6 Lessons for 6 Months Ago
6 months ago, you had a newborn baby. She slept through almost everything (except when she was laid down by herself!) and she was so fresh and tiny. She didn't have half the rolls she has now, and she barely moved. Now she's a force to be reckoned with; an adventurer ready to explore the wild and exotic living room. I wish there was a way for me to go back in time and give you this letter. You'd lose a little less sleep, and I think you'd appreciate knowing what lies ahead in the months to come. If you could read this, I'd tell you to grab a glass of wine (I know you're breastfeeding - just do it after she's been fed, and chilllllll out) and snuggle your little burrito baby close. Here's what you need to know:
- It's 100% o-k-a-y to co-sleep. Literally everyone you will talk to (after you get B to the crib of course) will tell you they have done it too, in a deliberate and careful way. Do your research, be smart about how you do it, but don't worry about her being in your bed when she's 13. She'll eventually grow to want her own space, and it's long before she's 6 months old. You will totally miss these days when they're over, and also you'll be super glad to have your space back. Your neck will eventually not have that weird crick in it, but you'll miss breathing in her little head while you fall asleep. It'll be bittersweet, like everything in motherhood.
- It's also 100% FINE to let her cry it out. Again, literally all of your friends have been through this. You will find this out quickly, and they will be your biggest supporters. Crying it out (or "Ferberizing") is not leaving Brooklyn alone for hours on end to scream and feel abandoned. You'll find the perfect way to do this, and she will be a happier baby for it in the long run. Also, it won't take very long. You'll get through night #1, and things will be easier every night after that (for the most part). You got this, mama.
- Things will go back to normal, or at least a new kind of normal. Life won't be overwhelmingly chaotic, you will be able to eat dinner as a family someday, and eventually the baby will be in her own room. Even though this stage seems to have no end, it will end, and you will probably not miss a lot of it. Enjoy the naps with B and all the chaos of her littleness. Say "yes" to little getaways like the trip to the farm. Get out of the house when you can, and remember to cuddle your baby as often as you can.
- The worrying doesn't end. I mean, it's a little less scary now that you've made it 6 months, and she seems less fragile now with her cute pudge and crazy baby strength. But honestly, one worry replaces another. And I've heard this continues pretty much for life, so try not to let it consume you. I've also heard brain chemistry changes in women after they become mothers, so lean into that a little. A little motherly worrying is natural and healthy.
- This new identity of becoming "mom" is going to be a little bit tricky for the people pleaser in you, especially with all of the big decisions ahead. Are you a breastfeeding mom or a formula mom? (And how many oils, pills, weird cookies, etc. are you willing to add to your life to make this work? Formula's going to save you and your husband's sanity 3 months in, FYI.) Are you a co-sleeping mom or a cry-it-out mom? (Turns out, you're both, and somehow it just works.) Guess what? The decisions never stop (I'm dealing with the puree's vs. baby-led weaning decision at present) and the bottom line is... you do you, whatever that may be. You can't please everyone, and you shouldn't try. Everyone has their own ideas about what worked for their kids. Listen to their advice (it's well-meant), and then make your own choices. B needs a mom that is her mom, not a weird mixture of everyone else's mom's opinions.
- She's going to get big fast, and you're going to be more obsessed with her every day. She's basically going to become more and more the coolest person you know, and the perfect addition to make you two become three. You will fall in love with your husband all over again as you watch their relationship grow. Basically, expect this current love you have to multiply endlessly, even though this seems impossible right now.
Oh, and self... I sincerely hope tonight is not one of those nights that B falls asleep (finally) at 3AM. Carry on, you brave and tired soul. It's worth every bit of this.