“I’m Pregnant I’m not dying”
Looking back over 5 years later I see I was right in only one regard, I didn’t die! But the things I used to do, the places I used to go and some of the people I used to spend my time with all changed. I couldn’t put my high heels on and head out for a drink with the same people anymore. First time motherhood, even second time motherhood, can be daunting, it can be isolating, lonely and downright hard. The world doesn’t prepare you for those parts. The media shows you the happy celebrities doting on their little children, they write nannies into story lines and babies right out of the scenes it would be inconvenient to have them around for. Our parents recall the happy times of becoming a mom, they tell us of the love they had for us and remind us not to let the moments pass by because the go by “so fast” our friends with older children remember the baby snuggles, the happy belly giggles, they share photos of when their children were little looking longingly over them as they catch a whiff of the teenagers gym socks and remind us to enjoy the less stinky stage.
But so little of this prepares us for what its like in the moment. So here are some of my honest opinions and to do’s:
Becoming a new mom is HARD. If you don’t have a mommy support system get one, go to the mommy and baby groups and meet other moms who are there in the trenches too, they are literally the only people who know how hard it is to get the baby or babies out to the grocery store today! Sometimes we need to vent to someone who is there too, and not be told to enjoy it! Even now, I know I am not the best form of advice or listening ear to brand new moms; you really need someone who is right there with you feeling the same things as you at the same time.
Becoming a new mom is BUSY. In the first few weeks and months life will be a blur. I honestly do not have much recollection thru the first two weeks. I look back on pictures and think wow I really don’t remember that part. Apart from being tired, there were doctors appointments, mine and the babies, healthcare workers visits to the house, a whirlwind of people coming to see the girls and get their snuggles in. There were newborn photos and family photos, baby showers and so much laundry. Its all new and there isn’t really anything you can do to change it, and if your baby requires extra support, or is in the hospital for an extended period, or there is anything that throw a “hiccup” into the mix then its likely that your busy is even more busy than others.
Becoming a new mom is LONELY. Put yourself out there, its tough on day one, its scary, it’s intimidating, but it’s necessary. Find out where other new moms are hanging out, sign up for mommy and me groups, join online groups, locally and internationally, it makes life a lot easier to vent together about how HARD this whole parenting journey is, than sit and think all that stuff to yourself.
Becoming a new mom is EXHAUSTING. We are tired all the time; there is no measurement to adequately describe the exhaustion a new parent faces. Nap when the baby naps is literally the worst advice you can receive.
Do however do what you can do to rest, and try not to feel guilty for just sitting down for a while. Hire a cleaning service, or other support so you don’t accidentally put the milk in the cupboard, or inadvertently mop the floor with the cat! Here we have a postpartum service that is subsidized to support new moms with cleaning, grocery pick up, and light meal preparation. Something like it might be available in your area too if you do the research! Ask for help. I know better than anyone that its hard to ask for help, but if you leave a clean laundry basket on the living room floor it will get folded, with out having to do the actual asking part. Grandmas and neighbors do want to help and if its there they will just go to the folding naturally! And STOP scrolling Pintrest – There is no way to have a magazine worthy house and nursery and have a brand new baby or babies at home, (if you do and you are not exhausted I commend you and please share your secrets!!) Seriously those receiving blankets DO NOT need to be rolled or shaped into a swan in a cute basket in order for them to do the job of receiving puke. (A lesson I learned too late) seriously shove those things in a drawer and put your feet up because laundry done!
Becoming a new mom is CONFUSING. There is a rush of information flooding toward us, even reading this is putting bias and opinion on you as a new mom. There are constant reminders that no matter what we do there will be an opinion out there that contradicts it. Breastfeed or bottle, co sleep or crib, Cry it out or soothe, and the to do lists are endless, read to your baby, listen to classical music, pierce their ears before they can remember, cloth diaper your baby, start food at 4 months, 6 months 1 year.
Becoming a new mom is FULL TIME. There is no break; of course your doting husband, friendly neighbors, and adoring family are all there to help you. They’ll hold the baby so you can take a minute to eat alone, but that baby is going to cry and need to eat too, insert boob here. They will offer to sit with baby so you can have a nap, insert nightmare of rolling on your baby in your sleep, even if you don’t co-sleep, like, ever!! They will offer to stay at the house with the baby so you can go out for a quick coffee run (like the real stuff with the steam and the flavors and all the jazz) or grab a few groceries sans crying baby in the grocery cart with the broken wheel. Insert every worst-case scenario and fear all the while continuously checking the rearview mirror gasping as you think you’ve forgotten the baby in the frozen foods isle.
Becoming a new mom is AMAZING. I can’t leave out the joyful parts, because we get wonderful times too even in all the new scary parts. We get snuggles, the connection to our new baby. We get to look down at this amazing little human we created and see their unconditional love stare back at us.
Of course all this might not be the truth for all new moms, or dads, but it was my reality. It was my husband’s reality too, waking up in a panic asking where the babies were? Even though they were soundly sleeping tucked in to their cribs when we drifted to dream land. It’s a tough job and not one for the faint at heart; it’s all of these things and more. No one solution alone is the answer to the equation. New moms will always look back and think about things they could have done differently. We all just have to muddle thru it and realize that one day it will change again. Soon we will discover all the ways being an “old pro mom” is all of these things too!
Above all this is just a small part of what becoming a mom is like, it’s a small piece to an ever growing and changing puzzle, new research will come out tomorrow to tell us we’ve done it all wrong. All we can do as new moms, dads, veteran parents, grandparents, and caregivers alike is what is best for the little being we are raising, take from that ever growing puzzle the pieces that fit into your own story and leave the rest.