How to deal with those sneaky insecure mom moments

My baby is going through a phase where she only wants her dad, she is happy with me during the day, but the moment she sees her dad she starts crying and only wants him, she even cries when he puts her down. Its intense ! In my opinion I think she is having separation anxiety, but with him and not with me, because well, I never leave, I am a stay at home mom and she never had sleepovers at grandparents or family. So it is safe to say that there is no need for her to miss me haha.

In a way, this makes me sad. I feel like (at the risk of sounding like a child) sad. Like she does not want me and I am her mother. I feel like I do all the hard work with her, I force her to have medicine and change her and puts her to bed etc. and then she still likes him more because he is the “fun” one, he plays with her and does all the nice things.

I think all mothers feel like this, regardless of the “daddy’s girl cliche”, being a mother is something that takes over your whole world, your children are your whole world, and when your children don’t show that back to you, you tend to feel a bit hurt, no matter how ridiculous it sounds.

This is new territory for me, I am not an insecure person and I don’t overthink everything ( well mostly haha), and it was so hard to accept that this is the way I feel about it; sad. A few days passed and I finally gained some perspective (as with everything, time heals all wounds), how amazing is it that my husband spends so much time with our little girl, and that he is such a great father that she wants to be with him and not just me.

Sometimes getting some distance from an issue makes all the difference in the world, and things don’t seem so bad and you can see the silver lining so to speak.

Lets all take a breath and realize that we don’t need to put so much pressure on ourselves to be the perfect mom, to me, he fact that she wanted her dad and not me made me feel like I am not doing a good job, which simply is not true. It is okay to accept help, and not be alone in all of this, whether it is a husband, partner, grandmother, friend or nanny. And your child liking someone else more in a certain moment does not make you any less of a great mother ❤️

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Learning how to have fun with motherhood

When I think back on the first few months after my baby girl was born , I think what a waste ! What a waste all that stressing was for and the anxiety, instead of just enjoying every minute of it. It took me so long to adjust to being a mother that I missed out on half the journey. I think it is all part of being a first time mom, I don’t think there is a woman on earth that did not feel overwhelmed the first time she brought her little one home.

As the months went by, I slowly learned to not be so hard on myself (and my poor husband) and to just breathe through the difficult times. And most importantly; I learned how to have fun whilst doing it.

I always felt so overwhelmed that I thought there was no time in the day to do something that I enjoy, I soon realized that this was just an excuse. The moment I made an effort, things started to change for me, I now write while I sit on the floor and play with her (master multitasker right!?), its not easy, and a post takes me twice as long, but I am doing it.

We need to realize the importance of doing something different, something other than being a wife/partner and a mother, we need to do something that makes us feel like an individual again, it just gives you the little break that you need to carry on with what the day holds.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, we too often feel like asking for help means that you are not coping with being a mother and that you have failed, that is just not true, and don’t let anyone make you feel like that. Older people always tend to tell me “I had no help whatsoever and raised four kids”- well, well done , but that simply does not mean anything to me, I promise you that their recollection of something that happened 30 years ago is a bit embellished, and that does not mean that you now have to do the same or compare.

Take that break, have fun, have fun with your baby, each little giggle is worth all the dishes in the world, it can wait, all of it can, because at the end of the day, life is too short, so don’t live your life trying to live up to an ideal that is probably fabricated in the first place.

How my baby has taught me to live in the PRESENT

We all live for the future, we plan our days and we focus on where we are going instead of focusing on where we are. Its normal though, we all work towards something, and look forward to getaways and holidays, that promotion at work and when our baby will reach the next milestone, we are always looking for the NEXT in life.

When you think about it, this is not true for our babies or toddlers, they don’t quite yet understand the concept of time the way we do, they understand day and night but not the concept of “next year” or sayings such as “maybe another time”, they live in the now, and they want all your love and attention now and not “later”.

This is not always possible for us as adults as we have more than one thing going on in our lives and constantly struggle to balance it all, but my little girl has taught me that it is okay to take a minute here and there to just soak it all up and spend time with her, without looking at the time and thinking about all the things I need to do around the house, just undivided attention.

