This week, Savoir Flair puts first-time mom, Qatar-based banker, and one of the region’s best-dressed women Dalia Nsouli in the hot seat as she shares her “as real as it gets” advice and stories on motherhood.
Things will just come naturally.
I wish I was told about how naturally things come and how unnecessary the stress of it all is. I had read so many books and articles on sleep training and breastfeeding before my son’s arrival. All the reading and fretting made me so nervous, and the hardest part was trying to remember it all. But when my son finally arrived, I didn’t apply anything I had read because it all came really naturally. You just know when to feed him, change him, hold him, and love him. Even bathing him and increasing his food intake was natural – the best learning was with practice, and that only comes after becoming a mom. I’m not saying reading is bad, it’s just not as necessary as I was told.
Follow your child’s lead.
He will tell you when he wants more to eat or when he has to be changed. Learn his cues for feeding and sleeping and, once you recognize them, your relationship with your child will be perfect because you both will understand each other – and you will decrease his frustration by meeting his needs. One thing I was worried about is when to increase his food intake, and his doctor always told me that there’s no formula and he’ll let me know. And he really did. Once you learn his expressions, you’ll know just what he wants.
Swaddle in style.
For the first few months, I loved Kissy Kissy. The clothes are made from the lightest and softest Peruvian cotton, which you can easily differentiate from other brands. I also loved the Halo ‘SleepSack Swaddle’, which made it so easy to swaddle my baby and change his diaper because it comes with a zipper. Gerber also owns the onesie brand for the best cotton onesies, and they’re super affordable.
Take life less seriously.
At my son’s age, his biggest hardship is — excuse my language here — passing gas. It makes me think of how quickly life changes, and how burdens and responsibilities rapidly take over the simple joys of life. Adults seem to have back-to-back problems that they need to solve on a daily basis, while babies mostly just worry about relieving themselves. It made me think us adults need to take life a bit less seriously, but I’m sure that’s just wishful thinking.
Babies are stronger than you think.
I was told to keep my baby indoors for the first couple of months, until he was vaccinated, but I couldn’t put my life on hold for two months – nor did I think it was beneficial for him to stay in the same space for that long. I honestly took him out with me to restaurants, supermarkets, and the post office from the time he was three days old. I feel he has become more aware of his surroundings and enjoys looking out of the window, even at two months old. He is more engaging and able to sleep in noisy environments, which is always helpful.
Your life doesn't have to stop just because you had a baby.
Being a mother will probably be the best role you’ll play, but it doesn’t have to be the only one. As a working mom, it was hard to accept that I would have to leave him to go back to work. I took much-needed time off to be with him, but I understood that you don’t stop being a mom when you return to work – just like you don’t stop being yourself when you become a mom. It took time to adjust to my new role and find a balance that worked for me, but the importance is in finding the balance. It’s not about how long it takes to find it. It really is more beneficial to your child if you make sure you don’t lose yourself, just to become a mom. Being a happy mom is the healthier choice for your child.
Get used to being a bit less glamorous than you were before.
I used to dress the way I wanted, when I wanted, and it became what I was known for. It really isn’t like that anymore. For example, now I know I can’t wear that silk shirt between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m., until he feeds and digests his last meal. I’ve gotten soaked in his vomit and my sleeves covered in his poo. My day wardrobe is basically anything waterproof, and the only time I feel I can truly dress as I please is in the evening, when I’m going out without him – not that I mind!
You may not be familiar with what you're feeling.
Although the love is there from the moment you hold them, it’s a different kind of love, one that you haven’t experienced before. You may feel confused or even disappointed that you’re not bursting with raw emotion. But the love is there. Once the meds wear off and you have a moment to let everything sink in, you’ll start to realize this little thing is all yours. As days go by, the love quickly multiplies and you start to miss him when he’s sleeping. You just can’t get enough hugs and kisses. It’s unlike any love you’ve felt before – unlike your first love or the way you love your parents. It’s unchartered territory of the best kind.
Bottle warmers and more — a cute but unnecessary luxury.
Don’t buy shoes for newborns, no matter how cute they are – you’ll never use them. Oh, and don’t buy an infant car seat; buy a convertible one for all ages instead. There’s no point in paying twice! He won’t need toys for a while, so don’t bother with those until he’s at least a few months old. Try to find a bottle sterilizer that dries as well, instead of having things air-dry, which takes a while. I use organic, pure coconut oil as a nappy moisturizer instead of chemical nappy cream. I use it for his massage after every shower, too. It’s also the best solution for cradle cap and newborn peeling. Get a bunch of muslin swaddles – I use them for everything except swaddling! [Laughs] My favorite brand is aden+anais.
Google has all the answers!
Your newborn is weird, as are all humans. They can go on without blinking for hours, or sleep for days without waking up. Their legs are bent in a weird way, and they breathe like they’re 60-year-old chain smokers. It’s all normal! Google anything, and you’ll find a solution for it. There’s really no need to worry or have the doctor on speed dial. The first month is honestly the worst. All your baby does is sleep, eat, and poop – and at very short intervals, too. And you, as a new mother, are just starting to get the hang of things while physically recovering from delivery. The good news is the first month flies by, and you should soon be able to enjoy this little thing you’ve made.