A Letter to New Mothers

Hello there, I can’t believe this will be my 6th post in a row this week.  If you have not been following, I am almost at the end of a creative habits challenge – to post everyday for one week called the #YourTurnChallenge.

Instead of going with a plan, I have decided to release some of the many many things that I had wanted to write about but had placed in the back burner of my mind for reasons like:  “Oh I’ll need to take beautiful photos for this topic, or will people actually be confused because this has nothing to do with parenting even thought I feel a strong urge to share, or oh I need to fix this theme up because the font is driving me nuts,  (I am a designer, I can’t help but find a need to make everything and anything look and feel better) basically your typical perfectionist way to thinking.

This week I have committed to letting it go and to free myself from all the things that had been holding me back from sharing and not caring what other people may think, I feel empowered.

Today I want to send out some love and big hugs to all the new mothers out there struggling to make it through the day/night.  Ones with hearts that are frightened but also filled with love for their newborns yet still physically a mess from recovering from just having birthed a human.  Hello there, this post is for you.

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ITS ALL A BLUR ISN’T IT

My heart goes out to you.  There is nothing easy or simple about being a mother for the first time.  For me, it felt like being out there all alone like of the story of Jesus out in the desert for 40 days but instead of being tested with temptations, it was my strength and resolve that was up for questioning.

Yes of course everybody wants to help you, that is our society’s instinct to welcome and help new mothers and babies but are they really helping you in a way that you felt you needed to be helped?  That is questionable because you probably don’t even know what kind of help to ask for yourself.

Outside of the trivial things like food, laundry, changing diapers, holding the baby while you go to the bathroom/shower, not one person can truly help you get more sleep or nurse your baby.  You and your boobs are up for bat for what feels like never ending and technically, this all is physically abusive in my opinion.

Yes you can be in bliss but feel like crap at the same time!

I can safely say that this first newborn business is the most overwhelming feeling that one can ever experience.  No one can prepare you for this.  You can read all the books you want, buy all the things you think you need, none of it will help you feel less overwhelmed and that is the truth.

So today I want to acknowledge to all those that are feeling bogged down and tired with some encouraging words:

  • wrap yourself in a protective bubble for the next 3 months and feel as bad and good as you need to feel.  Cry with your baby.  Keep only the people you feel you can be vulnerable with around you for the first 40 days (minimum), and if that person is not your mother, she can only stay for short visits.  I know this may sound harsh but it is the time to kick start and unleash your mama bear instincts.  Protect your family at all costs, even if you may offend somebody close to you.
  • there will be a lot of opinions but know that your gut instinct will always win.  This is your baby, one that had been with you and not any other person for 9 months, you know him/her the best as he/she know you as well.
  • remember to let people know if you are feeling sad or scared and go for a walk to get fresh air even though the baby may be crying non-stop because they need a mother that knows when to say no and be good to herself.
  • drink lots of soup!  Like all day everyday for the 6 months (at least!!) if you can.  I know it may sound crazy if you are not Chinese but since now Bone Broths are so hip and trendy, I don’t feel like I have to prove my point as much as I used to.  Which brings me to another great blog post idea – to share with you all my go-to easy-as-hell postpartum (or not, for I still make/drink/eat today) soups.  I truly believe it can be a huge asset against PPD (postpartum depression).  Here is one recipe I found that is quite good to get you started with.
  • sleep WITH your baby.  Please I beg you to let go of all the fears and scary “incidences” portrayed in the media about co-sleeping.  Cribs are a first world modern invention, in my opinion, just something extra you have to spend money on.  Enjoy cuddling up to your precious gift this most fleeting time.  Soak up all that amazingly intoxicatingly sweet baby smell.  Treasure and devour this time with gusto.We never had a crib.  There was really no need.  If you have a high bed, just lower it and live like this for a few years.  You and your family will live. (and later on, if you need more room in your bed, add a little cotton futon next the bed on the floor, put a nice wool blanket (you can get one of those well used one from the thrift stores, get it cleaned and use that is a mattress protector, and put the sheets on top.  Voila, you have an all natural, non-toxic baby bed that also fits you and there will be no smells or mess if pee goes all over it, just wash the sheets and hang dry the wool blanket and start all over again.  (Oh gosh, I just realize I have to write a whole post on why wool is THE BEST for baby bedding!!)
  • keep your sleeping quarters really dim and as low light as possible.  Your baby had been living in total darkness since conception, the harshness of daylight in itself would be so uncomfortable, let alone bright interior lights.  We had dimmers put on most of our interior lights for this reason.  This will help with the quality of your sleep (if you do get to sleep).
  • Embrace the heck out of the dirty messy-ness of your baby, even if it gets all over you.  Have lots of thing towels around for wipe ups.  There are much dirtier and smellier things in this world than baby poop and urine.
  • in keeping with the theme of this blog of keeping things simple, most people do not believe us when we tell them that we have never used baby wipes. ( I always thought about my mother and what she had used when my brother and I were young, just soap and water and not a drop of cream)I rather you spend the money for baby wipes on pampering your own skin!
  • read this amazing post on my #1 favourite parenting blog.  Just scour her archives when you are up in the middle of the night.  I owe so much to Carrie Dentler’s words.  She is a serious inspiration and I owe her for helping me feel right about my parenting direction and choices.  Oh and of course THIS post.
  • I LOVED the sling mostly because I love being hands free.  Spend some time looking up tutorials (here is one for ring sling, this one is with a wrap, which I loved using especially when I wanted to cook ) on how to nurse your baby hands free.  Work with your baby and practice finding that special position that works for you both.  This will really help you get out of the feeling of feeling “trapped” with a baby 24/7.
  • Do not forget about your partner.  He or she is most likely feeling just as scared and overwhelmed as you are.  Stay close and keep the conversation inclusive.  Keep them in the loop.  Empower them because they are the most important part of raising this new baby, besides your boobs.
  • Last but not least, when the crying is relentless, and baby is fed, pooped, diapers changed, hold them close and as they cry, close your eyes, breathe deeply and visualize yourself as a rock in a running river as the water moves through you and you, the rock, does not waiver.  This was inspired by a written piece I was given by a Waldorf educator, which helped me figure out how to weather the ebbs and flows of a rapidly growing and changing little human.  When I find the article, I will post it here.

