Recently, I reached out to check in on a new mom. A few months ago, she had her first baby. She is in the thick of nighttime feedings and so. many. diaper. changes. Do you remember the rough first year after that first baby? Do you remember how hard of an adjustment that was? I do. Quite clearly. And I am someone who always wanted to be a mother.
I was the little girl who LOVED babies. I was blessed with a big extended family (my dad is the oldest of 11), so there were always babies for me to snuggle. I loved it. I could not wait to be a mom.
And yet, being a mother to a newborn was pretty shocking. It was beautiful and amazing, but incredibly hard.
Let’s focus on the good stuff first.
I remember the excitement of that first pregnancy and the joy on my husbands face when he saw the gender (he would have been happy with either, but a boy?!). I remember prepping the nursery in our 2 bedroom apartment, hours away from our families. Excited and overly-confident in our abilities to parent this little peanut. I mean, how hard could it be?! #ignoranceisbliss
He finally decided to arrive 2 days after his due date. Labor seemed to take forever. And then he was here. And the world stopped. A piece of my heart was sitting in the bassinet beside me. This was my only experience with tears of joy. So heartwarming and amazing and… I don’t know. There’s just no way to describe it.
The night we went home Roman did not sleep at all. I was terrified of co-sleeping so I was rocking him while sitting on the ground. I remember telling Brandon to go to bed at around 445am so we could switch shifts after a while.
Then there were the issues with latching. Breastfeeding is biological, but it’s far from easy. I was sooo close to quitting before my mom came to visit. So much pain. I get goosebumps thinking about it. Thank God for nippleshields and breastfeeding support groups.
I’m proud to say I nursed each of our babies for over a year, but I can understand why some cannot or will not (for a multitude of reasons). As with everything, I think we need to be quicker to ask for help. People want to help. Let them.
The biggest, most surprising part of new parenthood for me was my loss of self. And the confusion that came with it. This didn’t happen right away, it was probably around the 3 month mark.
The little girl whom had wanted a baby forever now had one, but what did that mean for her pharmacy career? What did that mean for her previous identity? How could I be the crazy girl my college friends knew and a mother to this little boy?
Was it okay that I still wanted to rock at everything I tried? I ended up feeling like I was failing at motherhood and work. I missed when he started crawling and I messed up on a residency project. My husband and I were stressed with work and a baby that would not stop crying.
So, you new mamas, know that you’re not alone. That it is both AMAZING and incredibly DIFFICULT. That it’s going to take a while to feel back to yourself. Because your life just changed, your body is now foreign to you, your hormones are going crazy, you are sleep deprived, and then your hair starts falling out. Seriously. That last part is completely unnecessary.
Give yourself some grace. Give your significant other some grace. Get someone to watch the baby so you can take a DAMN nap. I know you need one.
It’ll get better. You’ll figure it out. If you can’t find an answer, call someone with a kid or two under their belt. You learn some tricks.
If all else fails, set that crying baby in the crib for a couple minutes and walk away. New parents are not immune to exhaustion and frustration. It does not make you a bad parent to step away. It makes you a human who knows your limits. Take care of yourself and then you can take care of your baby.
And about your new body, it’s a fricking superhero. You just grew and birthed a flippin human being. That’s a miracle.
You’re doing great mama. Remember that.
With love and light,
P.S. I think dads rock, too.