Man oh man does it feel like a different lifetime when I considered myself a new mom! Everything was NEW! The baby in my arms was the best part of the newness but along with all of that awesomeness there were these other feelings that I didn’t expect to feel. Friends and family are so awesome because they are always rallying around you when you are pregnant, due any day and then when they come to meet the new baby – everyone talks about how amazing and awesome it is. And it is! It is so amazing to hold that little human being that you helped create and sustained for 9 long months. What you rarely get told is how much your life, your body and your mental state will change once you have had the baby. I think in part it is because our natural response over time is to block out the difficult moments and only remember those tiny little fingers curled around yours, that new baby smell and the warm fuzzy feeling of that little beating heart on your chest as you lay them on your chest.
I wish someone had talked to me about all of these other feelings I would feel when I had my first born. The fatigue, the sleepless nights, the self-doubt and most importantly the feeling that you have lost a part of yourself somewhere. There are so many of us that would be helped with knowing this and knowing that all of this is perfectly normal. We all feel it and it is ok to ASK FOR HELP! Some of us have family that live close by or friends like family that will be there in a heartbeat for you. Taking that helping hand is by no means an admission of defeat or failure. I think and would really like for you all to believe that acknowledging when you need help comes from a position of strength. Allow those folks into your life – let that friend snuggle with your new baby while you take a hot shower, enjoy a meal take a nap or ALL of the above. My boys are now almost 5 and 3 and trust me I would totally be there for a friend in a heart beat if I could smell that new baby smell and get some bonus snuggles while she got some much needed rest.
Another struggle for me was being this new adult – someone responsible for raising another human. My husband and I were borderline shocked that they let us walk out of the hospital with this little human that was dependent on us for everything. I don’t think marriage, buying a new home, moving across the world or any of those gazillion milestones made me grow up as fast as this one milestone did. I suddenly was responsible for making decisions for my baby and protecting him. I had so many questions the top most being how do I know what he needs? Is he hot? Is he hungry? What clothes do I put him in? Am I changing his diaper enough times? Ugh…. the list went on! By default everything else that had been top priority shifted down so many notches. This included time with my husband. You start to feel like you are losing a part of yourself and that connection with your spouse becomes second to the most important person in your lives. It is so important to have a supportive partner through this. Someone that will continue to make you his number one priority while you continue to ignore all of your own primary demands. Rely on your partner and communicate with him what you need from him as you both become that amazing team to raise your own tiny little human.
Mother of all pressures was of course nourishing my baby! For all first time moms, nursing is obviously the newest and probably the most stressful aspect of becoming a mother. Please don’t let the pressures of the world and society add to your stress. I am a true believer of “Fed is Best”. Your baby is the happiest and most content when their mama is focused on loving them. It doesn’t really matter if you nurse or formula feed. My baby was born 5.5 weeks early and the crushing pressure of knowing that making sure his weight gain was in line with what was expected and rested solely on me was almost too much to bear. Know that there are other resources out there that you can use, lactation consultants that will come home to consult with you and some are even covered by your insurance. Use the resources at your hospital to the best that you can – I talked to every lactation consultant for the 2 days that I was at the hospital even if it was the same question it was great to hear different perspectives and learn from what I heard.
And lets not forget about our body – nothing is where it is supposed to be postpartum. I remember taking long walks with my new born in a stroller willing the pounds away. Eating right, eating healthy and working out seemed like the right formula to get back to pre-pregnancy weight! The kicker however was that even when I got back to pre-pregnancy weight things never quite went back to being EXACTLY the same as what it was before having kids. BUT that is not necessarily a bad thing. Embrace the new you – with all the stripes that you have earned and find a new healthy groove that keeps your endorphins elevated and your happiness hormones at an all time high. Find something that is just for you that makes you happy whether it is an hour of yoga, 30 min of trash TV or 45 min of a high energy work out. Happy Mom, Happy Baby!
Seek out friends and other new moms that you can talk to. While this may not seem realistic right away – once you start to feel a little settled in your new routine find other moms in the same stage/phase of life. You may meet them in various walks of life – at your kids day care, at a play gym, or at work. Surround yourself with a support network that not only understands where you are coming from but will also uplift and support you when you need it the most. Most of all know that this too shall pass – the days are long, but the years are short. Words that I would have never understood before becoming a mother myself.
The one thing I have learned over the years is that no matter what, you should know that YOU ARE ENOUGH. So many moments of self doubt and thinking “Did I do enough today? Did they feel loved today? But, I know for a fact that no matter what was going on in the day and regardless of how messy and matted my hair looked, that the house looks like a hurricane went through it, if I got down on the floor, played with my kids and engaged with them, I nailed it!!
My years of being a new mom may be behind me but I promise you this that no matter how old they get I am always learning new things EVERY SINGLE DAY! They have kept their promise of making me feel like a new mom and an amateur and for that I am weirdly thankful. Because just when you think they will zig …. they zag.