I’d love to hear from you if you happen to be reading this (maybe in the middle of the night and feeling desperate to connect, please drop me email (grace at plentyofsimple.com) or comment below.  Let me know if you have any questions or just get the fear out be writing about it.  I want to lend a helping ear.

Until tomorrow.

Much love and warmth,
Grace

 

 

 

 

Nap of Plenty

Leland at 1.5 months old

Leland at 1.5 months old

The definition of a NAP:  a brief period of sleep, especially one taken during daytime.

Naps are serious business in our household.  It was not like that when I was growing up, I don’t recall a time where a nap was considered and suggested to me.  Although I do remember my father coming home in the afternoon and napped for an hour after lunch time.  There was so much guilt around sleep throughout my life until I became a mother.  I was told by many when Leland was born: “Sleep when the baby sleeps.”

It was not easy for me, this sleeping business.  I’m still a night owl and I know I am sleep deprived.  I’m not really sure when that will change but one thing for sure, both my boys are champion sleepers and I am so grateful for that.  I use to think sleeping was for the weak, for the ones who “can’t handle it”.  Witnessing the extreme benefits of sleep through our boys was an epiphany for me.

I will be writing a lot more about this topic because my new understandings on sleep has changed my life and my family’s life in the most profound ways.

Until then, I wish everyone good sleeps and sleeping habits 🙂

grace

Reset Days

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Today was a day of utmost simplicity.  After a wonderful 3 day weekend filled with quality family gatherings and outings, hosting out -of-town guests, and closing it with a birthday party at a friend’s house, we are all over played.

I was so looking forward to today where I know will be a day of tranquility and I am so glad it turned out to be just that.  Both our boys (4 and 1.5 years old) woke up to a day of reset and we were all delighted to know that there was no agenda to abide to except for our simple yet solid rhythm of meals, free play and rest.

I wanted to set the tone by not speaking too much, not asking questions and keeping requests, tasks and activities to a minimum.  Both boys took to this quiet energy like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day.  They just nestled into their imagery worlds with a knowing that they will not be interrupted.  I was just a facilitator and a recorder of their unconscious little selves, being as free and as relaxed as they needed to be.

These are the days I feel so good about choosing to be at home with them.   The quietness of today allowed me to witness the unfolding special-ness of a childhood.  It makes me breathe deeper and cherish my role as a stay-at-home mother that much more.