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2017 WENDY CORREEN SMITH. Powered by Blogger.


Confidence in Motherhood

Our sweet Magnolia turned four months old on the third. If you follow me on Instagram you've surely seen all the photos I've been snapping of our growing baby girl. I feel like I have to take a picture every single day because she's constantly changing. Wow! How did four months go by so fast!? While I was pregnant I would read blogs and articles about motherhood and babies and I watched YouTube videos to better prepare myself for my new role as her mommy. Then after we brought her home from the hospital, and real life as a family of three started, I became overwhelmed with advice coming from every single direction. One day before she was born Ryan and I ran to Walmart for something and the cashier gave us the best advice we've yet to receive "everyone is going to try and tell you what to do, just ignore it, and do things your way!" It was the simplest and most refreshing advice. Ryan and I still laugh about the fact that it has truly been the best advice.

I want to reflect on a few of the things I've learned about motherhood. This isn't to tell any new mom (or dad) what to do, but simply to share some thoughts that may be helpful on this beautiful journey with our babies, because my very best advice is to listen to your intuition and do things YOUR WAY! There are way too many rules, books, and opinions for any person to truly use to know how to parent. Beware of the people that want to inflict self-doubt and make you question your parenting style. And the mommy groups, don't even get me started. I'm in a few and they are fun and a great place to interact with other mommies, but you have to be prepared for a million different opinions.

If you would have asked me before becoming a mommy "do you think other people care about what, when, where, how your baby eats?" I'd laugh and say "no!" I had no idea at all how many people have an opinion about what babies eat. I've talked to my sisters and friends about this, and they all get the seemingly innocent questions. Even complete stranger will ask if she wakes up in the middle of the night to eat. I do not get it. Yes, actually Magnolia does wake up to nurse in the middle of the night. And you know what? I'm happy to nurse her if she's hungry or thirsty! Sometimes I even wake her up to eat. I know that blows peoples' minds. Never wake a sleeping baby, I've heard 100x. I do and it works great because she fills up her belly and goes right back to sleep instead of waking me up with a desperate cry because she's hungry or thirsty. People seem to carry strong opinions about breastfeeding, formula, supplementing, and solids. The one opinion that I've heard plenty of breastfeeding moms talk about, and I've experienced it also, has to do with timeframes! Like how long will you allow your baby to breastfeed, or I'd rephrase it as, how long will you let your baby enjoy the absolute most nutritious mommy-made baby human milk? It's almost like certain people are casting judgment on breastfeeding. This post isn't about all the benefits of breastfeeding and that's an easy one to simply Google. It's called Liquid Gold for reason. I'm writing this simply to say how very important it is for new parents to become confident in their decisions about parenting because everything will be questioned. It caught me off guard at first, especially during the first few months when I was still navigating the new waters of motherhood. Now I feel confident in all that I do, even with all the new things to come, because I've learned the lesson of listening to my own inner mommy voice. And to answer the question about how long Magnolia and I will nurse. The answer is as long as we want! I truly have no expectation at all. I do believe the longer the better. If anyone thinks that is weird, as I know some people in this society may, then I would say that person needs to do some self reflecting to find out why they are concerned with a mother and child's most natural and beautiful bond.

Before I had Magnolia I was determined, absolutely determined, to exclusively breastfeed her. I refused to supplement with formula. I knew my body was completely capable of producing the milk her body needs to grow strong and healthy. Breastfeeding has kept our species alive and evolving since the beginning of time. I had no doubts about it. She doesn't even take a bottle and quite frankly that's how I wanted it. My sister and I were just talking about this the other day, and how we didn't want our babies to develop nipple confusion so we just didn't use them. They go everywhere with us, so it's not a big deal. I have a friend that shared this on her Instagram page and I could have used this during my first few weeks of breastfeeding! I could have used this because Magnolia and I experienced almost all of these things and my milk supply was questioned by well-meaning friends and family. My hunch is that this way of thinking was formed during the days that formula companies began to heavily market their products, and as a result, they caused major confusion and misunderstanding about breastfeeding. I'm so thankful I didn't give-up and that I believed in my body because it was testing. My instinct told me everything was going as it should because she was gaining weight and she peed and pooped constantly!

Keep Calm & Latch On
If your baby is gaining weight and having an adequate amount of wet diapers, you DO NOT have a low milk supply.
The following DO NOT indicate a low supply:

  • baby nurses frequently
  • baby suddenly increase frequency and/or length of nursing sessions (aka cluster nursing)
  • baby nurses more often and is fussy in the evenings
  • baby wakes frequently at night
  • baby doesn't nurse as long as she did previously
  • baby guzzles down a bottle or expressed milk or formula after a nursing session
  • your breasts suddenly seem softer
  • your breasts don't leak anymore
  • you stop feeling or never felt a let-down sensation
  • you get very little or no milk while pumping
We are at a very relaxed point now. She nurses when she wants to nurse for as long as she wants. It's so easy!

