New Moms: I Give You Permission

Ok let’s just start with the obvious here.  You surely don’t need my permission. Frankly, you don’t need anyone’s permission.  But if you’re wired similar to how I am, as a new mom it might feel that way sometimes.  I mean, they just give you this baby at the hospital, you put it in the car, and then its just… yours? To do what you want with and hope you don’t mess it up?

You see I grew up one of those first born, adult pleasing, rule following, scared to get in trouble kind of girls (except for that stretch in middle school – yikes!).  Not that I don’t have my own original thoughts or won’t stray off the beaten path when necessary, but I generally don’t like to rock the boat too much and prefer to do things the “right” way.  So as a new mom (and sometimes still!), I feel like I need to hear from someone, anyone, its OK to do things a certain way.  In my gut I know I’m right.  Hello, I’m the mom here!  But the truth is, it still feels good when you see someone, knowingly or not, give you the green light to do things a specific way.

Now please understand that I’m not intending to make any of your concerns seem silly.  This is not one of those times when an experienced mom looks down from her high horse and chuckles at how new to this you are for worrying about something. Girlfriend, every worry is valid as a new mom. But before you go worrying too much or wondering if you’re totally botching this one shot with this gorgeous tiny human, I will gladly be the one to give you that permission.  Trust me, its ok!

I give you permission to… 

Not use a nursing cover if you don’t want to.  While this one obviously relates to your own personal level of comfort and depends on the setting for which you’re nursing, if you don’t want to sweat with your baby as you try to keep it in place while keeping baby happily latched – DON’T! And don’t you dare feel like you have to run to your car or hide in a bathroom if you’re out and about. If you want to – absolutely. But don’t be shamed into anything. You are literally feeding another human with your body, which in my book means you have super powers. My rule at home is: my home, my boobs, my baby.  If you don’t want to see him eating lunch, don’t look! Or you can eat your lunch at my kitchen table with a bag over your head.  Because that’d be the same. And it’d be pretty frickin’ funny.

Use the same sippy cup for awhile.  If I used a new cup every time my toddler wanted something new to drink, I’d need an entire cupboard dedicated to her cups and I’d be a slave to the dishwasher. Don’t be a slave to the dishwasher.  When she’s done, throw that puppy right back in the fridge and pull it out later.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  (Just don’t let things sit out for 18 hours and then try to reuse it.  Because then she could get sick.  And ain’t nobody really got time for that either).

Use your breast pump parts a few times before washing. Let’s just go ahead and piggy back off the one above. Use your pump, put the parts in a clean bag, put it in the fridge, and repeat for up to 24 hours. Thorough cleaning after that, but don’t kill yourself every single time! You are not a slave to your pump. Don’t be a slave to your pump.

Put on your face and tame that mop every day.  Some days I don’t get to this one till 3:00 p.m., but let me tell you – making yourself feel a little pretty, whether that means putting on a little make up, styling your hair, or simply washing your face is a game changer.  Do it every day.  Do it even if no one except the babies are going to see you. Take that time for yourself.  It makes a difference, trust me.

Keep baby in the same clothes if its just a little spit up.  So her shirt has a little wet spot.  Wipe it up, and move on.  It won’t be the first and certainly not the last time a little something gets on her clothes.  If its not going to make her uncomfortable, its not a sanitation risk, and its not going to stain if its remnants stay for a little while – leave it.  You’d be a slave to your washing machine. Don’t be a slave to your washing machine.

One or two cups of coffee.  Pregnant or nursing. Everyone will be just fine.  Maybe half and half makes you feel better.  That’s fine too.  Everything in moderation.  Don’t take this as permission to pony up to the espresso bar and imitate spring break of ’03 here.  But one or two cups – you’ve got bigger concerns than that.

Pick that teething toy or paci up and (gasp) wipe it off and put it back in baby’s mouth.  Whoa.. relax.  If it fell in a pile of dog poop or got stepped on or fell in a public bathroom, or any bathroom, you bet I’d be cleaning that thing up.  But use good judgment, keep a pack of paci wipes in your bag for emergencies, and don’t sweat every time it drops.  Truth is, if baby gets to it before you, its going right back in that little mouth anyway. Just suck those germs off and pop it back in. Seriously.

Lay baby down and take a shower. There will be days a shower is your saving grace.  The hot water has actual healing powers. Fact. So if you are dying to take a shower, take one. If baby is fed, dry, and safe in his crib, lay him down and take a shower.  Albeit he may be pissed, but he’ll be ok.  A happy and healthy mom means a happy and healthy baby.  So if you want to stand in that glorious box of hot water goodness, you better get in there dammit!

Don’t stress out and run when baby cries in public. It’s going to happen. Repeat that with me. It’s going to happen. Your baby will lose their freaking mind in public at some point. Or a lot of points. And sometimes there’s not much you can do.  Half the people who are witnessing it have had kids and should understand.  And the ones who give you a dirty look, well, karma is a relentless bitch.  Whether its because baby isn’t feel well or its because you’re sticking your ground in a teachable moment – don’t sweat it.  And if you see this happening to another mom in public, its in the mom handbook to give her that smile and nod that says, “I feel you sister. You’re doing a great job”.  IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.

