With Baby No. 2′s due date approaching, I’ve been thinking more and more about things I wish someone had told me before I became a mom the first time around. What words of encouragement might have helped me as I blindly navigated this territory of new motherhood?
And then I thought … my advice should be: “Focus on the little victories.”
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I spent nine months preparing myself for a natural birth. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on regarding the topic, but aside from that I thought of little else. Perhaps it seems a bit obvious that I should have researched sleep training methods or newborn care or breastfeeding, but I didn’t. I kind of just expected to figure it out as I went. Besides … breastfeeding is pretty much the most natural thing on the planet, and babies have to sleep sometime, so how hard could it be? … Or so I thought.
Turns out that my baby hated sleep for a good long while, and even though breastfeeding is “natural,” it doesn’t always come naturally to all mamas — and I was one of those who struggled. I spent a good chunk of those first three months of motherhood in tears and in pain, feeling like I was a failure as a mom because I couldn’t feed my baby the way I wanted to and because I couldn’t understand what her cries meant. I felt completely clueless and at a loss.
Eventually I got rid of the guilt and the shame and realized that even though this new parenting business wasn’t exactly what I had expected it to be like, I wasn’t a failure. I decided to stop focusing on just the negatives and the things that didn’t work. Instead I put my energy into thinking of all the Little Victories I had experienced. I had low milk supply, but my daughter always latched like a champ and I never got mastitis … a little victory. My daughter may have stayed up all night, but she slept in like a champ and we had plenty of great morning cuddle sessions … little victory. I may have ended up having to supplement my daughter’s diet with formula, but I was still able to provide half of her daily nutrition through nursing, and I stuck with it until she self-weaned at 17-months … yet another little victory.
It’s easy to get discouraged as a new mom, but focusing on motherhood’s Little Victories can make the journey feel much more manageable. One of my favorite nursing brands, Bravado Designs, has a great campaign encouraging moms to celebrate in all the Little Victories (#LittleVictories) they experience. I love the idea, because it’s something I wish I had thought to do earlier. There are a lot of other encouraging stories on their site too.
New motherhood is a challenge, but it is also incredibly beautiful. There are so many lovely moments in the midst of the challenges if you only stop to notice them. Focusing on the little victories will leave you feeling so much more encouraged about your mama journey. You’ve got this mamas.
Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble.