Being a new mom is an experience like no other. It's beautiful and magical and amazing, and yet it's exhausting and emotional and slightly terrifying. Being a new mom is HARD. Having a baby really does change everything.
As if this tumultuous, all-consuming, life-altering experience isn't hard enough, new moms are barraged with unsolicited advice from well-meaning friends and family members. It often begins with the question of whether and for how long to breastfeed, and snowballs from there -- whether or not to use a pacifier, whether to use cloth or disposable diapers, whether to feed on demand or on a schedule, whether or not to use the "cry it out" approach... And this is just a sample; eager well-wishers will offer advice on every parenting topic you can think of (and those you haven't thought of, too). Just like family, friends and even strangers felt free to touch your stomach and offer their opinions during your pregnancy, people won't hesitate to comment on the decisions you make for your infant. Frankly, it can be overwhelming.
As someone who has survived the diaper years, who has made it safely to the other side, allow me to offer my own unsolicited advice...
New mom, you're doing a great job. You may not think you are, but you are. So, be kind to yourself; you've been through a lot. Do yourself a favor and don't try to be Super Mom. Nobody likes Super Mom, anyway. If the advice you've been getting is helpful, take it. If it's not, ignore it (yes, even if it comes from your Mom or Grandma or Aunt LuLu). If it helps to read all those baby books you've been stacking on your night stand and all those articles you've been bookmarking at 3 a.m., go for it. But if not, ignore them too (except this one, of course). Don't be afraid to trust your instincts; no one knows your baby better than you do. Trust that the decisions you're making are the right ones for you, for your baby, and for your family. It's your family that matters.
New mom, even if you're wearing the yoga pants you slept in, haven't showered in a couple days, and haven't yet identified that stain on your shirt, your baby thinks you're the most beautiful creature on earth. Your baby is comforted by your touch and soothed by the sound of your voice.
New mom, there's no shame in asking for help if you need it. There are so many women who have been in your shoes (OK, slippers) who would be happy to give you a hand because we know how challenging these early weeks are. Let us help. Frankly, you'd be doing us a favor; we love an excuse to cuddle a newborn and remember when our babies were this small. It goes so fast, you know. The days are long but the years are short. You can nap while we remember.
New mom, know that it gets easier. Really. If it didn't get easier, no one would ever have a second child. And lots of people do. So hang in there. You will sleep again. You will shower and brush your teeth on a more regular basis. You will wear real clothes and real shoes, and you will wear them to some place other than the doctor's office and the grocery store. I promise. For now, take a deep breath (and breathe in that new baby smell), trust your instincts, ask for help, love your baby like only you can and know that you're doing a great job.