Friday, February 17, 2012

a letter

Every Thursday morning I teach a Mums and Bubs yoga class. Every Thursday morning I talk to  women who are deep in the blurry space that is new motherhood. They talk about sleepless nights, lack of time, forgetfulness and how incredibly overwhelmed they are. 

Yoga is incredibly helpful for new mums because the very essence of the practice is to be in the moment. So, I tell them to just take it day by day and then I remind them that just as it takes a year for your body to fully recover from pregnancy and birth, it may take a year to really feel like you're in the groove of motherhood.

Mothering Poet has encouraged me to reflect on my experience with baby Che. And so, I've written myself a letter (inspired by this memo)...to my pregnant-for-the-first-time-self:

Dear Jodi,

You're 23 and about to have a baby. Because you're concentration is lacking and because you're prone to forgetting (go on, blame those late-pregnancy hormones!) I've written this letter in dot-point. A few things to remember, as you embark on your first year with your new baby:

  • Stretchmarks fade. Really, they do.
  • Your belly may take a while to return to a semblance of its former self. Please don't get upset when people ask you when you're due. (FYI - people will ask the same question with your second baby, even when you're holding her in your arms!)
  • Breastfeeding is challenging. It requires determination and perseverance - especially at 2am. Before long it will seem like the most natural thing in the world and you'll revel in the beauty of it. 
  • Soak up the newborn scent. It doesn't last long.
  • When he's four months old the newborn fog will lift and you'll recognise your old self in the mirror (hello cheekbones!)
  • When he's four months old your hair will fall out. This is normal - don't freak out.
  • The word routine should never, ever come into your vocabulary. Babies don't have a routine. Rhythm is a better word, start using that one.
  • Let go of the hope that your baby will sleep through the night. Babies rarely sleep through the night, especially in their first year. If, for some reason, he does sleep through, mentally repeat to yourself: do not get attached.
  • Instinct is your best guide.
  • Co-sleeping is safe, good and perfect for your little family. Don't question it because of the remarks made by others.
  • Just because other babies are feeding at six months old, doesn't mean yours has to. Gagging is not feeding, it's a sign that he's not ready. Listen to him. It will take him a while, but, at around eight months old, he'll start to love his food. 
  • He'll really get into solids in the autumn time. When you think he's turning a bit orange don't spend a whole day worried that he's got jaundice. You've been feeding him too much pumpkin and kumera and he's over-dosed on beta-carotene. Simple as that. 
  • Never feel guilty for taking an afternoon nap.
  • Check your iron levels!
  • Don't spend all afternoon reading blogs. Why? Because within no time you'll have a crying baby, no dinner prepared and quite quickly you'll crumble under the chaos of it all.
  • Learn to prioritise. You can't do everything in one day.
  • Cuddle him for as long as you like.
  • Take lots of photos, he'll grow up really quickly (too quickly!). 
  • Simplify - your home, your day, your life. It will help you be a calmer person. 
  • Look after yourself. Be kind to yourself. Know that you're doing a really good job.
J x

So, mums out there, what would you say to your just-about-to-have-a-baby self? I'd love to know.

Ps. the Dragonfly Toys giveaway ends tomorrow...

Photo: Che at three months old. Taken by Daniel, on his old film camera.

44 comments:

  1. I think I would say...

    1.) Don't be polite, let people know when you're tired and/or want to be alone with your new family.
    2.) Cats and babies do not mix, do not trust cats, they scratch two week old babies without provocation.
    3.) It's okay to be lazy, eg: when your cloth nappies give him a rash, switch to disposable for a few days.
    4.) Spend time with your partner both before and after your baby is born. Make time to go on "dates" even if it's just dinner while the baby sleeps!
    5.) People say rude things, they are morons, don't listen to them. You do not look too young/too old to be a mother. Just tell them you are 15/55 and relish the look on their face.

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    1. the thing about cats is true!

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  2. How much I love this letter! Thanks Jodi for this reminder,my second baby is almost 4 months old and it's so easy to forget certain things...

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  3. This is wonderful Jodi, really great. I wish I had read something like this during my pregnancy.
    xx

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  4. Loved this post, Jodi.

