“One day at a time” – this is the best advice that I have received to date as a new mom. My son was four days old when I left the house for the first time. My husband and I drove two hours to my aunt’s house so that I wouldn’t be alone with a newborn while he attended an overnight business meeting. A few days later I found myself at my first breastfeeding support group meeting. I was a hot mess – literally. I could only get my son to latch using a nipple shield and he was such a sleepy baby that getting him interested in nursing at all was a constant struggle. My husband and I were literally setting an alarm every two hours day and night so that we could wake the baby to eat – which was the opposite of what we were expecting. I didn’t know what to do. None of the books that I had read (and it was quite a stack!) had prepared me for what I felt was an “unsterotypical” baby.
So there I was with my newborn baby with my butt in the plastic chair in the hospital’s meeting room desperate for some advice and a confirmation that I was doing an OK job. My son was blissfully oblivious of all of the thoughts running through my head as he slept away in my lap. It turns out that going to that support group was probably one of the best decisions that I could have made. I made some wonderful friends and I’m 100% sure that without it I would not be the mom that I am today. I am still attending that group to this day at almost 18 months postpartum. A few weeks into attending the support group, one of the other moms there gave me this advice – one day at a time. She went further saying that sometimes it’s “one feeding at a time” or even “one hour at time.” She told me that when she felt overwhelmed the best thing she could do was to just focus on that moment, to look at her son and to know that in that moment, she was enough. This idea resonated powerfully with me. I use it often when I feel overwhelmed.
When I was in college and had a big project to do I would often break it into smaller goals and steadily work at one part at a time until I had completed the entire thing. Sometimes being a mom or even a wife is the same. Sometimes to achieve the big picture you have to break things into smaller parts and focus on one thing at time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you try to take on everything at once.
Since this advice has proved invaluable to me I now make a point of passing it on to other moms. In my support group I now find myself in the position of “senior member” now that I have one of the oldest children in attendance. It feels strange to be in a position where I am “in the know” since there are still days where I have no clue but in the eyes of the new moms there – the ones with their butts in the plastic chairs with newborns asleep in their laps – I hold the answers to everything that they are trying to achieve. It seems crazy, but I then I think back to those early days when I was in their shoes and the encouragement from the other moms that got me through. I still need encouragement and look up to the other moms who have children older than mine – most who no longer attend the support group as they are no longer breastfeeding. I’d like to think that I am trying to pay forward the advice and support that I received and I believe that some of the friends that I have made in this group will likely be my friends for life. We need each other. If you haven’t found a support group where you feel like you can really connect to other moms or where you feel safe sharing when you are at your most vulnerable I highly encourage you to keep looking until you find one.
In the meantime, I want to pass on this advice to each of my readers – one day at a time. Especially this holiday season when things can get overwhelming quickly, take a deep breath. Use your planning tools to break tasks down into more manageable parts. (If you need ideas on what tools to use check out my previous post by clicking here) Manage expectations and come to terms with the fact that things may not always be storybook perfect and take a moment to enjoy that peaceful baby asleep in your arms. Before you know it that baby will be all grown up. Mine is now a toddler and it has gone way too fast. People are always quick to tell new moms that “this too shall pass” and that “babyhood goes by quickly.” In the moment I often felt that those words were annoying but there is truth to those sentiments and although those early days were difficult, I miss them. Hang in there ladies… you CAN do this and you are doing a great job.
My son and I when he was four days old (photo credit: Portraits by Karen McCall)