I recently became a mum to a beautiful boy named Jett. Since his birth, I have personally discovered what many women have before me… that having a child can be our biggest lesson in life. I have read many books, but none of them have delivered their lessons as efficiently as birthing and caring for a newborn has!
So today, I would love to share the top 5 lessons I have learned since having a baby and how they can relate to EVERYONE, not just Moms!
1.The importance of giving ourselves time and space to reflect and heal
I have never felt as proud as I did the day my son was born, I felt the strength of all women and was so in awe of all we are capable of! However, like many – my birth did not pan out the way I had envisioned.
I was hoping for an all natural birth with a beautiful water delivery, and instead, our little boy was posterior and stuck in an awkward position that prevented him from moving down – saving you the details, the second half of our son’s birth really didn’t look the way I had hoped.
Experiencing a life-changing event such as birth can leave us a little shell-shocked. However, we can naturally expect ourselves to be strong for everyone else and simply move on to the next thing – especially when there is a new baby to care for! We do not allow ourselves the time to reflect and heal, or even just check in to see if there are some tears that need to be shed.
After sharing this realization on my Instagram account, I received many messages from women who could relate. Some still felt they had healing to do around their birth years later. This can impact so many areas of our life, including how we approach birth in the future.
How does this relate to everyday life?
If we are continually looking towards to the ‘next thing’, focusing only on the positives and keeping ourselves busy, then we aren’t accepting the gift we have within us – the opportunity of growth, acceptance, and healing.
The emotions we refuse to look at can come out in feelings such as anxiety, simply from trying to ‘stay above’ it all. Giving ourselves the opportunity to ‘release’ does not have to be scary, it can be beautiful! A cleansing could include lighting a nice smelling candle in a dim room with journal and pen.
We don’t need to be sure of what the emotion is that is coming up or even WHY we are feeling it … simply giving ourselves space to let it go – no judgment, is a great place to start.
Tip: try repeating this prayer called Ho’oponopono to yourself
‘I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you’
2.The importance of setting loving boundaries
When Jett was born we kindly asked for a week to settle into our new life before having visitors (apart from my mum and sisters who live nearby). I personally found the first week with a newborn, quite overwhelming… learning how to breastfeed, discovering how to care for a baby and catching up on rest. I would easily feel even more overwhelmed and sensitive to the energy of extra people in the room.
By allowing ourselves the first week or two to settle in with quiet time, we became confident and well rested rather quickly! However, I have heard from many couples who felt pressure to give in to the wants and needs of family members and friends instead.
How does this relate to everyday life?
I have found that when we are not clear on our own boundaries, we can easily become resentful towards others. Often, we can judge and blame others for ‘overstepping the mark’ or ‘taking advantage’, when really we simply have not loved ourselves enough to set clear boundaries and express what we need.
By communicating in a loving way, we are doing a favor not only to ourselves but to others as well. We are taking away the ‘guesswork’ and giving them the opportunity to show up in our lives in a way that will support us in the best way possible.
3. Surrendering and Perspective
Having a baby really has been the ultimate lesson in learning to surrender. I trust our little one and listen to what he is trying to tell me, and if nothing else works, I simply surrender. Surrender to the moment, hold him and love him as much as I can.
I remind myself that this moment will not last forever. I will not be trying to get my baby to sleep for the same nap in ten years time, or even in one day’s time. Things will move on, he will fall asleep eventually and tomorrow I’ll be thinking about something else.
I also want to note that if there is a time that things feel like too much, it is not weak to step away and take a moment for ourselves. It is the strongest thing we can do – to make sure our baby is safe and step away to re-group.
How does this relate to everyday life?
If we can’t control a situation, all we can really do is trust, surrender and give ourselves a little perspective.
This can remove so much worry, fear, anxiety and the need for control. It reminds us that we do not need to have ALL the answers. Perhaps things are perfect exactly the way they are and there is a hidden gift that we are failing to see.
