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”.

The “mom” flu

“Mom Flu is exactly like normal flu, except nobody cares”

This rings so true once you become a mother, you read this on memes and all-over social media and it’s hilarious, until it’s you!

Take me for example; I have had toothache for about a week now, and I just don’t get the time (or the babysitter) to go and get it fixed, and the pain is excruciating; but I still have to get up at 6 AM and feed my baby girl, she still has to have her naptime routine, and the dishes still need to get done, dinner still needs to get made – time waits for no mom !

Being a mom really is a 24/7 job, and I say job because it’s hard work, although incredibly rewarding, it still takes up most of your time, especially for the first few months, and you rarely get time for yourself, your marriage, or any other relationships in your life.

Whether you are sick, tired, cranky, emotional, or just having a rough day, you somehow always gather the strength to look after your baby and tend to them as if nothing is wrong and still give them the attention they deserve and need.

Since becoming a mother I could feel myself change, looking back on those first few weeks; I cant imagine how I used to get up every two hours to feed, while still recovering from my c-section, the hormones that came flooding in the first few days, struggling with breastfeeding, the paranoia of whether your baby is still breathing, is she comfortable, is she lying right, and lets not forget the sleepless nights googling about whether her amount of spit up is normal.

And I know that this is just the beginning, we haven’t even started teething, solids, potty training, sleep training, tantrums, and all the rest, and somehow I just know that I will cope with all of it because that is what being a mom is all about, you are not allowed to give up, and that to me , is so powerful, and it just makes you stronger every day, you just see the world differently when you become a parent.

Being a mom is like having seven balls in the air while holding your baby, and trying to catch them all , whether it be trying to juggle having a personal life of some sort, friendships, marriage, a career, and the moment you pay attention to one of these, you immediately feel some sort of “mom guilt” over not being with your child, or not spending all your time tending to them, or just simply worrying about them.

I strongly believe that having children humbles you, although I have never seen myself as a selfish person , I did put myself first in many scenarios, and since my baby girl was born , putting her first comes so natural, I don’t need to think it over, or decide whether I really need to go play with her or go to the hair appointment my hair desperately needs, it’s a no brainer.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that “you cant pour from an empty cup” and you are no good to your baby if you are stressed out and unhappy, our basic needs still need to be met and we deserve to be happy in all aspects of life in order to be a good example to your children as they grow up.

It is exactly like the safety demonstration before a flight; “place your own oxygen mask before tending to others”.

It is just that some of the things that used to give me sleepless nights before I became a mom, seems like minor issues to me now, and I feel more capable of handling outside stressors in my life, I feel mentally and emotionally stronger even.

Mom flu is not just actually being sick , it’s a constant state we find ourselves in where we put our families and relationships above our own wellbeing sometimes, and I don’t know about you , but I wouldn’t have it any other way !n The rewards of being a mom , far outweighs the sacrifices and I cannot imagine my life without my precious sweet baby girl.

To all the moms out there who are juggling life and motherhood and feel like you are dropping balls left and right, hang in there, you are not alone, and you are doing an AMAZING job!

Life happens FOR YOU and not TO YOU , and once you realize that, a whole lot of things come into perspective, you stop seeing everything as a chore, and realize what a blessing it is to be able to have children, and friends and a marriage or relationship, and although being a mom is such hard work, you stop looking for validation in other people and start finding it in the little face smiling up at you and within yourself.

And who is a better critic of whether you are doing a good job other than your baby? No one!

 

Angelique

 

 

New mom tips for starting solids

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t wait to start solids. It is such an exciting time for both mom and baby, experimenting together, and finding out what your baby likes and dislikes, its messy and its awesome!

What I did not know is that babies actually don’t like food the first time you give it to them (ha ha), its new to them, so it’s up to you to now teach your baby to eat food (how weird is that, we don’t think of it like that, I mean we love eating, and need it to survive), for babies, they only need their milk, so learning to eat these new things is a very big change to them (and their tummies, but we wont talk about solid food diapers on here).

