So many of my friends are having or have just had their first baby, and it’s made me think back on the weeks after I bought Caleb home from the hospital.
He was such a good baby. And I loved him more than I ever thought possible. I couldn’t put enough smooches on his soft face, and I never got my fill of snuggling him.
But that doesn’t mean those first weeks were easy. I had no idea how to swaddle a baby or give a baby a bath. Nursing was hard, and it hurt. Caleb hated the pacifiers I’d spent a long time carefully selecting for proper tooth development, and he hated sleeping on his back. And when he cried in the middle of the night to eat, I cried right along with him.
In fact, I was so overtired and emotional about the middle-of-the night feedings that one night, Jason got up without waking me and gave Caleb formula.
I had never loved my husband more.
I was also terrified. What if that one 2-oz cup feeding messed him up for good? What if he never learned to nurse? Were we damaging his future health?
In the end, everything worked out. After a somewhat rocky start, I nursed Caleb just fine until he was eight months old, when I found out I was pregnant with Garrett. And then we started feeding him formula. And that was okay, too. It was a decision that I wrestled with at the time, but it was the right decision for our family.
It probably doesn’t feel like it right now, but there are a thousand different ways to be a good mother, and only you get to decide what that looks like for your new baby.
Read books, if you like, or talk to other moms. Know that there are options out there. But know that at the end of the day, don’t feel like you have to fit someone else’s version of being a good mom.
They don’t work your hours or live in your neighborhood or have your budget. None of those other ladies are the one God chose to mother your children. You are. Other ladies may have been moms longer, but even if you baby is only 12 hours old, you have been his or her mommy longer than anyone else.
So just in case no one else is telling you this, new momma, hear me now:
It’s okay to give your baby formula. It’s okay to nurse your baby on a schedule. It’s okay to nurse your baby on demand. It’s okay to give the baby cereal at four months. Or wait until six months. Or eight months.
It’s okay to co-sleep. It’s okay to keep the baby in your room. It’s okay to want the baby to sleep in another room.
It’s okay to hold your baby all the time. It’s okay to set your baby down.
It’s okay to rock your baby to sleep. It’s okay to let your baby cry.
It’s okay to stay at home in your sweatpants for weeks on end without going anywhere. It’s okay to throw the schedule out the window and run errands when you need to get out of the house.
It’s okay to want to quit your job and be a stay-at-home mom. It’s okay to want to go back to work.
Having a new baby is a delightful, but difficult season of life. But you don’t need to make it harder by worrying that you’re doing it wrong.
New momma, you’re doing a great job.