4. There is always time for self-care
Before having a baby, I was all about the self-care, mindfulness and making myself a priority. This could easily consume hours of my day, which I loved! Obviously, when we become a Mom, things shift a bit… actually a lot! All of a sudden I feel lucky if I’m able to get dressed, have breakfast and put a bit of makeup on… even drinking water throughout the day has become a challenge.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t practice self-care… it just looks a little different for me at the moment.
I still 100% recognize that I need to put myself first, because if I am not functioning then my baby can’t survive. If I don’t love on myself in the ways that I CAN then resentment can build, my relationship with my partner could suffer and the general experience of having a newborn can be one that we are wishing away rather than reveling in.
So what does self-care look like for me now?
It changes every day but here are some examples… of course, these can all be implemented into our lives baby or no baby!
Deep, slow breaths
When I am calm, my baby can feel it… when I’m frustrated it only makes him more worked up. I’m constantly doing both of us a favor by connecting with my breath and grounding myself. I especially love the technique of breathing in for a count of 4, pausing for 2 and breathing out for 8.
It may sound cheesy but it has really saved my sanity at times! I want to show up in the best way for Jett, it’s not his fault that he gets upset. As soon as I feel myself getting frustrated, I MAKE myself list all the things in my mind I can feel grateful for. Before long the gratitude takes over the frustration and I am able to show up for him in a new way.
Admitting when I need a break
One night my partner was at work and I sat at home crying, Jett wouldn’t settle, I felt isolated and alone. Reality hit me… ‘Why do I feel the need to cope with this by myself and try to be perfect?’ That sparked a conversation around what I needed and how we could support each other as parents, which only made us feel closer as a couple.
On that note…We were so lucky to have friends who kindly offered to help when Jett was born,
…‘If you ever need anything let us know’ …
Yet it’s so easy not to ask for it. It can be automatic to feel as though we need to do everything ourselves and keep charging on. Sometimes we need to admit to ourselves and those around us that we need a little help. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness, it’s a total act of self-love.
Small acts of love
I was changing the sheets on our bed the other day and felt so grateful and excited for the fresh feeling I was going to have climbing in later that night. Simple acts like vacuuming and fresh sheets are an act of self-care that I never truly respected like I do now.
Biggest of them all – the ultimate act of self-care is treating ourselves with kindness and compassion. It’s important to take the pressure off of ourselves to be ‘everything’. Instead of highlighting all the areas we think we are falling short … giving ourselves total respect and recognition for all the ways we are showing up.
5. We can write our own story
How often do we hear the value of being conscious around our self-talk?? Well, I want to reiterate just how important it is! Personally, I found there seemed to be a general story around having a newborn that the world echoes – that it is super hard and exhausting. Which can bring on a lot of fear!
So when I found I was enjoying the reality more than I expected, I started to question myself and bring myself down. I felt bad for having a slightly different reality, in case I was to make anyone feel less than. On a walk one morning, I was questioning myself and the fact I felt better than I had expected. And at that moment I gave myself permission to create a new story… ‘I can thrive with a newborn’.
All of a sudden, I felt a sense of relief and empowerment! I was giving myself permission to feel ALL the emotions that come along with having a baby and that everyone’s experience is allowed to be unique. It doesn’t make anyone better than anyone else, and I still definitely feel tired and have hard moments but it wasn’t the script I was using for the entire experience!
The lesson here that relates to everyday life… get clear on your own story and what you may have picked up from society. How can you uplift your thoughts to create a new reality?
That’s it! I am finishing this article and Jett will be 25 weeks this week … it’s only taken me 4 weeks to write this haha! The realities of newborn life!
Honestly, now that I have started writing, I could list so many more realizations I have had. Every challenge has been an opportunity to check in with myself and see how I can re-set and realign. The biggest learning of all for me though has been what an enjoyable experience motherhood is, even with all the tough moments.
Thank you, baby Jett for choosing us as your parents and giving me the opportunity to become an even better version of myself. It is an absolute honor to be part of your life!