My baby girl had butternut as her first meal; she full on gagged. I laughed so much at her, now, two weeks later, butternut is her favorite meal of the day.

This is our plan, and how we started solids.

PS. In no way am I saying that this is the best meal plan, and that it would work for any baby, all babies are different, and moms have different goals, this is just a guideline for new moms that want to start somewhere, try this and “tweak” it to suit your household and your baby.

Introducing Solids

Little fact that I did not know going in to this – Your baby might not like what you give them the first time, they simply are not used to it and must learn to eat it first (like red wine, olives and whiskey). Keep giving one food for a few days just to make sure and to ensure that your baby is not allergic to the specific veg or fruit you are giving him/her.

I have a blender/steamer at home so I make my own veggies (the only reason for this is that we live 70 km’s from the nearest town, so making my own is just easier), it was such a great day and so exciting, she did not think so though and hated every bite, but it was a start and I felt so proud that we had reached this point.

Here are some tips to remember;

  • Start with only one meal a day
  • Usually two hours after a bottle and when they are in a good mood to try something new
  • Don’t add any sugar or butter to your food if you make your own (babies’ tummies are sensitive)
  • Introduce a new veggie/food every 3-4 days
  • In the beginning; these veggies/foods need to be pureed, no chunks or pieces (these can be introduced a month or so later)
  • You can also start with baby cereal, many moms believe that this is easier, as the rice cereal is mixed with the baby’s milk, and this is a familiar taste for them, so they enjoy it more.
  • Try to stick to basics, don’t add too many ingredients to your baby’s food as they start out, one veggie at a time in the beginning is more than enough for them.
  • Enjoy it, don’t let it stress you out and don’t force feed your baby, this will only result in vomiting afterwards, and your baby not enjoying feeding time in the future.
  • Start giving your baby sips of water after a meal, some babies don’t like water, but just a sip or two will get them used to the idea (in summer, keep a bottle of water in the fridge so it is cold, this also helps soothe irritated gums when teething)
  • There is no need for snacks in the beginning, but teething biscuits are a great start (its messy, but try and let your baby have fun with it, you can always change their clothes afterwards- this teaches your baby to hold food and place it in their mouths themselves)
  • Fruit, Dairy and meat are only introduced a month or two after starting solids, the reason for this is that your baby’s tummy needs to develop enough to digest these foods (once again, all babies are different, and if you feel that your baby is ready for fruit a little bit earlier, feel free to try it)
  • After a week or two (depending on your baby) you can introduce a second and third meal a day, and before you know it, your baby will have a routine and will even get excited once they see their food being prepared.

Have fun with this, it is such an exciting time and remember that every baby is different, some babies will like baby cereal more than others do – after all; they are also individuals.

The Bond Between Mother and Baby After C-Section

Everywhere these days you see people favouring natural birth, the benefits for both you and baby are endless; recovery, your babies’ strength and the thing we hear mostly is that the bond between you and your child is so much stronger because you both went through this process together.

The problem with this is that life does not always work out the way you expect it to, life happens!

And it is statements like above that make women feel like less of a mother because they had to have an emergency c-section or opted to have one instead of natural birth, women are bullied and shamed for making this choice instead of going the natural way (it is the same with the whole debate about breastfeeding vs formula feeding).

The fact of the matter is that having a c section does not lessen the special bond between you and your baby, I had a c-section, and from the moment she was born there was nothing but love, I still had my skin to skin, I still breastfed for about 8 weeks, she still cried for her mommy and she was still comforted by me. In no way did I ever feel as if my bond between my child and I was not as strong as I hoped it would be, in fact; it surpassed everything I thought it would be, the love I have for her is indescribable and in no way did the way she was brought into this world, affect that love.

I admire women who gave natural birth, to me, having had a c-section; I can’t imagine how incredible that whole process must be, and how amazing and proud you must feel afterwards for having done it and bringing a healthy baby into the world.