We just had her four month check-up and after discussing our thoughts on solids with her peditrician we decided we are going to wait until at least six months to start on solids. I have found to be a great source of information for breastfeeding. This article provides a wealth of knowledge about the benefits of delaying solids until the six-to-nine month range, or longer in some cases. I plan to make all of her baby food and I'm so excited to try some of the recipes that I found over on Baby FoodE.

Swaddling is an interesting topic for us. I think everyone knows a baby should be swaddled. I even remember my mom teaching me how to swaddle my baby dolls! Seriously I learned how to swaddle 32 years ago. I've shared in previous posts that Magnolia was difficult at first. I went weeks running on only a few hours of sleep, some nights I didn't sleep at all. Magnolia had acid reflux and she hated to be swaddled, or at least we thought she hated to be swaddled. For a little while we gave up on wrapping her up tight with her arms tucked down by her side.

It wasn't until her peditrician encouraged me to give the swaddling another shot, along with using probiotics for her acid reflux, that things started to improve. I highly recommend the probiotic drops by Mommy Bliss. I shared about our previous swaddling wrap and our new sleep sack here.

Sleep is another very common parenting topic! I'd say after feeding, it is the second most popular. I know that there is such a thing as sleep training. And I have not researched it and I don't plan to read or talk about it. Trust me I know there are some theories and words of wisdom floating around out there about how to get your baby to sleep. When I was pregnant a man told us how important it would be to not coddle her when she's crying. He was one of those "let her cry it out" type of people. I was very courteous to him, all the while thinking if our daughter is crying I'll be right there to pick her up and comfort her. Always! I know there is a self soothing practice that I could implement, but I have the time to help her get to sleep, and that is what I do. This isn't to say that the parenting thoughts, rules, and theories about sleep training are bad, I simply think I'll listen to my heart in regards to what is best for Magnolia when it comes time for her to go to dreamland. Nowadays she's actually a fantastic sleeper once the sky turns dark. I nurse her to sleep, and she sleeps in her bassinet by our bed with a white noise machine by her side. If she wakes up crying I'm immediately there to help her get back to sleep.

Getting to this point of confidence didn't happen as naturally as I thought it would. Before Magnolia was born I thought I knew everything there was to know about being a mom. I walked into our hospital to give birth with all the confidence in the world. I started babysitting at a very young age, I'm the oldest of four children, and I'm very close to my nieces. I read books and watched videos, I loved mommy blogs, and I was prepared. Bringing home a baby that cried non-stop was a rude awakening! There was a window of time that I questioned every single thing that I did. I also found out really fast what sleep deprivation was really all about.

To go from all the confidence in the world, to sleep deprivation, to conflicting advice (albeit most of it was loving) from almost everyone, was hard. It took sleep and several weeks of self reflection to get to this confident point. Now that I'm able to tune out bad advice and tune into my gut feelings, I'm able to be more decisive about how to do this thing called motherhood!

I know my baby is still so very young, and I can't write this with years and years of experience. There is so much ahead of us to experience and learn, and that makes my heart so very happy.

I am sharing this today because I realize how very important it is for moms and dads to believe in theirselves and to avoid self-doubt and criticism. It would be so easy to get caught up in comparisons and to get lost in the web of conflicting advice and opinions.

I hope that this little post brings just a pinch of confidence to a new mom or dad out there. I hope that moms and dads will stop comparing one baby to the next. I hope that people will realize that all babies are different and that all parents are different. Just because something worked for one family doesn't mean it'll work for the next. I doubt this hope will come true, but hope that complete strangers will stop asking me questions simply so that they can give me unsolicited advice. Ha! I know that's not going to stop, but I hope that I get better at avoiding it. I think I will!

As a new mom I'm trying my hardest to keep things simple. To shut out the voices of doubt and to focus on all the joy her life brings to ours. Her little smile and sweet giggle is really all the reassurance I need to know we are doing a good job being her parents!

She has filled our lives with a happiness we've never known before. I feel beyond grateful to watch my sweet husband be her father and to watch our daughter falling in love with the kind man that he is! 

- photos by Everly Photography 

I read this quote today, by Deepak Chopra, and it goes well with the days of motherhood, "What others think of you is none of your business. If you start to make that business your business, you will be offended for the rest of your life."

With love xo

Magnolia's dress is from Baby Gap, shop our favorites below.
Wendy Correen Smith
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