Psychology suggests that the formative years (the first few years of your babies life) are the most important, they lay the foundation for your child to build on as the years go by, no pressure right!? I don’t mean this to sound as if you have to be perfect otherwise your child will one day spend thousands in therapy explaining how his mother damaged him emotionally as a baby, I mean it as these are the years your baby will learn that he/she is loved, safe and wanted.

Think about it for a second, when you know that you are loved and safe you have the confidence to take on the world, knowing that whatever goes wrong there is someone out there that will help, that will have your back no matter what, sort of a “home” you can go to whenever you need it . That is what we need to instill in our children from a young age, to know that no matter what life throws at them that they can always come back home and you will be there.

So when life gets too busy, take a moment and just spend it with you baby, it will give you a whole new perspective on time, and teach you that every now and then, it is okay to stop the clock and take in all the wonder of motherhood.

Sleeping Consultant – Is it worth is ?

A baby’s sleep is the biggest struggle for most new moms, and even second time moms all over the world, to me personally, it was the biggest struggle, the breastfeeding I could handle, the crying I could handle, but the lack of sleep was just too much to bare, it was affecting every aspect of my life; my job, my marriage and my overall well being and I am a strong believer that you cannot be the best mother you can be if you are unhappy.

Asking for help often makes new mothers feel like a failure, it certainly did for me, it felt like I failed as a mother because I was reading and hearing about all these mothers whose babies sleep through the night at the age of 2-3 months old, and immediately I felt like I wasn’t a good mother, I could not even get my baby to have a solid nap once a day.

I finally realized that this is just not true, just like we as grownups are all individuals and all have our own likes and dislikes, so babies do as well, each baby is unique and we should not compare our mothering to others (which is a very difficult thing to ask of any mother as it is so easy to start feeling insecure and second guess ourselves).

That is why my husband and I decided to get a sleeping consultant, we were getting up at an average of six times per night to give our baby girl her pacifier so that she would go back to sleep , she refused to nap for longer that 30 minutes during the day (she was a champion cat napper) , and she was just a difficult baby overall , once again; because of the lack of sleep.

We tried everything you can think of, and although the internet is an amazing thing, it gives broad advice, the advice you get is not tailored to your baby or your specific situation, and that can get confusing, I know that some moms have had great success with this, but for us, this just did not do the trick , my husband and I even started fighting because we each had our own idea about what would work, each confident it their own option. This created so much friction in our marriage, so getting a third party to give advice was the best thing we could have done, not only for our baby, but for our marriage.

We were going insane! My days and nights all seemed to blend together, with no clear distinction, napping while she slept was not an option as it was only half an hour and I had work to do, which I know a lot of moms would agree with , I read the other day “Sleep while the baby sleeps, so that means; do laundry while the baby does laundry?” – The whole idea behind sleeping when the baby sleeps basically only works for the first few weeks after birth, no one expects you to do any household chores or cook or clean, but this level of sympathy quickly disappears as your baby gets a little older.

So I was in desperate need of some professional advice, hence; the sleeping consultant.

A sleeping consultant evaluates all aspects of your lives, and your baby’s, they analyse all information given to them and then they work out a sleep schedule and provide you with the needed information on how to execute this plan. Our consultant did four follow ups and I had to log all activities and sleeping during the day so that we can see if anything improves as we progress, she was very hands on and we talked every day , I was very impressed by the level of commitment on her behalf and she motivated me every step of the way, even the days I felt like giving up.

The first four days were intense, the reason for this is that we changed our baby’s routine, which every mother knows is chaos to say the least, and difficult for everyone to adjust to. Since day two she slept so well during the night and only had one bottle and then slept again, our lives changed, and we got the needed sleep.

But then daybreak came, and chaos with it!

