The other evening, I was looking for a photo on my computer and got stuck on a trip down memory lane, flipping through photos of our family over the last few years. Since my kids are a little more than two years apart, a lot of my recollection of that first year with baby #2 and a toddler are stuck in a fuzzy, sleep-deprived cloud. In that spirit, below are a few messages I’d like to impart to my (slightly) younger post-partum self (especially the one after baby #2). And just maybe it’ll resonate with someone else embarking down this road:
- Take videos. Stills are great, but videos are priceless. At the time you think you may be overdoing it, but you’re not. I promise. It’s one thing to see my son as a toddler in stills, but to listen to him talk and see him dance captures the little dude he once was. And to hear the cute little grunts and growls my daughter made as a baby are still the same ones she makes as a strong-minded 2 year old. One of the kids’ favorite activities is to watch videos of themselves.
- Be gentle with yourself. Love yourself. I remember not being able to find any shirt that fit over my swollen belly and giant nursing boobs for Christmas and being kind of annoyed and depressed. Now, I look at photos of that tired, smiling, post-partum me and feel so much compassion. Embrace it all – the sore boobs, the belly and all. For one day, in the near future, it will seem like another lifetime. And that wee babe will be a “big girl” who walks, talks, insists on doing everything “by myself” and only on the rarest of occasions now falls asleep in your arms.
- And on that note… Document your pregnant/nursing boobs. Photograph. Make plaster casts. Whatever it takes to preserve them in all their glory. You will not believe how gigantic they were. Seriously. Unbelievable. And they will never look that way again.
- Take time for yourself. I know it’s easier said than done and you’re sick of hearing it, but it’s true. Your baby will be fine without you. And you will be a happier mom and person. Take a nap. Exercise. Read a trashy magazine. Have coffee with a friend. Whatever recharges your batteries.
- Ask for help. I’m not always great at this, but people want to help, they just don’t always know how. Help them help you.
- Most important: Enjoy it. It goes so damn fast. I know that at 3 am with a colicky baby it doesn’t seem that way, but in retrospect, it flies by. As my Grandma often said, “the days are long, but the years are short”. So, spend an extra moment cuddling with your daughter after she nurses. Take your son for a special date to the park to just play together. Make memories. And enjoy the silly, small, funny, messy moments of life with little ones.