First time mom….for the fifth time

. November 30, 2012.
dress

One might think that repeating a monumental experience several times, like having a baby, would make me an expert. However, these pregnancies continue to surprise me, and the surprises haven’t stop with childbirth. As the mother of four boys, I would have expected infancy and toddler hood to progress in similar ways, especially since my kids are all the same sex. But I can truly say that I have learned something new every time.   As I await the birth of our fifth child, I assert with confidence that I am no expert. Yet, I see things that I have experienced have colored my perspective on motherhood and having babies today. I present these, not as “expert advice”, but as suggestions from someone who has been there.’

Bargain shop. Don’t think that the baby has to have the best and newest of everything. Research and choose wisely. Am I saying you can’t buy new? Absolutely not. But, know that a few years, or even just months down the road, there may be an unexpected need or more important desire that arises, but not enough funds to make it possible. If you can purchase items on sale or secondhand, do it! The quality is about the same since babies don’t usually wear things out. Since safety standards are constantly being updated, please make sure that the used items you purchase are not outdated or subject to recalls.

This is advice that I need to repeat to myself over and over now that we are expecting our first girl. My desire for “NEW” is great: new crib bedding, new cushions for the glider…. My husband wisely reminded me that much of what we already have will do for a girl just as well for a boy. Try not to get swept away by the “gotta haves”.

Share your maternity clothes. The small fortune you spend on clothes that will get little wear may create the temptation to hoard them away for your next pregnancy. Try to fight it. First, by sharing your stash, you will bring great relief to a friend quickly growing bored with the maternity items she has. Second, fashions go by so quickly, you may find out, like I am, that the dress you absolutely loved a few years ago just isn’t going to cut it this time around.   

Have a teachable heart. For some reason, when my first child was born, I thought I knew everything about baby care. I was resistant to my mother’s input, intent on “making my own mistakes”. Even in the hospital I failed to heed instruction. Neglecting to watch their nursing information videos or read the handouts (they didn’t have lactation nurses back then), I missed out on valuable information while my baby missed out on important regular feedings. Thankfully, I read those handouts once at home a day later and strove to make up for lost time. But if I had been a little more humble and willing to learn, I could have avoided a lot of guilt and panic as well as painful engorgement.

Be open minded. A natural companion to a teachable heart is an openness to hear opinions contrary to ours. Breast or bottle? Crib or Co-sleeping? Cloth or disposable? Parenting is rife with controversy. Get used to it. Better yet, approach it with grace. Sound parenting principals include feeding a baby well, keeping him clean and warm, and ensuring him a safe place to sleep. HOW we choose to apply these principals will vary. Allow those around you the freedom to make their own choices and not feel judged by it. 

Enjoy the moment. Those little old ladies in the grocery store are correct – the time flies too quickly. While I feel like I’ve been a mom only a short nine years, my husband soberly pointed out that our time with our oldest could be half over! If he leaves home for college or work at age 18, I only have nine more years to enjoy having him under our roof.

Drink the joyful cup of parenting dry! Yes, there will be challenges. There may even be moments when you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” But, oh, the delights of childhood! Cuddle your baby even though there is laundry to fold. Read stories with your toddler though there may be calls to make. Cherish the giggles of your little ones. God bless you and your baby and the memories you have to make.

Jessica Fisher is a wife and busy mom of six. She regularly writes about fun, frugality, and the pursuit of a clean house at
www.lifeasmom.com