My baby girl screamed every time I put her in her bed for a nap , no matter how tired she was, she just would have none of it, we had to resort to an “emergency nap” ( which is getting the baby to sleep no matter what it takes, there comes a time when getting your baby to sleep is more important then HOW they fall asleep) and then after a few days, this didn’t even work for us anymore, she knew when we put her in her pram it meant she must sleep , and as you can imagine, this now warranted for an even bigger screaming match  than placing her in her bed.

I honesty almost gave up, and the consultant just reassured me that consistency is key and that she would eventually realize that sleeping is not that bad. She was right, day five, everything started to change, she would sleep when she needed to and wake up much later than half an hour.

It took us about 2 weeks to establish a sleep routine and to get into the groove of things, both us and her, her crying (and mine) came to an end and we have our lives back! I would recommend getting a sleep consultant for any mother having issues with their baby’s sleep.

That being said; there were some days in these two weeks that I could see my baby was struggling and was just not having a good day, whether it be teething or her just not feeling herself, the intense routine went out the window, I honestly believe that we know our babies best, and we know when they need what, I followed the sleep plan for the most part, but I still believe that babies are individuals and also have “off days” just like we do , and we cannot expect every day to go according to plan and the way we would like it, babies are hard work , and some days are hard being a mother, and no consultant in the world is going to make your life perfect.

There is nothing like a mother’s love!

Moming

Being a first-time mom is INSANE! No, I am not being dramatic, it really is; I read every book you can think of, felt so prepared for this new little bundle, I was a little bit older (27) and I though I am a little more stable in my life and more mature, so therefore; I can handle this and pass with flying colours.

The reality looked like this;

Breastfeeding

What!?

Living on a farm in South Africa, I had no access to pre-natal classes and mom friends, all the farmers in the area told me that “it comes natural” just relax and don’t stress because your milk will go away (I don’t know about you, but being told not to stress because something bad will happen, in fact, makes me stress).

The day my baby girl was born was exciting and overwhelming, I was a mom, and it was the best feeling in the world, latching didn’t happen the first time, but I was told to just keep at it, and it will get easier.

It did not.

I ended up pumping every two hours; slept for an hour, and then fed her, then pumped again, I was beyond exhausted (I also had a c-section), I was adamant that I will only give my baby breast milk because I was told that this is the ONLY way to do it. I pumped for 7 weeks, while trying to get my baby girl to latch every other day. Then I watched a YouTube video on latching, and wham! She latched, and I felt like the best mom in the world, till this day, this was my proudest moment. All went well for about 3 weeks.

Chaos

Because I pumped form the start, my supply was not as much as I would have hoped for, we managed, but I could see that my supply was dwindling, I went to my doctor and she gave me a pill that makes your milk supply increase, this worked so well for us.

Then the unfortunate happened; the area we live in is prone to political unrest, and protesting in our area started, we would go to town, and could not get back home due to people burning tires in the road, this was so scary while having a 3-week-old in the car. This happened a few times, and as a new mom, hormones flying high, this stressed me out so much, I felt like I am supposed to protect my baby and give her the best life possible and I couldn’t, it felt like everything was out of my control.

As luck would have it (even on those pills) 3 days later my milk supply dried up, just like that, over night.

The guilt that followed was unexpected, I felt like I failed my baby and as a mother, this is the most important thing for a mother; being able to feed her baby, so not being able to do that, brought on so many issues and regrets, the reason for my supply drying up is debatable; whether it was the stress, the pumping, or just a combination of all the above, I will never know.

We ended up giving formula, and I was amazed at how much more relaxed I was, and how content my baby girl was.

 

Hormones

I want to write this part with so much respect, because postpartum depression is so serious and so hard, every mom should take this seriously and seek help in any shape or form you see fit, but talk, don’t be ashamed of it, because I can promise you it happens more often than you think, all women just don’t feel confident enough to speak out about their experiences.

Although I never had postpartum depression; I definitely had a case of the baby blues – it took me roughly 2 months to feel like a person again. I did not feel like myself, I was emotional, irrational, paranoid, sad, lonely and misunderstood. The worst part about it is; I live around people that don’t think this is a thing, that don’t really believe in psychology and what it has to offer.

