first year.
This was my first and longest-lasting instinct crusher. Baby’s sleep. I was obsessed with it. Not necessarily because I was tired but actually because I thought it was top priority to have baby sleep well. (whatever that means)
- My recollection of the first week of my first born’s life? Schedules. Routines. Schedules. Timetables. Sticky notes with adapted schedules. Clock watching. “Sorry, she can’t cuddle right now, it was her nap time 3 minutes ago.” I wish I was kidding. I couldn’t stand for my baby’s schedule to get out of whack because I thought her sleep would be ruined.
- New mom, I didn’t truly cuddle my baby until she was way past the newborn phase. I was scared of becoming a sleep prop (that’s sleep training terms for anything that can help your baby fall asleep besides themself).
- My baby cried many nights, many naps and many times in general for the sake of her being a “good sleeper.” I denied my instincts to the point that I had even become calloused to hearing her cry herself to sleep.
- I tried desperately to re-write my instincts to match what the books told me to do. But guess what? It turns out my baby isn’t a robot and doesn’t sleep like an automatic machine.
That is what happened when I ignored my instincts about baby’s sleep.
- Puree, puree, puree. Mash, mash, mash. My books say that babies should start solids around 6 months with pureed foods.
- After only a week or so, my baby stopped eating. The happy song on the record in my mind screeched to a halt. What is wrong with her?
- Google, google, google. Does she have sensory issues? Why doesn’t she like the purees anymore? Is she eating enough? How do I get her to eat more?
- One day, she reached for a banana and started eating it. Like, no big deal she just eats bananas. So, then I started looking into Baby Led Weaning. How to do BLW? How to cut food correctly? Shapes, sizes, choking hazards.
- After a few weeks, she stopped eating again. Back to Google- what is wrong with her? Why won’t she eat?
That is what happened when I ignored my instincts about introducing solids.
- Shouldn’t she be doing this by now? My app says that babies her age do this.
- When I look it up on Google, it says she should be doing this. What’s wrong with her?
- I would then start googling what could potentially be wrong with my baby just because she was a little behind the curve of other babies’ development according to the internet.
That is what happened when I ignored my instincts about developmental milestones.
Okay, this was (and sometimes still is) a big one for our family.
My baby had separation anxiety early and in an intense way. Like, screaming and hyperventilating with a red blotchy face until I would come back for her. But, only me. She would even scream if she was left with her dad.
- I couldn’t go to the bathroom alone.
- I couldn’t drop her off for an hour at Grandma’s to run errands.
- I couldn’t have girls nights.
- I missed more church services than I can count because I’d have to go get her from nursery.
Every solution that was given to me made me feel like a horrible mother or a horrible human being. Either I would be indulging myself and neglecting my baby or I’d be “spoiling” my baby and becoming a pushover.
This is what happened when I ignored my instincts about separation anxiety.
As our breastfeeding journey was nearing 1 year, all of these opinions and advice flooded me again. Sometimes unsolicited but mostly because I was seeking out the best thing to do. I still didn’t trust myself to make the decision for my baby and myself.
- I heard from one group of moms to stop nursing right at one year. There’s no reason to breastfeed longer than that, simply put.
- I heard from another group a resounding answer of extended breastfeeding. Breastfeed as long as you both wish, it’s excellent for bonding, nourishment, emotional regulation, sleep, etc. Most of those moms breastfeed past 2 years and nurse more than one child at once.
- I tried weaning right at one year. I hated it. We weren’t ready to stop nursing. I was going to build my supply again to nurse longer but then I became pregnant and lost all of the dwindling supply I had left. Our last nursing session was frustrating and full of confusion for both of us.
This is what happened when I ignored my instincts about breastfeeding.
What happened when I ignored my instincts?
Everything felt scary, confusing, overwhelming, and out of control. I lacked the confidence to make decisions as a mother. Truly, I didn’t know that I knew enough (even though it didn’t feel like it) to call the shots and that everything would still work out.
I didn’t know that if I didn’t follow what others did that my baby would still be okay. And that our family would thrive. And that I’d enjoy mothering more.
Why Blogs/Books/Vloggers Are Helpful For New Moms
Okay, so this whole time it may seem that I’m essentially bashing bloggers who give advice on motherhood. But, um, I am a blogger who gives advice on motherhood.
