Hey MIH friends! Please welcome my first guest blogger actress and new mom, Lexi Marman Cowden. She has been my friend for many years and recently wrote this sweet list on 26 things she’s learned being a new mom.   So many moms and dads will be able to relate to her experiences.  Feel free to share what you’ve learned as a new mom as well!  And to thanks Lexi for letting me share this!

Lexi and Layne

Hello everyone! 🙂 Whew! This chapter of my life has been incredible.  No one could have prepared me for the struggle of breastfeeding, the tug on my heart when I hear Layni laugh, the smell of baby poop when it’s on your clothes and the blessings of being a Mom 🙂  I have been asked by some friends for some advice on “being a mom” and I still find that I am learning new things everyday.  Being an only child, I have not been around babies that much!  Needless to say there’s been some hilarious scenarios with being married to a guy who is the oldest of 5 children!  Conversations usually go like this around the house.

Me: Hun, (points to something of Layni.. her eye, her head, her toes, etc etc etc. you get the point) is this normal?

The Hubby: STOP googling things online. Yes. It’s normal.

Me: You don’t even know what I was asking about!

Cowden Family

This happens at least twice a day.  With that being said – I have been Pintresting all things and advice galore along with texting mommy friends & family.  It’s with each advice and feedback I get that I feel more confident and yet more clueless at each time! 🙂  I have been so incredibly lucky to have wonderful family members who answer my texts at 3am and I am officially married to one of the best baby Daddy’s EVER to exist. I thank God everyday for my beautiful little family and for the “life” moments that keep it all real 🙂  Here are some few things I discovered or “wish someone told me/I never knew that” list! In random order! LOL

26 Things I Have Learned Being A New Mom

1) My wonderful neighbor Cee Cee had taught me that babies need to be put to sleep for naps.  I had no idea.  I thought they just fell asleep on their own!  Sometimes when Layni starts fussing, I have to stop and think okay – has she been fed? yes.  diaper changed? yes. has it been more than 3 hours since she had a nap? YES. Then I know she’s tired and overstimulated.  So I wrap her up, rock her a bit and give her a paci and she’s OUT. 🙂 So, thanks to Cee Cee for teaching me that babies need to be told to nap! 🙂 CHECK OUT THE BOOK “THE HAPPIEST BABY ON THE BLOCK” I cannot recommend this book more to new moms!

2) The Leachco Podster and Bobby Lounger has been AMAZING.  Love love love love these!  For tummy time – you can turn your little ones over and it gives great support! I don’t know how I could have survived without these two.  Warning – they can be pretty hot if they are in there for awhile.  Something about the material makes it a bit warm- so be sure to not leave them in there for too long! I have found the Leachco Podster is much easier to wash!

3) Layni has reflux so every time after she drinks from a bottle – we have to hold her up for at least 30 mins!  I have found that the Dr. Browns bottles have been so great!  She doesn’t spit up as much afterwards.  However, there are a lot of pieces to clean out! So when she naps/sleeps – we always prep them so they’re ready to go!

4) ADEN AND ANAIS BLANKETS are incredible! They make me feel very secure because they are “breathable” in case they fall on Layni’s face when she sleeps.  LOVE LOVE LOVE these blankets – I think I splurged and we have over 10 of them. They’re also great to put over the car seat to block the sunlight etc. The swaddle ones seem to be made out of a material that gets a little bit warmer than the other ones. They can be pricey but they’re so worth it.

5)  Breastfeeding.  I found breastfeeding to be harder than the actual C-Section itself.  This was so incredibly hard for me emotionally.  I am not one of those women that can produce a lot of milk and I now know what to do next time to make the process easier!  I am proud to say that I used formula and supplemented with breast milk as much as I could! And we are almost at month 3.  Ladies – do NOT beat yourself up over this.  I was formula fed and I turned out FINE.  If you can do it exclusively – GREAT that’s AMAZING! I wish I could! However, if you can’t don’t let it rob you of the happiness of being with your little one.  I swear babies can tell when their momma’s aren’t happy!

6) Nipple Balms are incredible.  They saved the day for me in the beginning.  Check out “Earth Momma Baby Angel” for their products!

7) Nursing bras.  I learned there’s no point in buying any early in the pregnancy since your na-na’s size will CHANGE!!!! This is why AMAZON PRIME is a God send.  I can order anything I want and it will come the next day! I found that under wire bra’s reduced my production amount.. invest in sport bras! Oatmeal in the morning and Blue Gatorade as well as dark Beer believe it or not all helped!

