This girl LOVES lists. Shopping lists. To-do list. Dreams, goals, declarations. Then there are those “never do this again!” lists. Well, right before returning to work after my maternity leave, I made one of those. My son was around 12 weeks old. What a tough spot for a first time mom! Your world is upside down and full of so much love, joy, excitement, and at the same time–uncertainties, questions, and fear. Since I’m a glass half-full gal, I decided to put a positive spin on my “don’t do” list. So, here are 9 lessons I learned during my first maternity leave.
#1 Forget fear: Fear opens the door and allows doubt to creep into your heart. (Should I wake him to eat? Should he just sleep? What happens if my clogged duct becomes infected? Will I be able to produce enough milk? Should we go out to eat with friends? Or, stay home to keep him on his bedtime routine? Why doesn’t my child sleep through the night, yet? What am I doing wrong?) Your mind can easily become a battlefield when you’re trying to weigh your options and make a decision concering your child. Looking back now, those questions seem much smaller than they did during a moment of doubt. It took a few weeks for me to realize fear was crippling my journey as a new mom. Questions and doubt flooded my mind constantly. During prayer one morning, the Lord reminded me how he loves my child more than I do. He has his best interest at heart. I needed not to worry. Whew! What a relief to know and trust that fear didn’t have to control me.
…the Lord reminded me He loves my child more than I do.
#2 Forget CIO: “Crying it Out” did not work for us at this stage. Our son wasn’t ready or we weren’t ready. Or both? He screamed most evenings for hours until he was 10 1/2 weeks old. Poor guy didn’t have any tears left when it was bedtime. (Which is hard to believe if you’ve ever met our son. I believe he’s one of the happiest babies on earth!) For us, we chose to listen to and gauge his cries on an individual basis. There were many nights we rocked him to sleep just because we enjoyed the now peaceful, sweet moments. I adore and will always cherish those late night rocks with him exploring my face, playing with my hair, or rubbing my tricep. I am so thankful for the mommy friends who encouraged me to take advantage of the time I have to hold him in my arms. “One day he will be too big for rocking,” they warned. Now that he’s almost nine months old, bedtime has grown into one of our favorite parts of the day. It is amazing what happens to your life when you decide to follow your heart.
It is amazing what happens to your life when you decide to follow your heart.
#3 Breathe. My husband always tells me I am too hard on myself. This became an understatement when I became a mom. As I shared above, I struggled with my emotions, fear, and doubt. I was so caught up with trying to be “the best” mom. So many friends encouraged me, week after week, to relax and breathe. It’s exhausting worrying about wether or not you’re doing it right. But like everyone said, it came naturally. I can remember crying on the dark, crowded floor of my closet one night. “You have everything you need to be his mom,” my husband said as he wrapped his arms around me. Relaxing meant letting go of unrealistic expectations. (Something that haunts many avenues of my life.) Now, I try to focus on being the best me I can be each day. Because when I’m the best version of myself, I can be the best mom for my son.
You have everything you need to be his mom.
#4 Capture each moment: (Behind and in front of the camera!) Our journey as photographers began in 2009 with a beautiful little Canon 50D. We love photography for many reasons. For me, taking pictures is about putting memories on paper in a tangible, never-forget, always-cherish kind of way. I have zero baby pictures. Zero. A few from other stages of my childhood years and many more from the high school era. (Thanks to my second mom and high school best friend.) So, I am pretty passionate about capturing images of my life, of others’, and especially of my little boy. When Ellis, arrived, I decided to take at least one picture every day and write a caption about the events that transpired. Because of Jobs and his brilliant team, this has been possible with just one click! Capture those moments of your little one. The joyful, the tough, the milestones, and everything in between. Remember, as my husband reminds me often, “Be sure to cherish the moments from in front of the camera, too.” Watch life with the naked eye–it’s the best camera.
Be sure to cherish the moments from in front of the camera, too.
Check back for part 2, soon!