I think reading blogs/books/watching vloggers is a helpful resource as long as it stays as just that. A resource. Rather than an authoritative voice in your life.
When reading advice, the thoughts you and I should have should sound more like “that’s a good point” vs “okay, that’s what we’re doing now.”
It’s amazing that we can access so many opinions at one time on a given subject BUT it can also make it nearly impossible to tune into our inner voice, what God is telling us and what our husband thinks.
Using Blogs/Books/Vloggers As Your Mommy-Bible Only Does One Thing
Trusting these sources as my only influence on mothering decisions drove me absolutely crazy.
- It robbed me of the confidence a mother can have.
- It made me think that at times my baby was broken or had something wrong with her.
- It took the joy out of mothering and made it more like perfecting a new math formula.
The biggest thing that following blogs as your mom-Bible does is take away your God-given mothering instincts. Well, it doesn’t completely take it away… Your instincts will just fade into the background while “sound reason” takes over.
It’s kind of like how you can’t see the stars in big cities because of the bright lights. The lights are there to help us see clearly while doing things at night but it makes it nearly impossible to see the stars that used to guide us before electricity was introduced.
#1 Reason To Follow Your Instincts as a New Mom
When you ignore your God-given mothering instincts, you will be forced to compare yourself and your baby to other moms and other babies.
If what you’re measuring yourself up to is books, blogs, and YouTube channels, you are bound to fall into the trap of comparison. Once your in the comparison trap, you’ll easily start believing that there is something wrong with you or your baby when things aren’t going according to plan.
This way of thinking starts with labor and delivery. This book, that blogger, and your trusted advice-giver told you that things would go well with birth. It’ll hurt but you’ll be fine. And, that there is absolutely no reason to have a c-section. So, when you end up with a medically necessary c-section, you are crushed and scream at your body for failing. You were told that one thing would happen and when it didn’t you had nothing else to blame but yourself and/or your body.
The same thing happens when you are nurturing a new baby. This book, that blogger, and your trusted advice-giver say that your baby should be sleeping through the night by X amount of weeks. So, when that time comes and your baby still isn’t sleeping through the night, you immediately feel like a failure and wonder what is wrong with your baby.
Here’s the truth about motherhood:
You are your baby’s mother, not God. Some (most) of these things are out of our control no matter how much we think we can tweak this or that to be the perfect mom.
You are not broken or wrong because you do something different than someone else.
Your baby is a baby, not a robot. Babies do not come with special codes inscribed into them that makes them know “how to baby.”
Your baby is not broken because they’re not doing something other babies are doing or something that you think they should be doing.
Popcorn is prepared in the same pot, in the same heat, in the same oil, and yet, the kernels do not pop at the same time. Don’t compare your child to other children. Their turn to pop is coming.Unknown
You and your family are not broken simply because you don’t fit into a specific parenting style or box of mothering.
The Key to Instinctive Mothering – Find the Middle
After bouncing around with a few different parenting styles, we are finally finding our own Wright family parenting style.
As a new mom, with each book and blog post I read, I felt more confused about what we should do.
It feels like there are two different opposing sides of parenting and I made it my goal to work with my husband to find the perfect middle for us to live in. There are things on both sides of the spectrum that just didn’t feel right to us. So – we found a happy medium.
I was surprised when one of my friends told me a few months ago that she doesn’t follow any specific parenting style. She said she’s read over 10 parenting books (all with somewhat different styles represented) and implements little tidbits from each book and ignores some advice out of each book.
Find what works for your family. Pray about it! Use trial and error and apologize as needed.
Resources That Encourage Instinct Driven Mothering:
- Anything Magda Gerber or RIE parenting
- Janet Lansbury (podcast Unruffled and many books)
- The Beyond Sleep Training Project (Facebook group and FB page)
- Hangout with Moms with more than 4 kids… why do I say that? Watch this video by Farmhouse on Boone (specifically, watch from minute 14:40-17:55)
- Tracy Hogg (she implements routines that set up your child for success while still nurturing trusting relationships)
Dear New Mom – you were made to do this! Love, Another Newish Mom
Please share this with a new mom that needs to hear about her God-given mothering instincts.