Actually Solicited Advice: Things I Wish Someone Told Me During My First Year As A Mom

Over a decade of life as a mom has taught me a few things.

Written by Katie Cloyd
Advice for the first year of being a mom.

From the minute I shared my desire to become a mom, unsolicited advice started rolling in on all sides. Sure I learned a few things — but every nugget of unsolicited advice was not made of gold. When I confided that we were trying for our first, one frazzled mom of two toddlers absolutely terrified me by rambling off a list of every stressful, frustrating thing she had ever encountered as a mom up to that point. It was a lot.

I’m not a new mom anymore: I have three kids and over a decade of life as a mom under my belt. By now, I’ve learned a few things I actually wish someone had told me from the moment I saw two pink lines on that FIRST RESPONSE™ Early Result test.

Here’s some of the advice I wish I had gotten when I was starting out as a brand-new mom.

1. Motherhood starts with two pink lines. Spring for the good test.

You’ll hear people say that all pregnancy tests are the same. Sure, maybe they all test for the pregnancy hormone, but I promise you, they’re not all the same. Finding out that you’re pregnant will be one of the most emotional moments of your life. You’ll want a test you can trust.

FIRST RESPONSE™ Early Result Test is my gold standard test. I never even considered myself pregnant until an “FRER” said so. Skip the others and grab that pink box. It detects the pregnancy hormone six days earlier*, and they even have a free compatible app to reassure you of your test results and help you determine whether your faint line means a baby is coming.

2. Worry is normal — serious anxiety is not.

Real talk: You’re going to worry a bit from minute one. There’s no getting around it. When you find out you’re carrying the baby you’ve hoped for, you’ll start looking for reassurance. You’re going to want to test more than once because seeing that beautiful positive test is its own kind of magic every single time.

FIRST RESPONSE™ Comfort Check Pregnancy Test is a game-changing kit that includes multiple tests to put your newly-pregnant mind at ease. Brilliant!

Of course, the worry won’t stop there. Once your baby is born, it’s inevitable that you’re going to look at this tiny person and wonder if you’re properly equipped to keep them safe and happy. Normal.

What is not normal is intense anxiety that impairs your ability to live in comfort. Intrusive thoughts, inability to sleep, panic attacks, and abject terror are NOT just part of your new life. Postpartum mood disorders are real and treatable. Talk to your health care provider at the first sign that something is not right.

3. Your baby’s temperament is not your fault, or your accomplishment.

If your newborn sleeps five hours, eats like a champ, and spends their first year being an absolute dream, count your blessings — but stay humble. Chances are you’re an excellent mom, but that laid back baby was born like that.

On the other hand, life could give you a high-needs baby who can’t sleep independently, doesn’t want to eat on a schedule you can discern, and spends their first year testing every single limit of your patience and sanity. Chances are you’re an excellent mother, too! Your high-need baby was born like that — and it will get easier.

4. There’s no such thing as the “best” diaper, car seat, or, well, anything.

With very few exceptions, there is no such thing as the “best” baby thing. The best diaper is the one that fits your baby and your budget. The best car seat is the one that’s compatible with your vehicle. Everyone has their own preferences, but there is no reason to spend money you aren’t comfortable spending or go out of your way to use whatever your best friend used just because she swears it's better than everything else.

But there is a best pregnancy test by far. That, I stand by. I took TWENTY-THREE pregnancy tests over the course of my first week knowing I was pregnant with my daughter — so trust me, I have done my independent, unofficial pee-on-a-stick research. If I was doing it today, I’d grab a FIRST RESPONSE™ Triple Check Pregnancy Test Kit and verify my good news three ways. Seeing YES on that digital screen is a thrill like no other.

5. There are LOTS of weird skin and body things that can happen to a newborn.

When my baby presented with a scary looking red rash with yellow spots, I rushed her to the pediatrician, certain that something absolutely horrible was happening to my precious angel. The doctor took a quick glance said, “Oh. Yeah, this is normal. It will go away.” That rash was called erythema toxicum neonatorum, and it’s one of about a zillion weird-but-harmless things that can show up on a baby.

Call your doctor every single time you have a question, but try to keep your panic at bay. When it comes to babies, things can sometimes look a little scary, but they’re almost always totally fine.

6. Just say no to PJs with snaps.

Snaps — and I cannot stress this enough — are a no-go. If the cutest pajamas you’ve ever seen have snaps, put them back on the rack. If someone gives you even one pair of pajamas with snaps, question their loyalty.

Trying to correctly snap a baby back into their jammies at 3 a.m. should be part of the test for MENSA membership. Just get zipper jammies or knotted gowns. If you ignore everything else I say, trust me on this.

7. It’s going to be hard, but you’re doing a good job.

There’s a good chance that at some point during your first year as a mom, you’re going to find yourself sitting in the dark with a screaming baby wondering what you’re missing. You might even be crying yourself. Sometimes figuring out what your baby needs is next to impossible. Sometimes they don’t need anything. It’s just hard being brand new.

Even in those trying, emotional moments when you feel like you aren’t getting it right, you are. You’re doing a good job. Nobody actually gets it perfect, but to your baby, your arms are the safest, most comforting place in the world, and just being there with them to help them through the toughest moments is enough.

8. There’s no way to enjoy every minute — but you’ll look back and love the memories.

The most annoying advice anyone gave me by far was to “enjoy every minute.” Not only is it unrealistic, but it’s completely unfair. You’re going to enjoy a lot of it. (I promise.) Watching your baby become is one of the most incredible things you’ll ever bear witness to.

But you won’t enjoy it all. Nobody likes dealing with diapers, spit-up, sleepless nights, or those first toddler tantrums. Motherhood is beauty and magic, but it’s also ordinary and even lonely sometimes.

You can’t possibly make every moment feel like joy and bliss, but you’re still going to look back on your pregnancy and that first sleepy, happy year as a mom with a fondness that you’ve never known. You’ll never love a hard job more.

*FIRST RESPONSE™ Early Result Test detects the pregnancy hormone six days earlier than your missed period. In laboratory testing, the Early Result Pregnancy Test detected pregnancy hormone levels in 76% of pregnant woman five days before their expected period.