Ten Things I'm Learning as a New Mom

Nine weeks ago, I gave birth to my little son. I read books, attended classes, and spent plenty of time on blogs in preparation for his birth, but I really had no idea how many life would change. People tell you all sorts of placades like, "It's the hardest and most wonderful thing you'll ever experience." What in the world is that supposed to mean? I'll tell you what they really mean. Prepare to meet the love of your life, but I hope you like caffeine, because you'll never sleep again.

But in all truth, it is amazing how quickly your perspective shifts when you have a little human depending on you to be their voice. So I thought I'd blog today about ten ways childbirth changes everything.

1) You gain a completely new respect for your body. When I first became pregnant, I was worried about stretch marks. Well, guess what. Like every other pregnant woman in the world, I got 'em. But you know what? While I wouldn't mind them fading, they don't bother me nearly as much as I thought because they're a reminder of what an incredible thing my body did-- it grew a tiny human being and then pushed him out into the world. Not until my baby was born did I fully appreciate the magnitude of that miracle and how many things had to fall into place for it to happen, from my organs shifting around to my hormone levels telling this baby to grow. How does my body know how do to that? I remember sitting in the hospital bed, looking at my baby in awe that just hours before, I was pregnant with him. I mean, wow!

2) Childbirth gave me such a greater appreciation for God's intentionality in each human life. I know that sounds trite, but I really mean it. When it's other people's kids you're talking about, it's easy to say they're so cute and imagine what they might someday do or become. But when it's your own child, you suddenly see this tiny human as making a huge impact on the world, and from the moment you lay eyes on them, you have no doubt they were put here for a reason.

3) Two o'clock in the morning is no longer a fun time of the day. I used to routinely stay up until two o'clock writing stories when the rest of the world was asleep. Now I'm generally crying and begging my child to sleep for four hours next time instead of two and a half. ;)

4) Contractions have a way of really amping up your prayer life. I joke, but truly, childbirth taught me the importance of taking life moment by moment rather than living in the past or in the future. Pain has a way of bringing your focus where it really should be at all times: the present moments.

5) You can't make it without learning to surrender. I first learned this little gem of a lesson during labor, when I had to trust my body knew what it was doing even if my conscious mind didn't. Now, I'm learning this lesson in a whole new way as my baby outgrows sizes, wiggles around a whole lot more, and doesn't snuggle against me in quite the same way he used to. I can either grieve the change, or roll with it and enjoy this new season of smiles and coos.

6) Sometimes you just need a Little Debbie's brownie.

7) I don't regret buying my baby a wardrobe full of (mostly- clearanced) BabyGap and Carter's outfits. He may only wear some of them once, but you know what? He'll also only be this small once, and I'm going to enjoy dressing him up while he'll still let me.

8) I finally have a good excuse to pull out all the not-age-appropriate clothes I've been hanging on to all these years... my fuschia JEM hoodie, the Tigger-ear headband I always like to wear in Disney World, and my Larry the Cucumber t-shirt. It's for the baby, really.

9) Maybe it's because I live in the South, but it seems friendly strangers routinely feel comfortable approaching me and asking to see and even touch my baby, even if he's clearly taking a nap. Stranger danger, folks. Stranger danger. I've learned baby-wearing and the cover-the-car-seat trick do help (thank you Aden + Anais), but only so much. I know these people mean well, but I'm tempted to say, "Would you like to wake up from a nap to find a stranger fifteen times your size peering down at you in a bakery?"

10) You will learn to trust your baby far more than you ever thought you could. Even at two months old, Nathanael lets me know what he wants and needs if I just pay attention. I guess I underestimated how clearly babies communicate until I had my own and experienced that momma-baby connection. I'd always felt more in tune with puppies' needs than babies', to be honest. Babies had always scared me a little... so many things to remember about supporting the head and swaddling tight enough and avoiding overstimulation. But when it's your own child, you just know what they need and when. And you learn to trust them early on.

I could go on, but as point #11, I've learned to value nap time, so I better get some fiction writing in while I can. :)