What I learned the first week of motherhood.

After nine very long months, I gave birth to my first child Xavier Stephen Morris on Sunday, September 8, 2019, at 7:33 p.m.

The first photo of the three of us taken by Carling Zhou in the hospital!

The first week of motherhood has been raw and it’s been incredible all at the same time. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done yet the best thing Carl (my husband) and I have ever experienced/ could not be happier! Since then, we’ve had ups and downs, we’ve laughed and we’ve cried and I am so in love with my son. After taking time to reflect, I wanted to share what the first week of motherhood was like for me as it has not been all butterflies and rainbows!

The hardest part for me was dealing with the crazy, hormonal emotions that come postpartum. The first day we came home, I was breastfeeding and just crying. Then bottle feeding to supplement because X was borderline jaundice. Don’t worry–he’s ok now! But I 100% felt the “mom guilt” everyone has told me about and that I finally understand. It’s crazy how much you hear about “mom guilt” and you don’t understand it at all until it becomes you. I’ve learned to reassure myself that my body IS doing enough and I shouldn’t feel ANY guilt, this is normal and I am doing a great job!

Having friends who are mothers has helped me immensely. I am so thankful for my friends who have been through those first, tough few weeks and can reassure me that everything will be ok. I have asked them for tips and advice non-stop, I’ve even facetimed them just to cry. Being able to lean on my friends during this time has been much needed and appreciated. Even the friends and family who have been dropping off food and offering to help with anything we need. I truly never realized what a friend might need when having a baby until I had my own.

Since those first few days, each night is getting easier as Carl and I figure out our schedule and baby X’s, what works and what doesn’t. It’s very much trial and error with a lot of patience! Carl and I have been taking turns on night shifts with Xavier and it’s been helping us stay sane during the process. We both can’t be zombies! haha

Xavier and I on day 7 postpartum!

Xavier’s first doctor’s appointment could not have been funnier. Carl and I were exhausted and X peed ALL over me, the table and his clothes AND we forgot wipes! We couldn’t help but laugh so hard, and made sure to pack them for his next appointment!

Carl, Xavier and I at his first doctor’s appointment after he peed everywhere!

I wanted to share all of this with you as I think a lot of social media is only life’s highlights–the happy moments and rarely the tears and emotions behind the first couple of days, weeks and months of being a first-time mother. The emotions are real, they are normal and it’s ok to let them out and know you are not alone. I hope me being open helps at least one of you because my social media and my life aren’t made to look perfect, it’s not perfect and it’s real life and I want to share it all with you. Opening up and sharing my thoughts and feelings with my husband, family and friends have helped me so much. Whatever you may be going through, talk about it! It’s important to let out your feelings and emotions during this huge change in life and be ok with it.

Did you have a similar experience with your first time being a mother? I would love to know in the comments below!

Xx, Tonya Michelle

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8 Things Couples Should Discuss Before Baby Arrives


You’re already starting to argue with your spouse about certain things before the baby arrives. It’s being made clear that you need to sit down together and have a discussion about pre-baby things.

The last thing you want to do is be caught at each other’s throats while adjusting to life with a newborn, right? That will make an already stressful life even more stressful.

Keep reading because I am going to share a full list of things couples should discuss before baby arrives!

Responsibilities

First and foremost, it needs to be made clear what each other’s responsibilities will be upon the baby’s arrival. Don’t assume that your spouse just knows what to do –  you need to tell them!

How will you be splitting up household chores?

While you may already have a solid routine in place, having a baby really changes things. Suddenly grocery shopping, scrubbing toilets, and taking care of a sink full of dishes get more difficult to do.

Will your partner handle all the chores while you care for the baby? Will you take on the easy stuff while baby naps? Make sure you get on the same page.

What will you need help with in the first few weeks?

Everyone automatically jumps to wanting to help with the baby in the first few weeks, but consider what other responsibilities you’ll need help with at first. Will you need someone else to run errands? Hold the baby while you sleep? 

Who will do what in the middle of the night?

I can tell you this now – being the sole person responsible when baby wakes up at 2am and 4am will get very exhausting very quickly. You will need to spit up some of the responsibility!

Who will get the baby when he cries? Will you need help with pumping? With bottles? Who will change the diaper in the middle of the night? Do you need some other help when you’re groggy and exhausted?

Religious beliefs

One of the most important things to talk about is your religious beliefs. Many couples never discuss this until after the baby has arrived and can end up in a very heated argument over it.

What religion (if any) will you practice?

First and foremost, ask your partner what religion they identify with. If you each have a different religion that you practice, you will need to come to a compromise. Or maybe you decide not to practice anything and let your child choose their own. 

These are must discuss topics that need to happen before the baby’s arrival!

Will you follow any rituals upon baby’s arrival?

If you choose to practice a religion, will you be following any rituals or traditions once the baby has arrived? Will you baptize the baby and announce their arrival? Consider what you will do once the baby is here and make sure it’s something you both want to do.

Parenting decisions

The important one – parenting decisions. This can turn into a serious problem very quickly if not addressed right away. I could easily make this section its own post, but I’ll try to keep it simple for you.

What parenting practices will you choose?

Discuss with your partner your ideas around parenting and why you feel the way you do. Consider what parenting style you best identify with first and then consider what practices around that you believe in.

