We are back. And, we’re back with one of my favorite series on the blog, “The First Month.” This is a series of 10 questions that I ask moms and dads shortly after the first month of new parenthood. Readers love it and parents love it too, giving them a chance to reflect on the past few weeks, creating a journal entry of sorts, amidst the foggy fog of sleepless nights, when days blend into weeks and our emotions and hormones have turned us into entirely new versions of ourselves.
This month, my friend Alex is sharing her story. Alex and her husband Justin welcomed Ivy June shortly before Christmas on December 21st at 9:42 p.m. after – wait for it – 41 hours of labor. Women are amazing.
Thank you so much for sharing your story Alex. It’s beautiful.
The First Month
1. Can you write five to 10 words that describe the first month of being a new mom?
As time blurs together this past month, it’s the smallest sweetest pieces of our days and long nights that have made me feel like a mom. Feeding, comforting, changing, kisses and cuddles.
2. What is one thing that you can tell us that you weren’t sure you would tell anybody about what you are feeling or have felt this past month?
For nine months I dreamed of feeding my new baby from my body — I loved to think that the body that grew her would continue to nourish and comfort her. I read books and websites to prepare. I couldn’t wait to bond with baby Ivy. But, in the beginning I didn’t love breastfeeding. Breastfeeding was a huge struggle the first two-and-a-half weeks. She had a hard time latching on and when she did I would be in an excruciating amount of pain. I cried and she cried, it was hard and messy and emotional and I felt guilty for dreading those late night feedings. But then things changed — around three weeks we kind of got the hang of it. Nipples healed, latching on was better and now I love our cozy, milk-covered feeding time together.
3. What is the one thing that took you off-guard, that surprised you the most?
How amazing of a dad my husband would be. I knew he would be a kind, caring, fun dad. But nothing prepared me for the amount of love and tenderness he would have for our baby girl. He’s so in love with her! I think your heart must grow the minute you lay eyes on your babe. I love watching them together. Our relationship has changed — it’s deeper and calmer and more patient and so full of a new kind of shared magical love. I’m so lucky to be figuring out this parenting thing with him. Thank goodness for Google!
4. What are the moments and experiences that you have enjoyed the most this past month?
There are so many tiny moments that I have cherished. Some days my husband Justin and I just sit and stare at Ivy talking about how perfect she is, and getting excited about all her new facial expressions. All of her firsts — first bath, first new sound, when her umbilical cord fell off, even her first diaper blow out! I want to remember everything from these first few weeks. What I have enjoyed most of all is getting all the baby cuddles. There is no better feeling than a sleeping baby snuggled up on your chest. I love just sitting quietly and feeling her warmth on me, kissing her head and breathing in her smell. I think most of her daytime naps have taken place on mom or dad, we just can’t put her down!
5. What do you wish was different?
I wish I had more time to be home with my baby girl before returning to work. I feel lucky I get to have 12 weeks at home with her and I feel even luckier that my husband runs his business from home and can stay home with Ivy when I go back to work. But, I think employers should offer more support to mothers with options for longer maternity leave to heal their bodies, bond with their babies, and figure out all the new parts of life that come with a growing family.
6. Someone is about to give birth — she asks you for one piece of advice, and you say:
You are strong! Advice from other moms is great. I loved hearing other women’s birth stories. But everyone’s body is different and everyone’s birth experience is different. My advice would be try to have an open mind and willingness to be flexible with your birth plan. Most of all be kind to yourself — any way that you become a mother, whether it is a vaginal or cesarean birth, every birth is a miracle and all mothers are amazing.
7. What is a question that you have for other moms?
I have had so many questions over the last few weeks. I have spent way too much time on Google. There are so many things no one tells you about being a new mom. It is wonderful and amazing but it’s also a learning experience and I’ve found it hard to trust those “mothering instincts” everyone says you should have. I would love to know when other women felt confident as a new mom?
8. How has this changed you?
Motherhood is a wondrous adventure. It has shown me that my body is beautiful and more powerful than I could have imagined. It has filled my heart with so much love. I didn’t know it was possible to love someone so fiercely until now. I also didn’t know how tired and worried and happy I could be all at the same time, constantly.
9. What are you looking forward to?
Watching Ivy grow and develop. I can’t wait to see her discover the world around her. She already has such a sweet little personality, she is strong and fierce and I can’t wait to see who she is going to be. I really can’t wait to hear her laugh!
10. When you are gazing at your baby snoozing, what are you thinking about?
How lucky I am to be her mama. I’m constantly in awe that this prefect little girl grew inside me. She is my favorite part of every day. The calm snuggly moments and the loud rough moments, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. We love our Ivy June bug!