    I still feel very much in the thick of new motherhood, with Saskia at 4 months (ha - glimpsing cheekbones and losing hair - so true!!)...so I will gratefully take head of this gentle advice.

    I'd love to ask myself this question in a few months time, as it still feels like I haven't quite wrapped my head around my motherhood journey thus far. But at this stage, perhaps I would say to Claire 9 months pregnant, don't be disheartened that your little one isn't a sleeper, you'll see her talents lie elsewhere (smiles, chuckles, giggles)...

    ...oh, and buy some feeding-friendly clothes before you give birth. (major oversight!)
    x

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  5. I loved this post (I'm going to have to sit and think of a list) but mostly, I just LOVE the photograph. It is simply beautiful.

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  6. I'm a new mama to a two month old boy and this letter was enlightening and heartfelt. Thank you!

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  7. I hear you re the hair falling out. Between that and my four month old pulling it out I'm sure to end up bald!
    I'd say to pregnant Jess:
    - The final weeks of pregnancy are a time to truly rest and relax. There is no need to shop like you are never going to leave the house again!
    - Watch your baby, not the clock when breastfeeding. There is no set amount of time he needs be on your boob for, some babies are super quick feeders. This is ok! (until they suffer from awful wind as a result).
    - When times get tough, remind yourself how lucky you are to have your beautiful baby. Cherish EVERY single second. It all goes way too quick.
    x

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  8. Oh my this made me cry! Molly is now one and I still don't feel used to it all! Beautifully said :) My 'don't spend all afternoon reading blogs' still hasn't sunk in, probably about time it did.. it's been my mantra all year, off I go to do the hoovering hehe!
    So glad you commented on Molly's birthday, I have a new blog crush to keep distracting me :) xx

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  9. Beautiful...what a great idea! I think I would say: dear Joanna, you will love this little boy like no other human being that you have ever loved and he will love you back so much, so innocently you will wonder why you waited so long for this love. You will have the best c-section experience, be calm and centred and feel connected to your baby. And as for co-sleeping - do it earlier!!! Most of all, drink it this time with all of cells - it goes far, far too quick x

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  10. Just beautiful Jodi. I'm due in the near future, thank you for the gentle reminders x

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  11. Love it Jodi! Love it!
    Every point made me smile because I know it's true and totally agree!

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  12. Thank you Jodi.

    I would add

    * Trust your child, he knows himself
    * Don't forget to breathe
    * You really are doing a brilliant job and its okay to cry everyday
    * The word socialisation is for dogs not babies, its fine to not venture out for the first 8 weeks (or more)
    * you come from a long and ancient line of truly incredible, wise and loving mothers. Relish the collective experience.

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  13. Beautiful! Things I wish I had known when I had Charlie.

    * Drink lots of water
    * Breast feeding will hurt for about 4 weeks then after that you will love every second of it.
    * Cake does help
    * Listen to your heart
    * Don't worry about which weight centile your child is on - it's rubbish competitive speak with mothers.
    * Learn quickly that other mums do not have all the answers - trust your own instinct
    * record daily things like a smile or awareness that he has
    * forget the washing up, it can wait
    * cuddles, cuddles, cuddles
    * co-sleeping is best for the whole family and the only way to go

    x

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  14. Love this so much! I feel like we had all the expectations of what our birth plan would be like, what parenting would be like.. but really, you can't plan for anything! It's all different. (But in a good way!)

    My daughter and I recently took a baby and me yoga class, we definitely wish we lived near you to go to yours! ;)

    xx

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  15. So beautiful... thank you!

