Tonight marks 4 weeks since my baby boy, Laoleko, was born and my motherhood journey began for real! I thoroughly enjoyed my pregnancy. Despite initially feeling detached from my body and all the changes it was going through, by the second trimester I was completely and utterly in love with everything about the little one growing inside me.
I’d received a lot of motherhood wisdom from friends, and read a lot too, in preparation for what to expect once the little man was here. 4 weeks in and the reality is on a whole other level from the expectation. Levels more intense! For example, the sleep deprivation and the lack of time to do anything other than baby-nurturing tasks. But also, the love for this little guy is more than anything I could have imagined. I get it now. I get why my parents worry about me so much, and why they insist that I’ll always be their baby, even when I’m 60!
To celebrate Laoleko’s 4-week birthday and my 4 week initiation into motherhood (or is that, 9 months and 4 weeks, hmmmm…?), a list of things I’ve experienced, observed, learned so far. In no particular order:
“Sleep when the baby sleeps” is waaaaay easier said than done. There is the strong need to sleep, yes, but also, the urge to: get ahead of the game preparing bottles, nappies etc.; shower; catch up with the world; work (if you’re doing so which, I have been).
It’s so easy to get caught up in sorting through all the advice out there and forget to check in with and trust your mother’s intuition.
I didn’t expect this but, getting baby to sleep has been our biggest challenge. In terms of him sleeping for good juicy chunks of time (2 hours is amazing. More is heavenly!), as well as in terms of him getting back to sleep after middle-of-the-night feeds. I’ve just been swaying side to side and practically doing squats, rocking him, while making repeated “shush” sounds for half an hour! Unsuccessfuly. Luckily Papa had the magic touch.
Fathers – mama’s likely going to be extra sensitive, vulnerable and insecure. Please remember that this is temporary. Your extra compassion, kindness and TLC will do wonders.
Don’t be shy about asking for and accepting offers of help.
Mama friends are so valuable at this time. Tap into their knowledge and experience.
Find some way to do something for you each day, however small. Whether it’s putting on make-up, even though you’re barely leaving the house (love it Nancy!); making sure to leave the house every day, even if it’s just to walk across the street and back; taking a shower :). My friend, Tara, gifted me these beautiful Keepers of the Light oracle cards, just before Laoleko arrived, and picking a card has become something I look forward to every day. I’m also trying to get back into my daily journalling practice, if only to write a list of 9 things I’m grateful for in that moment. These little acts of self-care are doing wonders for me feeling like myself again.
It means the world when somebody tells you you’re doing a good job.
Prepare for your relationships to be tested!
Try and make some moments to connect with your partner, if you have one. Remind yourselves of the love that created the beauty that is presently consuming all of your time 😃
I had totally underestimated the necessity of somebody taking care of the practical everyday things like, cooking meals, doing laundry, cleaning the house… I’m so grateful to my mother for supporting us with this stuff. I don’t know how I will adequately thank her.
You WILL definitely do laundry every day. It’s not an exaggeration. Especially if you’re cloth diapering like we are.
A hands-on dad is priceless and, I hope they all know how appreciated they are.
To all the mamas reading this, I’d love to hear about your experiences of motherhood, and wisdoms. And papas weigh in too!
Make-up by my dear friend, Marie Shirima, of Retro Me, Tanzania.