Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Best Advice, Never Given Enough

" Sleep now while you can", " Be strict with them from the moment they are born", " Close the door and let them cry, they need to learn to self soothe", " If you don't start with veggies before fruit they will not eat their veggies"," If they are not out of your room by 4 months, you will never get them out", " you should get or borrow a crib"," you hold your newborn while they sleep?, not a good habit to get into!", "your baby is gassy?, must be mommy's fault since your nursing" Everyone of these was something I heard when I had my first son, everyone has advice for a first time mom- and I mean EVERYONE, even me

One of my dearest friends is embarking on this awesome journey into motherhood and is reminding me of all the excitement, anticipation, advice, and stress that can be involved. You want to get everything right- the right baby products, the right advice, the right books, the right vaccines etc. You are thinking about how much your life is going to change-usually for the better. Everyone is usually excited for you and that is great! It is so awesome to become a mom, besides knowing Christ as my Savior, and marrying my husband- it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It has helped me become more patient (and I thought I was patient before- boy am I learning), it has helped me to be a better person because I have little ones watching me, but one of the things that you only get from becoming a parent- is understanding Christ love for His children, to think I love my sons this much and he loves us even more, and sent His only son, for me. That realization came very closely right after having my first son- a love unmeasurable. That is the amazing part, but then there is the parts that are not so enjoyable, lets be real here. The baby that has colic or reflux or thinks its party time all night long, the toddler who cant ever make it to the bathroom on time, Iv heard teenagers are just grown up toddlers as well. 

There comes a point where you have to look at a first time mom and realize- she is overwhelmed,tired, recovering from birth or has anxiety about the upcoming birth,and has hormones mixed in, and maybe just maybe we should not give our advice- maybe we should all shut our mouths! Radical, I know but maybe the best thing to say to a new mom is - "I know your going to make a great mommy, what a lucky baby!" Same to first time dads! Because giving too much advice can sometimes cut down instead of build up,because sometimes what the advice comes across as is " I know more than you, you cannot possibly think for yourself". I know that is not what most of us intend to say at all! When I give advice it is usually meaning to tell them what it took me so long to figure out! 

Being a parent is not like fixing a plumbing problem, there are very few one way to do things correctly. You know what saying something positive like that to first time moms does? Empower them! Isn't that what we are all hoping to do with our advice? Empowerment works so much better than fear, for husbands too- haha.

I am now going to open my heart up to you and share from my experience as a first time mom-which is not easy to do on a public blog. I had a particular issue with my first son that many people have, I also believe it can often times be a first born trait- he seemed to never sleep.

Being my first time doing this, I looked for help and was given much advice by well meaning moms. Most of them told me to let him cry more and learn to self soothe, or give him solids/more solids. Between all of the stress of having such a difficult baby, and the advice that made me feel inadequate- because nobody seemed to understand and sympathize, my own insecurities and most definitely sleep deprivation- i ended up with postpartum depression. When you have postpartum depression, anything anyone says to you can make you break down, its like pregnancy only worse.With postpartum depression each woman can have a different type of specific problem- I did not want anyone touching my baby. 

I took most of the advice I was given actually. I gave him solids- and my problem got worse because he ate too much after I was told to give him as much as he wanted- so he screamed, I was told to leave him in his bed until he slept- well, i took him out to feed him and change him but he still did not sleep-the entire day! He was happy,then sleepy-but did not sleep, then happy again, then crying, then screaming. That night before my husband got home I was a mess, I had a migraine- I puked 4 times (I puke from headaches if I don't get them taken care of soon enough). All I wanted to do was sleep and cry. My husband wanted me just to lay down with the baby and nurse him to sleep because we were both exhausted and clearly nothing else had worked that day. I was so sad, but I felt so much pressure to get this baby to sleep on his own(especially if it was him manipulating me)- especially after I had gotten advice that I would be questioned on later. You know what though- I did do just what my husband suggested- and I will never ever regret it! My son had woken every 2-3 hours a night up to 8-9 months old, taken 2 hours a night to fall asleep even if he was rocked!(around 6 months). Some things were habits, some were phases. By twelve months- he slept 12 hours straight in his crib, almost every single night, the rest is history. So what changed? I learned to stop stressing about what everyone else thought my baby should be doing and started listening to the brain the Lord gave me. I tried a few things out of books that I liked that helped(My Favorite-The No-Cry Sleep Solution,by Elizabeth Pantley ), got him on a better routine for his specific age(which you can find on the internet). I remember having my son crying and praying to God- "please guide me to do the right thing, I want to pick him up but so many christian mothers I know don't do things that way- it must be some sort of biblical thing- I must be doing it wrong." You know what came to me again and again" Ashley, just pick him up, comfort your baby- its ok!". My husbands aunt said to me once" It is not a biblical issue" that little sentence gave me so much freedom. 

Kevin Leman often says" Don't major in the minors"- that's exactly what I was doing- judging my self worth and how good of a mother I was on how well my baby sleeps. I am happy to say that today I have found the absolute best advice for me as a new mom was " Do what works for your family, do what you want!" As long as what your doing is not illegal, or morally wrong, or goes against the Bible- you have nothing to worry about. God does care about the little things in your life, the minors - and if you ask him for guidance He will give you something- just like He gave me. 

  As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. Isaiah 66:13

Now, don't I have another little one now? Yes, and he is a completely different child than the first. He takes to a routine much better, he usually naps awesome(going through a phase now that reminded me of this) but overall the kid is just easier and happier than my first. Me? If I want to co sleep- I do, If I want to put him in his pack n play to sleep- I do. He is learning to sleep in different places and that works best for us. If i want to rock him I do. I just enjoy being a mom SO much more this go around because I am spending time enjoying the amazing little blessing God gave me because I know it really does go so fast. Really for me- the first year is all about bonding and enjoying, things change so fast that young that it really doesn't matter to much what you did or did not do. The second-third year is when the teaching and guiding really comes in. 

I still ask for advice with my toddler with each new age but I realize I can take it or leave it and that I know my child better than anyone else. You do too! You need to make your parenting decisions based on what you feel is right, not what grandma, the lady at the laundry mat, the doctor, your mother in law, your sister, the lady at church- you get the point. Do what works for your family!
Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28



  1. The best advice I was given after Landon was born was from my doctor. He simply said, "just enjoy him." That's advice that I do like to pass on to new moms! -Aunt Rachel :)

  2. I love the message in this post and Rachel's simple advise! The advise I give to new parents is that every stage will pass..good or enjoy every moment, cause one day you wake up and realize that "that" stage has past. They grow up so fast. I can vividly remember a moment holding you as a child Ashley, while we were at the cabin. You were so shy, but you were cuddled in my lap resting your head on my chest. Priceless memories, that's what you live for! - Aunt Brenda

  3. Thank you both for the comments and love:-)- love both your favorite advices- so true! Levi seems to be just stopping that phase he was going through for the past few weeks with Christmas over I suppose he schedule was all messed up along with some hurting gums.