Not change the crib sheets for a few weeks. It happens. You’ve got a lot on your mind. The world will keep spinning and baby will keep sleeping. Promise. Better yet, take one out of a fellow mom’s playbook, and put a few sheets on the crib. One gets soiled, rip it off and there’s a clean one underneath!

Turn away visitors. You’ve probably heard and read this one a million times already so I won’t dive into it, but you’ve heard and read it a million times for good reason.  Take care of yourself.

Keep baby in the same clothes for a few days. Its easy to fall into this time warped trap that is your home when you are a new mom. If all of a sudden you wake up and realize baby has worn the same jammies for three days, no one cares. It’s all good, darlin! Maybe try a new outfit, today? And no, it doesn’t have to match.  You don’t have to memorize every Carter’s matching set you were gifted.

Keep yourself in the same clothes for a few days. OK I wanted to be clever and have this match the one above it. The more I think about it though, your clothes are most likely pretty gnarly.  Whether its night sweats because your hormones can’t decide where they want to level, breast milk that has streamed down your stomach repeatedly, spit up, or baby snot you’ve wiped with your sleeve repeatedly…scratch this one.  Change your damn clothes. Chill.. I didn’t say you had to shower, too.  🙂

Cry.  Seriously. I’m giving you permission to cry guilt free. Because if you’re anything like me, you’ll do it six times a day during the first month (cough, cough – year). Don’t try and fight it. Don’t try and mask it. You let that shit flow and ugly cry your ass off.  Cry because you’re happy. Cry because baby smiled at you.  Cry because you’re overwhelmed. Cry because you finally got through your first postpartum poop.  Cry because its a Tuesday.  Just do it.  You’ll feel better.

Cry because you clipped baby’s skin while clipping her nails. Yeah yeah I just said ‘cry’ above. This one is separate because everyone has done it and everyone loses their marbles when it happens. Their tiny finger bleeds what seems like their body weight, and it won’t stop. You’ll be hysterical, but I’m telling you – its fine.

Feel nerves about leaving your house with baby the first few times.  The first time I left with my first child I had packed a bag for the end of the world and walked her what I felt like at the time was 12 miles to the store.  Turns out it was 0.2 miles, and I still laugh at myself to this day.  The first few times are nerve wrecking.  Do it anyway.  You’ll get better every single time. 

Have a glass of wine or a beer while breastfeeding. Yes, while breastfeeding. It won’t get into the milk yet and it starts your “two hours per drink” timer at the earliest possible moment. Sometimes you need that grigio baby! But no, the wine pours you got accustomed to when you were 24 don’t count. Standard pour, sweetheart. I would post a pretty epic picture I have of myself doing this, but I don’t think anyone wants to see my areola. And if you do, I don’t want to show you, because that’s weird.

Shake it off if no monthly pictures get taken on the actual day. 30 years from now when your precious babe looks back at this beautiful book of baby pictures you made for him, he won’t be able to tell if his 9 month picture was taken one day before he turned 10 months (or if you forgot all together and slapped a 9 month, then 10 month, and then an 11 month sticker on a 12 month old baby with a few outfit changes) . It still counts. And you won’t tell the difference either.  High five, mom. You rock for trying to capture these elusive monthly pictures. By elusive, I mean good luck after they start sitting and crawling. 🙂 Don’t be a slave to the 12th of every month.

Shop Mom to Mom Sales and buy Christmas presents at a second hand store.  Fun fact: kids’ interests change fast and their bodies grow even faster. I think Tayler wore a new outfit every single day when she was in 3 month clothes, and not even all of her 3 month clothes got worn.  If Kate Middleton can recycle outfits, so can my kids, dammit. She’s not a princess! Not only do they grow out of clothes insanely fast, but half the ones they do wear usually get caked in some sort of bodily fluid at some point. You don’t have to buy $30 baby pants just so they can contain a blowout.  My $3 used once Baby Gap pants from a Mom to Mom do the same thing for 230% less money.  And kids don’t need a ton of toys anyway.  Get out your Clorox wipes or vinegar mixture and shine up a used toy that looks new for a quarter of the price.  Your child will NEVER know, and neither will your friends who come over for play dates.  Unless you tell them, because its awesome. Put your money towards your children’s college fund or for some fun classes if you feel like makin’ it rain. Don’t be a slave to keepin’ up with the Joneses.

Drop the kids off. Take the day off. Tell NO ONE. OK, tell your spouse if you want. But you need a personal day sometimes.  Take those kids to their day care and go home for a nap.  Eat a bowl of popcorn while binge watching Parenthood on Netflix and crying over how you wish you were the Bravermans. Get a pedicure. Take care of yourself. Remember: happy and healthy mom means happy and healthy baby.  No one needs to know.

