While we get to know our little one these next few weeks, I've asked some friends to guest post to keep the blog from going dead silent. I will check in from time to time in the few waking moments that pop up. ~ be well ~
Kristen Gregg writes the beautiful blog Marginamia; an ongoing study of names, their meanings and their relationships within our cultures, histories and other facets of life. I love the way she connects the dots between monikers and the way we live and think. I certainly went around the bend on choosing Riley Liv throughout the last six months of pregnancy. Other names rose like tides and then descended for one reason or another. Should you be on a mission for that perfect name; you would be remiss not to peruse Kristen's findings. She is also available for consult from time to time for names of businesses, projects, etc. No surprise that Kristen is a mother to two adorable (and beautifully named) children; I asked Kristen if she could provide some advice to new moms and I'm so happy she was willing to oblige.
When I think about motherly advice, I often think about what I wish I had heard from a trusted friend before our first few years with our oldest. When our new baby girl came, we were pretty baffled that in all our conversations with other parents, no one told us about the vast and intense difficulties of the first few months (years?) It really was a complete shock. But I've since come to understand the silence. I've found myself before my pregnant friends, my lips tightly sealed. I just can't do it. I can't tell this excited, terrified, dreaming woman that she can't really imagine the exhaustion, worry, nipple soreness and confusing emotional and mental landscapes that might accompany this great new love. I can't tell her how overwhelming it can be at times, or that she might miss her old freedoms here and there. I can't tell her these things because I remember being in my own pregnant body, so focused on my birth experience, swimming in unnamed fears, hopes and nail biting anticipation. The type of parental information garnered through personal experience can't really be digested by the expecting mother, nor should it. But here is what I'd love to offer to any new mom (should she be able to stay awake long enough to read it):
1. Anything you might feel, think or experience in the beginning (symptoms of PPD aside) is a normal and healthy part of stretching and growing into a beautiful new woman. Feeling frustrated, scared, or even wondering what in the world you could have been thinking to take this on is in no way an indication of your worth as a mother, or a measure of your love for your child. Motherhood will be challenging in ways you can only discover for yourself, but the hardest times will get easier faster than they seem to be passing. And it will all be worth it, worth any conceivable challenge.
2. During Nona's first year I was wrecked with worry that I wasn't "doing enough!" for her, and Chris was convinced that we were socially stunting her by opting out of all the classes and infant playgroups everyone else with babies seemed to enjoy (I decidedly did not). It's so easy to feel like you aren't doing enough for your baby when breast feeding, napping, and a walk around the block can easily consume an entire day (or evening if you're working outside the home). But it's absolutely enough for a child to thrive. You might require social and intellectual stimulation from myriad other sources, but your babe is getting all she needs from good ole Mom and Dad, just from being loved, fed, spoken/sung to and worn around for walks and home duties. Take the breaks and outings you need for yourself and where you and your child enjoy them, of course, but super duper simple really is perfect for the wee ones.
3. Books on parenting are awesome. I'm so glad we found Naomi Aldort, Alfie Kohn, and Dr. Sears. Everyone says "just follow your instincts", but sometimes our "instincts" are reflexes from our own upbringings, pressure from onlookers, or the result of six sleepless nights in a row and a pounding head, so finding a set of guiding principles is a pretty good idea. This said, it's easy to get so wrapped up in ideology that we can sometimes forget to look at our children as individuals, to feel our unique connections with them or see how we might bend our ideals in various settings to best serve the whole family. It's also easy to beat ourselves up when we don't live up to our standards and sometimes hard to remember to relax and simply enjoy our kids. So best to temper your well-researchered ideals with a lot of wiggle room and compassion for yourself; a commitment to noticing the unique and complex nature of each situation, family member, and relationship; and a pledge to avoid militance where it intrudes upon enjoying your children.
4. Block feeding. I'm pretty sure it cured 98% of our breast feeding issues: green poop, gas, reflux, you name it.
Thank you for having me over today, Alyce. I wish you and your beautiful new family all the best. It's going to be such an amazing ride!