You’ll want to discuss things like style of discipline, if you want to breastfeed, your stance on vaccinations, if you want to circumcise a boy, what type of diapers you want to use, what sleeping arrangements will look like, and so much more.

This might even be a good time to start researching certain topics together and see how you feel about certain topics without the input of outsiders.

Are there any non-negotiables for you?

Once you’ve discussed the types of parenting styles and practices you believe in, what are the non-negotiables? What do you feel very strongly on and are not willing to compromise on?

For example, do you feel very strongly not to utilize the CIO method or spanking? Are you a bit more flexible on the type of diapers you wish to use?

Who will be responsible for these choices?

Some families are primarily ran by mom making all the choices and dad trusts her to do what’s best. But some dads want to be more involved in the decision making process.

Figure out if one or both of you will be responsible for making the choices around certain parenting practices.

Career choices + finances

Career choices are important to each of us and should be discussed prior to birth.

Do you want to go back to work?

If you want to go back to work, consider how soon you will return to your job. Will you take some extensive time off before returning? Do you want to go back right away? Will you be working towards a promotion?

Or if you don’t want to go back, will you be a stay at home mom indefinitely? Do you want to start your own side hustle so you can still financially contribute?

If needed, make sure to discuss childcare options. Will they be enrolled into daycare? Will you hire a nanny? Or will they spend the day with their grandparents?

What will your finances look like?

Once you know who is going back to work and staying home, consider your finances. What can you afford? What will you need to cut back on? How will you budget when the new baby comes?

Spousal support

Relationships and marriages can fall apart upon the arrival of a new baby. If there are already problems, they can become amplified as well.

When will you need some me time?

Everyone will need time away from the baby once in a while and it’s healthy to know what this looks like. Will you take a bath every evening while dad gets the baby down for bed? Will you go to the gym in the morning for a workout? Or do you need a girls day a few times a month?

Think of dad too! Will he want some alone time of his own? Night out with the boys once a week? What does he need for some me time?

What do you need from your spouse?

Adjusting to life with a newborn is very hard as a new parent. Discuss what you need from each other to feel the best supported. Be sure to keep having this conversation, too. Things can change as you go along!

How will you nurture your relationship?

Don’t let your relationship take a back seat, continue to nurture it! Consider how often you will go on date nights? Will you take a vacation together and leave baby behind? What will you do to continue to work together?

Mental health

Mental health is a very neglected topic but very important to talk about. Many women will experience some PPD and PPA in the first year. The more you can plan for this, the better.

What will you do if your mental health starts to struggle?

If your mental health starts to struggle, what is your personal gameplan? Will you reach out to loved ones for help? Contact a professional? Spend more time on self care? 

What do you need your spouse to do if you need help?

How can your spouse help you during this process? What do you need them to do or say to help you through a difficult time? Make sure you set the expectation of what you need if you start to slip and are having a very difficult time adjusting.

Also discuss what it will look like if they are having a hard time as well. You won’t be the only one trying to adjust!

Birth choices

Birthing a baby is a beautiful and very important experience to the mother. Couples should discuss exactly what this process will look like if you haven’t already.

How will you birth your baby?

With the rise in home birth rates in recent years, you might want to consider exactly how you want to birth. Will you hire a midwife or doula to join you at the hospital? Will you decide to birth comfortably at home? Or will you find a really nice birthing center for a happy medium?

What forms of intervention are you comfortable with?

Maybe you’re comfortable with hospital staff taking complete control, but it’s important to discuss what you are comfortable with and how you want things to go.

Do you want to get an epi or birth naturally? Will you delay the first bath or wash them off right away? Will you delay cord clamping or cut it immediately? How much intervention do you want at your birth? 

What are you very strongly against?

Now that you’ve discussed what intervention you’re comfortable with, what are you very strongly against? Make sure to discuss these things with your partner so they can help advocate for you if you birth in a hospital.

Will you want one of  you with baby at all times? Do you believe in circumcision? Will you be declining cervical checks?

Relatives

Will you allow anyone in the room while you birth?

Many families want grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and more in the room while they birth the precious new arrival. Others want to be left alone and DO NOT want anyone in the room.

It’s important to make your partner aware of what you are and are not comfortable with so they can set boundaries at the time of birth.

How soon and how often will you accept visitors?

If you choose to birth more privately, when will you start accepting visitors? Do you want to wait a few days before anyone can come see the baby? Will you allow visitors immediately?

Once you do start accepting visitors, how often will they be allowed over? Do they need to contact you before showing up?

Who will you trust to watch the baby?

Eventually, you will want a date out with your spouse and some time away from your bundle of joy. But the ultimate question becomes: who will you trust to watch the baby? Are you going to be more selective or do you trust anyone in the family who is available?

Consider who you trust, why you trust them, and who you will ask for help when needed.

Conclusion

Phew! That was a lot of things couples should discuss before baby arrives, wasn’t it? The best thing you can do is to set aside time to talk about all of this across the next few months.

Being on the same page with responsibilities, religion, parenting choices, career choices, finances, spousal support, mental health concerns, birth choices, and how to handle relatives, will all be a huge help when the time comes to deal with each of these issues.

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