8) Babies will lose weight right after they are born.  Layni was born 7.1 oz and she dropped more than 10% of her bodyweight (I wasn’t producing enough milk I believe) and some of the nurses made me so worried! When we came home from the hospital, she was too small to fit in so many of her clothes. I cried because I felt like I had failed as a Mom in her losing so much weight. It is NORMAL for babies to lose weight. Don’t stress like I did! She’s now over 10 lbs and such a happy baby!

9) Nursing & C-Section.. all modesty gets completely THROWN out the window.  People came in and out of my room and I eventually just gave up and stopped trying to cover up all the time. There was a nurse that came in and touched my boob and started moving it around while Layni was feeding. I had wanted to be like “Hi! What’s your name Mrs. Woman who I have never met but is now touching my boob?” lol ALL MODESTY was THROWN out the window for me. No one cares.  I kept telling myself repeatedly. They see boobs everyday. No one cares.

10) Target Stores will be your BEST FRIEND for the first few weeks!  I found myself wanting to get out of the house and so I would just go to Target!  They allow women to breastfeed in the store now, even in the shoe aisle if your pretty little heart desires.  But what I really loved about Target besides most of them having a Starbucks, was that there were about 10 screaming babies on a given day and the best part about it is, no one cares. 🙂

11) I became a PRO at doing things with one hand! Everything from making a baby bottle to feeding the dogs with Layni in the other.  It’s pretty amazing how talented we can become at adapting so quickly 😉

12) Strollers.  The choices for strollers nearly gave me a heart attack trying to pick the best ones!  I discovered that I wanted a stroller that would be small and easy to start with since we go out to a lot of places with Layni.  A guy who was obviously a Dad in Buy Buy Baby showed me a stroller that has been a LIFE SAVER.  It’s called Key Fit Chicco  (Thank you to the Rayzor’s!)  This has bought me some time to decide on a bigger stroller,it’s reasonably priced and it’s been SO easy taking Layni places!

13) The Nod.  Parenthood has been a fraternity/sorority that I never knew existed.  There’s the NOD that you will get when you are walking somewhere either out in public, at a store or just anywhere.  It’s the NOD from another parent who totally “gets you”.  You can both acknowledge each other with just a simple nonverbal gesture that says – I know your life. 🙂

14) Back at the hospital – utilize the”DO NOT BOTHER” sign outside your door! We had so many wonderful visitors and nurses that came in, however every 5 mins but there were times when we were woken up by some random helper wanting to know if we wanted a cookie.  When you are sleep deprived, throwing up from the meds – the last thing I wanted was a cookie and someone waking me up out of my sleep deprivation slumber. So ask your nurse to put the sign on your door! 🙂

15) Layni is a noisy sleeper.  She will grunt, laugh and babble in her sleep.  In the beginning I would jolt awake at every sound – no one told me that babies can be so loud when they sleep! It’s hilarious because my vibrating alert alarm *it tells me when there’s aloud nose so I wake up* goes off every 5 mins 🙂 Fun times. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself standing over them, checking if they are breathing every 5 mins as well 🙂

16) Night time sleeping.  I know a lot of people struggle with sleep and getting babies to sleep – we have been super lucky.  My routine goes as follows – around 8pm we give her a bath or etc. Then I swaddle her, give her a paci, rock her for like 2 mins and put her down asleep while she’s awake.  I play music (deep sleep baby on Pandora’s wonderful) and then I turn on the turtle star night-light that we have for her and step out of the room.  Within 10 mins – she’s asleep!  In the beginning, I would wake her up around midnight or 1pm and feed her and then she would sleep until 4 to 5am.  Now, I usually put her down around 8pm and she will sleep until 6am the next morning.  How she does this, I have NO IDEA nor do I know how I got her to do it! She must like her sleep like her momma 😉 (this pattern didn’t start until she was about 2 to 3 weeks old btw!)

17) The role Husband’s play. Justin has been incredible. Not only is he the man of my dreams but he has SO MUCH patience and love. Seeing her Daddy, Layni lights up and they share such a special bond. Layni and Justin are both morning people, it’s adorable. There’s a quote that I saw recently and it said “Love means letting the other one get to sleep in”. This is so true 😉 Justin has been so great because he usually gets up early with Layni and gets her all ready for the day and dresses her up in cute outfits. He reads a part of the bible to her, sings his songs and they watch the dogs run and play out back until I get up. These moments are just priceless and I’m so glad that they have that time together before the day starts!