Be sad. Not every moment of motherhood is like the commericals. Not even the Huggies ones. There will be moments of loneliness, sadness, confusion, despair, anxiety, worry, insecurity, and that ‘feel like you’re drowning and can’t come up for air fast enough’ kind of feeling. It’s normal.  And it is not a reflection of you as a mother.  It’s a reflection of chemicals in your body and some major effing life changes all at once.  I give you permission to ride out, embrace, and allow yourself to feel these things.  What I don’t give you permission to do, however, is harbor them all yourself and not seek help or talk to anyone.  Ask for help. Talk to someone. Anyone. Email me if need be.  Seriously.

Not feel the pressure that surrounds us moms constantly. Thanks a lot, Pinterest. We all have our thing. We all embrace different stages, different ages, and different areas of motherhood differently.  YOU are the best person in the entire world to be your child’s mother.  YOU are giving that baby everything he needs simply by loving him as fiercely as you do.  You will grow just as fast as he does.  You will reach a point where you feel comfortable in your mom skin.  You will learn that if it is what is best for you and baby, then that is all you need to know.

I give you permission…

to not feel any need to get permission. 🙂

— As always, a quick thank you to my honest and witty Momtourage. You didn’t think I wanted permission for all of these things on my own did you?! 🙂 — 

The Compliments I Wish More New Moms Received

It used to mildly annoy me. Then for awhile it frustrated me. And now, after having it shoved down our throats repeatedly, it kind of pisses me off.

Olivia Wilde looks incredible just three months after baby! Claire Danes was on the red carpet in a size zero just one month postpartum! I’m pretty sure Kristin Cavallari wore her skinny jeans on the way home from the hospital. And I’m almost certain Gisele Bundchen gave birth during a pilates class and finished her exercises once she delivered. These headlines are everywhere, and every day it’s a new mom that is applauded for an even better version of her body than she had before pregnancy, and she achieved it in no time.

WE GET IT. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WE GET IT.

I’m not on a media crusade here, I’ll leave that to the much more competent, much more influential people out there with the platforms to make a difference. And after really evaluating why it infuriates me like it does, it’s not even that I’m on a jealously rooted rant. (OK, a tiny part of me is jealous). Honestly, it just really makes me sad. It’s sad to feel like the only compliment our new moms receive these days has to do with how quickly they can make themselves look like they never carried and birthed a baby in the first place.

Now please understand I’m not knocking women who, whether through unwavering dedication and hard work or the jackpot of genetics, bounce back quickly. Being healthy and taking care of ourselves should be a priority, and it should definitely be acknowledged.

My problem is, there’s so much more our focus should be on when speaking about women who just gave birth. There is never a shortage of the, “you look great!”s, and “wow, it melted right off you!”s. So much so, they often feel artificial and insincere – its just something people say to new moms whether they genuinely mean it or not. While I know I got them, I don’t remember a single one. The compliments I DO remember, however, had absolutely nothing to do with my physical appearance.

I specifically remember the text I got from a dear friend (who, at the time, I didn’t even know really followed my motherhood journey). Out of the blue, she let me know how fantastic of a mother I was and how she hoped to be “a quarter of the mom that I already am”. I specifically remember the conversation I had with my husband, where he told me one of the biggest reasons he was excited to see our family grow again was because of me, because I was “such an amazing mother”. I specifically remember the conversation I had with my grandmother about how she was so impressed with all the experiences I was trying to give Tayler and all that I was exposing her to. I remember the compliments about breastfeeding, about patience, and about how hard I was working around the clock to give Tayler everything she needed. Those words all stuck with me and helped build me up because they acknowledged the kinds of qualities I think really matter to new moms. The qualities our focus should be on when speaking to new moms. Those were the compliments that reminded me my energy was being spent in the right places.

I imagine Us Weekly would have to shut down if they changed their focus. I’m not sure the headline “Olivia Wilde is an avid baby wearer!” would sell any copies. But for those of us who are around your every day new mom, the ones who don’t have night nannies, who make their own meals on a budget, and who try and squeeze in a jog or some squats when they find a free 20 minutes and their energy isn’t completely zapped – acknowledge something more than just her physical appearance. Let her know you’re in awe of how natural she is in her new role. Tell her you respect how hard she works at work and then comes home and works with that same tenacity. Let her know that despite the few hours of broken sleep she got, you admire how she’s able to keep her patience and provide lovingly for her infant all day long. Reach out to tell her you revere the fact that she has the confidence to go against the grain, knowing what she is doing is best for her and her baby.

A new mom has so much more going on in her life than only worrying about how far she is from her pre-baby pant size. Not only that, but many women love their new motherly shape and don’t want to look like they did before children. We need to acknowledge that fact and change the conversation so our new moms can focus on the things that matter and be reassured their priorities are in the right order. Compliment her heart, soul, and fierce love for her babies. Those are the qualities that are raising exceptional little people – not the inches around her waist.

Tayler 8.12.13 002