Tuesday, June 09, 2015

brand new mother

Dear Jodi,

.....I recently became a new mum to a beautiful boy. He is seven months now and feeding so well. Our birth was traumatic to be blunt. Inducement - 18 hour labour - him not turning - went for forceps - ended with cesarean. The first few months were pretty rough as I just wasn't ready for the aftermath of birth, physically, but more emotionally than anything. But he feeds so well and I found the light. I am smitten, I am in love and I'm scared, too. I have struggled a little with my gentle (which came naturally) parenting techniques. I am receiving so much negativity towards my parenting approach (esp regarding sleep) and just though maybe you could share some guidance/wisdom on sleep techniques you use yourself or how brand new mums should trust their instinct in general? I can understand how busy life would be at the moment so no worries if no reply..."

Again, thank you
Brand New Mother

Dear Brand New Mother,

Congratulations on your beautiful boy. The first year with your firstborn is such an almighty ride; full of fear and doubt and not-much-sleep. It's life-changing and often very confronting and while I experienced it seven years ago I still clearly remembering the endless self-questioning that went on. I got up and out of the house each day but everything else went on the back-back-does-it-still-exist-burner while I got on with being a mum. I enjoyed it, I loved my baby, but there was a lot of internal struggle, too.

Now three-months into life with my third I'm here to tell you that I'm a brand new mother, too. And guess what? I know nothing! Really, truly, I'm still fumbling my way through, often googling symptoms or advice and, when in doubt, taking my questions to fellow mums on facebook. Percy is currently doing the classic 45minute sleep cycle during the day and is waking and feeding every two hours at night. Yes, I'm tired, but I think it's less of a shock third time 'round and honestly, I don't have time to sit around and contemplate my exhaustion. I just get on with it because I have to (may be why I succumbed to the flu in the first week of winter!). But while I sit here and consider how my body feels (tired, achy) and how my mind is (foggy with a touch of impatience and a tinge of can't-quite-comprehend-what-you're-saying), I guess when it comes down to it, I really wish I was getting a bit more sleep at night.

And so I suppose this is what I do know: I'll continue to follow my intuition and do what feels right for us today and if the time comes to seek help, I'm open to suggestions and advice. In the meantime, I'll continue to co-sleep with Percy and settle him with cuddles and milk and know that some people may read this and think I'm creating a rod for my own back. And you know what, maybe I am...

But whilst we can have the best intentions and set ideal goals in this first year of motherhood, it really is just about today. Do what feels right and works best today. And yes, new mothers are subject to all kinds of advice from those who have been there, done that - it's like a rite of passage for the new mum, no-one is immune to it. And I suppose the best thing you can do is graciously accept what they're saying and then stay true to what you know and believe is right for you and your baby. At the risk of sounding like a complete cliche; it's your journey, stick by the decisions you make and if they don't work out, you're only going to learn from them.

Despite what you see and read on social media, no muma has it all worked out. I know I definitely don't! There might be fresh flowers on the table and well-dressed children frolicking in grass but you can be sure that there's also baskets of dirty washing, piles of dishes, dusty bookshelves, squabbling siblings and perhaps a little bit of fear or doubt or guilt or wondering...a muma is always questioning, no matter how old her child is.

Thanks for reaching out to me, Brand New Mother. I hope this helps xxx


  1. Wise words Jodi. I love your brutal honesty. And you are so right to say that no muma has it down pat no matter how confident she sounds. I can honestly say that those early years were a blur adm really at the end of it, as long as the child is loved and cared for as best you know how, they do emerge on the other end well adjusted individuals. Brand New Mother, you need to do what works best in your household and what's right for you and your bub...no one baby is the same as another, and no one muma is the same as another, so it stands to reason that there is no 'right' way to raise your baby. Just focus on getting through Today and you'll be right :)

  2. This made me teary. Such a lovely response.

  3. So true jodi and as I embark on my fourth pregnancy with twins I'll will be stumbling through the Chaos a well
    Every Mother can tell you all and everyone of your children. Is a big journey that you can only decide on is what is right for your family 😊

  4. The best advice I ever received was a couple of days after the birth of my firstborn (he's now 22!). One of the midwives in hospital chatted with me for a while and she said to just listen to all the advice politely and nod your head, then do it the way that feels right for you. This parenting business changes over time, but it's still full of challenges and I'm still making it up as I go along. That's all anybody does!! Penny Lxxx

  5. Wise words Jodi, 'Just do what is right for you and your baby today' and of course what may work today may change tomorrow. Every child is different, so of course what methods work for another Mother with her child may not work for you.
    As Penelope has said in her comment, parenting is a constant change...and I too have children who are now in their late 20's, and being a parent to children in their 20's is still a hit and miss situation, as there is no manual for being a good parent. Good luck to the Brand New Mother.

  6. Very well put. My goodness motherhood came as such a complete shock to me, I would go so far as to say that the first year left me a little traumatised! I know that every pregnancy (as I have discovered the second time around), birth and child can be so different from the last so while I do feel a little more mentally prepared this time I am trying to keep an open mind about our up coming journey with number two. I remember my midwife telling me that it doesn't get easier, it just gets different. While I think she is right, I've got to say that it just keeps getting BETTER and BETTER! I pinch myself everyday and wonder how I ever got so lucky to have this amazing kid in my life.