18) People will want to help. Let them! I’m the first person to admit that I have a hard time in letting people do things for me! One of the coolest things that happened was when Justin’s friend Brian and Heidi surprised us. They weren’t able to stop by and bring us food since they live pretty far away so they had ordered dinner and dessert for us and had it delivered  They have an adorable young boy so know what it’s like to have a newborn! I thought that was so great and I will do that from now on to my friends who have a baby! Many thanks to those to stopped by and brought us lunch/dinner! It meant so much to us and it’s sonice to be able to have company and not have to send poor hubby out to get food all the time! It’s the little things that mean so much in how friends and family can help out! (The Graufman’s, Matt Wallace, Paul Leach, Dave &Katie, Pat McGrath, Paul & Rayshell, Dan, Josh, Jenny & Garrett)

19) Carpel Tunnel during pregnancy. WHAT?!! I would wake up every morning with my fingers locked in place. This was NOT fun for someone who does sign language! It went away after birth – whew! But just a strange pregnancy side effect I had!

20) ICE idea. Layni kept kicking my ribs and there were times it had hurt tremendously! Another great momma suggested ICE. She said to put an ice-cube on the area where Layni was kicking and she would move her feet. IT WORKED! Thank you Abby!

21) Layni LOVES her Rock N’ Play. She sleeps in it next to our bed. We will be moving her to her crib soon but because of her reflux – I feel better having her nearby and the Rock N’ Play is elevated. It helps with her reflux! It also snuggles them in.. she just LOVES it and it’s so small that we take it with us whenever we go out of town! Justin’s parents also got us a Moses basket and that’s wonderful too! It helps them feel safe and protected. I wish I could sleep with her but I felt thatit’s important for Justin and I to have our time together at night as a married couple as we unwind from the day and it’s important for Layni to know that she has her own space. Plus, I’m too paranoid about rolling over on her and not being able to hear! But in the early hours of the morning –sometimes we pick her up and put her  in between us and we all cuddle. My favorite part of the day as a family.

22) SKYNET. So – I finally figured out why my WiFi was acting up. Every time I turn on the baby monitor – it would shut out my WiFi! Note to others, use your computer away from the baby monitor or just don’t use the computer at the same time your are using the monitor.. so strange huh?!

23) Baby Signs! We have been signing and singing to Layni every chance we get! Cutest thing ever is watching Justin sing a song he made up to Layni and watching her reaction. There’s nothing more manly than your husband singing a song about changing a diaper. Seriously! I just love it! We sign “all done!”“hungry?” “mama” “dada” “beautiful” etc. She already knows the sign for“hungry” – when I sign it, she does a little motion with her lips to show that she wants a bottle. It’s pretty amazing to see that they already know this at 2 months! I feel like a happy baby is because of communication.

24) Carriers – it is SO hot where we live so I haven’t been able to use the Boba carriers yet! I use the ERGO and even though it’s a little big to carry around – it’s SO comfortable and cool for Layni. We love it!

25) Music mobile. Our lovely friends Kendall and Darren sent us this awesome tool called the Tiny Love music mobile. It is a LIFESAVER! We use it on her car seat when we go out to places. It can play on mute or with music. There’s SOMETHING about these little animals on the mobile that makes Layni laugh and squeal with delight when she sees them. Thank you guys!

And last but not least – my final advice is to not listen to all the advice someone may give you! Haha. People do mean well! But I have learned that every baby is different so things that may work for you – may not work for another! We were told such great, loving advice but we were also told “Good LUCK!” or “Your life is over” and our personal fav “You’ll never be able to go out again!” Justin & I must not be normal because we have had such a wonderful time on this journey. We have been able to go out to nice fancy places for date night with Layni and we have done some traveling already! We are enjoying this stage as long as we can! And we look forward to the ones to come.

When people ask me how “Motherhood” is, my response is this – My heart is not in my body anymore, it’s her. And I never truly understood that or the love that comes with being a mom. It makes me feel so close to my mom who is in Heaven! I was wondering how I could include my mom in this part of my life and a friend suggested that every Christmas or on Layni’s birthday to have an extra little present from “Grandma” from Heaven.. and I think that’s just beautiful advice I am going to follow (Thank you Hayley!)

Actress & Mom Lexi Marman Cowden on the Red Carpet

Lexi is an actress, mom and former Miss Deaf California . For more information go to leximarman.com