Becoming a mother is exciting, but also nerve racking because everything is so new. You quickly learn that your child needs comes before yours and you figure out a new routine of life. AND the reality is, you have really good days and some really bad days.
I remember postpartum being a shock because of how difficult it was. I had my beautiful bundle of joy in my hands, but at the same time I was exhausted, tired and well, sad. I am a pretty happy woman, so being sad was new to me and I internalized a lot of what I was feeling. With my emotions sensitive and on high alert, many days I was doing my best to keep it all together. then to top it off, my home is in a third world country, far from family and the communication boundaries are not as clear as in the states. When we say it takes a village to raise a child, that is taken very literally here. Most days I LOVE that I get to raise Jadon in such an inclusive culture, but in the beginning of being a new mama, there were a handful of days I dreaded leaving the house because of the constant advice that would be thrown my way from my community.
I do believe passed knowledge is beautiful and needed, but it is not always wanted.
Here are the Top 7 ‘unwanted advice’ I received as a new mama.
- “Your child is crying again! He must be hungry.” No. My child is not hungry. I just fed him. He is simply a baby and getting used to this world. He is probably hot from this Mombasa heat or he could be exhausted from the constant visitors. Or he could be just crying because again, he is a baby
- “Why is your baby not covered up? He is going to get so sick.” Again, No. He is sweating. It is hot in Kenya. My baby should not be in 20 layers with a hat on. He needs room to breathe and be comfortable.
- “Why are you outside? Your baby is so small. You should not be leaving the house.” This is a hard one because it is custom in most regions of Kenya to stay in your home for a month with your baby before presenting them to the community. (at least 7 days at the shortest) Jadon and I went grocery shopping when he was 4 days old. I am not a homebody. I do not like being cooped up inside. My baby is adventurous and he is perfectly content sleeping in my sling as I peruse the aisles. Thank you.
- “Your belly… did you get that massaged? Have you been compressing it? I can recommend someone.” This was my biggest fear of going out in public was hearing this. Please stop. I know how I look. My belly was protruded after having Jadon and it took a couple of months to retract, which is completely fine. I just had to keep reminding myself that it was completely fine because my community loved to tell me their daily tips for helping my belly be “flat” again.
- “Your baby has not slept through the night yet… Oh man. I am so sorry. You must be so tired” That is pretty obvious. New mamas do not sleep. Please do not remind me of my exhaustion at this moment.
- “You are going to look back and wish he was this small again one day. Take in all these precious moments.” I can tell you this statement is so true, but no new mama wants to hear it. I have to catch my tongue from saying it to new mothers because I know I dreaded hearing this from other women. I just wanted to make it to the next day, spend time with my boy and heal.
- “You do not co-sleep? Why not? Do you know the benefits this has for your child…” Many people have strong opinions on this, but no I did not want to co-sleep with my child and he is perfectly fine. He slept in a bassinet beside my bed for 4 months and then was transitioned to a crib in the other room and guess what? He sleeps perfectly through the night and so do I! AND every morning, he greets us with a smile and hugs. He still loves us.
Everyone has opinions and everyone chooses to raise their children differently, but what I do know as true is “mother knows best.” It is as if you gain an extra sensory skill when you become a mama. You know when your baby is not feeling well or is hungry or just needs snuggles. You are connected to your child on a deeper level and only YOU know that depth of that connection.
I can feel when Jadon is sad, happy or even confused. I know the look he gives me when he is hungry versus the look he gives me when he just wants a big hug from his mama. I know my boy and everything about him.
Mother’s just know.
So, next time you are reaching in your hat to give a new mama advice… reflect on how you felt in that stage of life and sympathize. Sometimes the best support is just being a listening ear and allowing advice to organically be given when requested.