Saturday, June 16, 2012

Musings & Must-Haves of a First-Time Mom

I've been a mom for almost 6 weeks now and it's been an adventure! You think you know it all before the baby comes and then you are humbled. During these past weeks I've been doing some musing and came up with what I hope to be a helpful list for soon-to-be moms. (Or something old-time moms can laugh about as they remember when!)

A few things nobody ever tells you about having a baby...
(Or maybe they did tell you, but you thought it'd never happen to you...)

Your baby's skin will all peel off. I was a little worried when Katie's hands and feet started to shed, followed by her legs, face, tummy, and hands and feet again. Use coconut oil - a great moisturizer as well as an anti-bacterial.

You will ask yourself... "What have I done?!" I was at a party once and my friend told me that after she had her baby she and her husband went home and thought, "What did we do? Our life was so good..." I laughed at that story, but then it happened to me. Babies are easy while at the hospital. After 4 days in the hospital I thought, "This is easy." But then we came home and real life kicked in (no nurses to wheel her away and change her diaper). Life as we knew it would never be the same. It takes some adjusting and it's okay to wonder if you're okay with it. Of course you are (or will be) and it's okay to take your time getting used to it all. One night Tanner and I laid in bed and reassured each other that we had made a great decision and things were going to be great!

It's harder than you think. While we were reassuring each other, we both admitted that having a baby was a lot harder than we thought it would be. We are both very accomplished people. We thought, "A baby?...No sweat." Yeah, right. It's hard and takes dedication and love and a team. 

It gets better. The first few days were the hardest. Long nights, ear-splitting screams, upset tummies... that's when you start reading and searching for anything and everything about what to do. And fortunately I found some awesome resources. And fortunately, Katie got used to her new setting a little bit more. I felt a huge weight on my shoulders the first few days. I was so worried about anything going wrong and wanted it all to be perfect. That stress was wearing me thin. After a few days the weight lifted and things started to come into balance.

You have a team - use it. I can't imagine doing this as a single mother. (My hat is off to those moms who do.) I am so grateful that Tanner and I are doing this together. We share diaper duty, we both hold her, calm her, we can lean on each other when she is crying or won't go to bed, we can ask each other for advice, and share all the sweet moments too. In addition to your husband, use your family and friends to help when you need it.

You're the mom. You know it all now. I remember the days of holding a friend's baby and when she would start crying I would look at the mom for her to tell me what to do because, of course, she would know. Now I'm that mom, and guess what... I don't always know what to do! It was funny the first time it happened. Katie was crying while my friend was holding her and she looked at me for what to do... and I didn't know. But thanks to the many great resources and my mother's intuition I am learning and knowing more and more just the trick!

You'll get used to the crying. The first week or so I would get so nervous anytime Katie would cry. I was worried she was hungry, but I had just fed her, or I was worried she was in pain. The noise was hurting my ears. Any little cry would send me over the edge. But now, I can deal with it. I can breathe easy while she cries it out and most of the time I know exactly what to do to solve the problem.

Your baby is another person - you need to nurture your relationship. I figured my heart would just burst with love for my baby girl the moment she came into the world and nothing would ever change. Yes, I did love her immediately, but I realized I have to nurture the love and build our relationship. One night she wouldn't go to sleep and she had a little booger that was stuck in her nose and it was making the most annoying noise when she would breathe. I was so tired and annoyed by the noise that I found myself getting bugged with her. I was angry with her... my sweet little baby. I felt so bad. She couldn't help it. But it was so annoying! During that experience I realized that the love doesn't just come without work and effort. Our love and friendship will increase overtime and it will take patience and understanding. I have already felt our love grow a little bit each day!

Don't underestimate how much you love your baby. The night of the booger incident I was confessing my wrongs to Tanner. I told him how bad I felt about getting angry with Katie and I was scolding myself. He said something that was very encouraging..."Don't underestimate how much you love her, Anne." And then he pointed out all the things I do for her, and how much I have already given to her. How I sacrifice for her and want the best for her.

Don't underestimate how much your baby loves you. She can't say it, and can't really show it. But she does, you just have to believe it.

Take some time for yourself. One night last week Tanner was headed to his parents and I asked him if he would to take Katie with him. I was home alone!!! It was great. Even though she would have slept the whole time, it was so nice to have the house to myself and nothing on the back of mind. I had 3 hours to do whatever! Fabulous.

Go with the flow - then make a plan. For the first 4 weeks we just went with the flow. I fed her when she was hungry, put her down when she was tired, etc. But now we are getting on a schedule and it's great. I can plan my day a little better. Plus, by not making a schedule right away you can observe your baby's natural habits and then create a plan that will be supportive.

You will be tired... the rest of your life probably. One morning, after waking up way too early, I was day dreaming about the day I would once again be rested... maybe in 3 months, maybe 4?! And then the thought came, "You may have to reconsider your sleeping habits. It may never go back to what it used to be." :( I'm used to 8-9 hour nights. Now I'm getting 4-5 hour stretches. It will get better, but it may never be the same. Oh well, there are worse things in life.

