Follow Your Heart, Mama

Follow Your Heart, Mama
There’s something to be said for adding a new baby to your family when the rest of your children are out of diapers and school-age. It turns out that it’s an entirely different dynamic than the days of four children under five, more than one baby in diapers and interruptions from multiple kids every night. Imagine that!

In some ways, it seems crazy — did we really just go back to night feedings and exploding diapers and reflux when we’d already graduated from those stages? And in other ways…it’s simply blissful.

Above all, it’s given me a sweet, sweet perspective of motherhood. There are certainly still days that are frantic and stressful, but there are also days full of cuddles and lots of helping hands.

And what it makes me wish, more than anything, is that I could go back and peel back the curtain for my 22-year-old self when we brought our first tiny newborn home from the hospital.

Although I find myself tempted to give the same ol’ advice that every mother already hears (you know, Cherish these moments. They grow up so fast. It’ll be over in the blink of an eye.), that’s not really the advice I want to give.

Here’s what I would say instead:

Follow Your Heart, Mama

Above all else, mama, follow your heart. Read the books, if you must. Talk to friends. Ask your mama for advice. But then sit in the still and the quiet and listen to your heart.

Yes, I know we tend to measure mothering success in the early years by hours slept at night, and I know sleep sounds good — so, so good — right now, but it’s neither a measure of success nor your ultimate goal.

If the cry-it-out method sounds right to you, then I won’t tell you not to do it, but if your heart is breaking as your little one cries, you don’t have to resist. Follow your heart.

If you want to hold your sweet baby for all of her naps, do it (you might not get that chance with number two, three or four).

Follow Your Heart, Mama

It’s easy to get caught up in worrying about routines and schedules and what your baby needs to sleep in her bed or through the night, but sometimes you just need to let go and follow her lead. I promise it won’t turn her into an out-of-control toddler or a demanding preschooler. There will be a time when discipline and obedience become important, for sure, but that time is not now.

Follow your heart, even when your head disagrees, mama.

Snuggle that baby as much as you want. Let her sleep in your arms or on your chest without worrying about what the next nap will bring.

I know it’s overwhelming and I know you worry that what “they” say is true and you’ll never have a good sleeper if you don’t establish “good sleep habits” now, but it’s not. You’ll be just fine.

Follow Your Heart, Mama

Sure, there may be naps where you end up snuggling the baby instead of getting things done, and that may come with a little bit of regret, but I promise you won’t remember that regret in a few years. But if you give in to the pressure to create a perfect sleeper and don’t follow your heart? Well, that’s a regret that will stay with you.

And now for the clichés: They are only little once. Your baby will be a toddler and a preschooler and a preteen before you know it. You will miss these snuggle naps more than you know. And I promise your 16-year-old won’t still be climbing in bed with you.

Information and advice and wisdom passed down through the ages are all wonderful things, but God made you mama to this baby. Above all else, follow your heart.

Mandi Ehman is the blogger behind Life Your Way. She and her husband have four beautiful girls plus one baby boy, and together they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Mandi loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces.
  • hillary

    This is so true. Thank you for sharing. I know that i am cherishing each moment with my last baby and I feel extremely blessed to have her to hold.

  • http://snailpacetransformations.com/ Victoria Huizinga

    Amen! 2 of mine are taller than me now and the third is rapidly catching up. Only one will occasionally still let me cuddle with them on the couch. I don’t regret those times I rocked them all to sleep at all!

  • Fiveblessings inusa

    Love this. My mother once told me, “Hon, you can’t just sit on the couch all day cuddling with your children”. lol That did make me more productive, but I’ll never regret those cuddles!!! I was told that babies should be sleeping through the night by the time they were 6 months old… well, that didn’t happen with us, and I don’t regret any time I got up and nursed our babies in the middle of the night. I sleep better now, but I miss those days. Go with your heart, mama. Go with your heart!!

  • http://www.newbyathome.blogspot.com/ Catie

    Good advice. :) I would say the similar things to my First Time Mama self. :) Especially, let them cry if you can, otherwise don’t! And what an ADORABLE baby you have!

  • Kristen

    My family is similar to yours as my oldest were all born within years of each other…and then we had our little boy 4 years after my youngest. I have felt and tried to explain all that you wrote about, from dreading potty training again to relishing late night cuddles with my last baby. My little boy is about to turn two and the biggest difference is that I sweat nothing about this child. He’s not sleeping through the night? He will. He’s fussy from teething? It will pass. His 1st birthday passed before his first steps? So what. At the same time, every new skill seems somehow so much more miraculous. When he started talking before age one, both my husband and I cried. We remembered the stress of the child who didn’t talk easily and it just makes it seem so much more amazing. Oh, and the bond he has with his older sisters! Melts my heart to see them care for him. Enjoy the ride!