  7. Lovely honest words, Jodi. Oh the mistakes I made when I look back (my baby is now 19), He fell from the change table, I put him in too-warm bath water, didn't get to his nappy rash in time, and accidently trapped his toddler fingers in the car door. So many errors that made him cry and made me know that I was an imperfect mother. But I also cuddled and nuzzled him, told him he was wonderful and clever and beautiful, read and sang to him, taught him how to ride a bike and eventually to drive a car....so many foundation stones for which to build his life. He's your precious little man and you are his precious mama. He will teach you to parent as you teach him to grow. Be confident that your constancy and consistency, your care and attention and love will see you through.

  8. Nicely put. Surviving and living for "today", so true. Day by day doing what needs to be done to get through and no matter how many times you have a new baby the overwhelming sense of fatigue and duty and demand always reverts us back to just surviving. Doing whatever needs to be done so that day is that bit smoother.

  9. what wonderful, kind advice.

    i'm also a new mother -- i just had my third baby -- and i can completely relate. the best advice i ever got was this: when someone gives you advice, just say thank you. it's easier than trying to make heads or tails of what your doctor, facebook feed, mom, and gut says.

    (same goes for my bigger kids! my second isn't potty trained and i often think, "how did i do that the first time? how in the world do you potty train a kid??")

    i wasted entirely too much time questioning myself about what i was doing "right" or "wrong." my gut told me to nurse and snuggle as much as possible, and i felt guilty for "spoiling my baby". now i know better. all that nursing and snuggling is a fleeting privilege. love your baby exactly how your heart tells you.

  10. I feel for you, Brand New Mother. the whole sleep thing is, for me, the very hardest part about early motherhood. I have a 2.5 yr old and a 9 month old. I understand the struggle between being confident in following your heart but at the same wondering if there is something you could/should be doing differently to get more sleep. It's been especially hard for me because literally everyone I know, with the exception of ONE friend, claims that their children have always slept thru the night - NO sleep issues. I think they just handled it differently and maybe were ok with more crying than I am. Because the internet sure makes it sound like waking through the night is incredibly common. That's not much comfort though when you just want sleep so badly. Anyway, it took me until just recently to put my mattress on the ground and fully accept whatever it is that my baby needs. Our situation right now is that he goes down fine in his crib but never stays asleep longer than 2-3 hrs max. From that point on, we co-sleep. Some nights he wakes after 45 min and I cant gert him back in the crib for the life of me, and I just decided to quit fretting about it and bring that sweet baby in bed with me where he sleeps much better. Because of my husband's work schedule, he sleeps in a different room for now. Someday I'll put my bed back together, I'll share a room with my husband again, and my baby will sleep thru the night like his big brother (who didn't, consistently, until 26 months old). The truth is, it's not worth the time or energy to wrack your brain over sleep training. I tried it with my first after 11 months of co-sleeping, and it worked for a while, but I hated every minute of it and the effects didn't even last. every couple months he'd be waking again. With my second baby, I know he is my last, and I don't mind waiting it out. He's only a baby for a short time. He WILL STTN when he's ready. I think it's ok to try to tweek things and let a small amount of crying go on in order to see if baby can fall asleep in his own (that can often change the situation from waking every 45 min to more like 2 hrs - much better), but I don't think it's worth it to put much more into it than that. You are doing nothing wrong by nurturing through the night. That's a fact. Different strokes for different folks. As long as you are following safety guidelines for co-sleeping, do what feels right to you.

    1. i feel sad for you that you don't have more friends to commiserate with! in contrast, of all my mom friends, i only know ONE family whose kids 1) nap consistently 2) sleep through the night.
      if you need someone to relate to, i'm here ;) my daughter just turned two and just started sleeping through the night!
      you aren't alone and you aren't doing anything wrong!

  11. You can only do what you feel is right and whatever you can cope with on any given day.
    Humans have taken a Very Very long time to get where they are and tribal ways are still practiced in many places, we were never meant to parent without lots of support ....
    and......what other animal sleeps away from a new baby ?
    Trust your instincts, that's why you have them.

  12. When I'm losing my voice, my inner knowing, in the mist of all the advice or grind of daily life, I speak out aloud to myself and give myself advice. And I'm ALWAYS surprised how kind, gentle and loving my 'out aloud' voice is - it's especially different from the often confused, chaotic inner mind voice. I hope this doesn't sound crazy!! PS. New mums need stacks of loving cuddles too to refill their cups.

  13. Most wonderful advice! It really is all about today - not tomorrow, or next month. When Evie turned 9 months, I started looking into how to get a bit more sleep (as the wake ups happening every 45 minutes were wearing a little thin!) - what I learnt was whatever you do today, whatever 'habits' you have formed can be lovingly changed and gently altered to something more suitable for you & your family. Like everything in motherhood, as long as you and bub are happy with things it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks! Much love to the Brand New Mama & to you Jodi for your inspiration & support xox

  14. It is the best way to experience motherhood: today with all our heart. your words always resonate. Thanks for sharing. xoxo

  15. This was very heartening for me to read. As a first time mother to a five week old, I've been finding the transition challenging to say the least. As i follow your story with Percy, I found myself holding myself up to my perception of you as a mother who was holding it all together so well, and feeling myself failing somewhat in comparison. But reading this, i'm aware that you're going through some of the same things I am (45 minute naps, co-sleeping, feeding to sleep cos its the only thing that works sometimes -- doing what I need to to get through today), so thank you so much for sharing. It really helps to see that Mamas that I admire are in the same boat as me!


© 2014 Jodi Wilson. You may not take images or content from this site without written permission.