Lifestyle newborn photos | Lorin Marie Photography
Lifestyle newborn photos 2 | Lorin Marie Photography

Before Madison was born, I would have said that I loved when my hubby said sweet things to me (love language = words of affirmation) and that I enjoyed cooking and eating delicious dinners from various cuisines - Southern, Italian, Mediterranean - yum! While I still enjoy both of those things, there are ways that becoming a mother changes what you appreciate. Words of affirmation are still great but acts of service - yes please! And while I still LOVE a delicious, hot-cooked meal, a granola bar can go a LONG way when you're hungry and trying to eat after/before your baby eats (again lol). That, along with a few new things, have come to be greatly cherished as the mama of a 4-month-old.

1. Naps - Because, yes, when your baby is sleeping, you should be too! It's easy to say and hard to do sometimes but snoozing while Maddie is napping makes sure I'm refreshed and ready to care for her when she wakes up. Naps for the win!

2. One-handed foods - Things I can easily grab while nursing or holding your baby like granola bars, cut-up veggies and hummus to dip, trail mix, crackers, smoothies, chocolate. Yes, chocolate is a key food post-partum. Now if anyone questions for affinity for the dark, milk, creamy treat, you can say you read on the internet that is practically mandatory for new mamas to have some every day :) Budget Bytes has easy step-by-step directions for making freeze-ahead smoothie packs. I made tons of these while I was pregnant so now all I have to do when you I the hankering for one is to dump it into the blender, add milk and blend!

3. Refillable water bottle - Y'all, breastfeeding will make you thirsty. It's like your little one is sucking out your water intake when she eats! I carry my refillable bottle with me from room to room throughout the house so it's always within reach (or Dean will bring it upstairs for the times I forget. Acts of service alert!). I like this one from Target - although the mouth piece does get cloudy and needs to be cleaned regularly.

4. Baby tracker app - Seasoned mamas may laugh at this buut I find it super helpful to have something track and remember the hour-by-hour details of Madison's day. So when the nurse asks, "How many wet diapers has she had over the past week?" I don't have to somehow keep of tally of those in my head, I can quickly pull it up on my phone. Feed Baby is fabulous (for Android users). We upgraded to the paid version - I think it was $2.99 - and it is worth it. From baths, naps and diaper changes to feed times, average hours slept and medicines taken, you can take your little one's growth quickly and easily all in one spot.

5. BF station - I wouldn't have thought to set this up before I started nursing Madison but this post from Val Marie Paper led me to do some more pre-baby nesting. This is lovely for making nursing a relaxing, enjoyable time - having everything you may need all in one spot. In Madison's nursery, my breastfeeding station is situated on a small table next to our glider with a ta breastfeeding pillow (for my top pick, see my post here), a current book or devotional I'm ready, extra nursing pads, a burp cloth and granola bars in a basket below. I also try to keep my cell phone charger nearby so it doesn't go dead during a long feed.

6. Baby monitor - We originally thought we would go without a monitor but after Madison was born, we realized how helpful it would be to have one. Especially living in a two-story home, having a monitor makes it easy to be downstairs but safely keep track of Madison while she's napping. We decided not to move Maddie out of our room and into her big-girl crib until we bought a monitor. There are tons of options out there but we decided to go with the Summer Infant In View Digital Monitor and it's been great to us for the past two months.

7. Nursing pads - Some mamas may prefer to have reusable pads but I've found they do not do justice to the disposable pads. The Target brand is fairly inexpensive and you get quite a bit for your money, especially if you only need to change out your pads once a day.

8. Coffee - I can't believe this is number 8 on the list! But I think I hadn't had any when I started typing out this post and so, those it's not eighth in priority, it's late in making it on my radar ha. Although these days it's usual decaf, or maybe half-caf, coffee makes the world go round. Or at least it really, really, really helps me get up, feel energized and get through the day with a little more pep in my step. SO many options - iced coffee, a warm latte, cold leftover coffee from hours earlier (because, you have children, who will inevitability start crying/need a diaper change/need to eat as soon as you finish brewing it and pour it in your cup!). I'll take it any way!

9. Date night - Getting out and having quality time with just Dean has been such a refreshing thing for me, for our relationship and our role as parents. Being able to leave Madison with trusted family or friends so we can enjoy a few precious hours together is one of the biggest blessings. Becoming a parent changes your whole world, and though the uninterrupted hours together are more, well, interrupted these days, we wouldn't have it any other way. It just makes the time we do have together sweeter and more meaningful. It's been fun to do things for date nights that we can't do as easily when we have Madison - like riding go-karts (although, DON'T WEAR A DRESS like I did haha), playing arcade games and sampling beers at a local brewery. The two best things I've learned are to schedule our date nights and to be flexible if things are shorter/different that planned, it's still a date night!

10. Support - From your spouse, family, friends and other mams, support is so crucial to thriving in this crazy new motherhood role. I am so thankful that God has brought new couples who have kids and new mams with babies near Maddie's age into our lives. We are grateful for their encouragement, advice, tips and getting together with people who just get the joys, frustrations and wonderfulness of parenting.

BONUS: Buy funnyman and father of five Jim Gaffigan's audio book Dad is Fat. It is hilarious. You will laugh, and cry from laughing so hard. Dean and I have listened to it so many times in the car and can't get enough of the hilarious-because-it's-trueness of it!

I'd love to know - new mamas and seasoned mamas, what things do you now love after becoming a mama?

If you liked this, check out my top 10 must-haves for a newborn!