  • Beth

    Love this – thank you :). This is EXACTLY what I needed today.

  • Holly

    I love this. My first was born in Sept 2013, and I’ve found that your words are so true. Following my heart about so many baby things has made my life so much easier. I’m learning to let go of expectations (even mine) and just enjoy my baby boy.

  • egbert

    We adopted a newborn when my daughter was 10. The process took us five years and I had no way of knowing when and how our new child would come to us. Instinctually< I did just what you suggested in this post. I enjoyed even minute of it too. Now he's three and a half and we may soon be adopting his half sibling (born 3/18). Now I need to know what to do with a 13, 3 and newborn while homeschooling the eldest with LD issues. Oy, it's crazy busy life.

  • Shirley

    I loved your read. I am 81, had 7 childeren, & I did tell mothers to cherish those early days, time goes by so quickly & they are only new borns for a few short weeks & then they become little people. You can’t spoil a child with love. No mater what there age! Our oldest just turned 62 and the youngest 42.
    Now we not only have them too love but there childern & there childerns childern. We are so blessed! God is so good!
    From Wyoming to Chicago to oregon. By the way our childern & most off there family’s are from 1o minutes too 1hr 30 minutes away.

    • Melinda Shepard

      That’s awesome. I cannot wait to see my kids as grown adults. I can’t wait to see them as parents. I am 33, my oldest just turned 14 & youngest just turned 2. The middle two are 12 & 9. All boys and they love their momma. I was blessed with well mannered and well behaved boys because I could be pulling all my hair out and I’m not. I know I will be well taken care of and protected. -Melinda

  • Roberta S

    This is a wonderful post! I don’t know of a mother of older children who wouldn’t agree with it.

  • Dona B

    I have only one child and she’s only recently out of diapers (yay!) but I recognize this as good and solid advice. I wish someone had said it to me so clearly in my own early mothering days. I did mostly follow it, but not without a good degree of angst and guilt, which I could have done without!

  • Amy U

    I am expecting number 8 in June and our youngest will be just shy of her 4th bday. I gotta say, you nailed it! I’m very much looking forward to a lot of snuggling. We moms need to go with our gut; much-held baby is a happy, secure baby. It doesn’t hurt them to cry, of course, when we feel overwhelmed and need to go somewhere where we can’t hear baby for a little bit, but we shouldn’t NOT hold them out of fear that they’ll get “spoiled.” And the house will just get messy over and over … Let it slide and just coast for awhile, right?! Thanks for a great and validating post!

    • name

      I read this as your ‘oldest’ is almost four and was trying to figure out how you got 7 kids in 4 years! Oops.

  • Yvonne

    I love this post! Our “youngest” turned 8 4 weeks after bringing the new baby home. I cherish every moment with him, even when he is up at night, I realize how quickly it all passes. The cry-it-out method will NOT even be attempted this time! I so very much love your “follow your heart” statement. Its beautiful!

  • Emilie O’Brien

    Thank you so much for this – I needed it today, this week, this month!
    Being a mother is such a blessing, and its something that one can lose
    sight of trying to make things happen in a ‘right’ way. I’ve just found
    it so hard for my son & I to fall into the schedules that the books
    say should be present. I really needed to read something like this,
    allowing us/him to be just the way he is. I know this deep down, but on
    days where nothing seems to ‘work’ it really helps to hear it from other
    mothers who have been there.

  • name

    I don’t have kids yet, but my brother is three years younger than me and my sisters 7 years behind him. Currently 27, 34, & 37. My mom likes to tell storeis about when I was a baby and she had a cold, both she and my dad wore surgical masks so I wouldn’t get sick. By the time the 3rd one came along it was just kind of ‘ oh you pooped where the doggie poops? Ok, it’s not in your diaper so that’s an improvement.”
    I used to work in a bookstore and people would buy the ‘what to expect’ books, and your two year odl, your 3 years old, etc., I have friends that read those books and then freaked out becasue they kid wasn’t doing something they were ‘supposed’ to. I think parenting books are great, but it seems like it is really easy for parents – especially first time parents to freak out when their child doesn’t do exactly what the book says.

  • http://intentionalbygrace.com Leigh Ann

    Love this reminder! I certainly needed it today!