The good thing is, there are people to help, talk to a psychologist and work through this, for you and for your family, don’t suffer in silence with the hope that it will pass.

Sleeping

Okay so by now sleep deprivation is a term you are well familiar with, and you have even googled it a few times, but that is not the sleep I am talking about; I am talking about your baby’s sleep.

The first few weeks are not that bad (sleep wise) newborns tend so sleep when they should (well some babies anyway), but as the weeks go by; your baby now has difficulty falling asleep. For me, this was the biggest challenge, my baby girl only napped for 30 minutes at a time, and woke frequently at night, we even got a sleeping consultant to help.

The problem with sleeping is that your baby can’t do without it, they need it to grow, to recharge and to be able to interact with the world out there, the moment they don’t get this much needed sleep, they become overtired and overstimulated and this is something every single mom out there knows well – hell.

I have tried everything under the sun, baby wearing, rocking, singing, pacifier, swaddling, co-sleeping, own room, sleep training, block out curtains, white noise, no toys in the cot, sleep routine, routine in general, played with awake times, you get the picture, we tried everything you can think of. Some days we though we won, and then at night everything would just start all over again.

The moment you think you got the handle on this, then they are going through a growth spurt of a leap or teething or well, just a bad day.

Now

Figuring everything out and getting to know your baby takes time, and this is not something you want to hear because you need your life to get easier and to go back to normal or just to feel normal as soon as possible. The reality is, it does take time. My baby girl is 6 months old this week, and I am honestly only getting the hang of this now, I am apart of countless mom-groups, have family that help me, am constantly researching, and it still takes time.

But I can honestly say that it does get easier, I feel more like myself now, our baby girl is easier, and I even think that it might be because I am more relaxed, my hands don’t start sweating the moment I hear her cry, I don’t start panicking if she does something new, I don’t freak out over spit up anymore, and I don’t stress as much to take her somewhere.

In short, I think my hormones have finally balanced out.

Don’t laugh – its real! hormones after giving birth is crazy, I cried so much for no real reason, overreacted about everything (my poor husband), and I was just so stressed out everyday all day. This has since improved a lot, I can now take a breath because I know my baby is okay.

This phase in our lives makes me look forward to the next one, because I know what to expect, I know the ugly side of a lot of things now, and know that everyday is not always amazing and sunshine and roses all over the place like a lot of moms would have you think, but in the end, it is more than worth it; the rewards of being a mom are amazing, it takes over every little part of you and gives back so much more.

To all the newbie moms out there – you hang in there! Don’t let people “mom shame” you for doing anything, and it does get easier!

 

Sick babies make for paranoid moms

Having a sick baby is no joke, they cant tell you whats wrong, and you end up second guessing every symptom because maybe you are overreacting. Its emotionally draining, you end up actually feeling relieved when the doctor says that something is wrong because now you don’t feel like that paranoid mom you swore you would never be.

I never thought that my whole world would stop when someone is sick haha, don’t get me wrong, when my husband is sick I also worry and take care of him (as he does for me) but I don’t stay awake at night worrying if he is too cold or has a fever or is uncomfortable (the list goes on and on).

When my baby is sick it is the exact opposite, I find myself worrying constantly; should I take her to the doctor, should I go check is she is okay. Its like it takes over everything for a few days and all else seems to fade into the background, and once its over, it is as if I was also sick.

Being a mother brings out a side to me that I never knew existed, in fact, it sort of creates a new side to a person, that will only be revealed once you become a mother.

Its scary actually, to love this much ! There are no words to describe it, when they hurt, we hurt! I am lying in bed wide awake wondering if she is okay, all while knowing that I will feel like this for the rest of my life. Its wonderful and oh so daunting at the same time.

Dad Instincts

The other day my husband and I were having a tiff over whether our baby girl is in fact teething or just being fussy for no reason; I believed that she is teething, and my husband believed that she is just having an off day and that I don’t need to always assume the worst. Needless to say; this turned into a huge argument, I explained to him that I have “motherly instinct” and that he needs to learn to trust that, he replied by telling me; he also has instincts as a dad – which brings us here.

