20 Lessons I've Learned in 20 Months of Motherhood
Updated: Jan 16, 2020
Hey you guys! I saw this trending tag for mamas & their journeys' throughout their motherhood & thought I'd share mine. So let's review a small backstory before checking out my list.
Our daughter, Hallie, was born April of 2018, & honestly...I wish I could go back & snuggle her as a newborn again. I miss her smiling in her sleep & the little facial twitches she made. I remember feeling like I could just stare at her all day long while she slept. Ugh, I miss that time in my life so stinkin' much. However, I don't miss pumping my brains out.
Hallie had an oral aversion soon after they suctioned her nose & mouth after I gave birth, therefore, she wouldn't latch on for breastfeeding. In the first few days, she only latched onto me to feed for a handful of times, but then we found out she was jaundice & as it got stronger, & she was only allowed small amounts of time out from underneath those special lights. I didn't have much time at all to work with her & her numbers were climbing. She got up to a level 18.5 of being Jaundice, so they finally told us that it was time to force feed her with a tube because she just wasn't getting enough in her belly whether by bottle or breastfeeding to get her to "poop out" the jaundice. So the pumping like crazy, began.
So multiple times, they had no choice but to force a tube down her throat with the milk I was pumping, to get her to eat until her levels went down. She was under the lights when she wasn't feeding, so we rarely got to bond with her in the hospital. We were distraught at the idea that normally after giving birth, that's your time to bond skin-to-skin for days & snuggle them with all the love in the world. Finally, we got frustrated enough that we requested that the lights be put into my room there at the hospital so she could at least be with us. Then when trying again to get her to breastfeed, I had to hold her while she was still on the lighted-blanket. It was darn scary when they told us that if she rebounded again or went up to a level 20, that they may have to do a blood transfusion, but thankfully, that didn't happen.
Hallie under the lights at the hospital (3 days old) - iPhone pic
So, those few days in the hospital were so scary, & we felt robbed of not being able to snuggle & bond but we made up for it in the following week when she was able to come home. She never rebounded after that, but she still wouldn't latch onto me...which brings me to number 1 on this list.
1. Pumping breastmilk sucks.
I absolutely did NOT enjoy pumping. Despite Hallie not breastfeeding, I somehow was making an over abundance of milk. I was so proud of that because I knew that breastmilk is something from outer space. I was so happy to be feeding my daughter in another way, but still...pumping sucks. It's not comfortable, it forces you to live your life in 3-4 hour increments, & God help you if you ever get clogged ducts.
Just got done pumping while Hallie was falling asleep (2 months old) -iPhone pic
2. Sleep is no longer a human right.
When I was pregnant, I slept from 8:30 pm to 10 am the next day. I had a good amount of sleep & boy did I suffer an eye-opener when she was born. From April 2018 to October 2018, I slept a total of 5-6 hours every night but these hours were broken up. You see, I had to sit in bed pumping for 30-40 minutes while bottle feeding Hallie. But after she was done feeding, I had to let her continue to sit on my lap while I was done pumping & a month after she was born, we had to start keeping her sat up for 20 minutes minimum after each feeding because she had such bad reflux, otherwise, she would spit up her milk. In October 2018, I was no longer making milk but the doctor told us we couldn't pull milk from my freezer stash because there wasn't enough fat in the milk to sustain her & help her grow. So, I end up donating over 1,300 ounce of milk. Sleeping through the night for Hallie & I, didn't start until the Summer of 2019!!
3. Mom-guilt is real.
They're many times when I felt guilty for even thinking that "sleeping when baby sleeps" was okay. I felt so guilty of this concept, that I rarely napped. I don't even recall napping almost ever since I've become a mother. I used that time to get caught up on housework or my business. To this day, I still work when she's napping. Heck, she's napping right now as I'm typing. I felt guilty for many things I probably shouldn't have. I even felt guilty for not being able to make milk that had enough fat in it for her, despite making a lot of milk. I felt guilt for any date nights or giving her to a sitter, therefore out first date night did't happen until after she turned 1, & we've only had 1 or 2 since then.
