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:
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).
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.
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.
**originally published April 2014