I have since come to realize that I have this ugly side to me, one that feels I need to be the superior parent, that I somehow need to be the one my baby needs, and that only I can console her when she is upset or not feeling well. The fact of the matter is; that although this is mostly true, it is not true every time.

There has countless times where my baby is upset and I can’t console her, her dad takes her, and she calms down, there could be a million reasons for this; she feeds of off me , so that day I might be a bit more emotional, upset or stressed out, and she feels this too, it affects her world just as much as it does mine, if not more. Her dad on the other hand; takes things in stride, he is generally more laid back, relaxed and rarely gets stressed out (we balance each other out quite well).

At first, this made me feel quite irrelevant, it hurt my feelings that my baby girl was not comforted by me, and that she needed her father instead.

As a new mom, I constantly put pressure on myself to do things “right”, I was adamant that I will be the best mother and I would research anything before making a decision about my baby girl’s development and wellbeing, whether it be her feeding, her sleeping, her play time, her stimulation – EVERYTHING.

This was starting to drive me insane, I was always tired, no matter how much sleep I got at night, I was constantly stressing about her at night for no real reason, constantly doubting my own abilities as a mom. It was taking all the enjoyment out of being a mom in the first place, it made me miss the little moments that I was supposed to be enjoying with my family.

Overcoming my insecurities

Studies have found that a woman only matures at the age of 25 – mostly emotionally, according to this; you only really know what you want to do in life and can face the challenges life throws at you with maturity and a clear head. Well, I don’t know about you, but I am 27 and still don’t feel sure about myself and my future most of the time, and some days I really don’t feel all that mature either.

Overcoming this silly little insecurity took quite some time, I had to really work hard at it, and change my perception of the situation, my husband being so involved is a GOOD thing, him wanting to help and give opinions when she cried or was being cranky; was him being a good father and a good husband, it did not mean that he thought he knew better than me or that he is questioning my abilities as a mother. He simply wants to play a big role in her upbringing, and although he respects my opinion and realizes that I am the one that looks after her the whole day, sometimes, a fresh new opinion or suggestion from the outside is just what a situation calls for.

Looking after your child during the day, every day, can become intense (especially those days that they refuse to sleep and just basically refuse to do anything you want them to), you tend to get into your head too much and it becomes very difficult to take a break and gather your thoughts, or just to even have a cup of tea and plan your day.

Your frustrated, tired, and then dad walks in and says – “maybe you should try and put her in her pram instead” – Immediately you are enraged at the thought, because you have been trying to get her to sleep the whole day, and yet you did not think of that (you can’t tell him that though because you feel stupid for not doing it in the first place)

The Change

I realized that my husband (just like me) also finds joy in parenting, and the fact that our baby girl is comforted by him, yes, he might not have the same bond with her as I do, and yes, he is not always right about what is wrong with her, but neither am I for that matter. Making him feel like he is wrong all the time, also hurts his feelings, so now; even if I know she does not have a fever; if he suggests it, I take her temperature just to be sure, and this level of respect has changed our marriage for the better, he also now feels like I value his opinion and I don’t just brush it off.

This had a ripple effect, he is now more confident in looking after her if I am not there, because he is more confident in his fathering skills and his “fatherly instincts” so to speak, he does not feel the need to call me every ten minutes when she cries, he now knows what to do with her.

We as mothers are quick to dismiss things like “fatherly instincts” because we don’t believe that it could really be a thing, although I don’t think it is more important than “motherly instincts”; fathers all over the world are moving away from the historic “mother does all” way of life and becoming more and more involved in parenting.

I have even seen my husband googling “sleep regression” and “teething symptoms” a few times.

Now that I look at things a little differently; these things warm my heart, and I am so lucky to have a husband that is such a good father to our precious baby girl, and he deserves all the credit in the world for his “fatherly instincts”.