You'll be doing a lot more laundry. How can one tiny little baby make so much laundry?! Well, she poops, spits, and pees wherever and whenever she likes.

Take your baby out. I thought I'd be cooped up in the house with the blinds drawn for 4 weeks. Well, that wasn't the case... at all. We have been out and about since week one. Luckily, Katie loves to be on the go. She loves her car seat and the car. So it's great for her, and it's great for us. Nice to get out and see the world, socialize, move your body. So weather permitting, take your baby out.

The world keeps on turning. Even though I wasn't cooped up for 4 weeks, I have still felt a little detached from the world. I went back to work for a little bit last week and realized that a lot of projects had started and finished without me even knowing. I thought, "Why didn't they fill me in?" Well, they didn't need to. They just kept on moving forward. It was weird to be out of the loop. This is why it's good to get out - so you aren't totally cut off from the world. But it's also a very special time to be so involved with your little one and to have few distractions.



The following products have been life-savers for me, Tanner and Katie. I highly recommend all of them!

NoseFrida and Saline spray: Saved my sanity (see story above). I saw it at the store and thought it was gross, now I'm kind of obsessed with it. No more annoying boogers!

Dunstan Baby Languages: Thanks to this, I know she's not always hungry. It seriously works!

SwaddleMe blankets: Works like a charm!

Happiest Baby on the Block book: I hadn't heard of this until my friend recommended this. In my desperation I decided to read it and boy, oh, boy am I glad I did! Tanner and I thank God for Dr. Karp daily.

TLC essential oil spray: A calming oil blend mixed with water in a spray bottle creates a calming atmosphere for bedtime.

Coconut Oil: My #1 obsession. I'm always wiping this stuff on her. People think Katie sweats a lot, but it's just the coconut oil on her face. But people also comment on how great her skin looks, again, it's the coconut oil. Anytime she has baby acne, a scratch, a rash, etc. I turn to coconut oil and I haven't been disappointed yet! I have yet to use any other lotion or cream on her. I recommend Extra-Virgin Raw Coconut Oil. You can find it in the baking isle at the health food store or online.

Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar: Since I started drinking 1 tablespoon a day Katie's stomach issues have completely gone away. She used to complain about a tight tummy  at least once a day, but not anymore! Hooray!

White Noise App: (Actually, I now recommend a blow-dryer with a timer) Play the sound while they sleep. The noise recreates the womb and keeps baby snoozing peacefully... for longer!

A good book: To read while nursing.

12 hours by 12 weeks book: This book has helped me create a good feeding and sleeping schedule so far. I'm excited to see if it works by 12 weeks.


  1. Thanks for sharing Anne :) I love reading about your experience as a brand new mom :)

  2. I love your pictures and post. What a great way to share your feelings and experiences. When I had my first baby my midwife suggested using a wet cotton swab to clean my baby's nose. I have tried salines and other things but in the end it's been the wet cotton swab and an aspirator that have been my favorite. (I just wanted to share since sometimes all the baby expenses can add up.) I love reading your blog!

  3. Great post!! Katie is adorable!! I love all your advice as well! Fyi Iam obessed with the same nose thing and still use it on hadley! Your an amazing mom! Glad your part of the mommy club!!

  4. Great post! Wish I had some of those resources or knew about them when I had babies! Babies are so much work for how cute and little they are. I watch my sisters having babies and think how did I do it. I had twins and another one in less than 18 months. My youngest is almost 7 yrs old and it was so nice a few years ago to finally get sleep and actually not feel in a fog all the time. I am enjoying my younger kids at the stage I don't remember much of my older kids being in. I have a few baby gifts to buy and will buy from this great list of resources. Have fun with that cute baby girl and I love all your pictures!

  5. It's reassuring that your obsessed with a lot of the same "mommy must haves" as I am! I'm not crazy after all;)

  6. I love reading about all your new mom must haves. My daughter just turned 18 months old so I was right where you were a few short months ago. It truly does go so fast. Take lots of pictures!

    I wanted to ask you something about the coconut oil. My daughter has developed excema due to what they believe is an allergic reaction to her diapers. We've tried several different brands and now the excema is on her arms so I'm really not sure it's the diapers that is causing this. Anyways, I'm curious if you know if coconut oil will do anything to heal her skin in this area. She itches so much and I feel so terrible for her. Any thoughts?

    1. I know the coconut oil will help moisturize, but it might not solve the problem. The key is to find out what is causing the eczema. I have heard that if a baby has a diaper rash it is actually caused by the acidity in the urine. Drinking Apple Cider vinegar will help raise the pH levels of the body. You could mix a little (1-2 tsp) with some juice for your baby girl. I would also consider omitting dairy if you haven't already done so. Cow's milk is very acidic and can add to a lot of health problems. A great alternative is almond milk.
      I've included a link to one of my favorite remedy websites. Here you can find some herbs that might help.
      Let me know if you have more questions.

  7. Congratulations and thank you for sharing. I love your blog and Katie Claire is a beautiful baby. God bless you and your family.

  8. So true and so wonderful that you're gaining this knowledge so early! Many of us go many years and kids before understanding and admitting to the good, the bad and the ugly of parenting. I love your spirit and honesty!