Surprise! A post from Mama-at-large: Jen Labelle!
It’s been almost 8 weeks now since my son Max came into the world.
As a first time mama, I had no idea what labor and delivery would be like. I read the pregnancy books, went to the prenatal classes, talked to moms, I focused all my energy on preparing for the birth as I figured that the whole being a mother thing would just come naturally.
The birth itself was the most intense, miraculous, wild, crazy, beautiful event that I have ever gone through. Just when I thought I had no more strength to keep on pushing, our baby arrived, healthy and strong, and was placed right onto my chest. I was overwhelmed with emotions… joy, amazement, exhaustion, fear, love…..I knew this was it….my life was forever changed, I was a mother and my role was to take care of this little precious being.
Our baby made it easy on us at first, sleeping through his first 2 nights and allowing his dad and I to catch up on some much needed rest. However, we soon found out from our midwife that babies need to eat LOTS and so sleeping through the night was not what we should be doing at all.
And so it began…a little seed of self doubt grew in me….even though I have worked with young children for many years, turns out I had no idea what a newborn baby needed. So I dove into the handouts I got from my midwife, the baby books which I hadn’t opened yet, and started googling things like newborn sleep, spit-up, breastfeeding tips, anything that came up. And once again I felt overwhelmed.
There were so many conflicting opinions on everything….camps of yay and nay sayers on “controversial issues” such as pacifiers, cloth vs. disposable diapers, co-sleeping, bottle vs. breastfeeding, swaddling…the list goes on. The criticism from one camp to the other can be severe and this translated into some feelings of insecurity and self-consciousness when I was out in public doing something crazy like putting a pacifier into my crying baby’s mouth, or, heaven forbid, not being able to stop my child from crying. Thoughts of “Am I a bad mother?” crossed my mind as I wondered what I should be doing differently.
After asking my midwife’s professional and personal opinion on many of the issues listed above, I realized she kept responding in the same way. She gave me some information and then emphasized this key point “Follow your instincts, if something doesn’t feel right for you, don’t do it!” We all have different personalities, opinions, and ways of doing things, so why would we think there is one right way to be a mother?
It took me a few weeks to figure out the most profound lesson of all about being a parent…trust yourself.
I know that trusting myself doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t seek out information, and I’m sure there will be times when I will doubt myself. But for now, I feel much better about the decisions I am making as a mother….they are my own, they are working for me and my family, and they feel good in my heart.