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  16. So very wonderful! Thank you for this post, Jodi :)
    I'd like to add;
    * Prioritise your day. If you have a spare 10 mins in the morning, cut the veges for dinner.
    * If an visitor outstays their welcome, get on with hanging out washing etc. If an UNEXPECTED visitor outstays their welcome, don't be afraid to say you have to get on with things and you'd love to see them properly another time.
    * Drink lots of water, and eat lots of porridge (great for milk production!).
    * Don't let your baby get passed around the room. He's not a doll, and being passed from one person to another is tiring and overwhelming for him.
    * Walk, walk, walk. Even through the fog of your overtired brain. You baby will sleep in a buggy, and you'll feel so good for the exercise.
    That is all!
    x

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  17. Oh wow, that letter is just perfect! Almost exactly what I'd tell myself! I think I'd tell myself not to fight biology and just cuddle that baby! Let her fall asleep on you whenever you like, and just keep on cuddling if that's what feels good (and it always does), for as long as you both need. I had so many people who were determined to get me to put my first child into a sleep routine immediately, I always felt so conflicted between what I wanted to do and what I felt like I SHOULD do. Not so this time around. I let him sleep as long as he (and I) like, in my arms. There's time later to work out the sleep thing, and he'll never be a precious newborn again... (same goes for co-sleeping, I don't care what the critics say, it's safe and it feels so right!)

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  18. The gentle wisdom you have and share is lovely Jodi. I was very young when I had my first beautiful baby many years ago and I wish I had possessed the clarity of thought(and maturity) to write a memo to my young self (like this) during that time. x

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  19. What a lovely letter and the points are all so true. I would also add not to worry about the advice people give you about babies feeding 3-4 hourly. In those early days/weeks it's all they want to do and that's totally fine.
    How lovely that you teach pregnancy yoga. I love yoga. Addicted. Did it all the way through both pregnancies and it kept me feeling so healthy and strong (mentally more than anything) - I think it's such a great way to prepare for birth too.
    x

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  20. Wow. I really love this letter. Can I add, perhaps:
    1) Don't be afraid to ask for help when necessary.
    2) If you don't have a village to raise your child, create your own.
    3) Don't feel demoralised when you have to go get 'milked' at the hospital because your milk has come in and you still have no idea how to feed your baby.
    4) You don't see many adults walking around in nappies, sucking on their thumbs/dummmy/bottle - these things will sort themselves out in time, so don't stress.
    5) Kids will forgive you if you have a bad day... it's good for them to see that adults have limits.
    6) Always be firm but warm.
    7) Always trust your mothering instinct. It's how the human race has survived for so long.
    8) Other mother's, unfortunately, can be the worsed for making you feel like you aren't doing your job properly - ignore them and do what is best for you and your family.
    Ps. I really love the bit about babies turning orange - my 8 month old is turning orange, just like her older sister did at that age (at which I took her to the doc to see about jaundice). This time around I know exactly what it is!

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  21. So wonderful you are helping so many mamas to be in the moment! Slow parenting is often the best.
    New mamas please remember -
    My golden rule is to be ever so thankful that my baby chose me to be it's mama. Our babies owe us nothing - we owe them everything.

    1) It takes 2 to make the baby and it takes 2 to parent - we aren't living in the 1950's anymore!
    2) Solo mama time is essential - learn to express - it will save your sanity!
    3) Yoghurt is the best thing for sore hot breasts. Breastfeeding is an art!
    4) If you manage to shower, wash some nappies, have a rest and cook dinner - you've had a good day!
    5) Get in the garden - put your baby on a mat and get your fingers dirty - it's souly satisfying and good for your munchkin!
    6) Nothing ever stays the same - just when you thought you got into the 'routine'.... it will all change. Go with the flow.
    7) It took 2 years for my cheekbones to unsurface - be patient - your old self takes time to unwrap.
    8) Other mamas can be your worst enemy - your baby chose you to be it's mama - trust you are doing everything perfect for your individual child!

    Enjoy each little moment because you'll blink and it's time for potty training and then school. x

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  22. A perfect list... With number three coming soon, I have to say it feels damn good knowing what I know now.
    my one added one... ignore the occasional hurtful and insensitive comment from others, focus on the beautiful comments you have received, and surround yourself with as many like minded people as possible. It helps so much.

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  23. this is lovely jody, especially 'instinct is your best guide' and 'cuddle him for as long as you like'. very important ones x

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  24. such a beautiful list and so very true. I am expecting my second blessing this June and this is a timely reminder of all these things. thank you x

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  25. Beautiful, Jodi. I would just add "let your baby guide you. Listen to them. The answers are there." xx

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  26. You alone knows what is best for your baby, so don't listen to the outside noise.