But for me, in that moment they cut me open, nothing else in the universe mattered but my baby being healthy and okay, how it happened did not matter to me, how far along I was at the time didn’t matter, how many toes she had did not matter, if I was going to breastfeed did not matter, how much she weighed did not matter, all that mattered was hearing that  first little scream and knowing she is okay, in that moment; I couldn’t care less about myself, when I heard that first cry, the biggest sense of relief washed over me – my baby was okay and now I can breathe.

I have read so many stories about women who are distraught and so disappointed because they ended up having an emergency c-section, and they really wanted to give natural birth, and this breaks my heart, it happens so often where society places so much pressure on moms to do things a certain way, what they think is best for you and your baby, and then when a woman can’t do it that way, due to whatever reason, we immediately feel like we failed as mothers.

I am here to tell you that it is okay, you did your best, and your baby is here, that is all that matters, what they eat or how they came into this world will not matter to them when they grow up, what type of parent you are will! Whether you were there for their first heartbreak, and how you treat them when they make a mistake, whether you spent time with them growing up; these are the things that will matter to them as adults and what they will pass on one day to their own families and relationships.

We must stop focusing so much on these small things and focus on raising humble and kind little humans that we can be proud of, and be parents they can be proud of, in the end these are the only things your children will remember about you when you are gone, not whether you gave natural birth, or had a c-section or breastfed or formula fed.

Be proud to be a mom, embrace it, and be the best you can be every day, and I promise you, it will be enough.

Angelique

3 Tips for traveling with your baby

Traveling with a baby is no small task, it takes careful planning, timing, and a whole lot of patience.

We live quite far from most places, my family, and any major city for that matter, we are about 500 km’s from Johannesburg, which is the closes city to us. Which means, that we must travel quite far and often to see my family and to do some much-needed baby shopping.

My baby girl is used to far trips by now (she is 6 months old), the day we brought her home from the hospital was a three-and-a-half-hour trip, and she has been to see her grandparents and godparents on numerous occasions, and yet, she still struggles with the distance sometimes.

There is no set way to make traveling easier on your baby, every baby is so different, some are just naturally good travelers, while others (no matter how often they travel) just struggle no matter what.

From my experience so far, I came up with some tips that works for us, and maybe for other moms out there that have tried everything else to date;

Timing

Timing, as with everything in life, is everything! Wait too long and your baby is overtired, leave too early and your baby is too excited and gets over stimulated and again – overtired.

For us, leaving when she needs to have her nap has worked wonders for us, she is already drowsy, and we put her in the car, and once we move, within minutes, she sleeps. The constant rhythm of the driving then also makes her sleep longer and she is happy when she wakes up, and we don’t struggle to get her to have her next nap later.

However, life happens, and this type of punctuality is just not always possible, and Murphy’s law will most certainly also ensure that this is not always possible no matter how prepared you think you may be.

The only thing you can do, is give yourself and your baby about half an hour to play around with, this way, he/she is not overtired yet and you don’t have to rush to get on the road.

Bathroom Breaks

For your sanity, don’t rush to your destination, leave early enough so that you have some time to stop along the way, your baby’s body gets sore from being in the same position for long and they get irritated if they cant get up and move around a little bit, which will make your trip feel so much longer (we have tried to just stick it out and get there, but oh boy it just does not work).

Giving yourself and your baby, a break is essential, take him/her out the car and just walk around for a few minutes, do a diaper change and some food if needed, and then continue.

Stay Overnight

Staying over night gives you and your baby a break before heading back again, and a well deserved rest!

Although, finances and well, life, does not always make this possible, so if you need to head back the same day – may the gods be with you.

There is no set way to do this, traveling with a baby is daunting, and quite stressful (even though we do it quite often, it still stresses me out because you never know in what mood your baby is going to be, are they going to eat well, and take naps and be happy once you arrive). It really is a gamble, and every baby is different! Try different things until you find a way that suits you and your baby the best, but don’t let traveling be too scary that you end up staying at home, getting away a little bit, whether it be to see family or friends, or on a holiday; does everyone the world of good.

Babies get stimulated by a new environment, and usually benefits from the general mood of a holiday as everyone is more relaxed.

Safe Travels

Angelique & Paige