Dear Sister :: I Swaddle and I Know Things {Motherhood Secrets from your Big Sister}


Just to be clear, while you are rocking that bump, I could literally beat you in ANY footrace.

Also, I’d likely dominate at anything that involves hiding. Or recalling objects from memory. Or, like, reaching for an object on the floor. 

Pregnancy changes you. You are now slower. Because you are growing a human. I am now faster. Because I have spent the last six years chasing small humans that are constantly trying to maim themselves.

Naturally, I have grown wise. And quick. And apparently, a bit competitive. 

Since I was born approximately two years and nine months before your debut, I was the first to meet many milestones. 

First one to giggle. First one to tie my own shoes. First one to ride a bike. First one to swim. First one to graduate. First one to suffer a broken heart. First one to mend one. First to move. To marry. To buy a house.

To have a baby. And then another one. 

So, you would think the more experienced of the siblings would have a wealth of knowledge to pass on to her baby sister. That my years of birthing, then breastfeeding, then weaning, then tickling, then loving–all while keeping them alive, fed, and decent–would mean something.

Because I did it first.

But with that logic, I still don’t think many people would come to me for advice on how to ride a bike. 

Doesn’t mean I can’t tell them how it feels to glide down a hill, feet not touching, the world and your worries zoom by while you fly. 

Doesn’t mean I can’t tell them which streets have the smoothest sidewalks or steepest hills. 

Doesn’t mean I can’t tell them about my first fall. How I cried. How I got up again. And the best way to prep a first aid kit.

Doesn’t mean I think I’m the best cyclist. Or the worst. I just enjoy the ride. And I’ve learned a few cool things. 

From the second your sweet bump showed up in the world, sister, people have wanted to tell you their opinion about how to survive and grow with it. This is not always a bad thing. And I sincerely believe it is never {or so very rarely} told with malice or ill-will. For pride, sure. For help, of course. For the need to puff up their chest and yodel a bit, certainly.

You’ll even enjoy some of their advice. Stick it on your fridge, look at it from time to time. No one needs to know what you do with the rest of it.

I’ll try to be gentle with mine. 

Secrets and Magic I’ve Discovered for the First Six Months ::

  • White onesies–that’s all they need. Seriously. They can wear them during the day, at night, on a safari {the possibilities are endless}. Save your money for wipes and burp cloths–the real MVPs. 
  • The one thing I do recommend splurging on :: a nice, BIG, reusable water bottle with a straw. Fill it constantly. You need to be guzzling as much as possible. Especially, if you are breastfeeding. Or hot. Or sad. Or bored. Get one that is at least 32 oz. This Wonder Woman beauty is screaming your name. This Harry Potter one is my current obsession {doesn’t come with a straw but still worthy of your love}.  
  • Prep is key for granting yourself a bit more peace. I had several small Dollar Store baskets placed in the rooms I stayed in the most during the day with the baby. Each one contained a few burp cloths, diapers, wipes, booty cream, nipple cream, nipple pads, and granola bars. The necessities. 
  • Take the picture. Take ALL the pictures. Take 72387 of your baby in the same position, making the same facial expression if you want. Then get yourself in there. Please. Put your big mommy head next to their squishy one and press the button. And don’t you dare feel guilty about one precious shot–you will cherish these one day {like when they start talking back and giving you the finger, pull up a pic of a sleeping newborn and remember the bliss}. My favorite pictures of all time are the ones taken that first month of each of my children’s lives–it was a time I don’t remember well, so I love to see proof of it and of how far we’ve come. And how someone can look so exhausted yet triumphant. Thank goodness you can’t smell spit up through a picture. 