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  27. I'm just about to have our second baby too. The second time around I feel so much more relaxed and informed and realise that last time I held on to too many 'shoulds' - I should be doing this, the baby should be doing that - that I have let go of this time.

    Last time I followed a lot of my own Mother's advice too, for fear of upsetting her, and didn't do things the way I wanted. This time I have the strength to say thanks but no, this is what feels right for us, but I'm glad that felt right for you.

    xx

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  28. Jodi love it! i am a mother of a 18 months baby boy and reading your blog and other mamas blogs help me with my baby. I breast feed until now and we co sleep until now. We have a beautiful and smiley baby. Here in Greece we don’t co sleep and we don’t breastfeed as much as you do. I am very happy that I did it and I don’t listen to other parents. The think I want to ask you if you can please tell me from your experience how my baby is going to sleep to his own bed.

    Sorry for my bad English and thank you for everything.

    With love and appreciation

    Katerina FF
    Greece

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  29. This is a beautiful letter Jodi, great advice, not just for new mamas!
    I would add Cut Out Guilt!!! If guilt raises its ugly head for any reason, banish it immediately, don't give in! Know you are doing your best and that it IS enough! Especially when it comes to taking care of your own needs, because Baby needs a sane and healthy Mama. That's all x

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  30. Thank you for this! I have a six month old and I think just about every point on your list rings true. I'm learning to be a lot more patient with my body and a lot more grateful and kind with it as well. As for the little one, there has been no sleeping through the night, very little eating this month, and a sense of rhythm but no enforced routine. There HAS been lots of love, cuddles, pictures, home movies, and smiles.

    I have also returned to yoga and it's been a godsent. I love your blog, your words always fill me with peace :)

    S.

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  31. As i'm only 6 and a half weeks pregnant with my first i am not ready to write a list yet.
    I still can't believe i'm finally going to be a Mummy and i can't help worrying that my dream will be taken away from me.
    Maybe my list should involve-
    Stop worrying so much and relax and enjoy the journey.

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  32. The best advise I got with my first baby is your can spoil a child during the first year.

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  33. I find it difficult to believe you were only 23 when you had Che. Only 23, and such an amazing, generous, thoughtful mum! A wise woman (& mother of three) once told me that the sooner you surrender to the change motherhood brings, the easier it will be. I try to remember that because it still resonates with me now, 2 & a bit years on. Kellie xx
    PS I can comment from my iPhone!

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  34. LOVE this! It's been 7.5 yrs since I had my last baby but ohh some days it feels like yesterday.
    I would add
    * It's ok to cry
    * Trust yourself!
    * Don't forget your partner
    * Love yourself as well as your baby
    :-)

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  35. This is exactly what my tiny 4 week old baby and I needed to read! Thank you xx

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  36. Oh, this is beautiful and so true - every word of it! I would tell myself to let go of having a perfectly clean (or even moderately clean!) house for a good long while. A rested mom is a happy and better able to cope mom, and baby needs this much more than she needs the dishes to be done every night :)
    -Jaime

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  37. I love that letter, what beautiful advice. When my son was a newborn a good friend was enjoying watching me hold him as we chatted. He told me to enjoy that time, the moments where he wants to stay asleep in my arms would pass by way too quickly. Now my son is ten and I feel like I blinked and suddenly I can no longer carry him! 'Enjoy every single moment' would have been my advice to myself.

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  38. This is exactly what I needed to read this week! I am 23 years old and expecting a little boy in mid-May. Some days I tend to let the worry of what will be best for him once he is here get to me and I end up a blubbering pile of tears. This was wonderfully written and something that I will definitely refer back to on those not so easy days with a newborn :) Thank you!!

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  39. I LOVE this! What sage words. I have three boys under the age of 5, and a letter to my former pregnant self would go a lot like this.

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  40. Oh this is just perfection! Rhythm instead of routine.. Inspiring!

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  41. This is what I needed to read when I was pregnant 3 years ago! I send it to my best friend who is pregnant. It's all sooo true! Thanks you

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