Adventures of a New Mom
I’ve been looking forward to writing again. Ever since Olivia was born there has not been much time for me to sit and reflect, much less organize my thoughts into words to form a blog entry. I am learning to embrace my new normal and though I love my new role as a mom, I’ll admit that it’s been difficult to give up my writing and reading time (okay, and sleep too!). Now that the holidays are over and Jared and I are finding our groove as parents a tad more, I couldn’t wait to to pound away on the keyboard and work through some of the lessons God has been teaching me in this new season of life.
Along with beginning to write again, I also had another signal last week that life was beginning to settle down since Olivia’s arrival: I had time to get a haircut! Before being a new mom, if anyone would have mentioned that this was an exciting event in their week, I would have dubbed them as quite lame. But let me tell you, an hour away to complete a task just for me seemed glorious.
So last week my mom offered to babysit Olivia while I enjoyed my appointment. Since the salon is right next to Target, we decided I would just bring Livi to the salon and my mom would walk through Target with her. (Who couldn’t kill an hour in Target?) It was supposed to work beautifully because my appointment was after I’d fed Olivia and she hadn’t slept in a while, so after a car ride there, I was sure she’d be cashed out for the entire Target shopping trip.
Uh huh. You guessed it. Not so much. I learned yet again that I can plan really well but a baby can have a mind of her own. By the time I arrived in the Target parking lot, my girl was wide-eyed and fussy. Not what I planned but thankfully my mom has plenty of experience in soothing fussy babies (my twin brother and I gave her a run for her money!). I apologized to my mom that I was leaving her with an unhappy baby, but she didn’t seem to mind and in fact viewed it as a challenge. (Bless grandparents!)
While getting my hair shampooed, I kept wondering if Olivia had calmed down. I know, I was supposed to be enjoying my uninterrupted time of pampering but it was hard to take my “mom hat” off, especially when I feared she may be using her vocal cords in the store next door. When my hair stylist told me she’d be right back, I couldn’t help myself and called my mom to check on Olivia. My mom answered the phone saying, “Well, Melt-down Mellie just fell asleep.” Uh oh. She told me about how Livi cried and screamed in the stroller down the aisles of Target until my mom picked her up, cuddled her in her fuzzy blanket and calmed her to sleep. Thankfully my mom knew what she needed because my sweet little girl has a bit of a difficult time winding down once she’s worked herself up. I wonder where she gets that?!
As the hair stylist cut my hair, my mind drifted to all that I was learning in my new role. One of the most difficult parts for me to adjust to as a new mom is learning to roll with the punches and embrace the unknowns that come with a newborn. Will she sleep in the car so I can run my errand or will she meltdown about being in her car seat? Will she wake up starving or will she be content for a few minutes? Will she blow out her diaper while we are out on the day I forgot to pack an extra outfit? Maybe some moms easily go with the flow, but that’s not one of my strengths. I like to have things planned out and scheduled and yet I am quickly learning that having a baby doesn’t always work that way. Instead, I am learning (by trial and error) to embrace the uncontrollable variables that come with parenting a child. If she melts down right when I arrive at Target, so be it. If she doesn’t nap when I planned, oh well. If only it was as easy to adapt this new mindset as it was to write it! Yet I am learning parenting is a day by day process of learning and growing not only in my role but in getting to know my sweet daughter.
Luckily for me, I got an opportunity to solidify these lessons just a little while later. After my haircut, I met my mom back at Target and we browsed for a few minutes although I knew the clock was ticking when Olivia would want to eat.
One thing I have learned about Livi is that she has a bit of intensity in her personality. (Who knew you could see so much of yourself in a child so young?!) She often has some strong opinions and makes sure to let us know. Because of this, I am learning to anticipate her opinions before they become full-out meltdowns. Thus, I knew I needed to feed her before heading home so that she would more compliantly sit in her car seat (which is not one of her favorite things).
After she had eaten and was smiling, my mom and I buckled Olivia back in her seat and I headed home. I drove for about five minutes before I heard Olivia break into cries. She normally settles right down in the car but this time, there was no settling. She started crying so hard that she couldn’t catch her breath. Since she was behind me and I was driving, I started to internally panic when several seconds went by with no sound. I pulled over at a gas station, opened her door, shhhh-ed in her ear and inserted her pacifier to try to calm her down. Big, fat crocodile tears ran down her red cheeks. She whimpered and sucked on the paci, so I started to drive again. Not three minutes further, she started screaming again. I knew it was because her pacifier had fallen out of her mouth (she is a little paci-challenged!) and she was not going to soothe without it. Again, she was screaming so hard that there were several seconds of silence in between cries. I couldn’t handle it and stopped again to replace the paci and calm my little girl. Finally, we were about four minutes from home when I stopped at a really long red light. I nervously tapped my foot on the car mat because I knew we were on borrowed time if the car stayed idle any longer. Sure enough, blood-curdling screams. One more time I stopped the car, ran around to insert the paci and calm my very upset child. At this point, she really was past the point of comfort and the only way I was going to stop the crying was to pull her out of her seat. Since it was 20-something degrees, I wasn’t about to do that, especially since we were so close to arriving home. I shut her door and started driving, tears forming in the corners of my eyes. I felt really helpless as Olivia screamed in the backseat and there was nothing I could do. All I could think to do was pray.
“Lord, I know this is only the very first lesson in a lifelong journey of learning that You are truly the only One who can comfort her. Would You do that right now because I cannot?”
The circumstances didn’t really change; Livi still was crying pretty hard though the volume diminished a touch. But I felt a little calmer knowing that a) if she screamed as hard as she could, she would still breathe and b) God would give me what I needed in my overwhelmed moments as a new mom.
Once the evening wound down and Olivia was fast asleep, I tried to think about what I could learn from my dramatic day with a newborn. I thought back to what I was pondering when getting my haircut, and realized that God was giving me opportunities to not only loosen my grip on life but trust Him to take care of me, my schedule, and most importantly, my daughter. I guess there’s no other way to learn these lessons than experiencing them firsthand…and then writing about and chuckling about all of the rookie mistakes later.
I hope to begin finding some time during Olivia’s naps to write a little more frequently. It’s so refreshing to process what God is doing in my life, even in these harried early days of being a mom. I hope as this new year begins that you are able to find some uninterrupted time for reflection as well.
I had written this blog post yesterday and was planning to post it later on today. This morning I had to run out to get more diapers for Olivia. With a little fear and trepidation, I decided to apply the lessons I wrote above and run the errand even if the trip was a bit overwhelming. Of course, right as I arrived at Target, she melted down. (So much so that a sweet lady came up to me and said, “I promise, it does get better!”) But I realized as I got in the car to head home that though she did exactly what I hoped she wouldn’t, we survived! And I know that’s much of what new motherhood is all about right now!
All smiles once we’re home, which makes all of the meltdowns totally worth it.