10 Things I Would Tell Myself 12 Years Ago When I Became A Mom

When I first became a mother, I panicked. It was the first time in life I had ever committed to something that I could never walk away from if the going got rough. It was the first time the buck really ever stopped with me. Really, anything else, if you really have to, you can walk away. This motherhood thing was different (insert the word fatherhood if you are a dad) and it freaked me out. On reflecting upon my initiation into motherhood, I thought of the things I wish someone had engrained in me in the beginning. I wrote these 10 things from my current self, the relaxed, well balanced, fully in control and always put together (ahem ahem) mother of 12 years and four amazing, compassionate, beautiful (now I’m not joking it’s really totally true) kids.

Notes to self:

1. You are doing the best you can. Assume the same in everyone else. There may be a few mothers out there who don’t care about their children, I am told, but I have yet to meet one. They are the exception. Most mothers love their children and are doing the best they can with what they have. Don’t judge them or yourself. If you feel like you could do more, do more. If you feel like you can’t, don’t.

2.  You are the only mother your children will ever have. If they need someone to make clear boundaries, set standards, draw a line, make a hard decision, fight a battle, it is your job. No one else can tell you when it is time to do this and when it is time to let it go. You are their only mother who would kill or die for these people without any hesitation, and who really knows them well enough to be equipped to make that decision. You are the only one with the power to always and without fail, have their best interest in mind. Do not let anyone ever tell you what is right for your children. Collect info, research, get support where you need it, and make decisions based on what is right for you and your family and no one else ever.

3.  It will never be enough. It’s ok. You are their mother, you are not Gd. You can not make the world a different place than what it is. You can however do your best to prepare your children for the world that you brought them into. Heartbreaking, but true.

4.  Change is constant. Do what is right for you and your family now, and don’t be afraid to change it up. Each child is different, every stage is different, you as a mother have learned and grown. It is good.

5.  Being a martyr does not make you a good mother. An exhausted, out of shape, poorly fed, unhappy mother, teaches children that model. The only way to teach your children to be energetic, healthy, nourished, and happy, is to be those things for yourself first.

6.  Your kids know you. Do not underestimate them. Maintain your integrity, and be honest with them. Apologize, and grow. They love you. They will forgive you.

7.  Give them responsibility as soon as they are capable. You are their teacher, not their slave. The best way is to teach it is to do it together until they can take over.

8.  Their siblings are your gift to them. Long after you are gone, they will have each other. Help them love each other. Teach them forgiveness and compassion for one another, not by telling, but by showing. Don’t feel guilty when you don’t have all the time you wish you had for each individual. After all, they have each other too, because you did that for them.

9.  Remember how hard it is to be a kid. Tell them about it.

10.  Show your family that you appreciate and are grateful for them. More important than what diapers you use, what baby carrier you wear, how many years you breastfeed exclusively, how many beds you fit in the bedroom, what grass fed organic butter you use on your sprouted gluten free dehydrated omega 3 probiotic crackers, what education system you choose, what religion and spiritual path you ascribe to, is to smile at each other and be grateful for every moment.

Thank you, self. I will keep that in mind.

Be Well, – Ora

photo of me and the girls

Here’s a serious question, though: Do you believe maternal diet for a breastfeeding mum can trigger cradle cap?

I believe that everything we eat when we are breastfeeding affects our babies.

That said, a crazy neurotic mom who is so afraid to eat anything lest their precious baby get a pimple, is not a happy and well nourished mom. If mom is not well nourished and happy, baby is not well nourished and happy.

I had two colicky and cradle cappy babies with rashes and all kinds of stuff. When I went into labor with my third, I swore off all dairy (except butter, because it has no casein or lactose). She was never colicky or cradle cappy at all. When she was about 2 months old I tried about an ounce of milk in my tea. She screamed for hours. My fourth, the same story. I am not an anti dairy person. I do dairy (organic and grass fed as much as possible), but a mom of a colicky baby is never a happy well nourished mom. Notice the theme here?

Things to remember when surviving colic

My first 2 babies were colicky. It was hell. Pure hell. Here are a few things that may be helpful:

  1. If you are losing your mind, it will come back. Itʼs ok.
  2. The baby may be screaming like crazy but he/she is safe. Do whatever you need to do to keep it that way. The human nervous system can only take so much high frequency and high volume sound. Sometimes the best choice means putting the baby down safely and walking away for a moment. Itʼs ok.
  3. If you and your baby are crying at the same time, itʼs ok.
  4. If you have a partner, they may not be perfect, none of them are. They may not do things exactly the way you would, but they can help. Let them.
  5. Going outside often works better than anything. Put that baby in a carrier and walk. Donʼt worry about waking up the neighbors. 
  6. Change of scenery is good. I became good friends with the grocer, I was the only one in the store wearing a screaming infant while browsing the bulk whole grains section. Itʼs ok.
  7. Try eliminating all dairy for 3 weeks. I know it sounds ridiculous and impossible but I speak both as a nutritionist and as a mother. My irst two babies were colicky. They screamed for up to eight hours straight, daily for months. I tried going off dairy but never absolutely and totally for more than a few days. When I was pregnant with our 3rd, we were dreading it.  I went off all dairy the minute I went into labor. We waited for her to start crying, but she never did. When she was 2 months old, I put a little milk in my tea, like maybe an ounce. She screamed for hours that night. In my experience as a nutritionist, I have found 3 weeks to be the amount of time it takes to get a real assessment but usually by two weeks you can tell its helping. Try going off all dairy for 3 weeks. Trust me I learned this one the hard way. If you are feeding formula, try changing the formula. If none of this works, at least you will know you tried. It still will not last forever. Itʼs ok. 
  8. Look at and talk to your baby. Even when you are feeling overwhelmed and losing your mind, if you can stay calm, you can be supportive and nurturing. Trust me, mothers fake it all the time. Itʼs ok.
  9. Protect your back. Use pillows to support your arm for breastfeeding, even if you think you donʼt need it. Take care of yourself. Itʼs ok.
  10. Drink more water. Drink water every hour. You have time to drink water even while the baby is screaming. Itʼs ok.
  11. Wearing your baby can calm both you and your baby. You can move around and get things done while still being attentive and feeling close. Wearing the baby inward so you are tummy to tummy can be a good way to maintain constant gentle abdominal pressure on the baby, which is also helpful . I prefer a wrap for wearing newborns. It supports my back as well as keeping the baby safe and secure. When positioning the baby in the wrap, pay attention that his/her head isnʼt hyperextended forward, as this can be dangerous. If wearing your baby doesn’t work, itʼs still ok.
  12. We used to rest the baby carrier on top of the yoga ball and bounce, sometimes that worked really well. (Baby fully buckled in and someone still holding the carrier). This way if they fall asleep you can put the baby and carrier down and have a cup of tea. 
  13. Speaking of tea, herbal teas like this postpartum formula can really help keep the stress hormones from taking over. Iʼm a big fan of this one because it worked for me within minutes, and because it is made by beautiful wonderful friends. 

Amazingly enough, mothers, fathers and babies survive colic  all the time. It will not last forever. Your child will not be walking down the wedding aisle screaming bloody murder. 

You are doing great. Itʼs ok.