Friday, January 18, 2013

10 Things I Wish I Had Known about Having a Baby--Part 2

Yesterday, I started a post on 10 Things I Wish I Had Known about Having a Baby. Here is the rest of that post:

7. Don't expect life to carry on as before, just with a cute baby in tow.  Expect life to change forever.  Before I had my daughter, I had this crazy idea that I would do my job with a cute baby in tow.  I guess I thought she would be happy and content all the time and I would just cart her around and there would be no inconvenience whatsoever.  I pictured her napping quietly in my office while I visited with people or typed away at a sermon.  Yeah.  Right.  I did try to work from home or with her in tow a lot, but it wasn't anything like I pictured.  Babies need attention.  A lot of attention.  Unrelenting attention.  They cry, poop, scream and everything in between all day long, at inconvenient times.  If you're going to take baby along to work or work from home, you're going to have to adjust your hours, hire a nanny, live near a grandparent or something.  You're not going to be able to be Supermom and do it all.  Maybe this is why Hillary Clinton once wrote a book reminding us of the African proverb that "it takes a village to raise a child."  We all need a little help.  Even stay-at-home moms (as I am now) need some help...somebody to rock the baby or entertain the preschooler while we start supper or clean the floors.  If we believed before that we could do it all, having a baby will forever humble us and deprive us of that notion.  With my second baby, as I've come to accept that I need help sometimes, I've found a lot more peace.  And I've also found a lot of gratitude for the friends and family God has put into my life. 

8. (This is a biggee.)  It's not your fault if the baby won't stop crying.  Oh the anxiety that arises when baby won't stop crying.  Especially with my daughter, I would get twisted into knots trying to figure out the crying, trying to stop it, wondering why I couldn't.  With my son, I'm at least a bit more easy-going.  I'm older and wiser (although I sometimes do still freak out...I'll be honest).  I've mostly come to realize though that babies just cry.  A LOT.  They are acclimating to the world outside the womb.  Their little brains are still developing.  You and they are still getting to know each other.  They literally feel like they are starving a lot of the time as they go through rapid growth spurts.  As their digestive system develops, they have frequent painful gas.  It's tough to be a baby.

But it's also tough to be a new mommy or daddy.  You feel like you should be able to know how to calm the baby down.  But when you have fed them, burped them, changed them, rocked them, checked for anything causing pain, swaddled them, and you still don't know why the baby is crying, it's helpful to set them carefully in their crib, take a step away and take a deep breath and remind yourself that it's not your fault if the baby won't stop crying.  Sometimes you just won't know why they are crying.  Maybe they're just in a bad mood.  Maybe they are missing the womb.  Who knows?  Go easy on yourself.  You're a good mom...a good dad.  You'll get through this.  Do the best you can and accept that you will not always be able to calm baby.

9. Trust your gut.  Ok, this is one that I was told, but it's important enough I still want to include it.  My Mom told me this when my daughter was born.  She told me that God had chosen me to be my baby's mom and hubby to be my baby's dad.  She said we should trust that God would give us the wisdom and the resources to make wise decisions for our baby.  We would receive lots of conflicting advice from people.  Some of them would be adamant in what we should do.  But we just needed to pray about decisions, talk together and come to our own decisions on what was best for our baby.  I have clung to this advice all through parenting.  And I have tried to also apply it to a gracious attitude towards others' parenting styles and methods.  Every baby and family is different.  Every kid is different.  What works for one kid may not work for another.  So much of parenting is trial and error anyway.  So, have confidence in your parenting abilities.  Don't feel like a failure if you do things differently from everybody else.  God chose you to be your child's parent.

10. Having kids may be tougher than you could imagine, but it is also infinitely more wonderful than you could imagine!  I was really apprehensive about having kids.  My husband wanted to have kids...and I did too, but he was willing to push me to make that leap of faith.  I grew up in a broken family and had a lot of worries about repeating past patterns.  I worried if I would even be a good mother.  I thought I wasn't maternal.  And yet...when those little munchkins were born, something happened to me.  I was pulled out of myself, out of my own navel-gazing into a love that was so much bigger than I was.  I'm not that touchy-feely of a person.  But these little people have changed me...for the better.  They've widened my heart, helped me to be more mellow, taught me more about service, given me confidence that I can care for children and do it well.  They've been so much more of a blessing in my life than I ever could have anticipated.  Having kids is hard and demanding and all the rest of it.  But it's also really wonderful and I'm so glad that I didn't miss out on experiencing parenthood.

So...that's my list...What about the rest of you parents out there?  What do you wish you had known before you became a parent?

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