4. My husband is tired too.
When she was 4 months old, she hit a sleep regression. She wouldn't go to sleep without us rocking her a very specific way, & she would wake up at the slightest sound. Hallie even screamed for 6 hrs once, 6 HOURS! She was tired but wouldn't sleep, then she was overly tired due to the screaming & not sleeping, then she was hungry because it would be time for her to eat. But then of course, she wouldn't eat because she was tired. You see the dreaded cycle? An endless cycle that happened every other day..sometimes for hours. My husband was just as tired as me & for awhile, I felt resentment, because I was the one home with her most of the time & pumping on top of all the screaming. But, finally, I realized it's unfair to try to make it competition. He's tired too.
5. It's okay to let baby play alone.
There were many times when I felt so bad for putting Hallie in her jumper or leaving her on her tummy or back while I would clean the kitchen, fold laundry, or even edit for my business. But, I learned that you don't have to always hold them or carry them everywhere. It's okay to let baby entertain themselves.
Hallie in her jumper around 6 months old -iPhone pic
6. My dreams still matter.
Although Hallie is the most amazing thing that's happened to us, my dreams are still important. It's important for me as an individual to go after all my dreams & crush the goals I've set for myself. As a couple, my husband & I have had virtually everything planned out. Getting married young, buying/selling a house, moving, getting through school, starting our careers, & having a baby. But having a baby doesn't mean that's where it ends. My goals far accede where my life is now. I'm highly motivated to keep my dreams alive & realized so that I can be the healthiest & happiest mama for my baby girl.
7. Parental styles will differ from time to time.
Sometimes, we've had different opinions of how to deal with certain situations or questions that've arisen. Like: "Should we give her a bath everyday or every 2-3 days?" There have been times of accidents when Hallie is crying, & we both want to comfort her. We've learned to let one of us grab her to comfort & walk her around the room to distract her from any pain. I used to get upset when Zack wouldn't let me be the one to always grab her, but I learned that hey, it's okay. Let a daddy be a daddy. He's so overly protective of her so why not let him comfort her despite me being the one who's with her most of the time? It's okay, sometimes your parenting styles will differ, especially when you're too exhausted or the baby gets hurt, but as long as you're handling it together & in the most healthy way possible for your child, it's alright.
Bathtime around 1 yr old -iPhone pic
8. There are going to be times when you don't feel like yourself.
I didn't suffer from postpartum depression, however, there were times when I just didn't feel like me. I'd go days without doing my hair or drinking enough water, let alone allowing myself to go visit some friends. These were the days when I was so stinkin' tired from lack of sleep, that I just didn't care about anything except for Hallie being fed & happy. It's okay mama, you'll get back to you!
9. Just be present
Many times, when rocking Hallie to sleep, I would stare at my phone while she was drinking her bottle or staring at me. Most of the time, I would stare back but she reached an age that when looking at her too, she'd start to giggle & not fall asleep. I can't say I didn't indulge her giggle sometimes, but I got accustomed to staring at my phone or messaging clients back when I could've closed my eyes & embraced the present.
10. Trust your mommy-instinct.
I learned that if Hallie wasn't in a sleep regression, not hungry, not hurt, then something must be wrong if she's screaming or being fussy. In the 20 months of her existence, she's only been sick maybe once. We're still not sure if the times she was teething was a "cold" or not. You know, when babies teeth, they get snotty & run fevers? Yep, she definitely had those symptoms. But despite what it could be, I knew she didn't feel good. You have to trust your instinct & recognize the baby's abnormal tendencies. Doctors aren't always right. Luckily, our pediatrician recognized that Hallie isn't a sick child, her small weight is because of her high metabolism & her daddy's build as well. Had we had a different ped, she may've been force fed for months. Trust your instincts mamas!
