I had big plans. I had a vision of who I would be as a mother. I also had big ideas for how my baby would be. I thought I’d be a Pinterest-crafting, Montessori-educating, schedule-adhering, well-rested mother. My son was going to be a cloth-diaper-wearing, independent-sleeping, self-soothing infant. To put it simply, I was wrong.
I haven’t pinned much of anything on Pinterest. There are still frames to be hung on the walls in his nursery, homemade handprints crafts left unfinished, and sensory activities I just never got around to. So far, his favorite activities are going for walks, yoga with mommy, and reading books. He’s happy.
Luca started sleeping 6-7 hours in a row at night when he was six weeks old. “I did it”, I thought. “I’m a sleep training master,” I proclaimed! “He’s an amazing sleeper”, I told everyone. Ha. Oh how I was wrong. Aside from his bowel movements, sleep is the most unpredictable aspect of our lives these days. It’s upsetting. It’s frustrating. It’s confusing. But most of all, it’s exhausting. Well-rested, I thought. I now find it strange that there was ever a time in my life that I slept for more than three hours in a row. It has been 141 days since I slept through the night.
We buy all of his diapers at the supermarket. I have even given up on buying the “sensitive”, “natural” brands. Whatever is cheapest. Whatever works.
We’re still working on the self-soothing thing. I’d say the pacifier has been a lifesaver as a new mom. I had big plans not to introduce the pacifier until after at least a month. Luca was 10 days old. It was a long day. 4 pm and I was sitting half-naked in the rocking chair, tear-stained face, milk-stained clothes, completely exhausted from trying to soothe a crying baby. I had our newborn son in my arms. This newborn was finally sleeping. He was also happily sucking on his pacifier. It was the start of what is now the “pacifier addiction”.
Co-sleeping. I swore up and down I would never do it. When Timi went back to work, I started cosleeping with Luca in the mornings. This extra two to three hours of uninterrupted sleep is a game-changer.
What I have learned from being a mom for 4 months
I am not alone.
I am not the only mother who struggles. My baby is not the only baby that seems to hate to sleep. I am not the only one who has ever felt like giving up. My sisters, my best friends and the new moms I have met are my saving grace. They not only give sound advice as they share their own stories, but they give me hope. Not necessarily hope that it will ever be easy, but hope that I will adapt. I will continue to grow stronger. I will continue to learn and continue to love. To love my son, to love myself, and to love even the most difficult moments of motherhood.
It truly does take a village.
Living away from home, 9,000 miles away from my friends and family, I was terrified to start a family of my own without my village. I have been truly blessed by the new mommy friends I have made here in Valencia. Our coffee dates and yoga in the park are food for the soul. In addition to new friends, Timi’s family has been our rock. Caring for Luca so I can work (or take a siesta), feeding us countless meals, buying Luca’s diapers… you name it… they are there. My greatest advice for new parents: build your village, you are going to need them.
I am stronger and more patient that I ever imagined I would be.
There have been numerous times where I wanted to give up. I didn’t think I could handle it. My mind and my body were at their limit. But it was my heart that encouraged me to push forward. It was the immense, indescribable love for that crying newborn that wouldn’t let me give up. It is love that makes me forget about the nights just as soon as I see that sweet smile on Luca’s face in the morning. It is love that makes me feel like Superwoman on days I swore I had nothing left to give. A love that is stronger than anything else in the world.
It’s ok to cry.
For anyone who has ever said that crying is a sign of weakness, has never been a mother. I cry. Often. And I know now, that it is ok. It has nothing to do with strength or weakness. I’ve learned it is not only ok to cry, but it is ok to cry on the shoulders of those you love. And it is ok to ask for help.
There is no “normal”.
I fought this one for a couple months. My dad kept telling me, “there is no normal”, “it is all going to change again”, “let it go”. I really believed I could create predictability and set firm expectations for a three month old. But if there is one thing I have learned about motherhood, it’s that just as soon as you think you’ve got it all figured out, it changes. There’s no normal. Expect change. Expect unpredictability. Expect the unexpected.
Babies are resilient.
No matter how much he cried the night before, he still loves us in the morning. If we need to wake him up at 4 am to catch an early flight, he’ll be fine. If we change plans and his schedule is thrown out the window, he’ll adapt. Mostly, he needs love. And that, I can offer.
College kids sleep through the night.
It may not be in the next couple months. It may not even be in the next couple years, but at some point, kids sleep through the night. Parents don’t send their kids off to college worried about waking up to feed them a bottle at 3 am. This give me hope.
Partnership is the cornerstone of parenthood.
Having a strong partnership is what gets me through each day. Having someone to hold my hand when I want to give up. Having someone to wake up next to in the middle of the night so I don’t feel so alone. Having someone to force me to go outside for a walk in the fresh air, after a long day. Having someone to take me out on a date and arrange for a babysitter. Having someone with whom to share all the beautiful moments of Luca’s life. Having someone next to me who notices when Luca does something new for the first time. Having a partner in parenthood. This partnership is not only what gets me through the day, but is what makes each day and each moment so incredibly beautiful. It’s more than a partnership. It’s family.