Dear Sister, I Swaddle and I Know Things | Houston Moms Blog

  • Go outside. Both of you. Whether sitting on a swing, strolling, or lying in the grass–time passes differently out there. Big hurts don’t seem as big or unforgiving while looking at the sky. And it’s easier to daydream in open space. 
  • Strolling through TJ Maxx is considered self-care. Not ever something to feel guilty about. 
  • Is there a series you’ve been waiting to binge? Guess what? It’s motha-freaking showtime. Don’t even attempt to open a book {and you know how important books are to me, so this pains me to say}. But books require too much concentration. You’re going to need something a bit mindless, easy, and entertaining while you are adjusting to your exhaustion and nursing schedule. May I recommend Shameless, Dead to Me, Riverdale, or The 100? If gritty family dynamics, dramatic YA adaptions, and dystopia aren’t your jams, you can’t go wrong with The Good Place or Parenthood. Also, YOUR SHOW WILL NOT KEEP THE BABY FROM SLEEPING. They need a bit of background noise. Don’t we all? 
  • If someone is over asking, “What can I do to help?” direct them to any dirty dishes or the grocery store. Feel no remorse. Request chocolate. 
  • Nursing tanks will change your life. Get the kind that flare at the bottom. I always enjoyed that extra belly room. Throw a long cardigan over it and you’re ready for brunch or church or teaching a class. And buy cheap nursing bras–your boobies will change sizes drastically so don’t spend too much. You’re not planning on keeping these long.  
  • Don’t forget about yourself, sis. You are still in the conversation; the most important part. People still want to know about you, not just the baby. How are YOU doing? And answer honestly. 
  • You know from my own experience how very very scary and real postpartum anxiety and depression can be. And you know how important talking about it with your husband, your doctor, EVERYONE, is. If you feel ANY big emotion, anything that seems off or scary or too much, you tell me. You tell me immediately and your big sister will be ready! If you remember one tip, one bit of advice, I beg it to be this. Speak. 
  • Lastly, this is actually the easiest time to travel with a kid. I have traveled internationally with a child at 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years old. Between 3-6 months is the sweet spot; they nurse until they fall asleep, they can’t walk and are content with being strolled everywhere, they sleep a lot, don’t talk back, and are up for anything {because they have no idea what’s going on}. Also, before age 2, kids fly free on your lap. So, jot that down, Suzie. Dear Sister, I Swaddle and I Know Things | Houston Moms Blog

Those are the first things that pop into my mind. Even if only one thing stands out and makes a difference as you mentally prepare for it all, I can feel good about that. 

But that’s not quite enough, is it? There are a few other things we need to discuss. Because I know your heart and I know your worries. I want to leave you with three important things that will change after you have a baby :: your voice, your time, and your strength. I want to tell you about them now so they don’t surprise you. So you can spend your time deciphering poop colors and smelling baby breath–your new Saturday night.  

  1. YOUR VOICE :: It might sound different. You might forget some words that you’ve known all your life. You might struggle to tell others what you are feeling–to find the right words to describe all the changes. But here’s the secret, they are ALL the right words. And your voice, that unique way you fill up the world, will let others know if you need help, encouragement, or just to be heard. And asking for help when you have just gone through the most life-changing experience you will ever encounter, is the smartest, kindest thing you can do for yourself and your child. It’s one of the reasons you were given it. So use it. The one that soothes aches, the one that reads bedtime stories, the one that sings off-key in the morning. The one your baby will recognize immediately, no matter if raspy from lack of sleep.  
  2. YOUR TIME :: It might look different. And that’s okay, because you wanted it to. Because you weren’t a mother. And now you are. Of course, things will be different. And you know what—it is okay if that makes you feel sad or scared or nervous. It is okay to miss the way things were. The idle time. The “I need a break so I’m just going to go hang out by myself for awhile” time. The beginning will be hardest, because that baby needs you more in ways that you aren’t use to giving others. You’re going to worry that your time will always look like this. But guess what? It won’t. One day your child won’t need so much of it. Or will require it used in different ways. One day, you’ll be able to add things to it. Like skydiving, if you wish. Like learning a new language. Like writing a novel, lounging on a beach, attending a conference, planting a garden. Remember that. And don’t you dare stop dreaming big things.  
  3. YOUR STRENGTH :: It might feel different. It might not be obvious. Because sister, you are stronger now than you have ever been. Even at your weakest moment, when you are too tired to open your eyes or take a shower or answer the phone, you will find the strength to do so. It might not always look like it, you might confuse your strength with being weak. That’s an easy thing to do as a mother. We tend to doubt our power when it’s not obvious or showy–it’s only a phase. Because some of things you were able to do, to lift, to give to others, won’t look as impressive as before. But you weren’t really up against much–having a baby changed everything. Changed you. Changed your body. Don’t be afraid of your new abilities. Flex those new muscles; you can change the world and diapers at the same time. 

So, take it all in, sis. The good, the scary, the oversharing. And if you ever find yourself awake at 3:43 AM, unable to sleep or think or find the remote, call your sister. The past years have made her an insanely light sleeper and absolutely nothing you say can frighten or disturb her. Because children. 

You are going to be a sensational mother. Even if you forget to brush your teeth. 


Your Big Sister, Soon to be Award-winning Godparent, NOT the Worst Mom

Dear Sister, I Swaddle and I Know Things | Houston Moms Blog

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