11. It's okay to co-sleep.
Remember that 4 month sleep regression I was telling you about? Yeah, eventually we had to give in & just let her co sleep. Listen, I know...it's frowned upon. We swore we'd NEVER co sleep due to the possibility of SIDS. But it was the only way to get her to actually go to sleep. So we did it once, developed a habit of it, & stopped when she was 8 months old. When we co slept, we would get ourselves into bed then put her (in her swaddle or sleeveless sleep sack) on top of the comforter that was she wouldn't have any blankets on her. I still woke up every 2-3 hrs to go get her bottle to feed her & start pumping at this time. We both slept on our backs during this time as well & never turned toward or away from her as were terrified that something could happen. Eventually, we decided it was too dangerous as she was learning to roll over to allow this anymore, so we trained her to sleep in her crib; another hardship all its own lol.
12. Parenting without a "village' is hard.
For those of you who don't know, my husband is military so we've lived in two different states since moving away from Missouri where all our family is. No doubt about it, parenting just the two of us has been so dang hard. No help, no cousins to play with, no grandparent cuddles, babysitter, any of that. It's so hard, but Facetime definitely helps! But for years to come, It's just us.
13, Stay active!
I lost the weight I'd gained from pregnancy in just the first 6 weeks of postpartum from pumping, however I still look different. Belly stretch marks, thigh stretch marks, etc.. My chest definitely feels different but hey, I made a human! Since then, I've stayed active even when one season has been slower than the previous. Just keep it moving mamas! It helps to relieve stress & keeps you stay healthy!
14. It's okay to take baby everywhere with you.
I pretty much take Hallie with me everywhere unless it's a photoshoot lol. Baking? She sits on the floor next to me pretending to mix. Folding laundry? She pulls clothes out of the dryer for me lol. We take her everywhere with us & do things a family 97% of the time!
15. Don't compare your motherhood.
I used to feel envious of the mamas who said their baby's slept through the night from the very beginning knowing that I only started sleeping through the night 5-6 months ago. It's okay. My journey is different & in truth, the hard lessons have made me more humble throughout the last 2 years. I'm thankful for how my motherhood has been & wouldn't change anything, seriously.
16. It's okay to feel weird at first.
When I first became a mother, I felt so weird. I couldn't fathom the fact that I became a mom at 23. Despite getting pregnant being apart of our plan, it was still weird. Eventually I embraced it, & I would never go back to being just a couple. It changed me & helped me grow in so many ways. It's okay to feel off at first, you'll learn to love it.
17. Reach out for help or go have a date night.
I still feel guilty when I have to have a friend watch Hallie for an hour due to our schedules. But, I've learned that it's perfectly normal to reach out for help & not be so proud. It's okay to leave your child with someone you trust. We ended up taking a 4 day try to Charleston, SC back when we lived in North Carolina in May 2019, it was our first ever "date night" let alone being without Hallie for more than an hour.
Zack & I in Charleston, SC May 2019
18. Talk with God.
I've learned many times over again, to talk with God in my quiet time. Right before falling asleep, sitting down, when I used to rock Hallie, etc. Talking with God truly gives me peace & helps me to see everything for how it is. You don't have to actually speak aloud to Him, but try & take a few moments to thank Him or tell Him what's on your heart.
19. Let yourself have the little things.
Girl, go get starbucks, get dressed in something you feel cute in, buy that fluffy blanket, etc.. Let yourself have the small things or do whatever that small thing may be to help you throughout your day.
20. Hugs solve everything
I've found over & over again that when Hallie is upset, hurt, tired, fussy, or if I'm the fussy one, to just give hugs. They're times when I'm so frustrated because she's fussy when I'm cooking her dinner & she's hungry or maybe when I'm exhausted & my husband is gone for the week, when just hugging her does wonders, truly. Snuggles, hugs, cuddles, whatever you may call it, do it more often because it's all you need to recharge your battery.
Zack & Hallie September 2019
21. (bonus) It's okay to cry.
Becoming a mom in any fashion, is hard! SO many obstacles & hurdles can get the better of you, so cry if you must. Go head, have an all out, ugly cry lol. You're going to get through the hard seasons!
I'm sure they're many more things I could add to this, but these seem to be the more important ones in my list. How has your journey as a mom or mother-to-be been for you & your family? I'd love to hear your experiences & ways you've discovered or embraced mommy-hood!!
**all Professional & iPhone images on this website are taken & owned by Emily Lollar Photography unless otherwise stated.