Finally, she was here. Those nine months waiting for her to make her appearance to the world were the longest of my life. I had daydreamed about what it was going to be like to hold her in my arms for the first time, to read and sing to her every day, to put her in all those teeny, tiny outfits I had bought for her.
And then, reality hit. She was here. To stay. Life would never be the same. And I felt so unprepared. Even though I was overjoyed and filled to the brim with love for our child, I simultaneously felt sad and overwhelmed by it all.
Here are four things I wished someone had told me about being a new mom.
1. Breastfeeding is hard
It’s the most basic and natural thing in the world, right? Well, turns out, not really. At least it wasn’t for me. Our baby had a tough time getting the hang of it, and so did I. I was exasperated, tense, and even had to resort to spoon-feeding her for a few days. We eventually got it but she was a slow eater. Each nursing session took at least an hour — maybe even an hour and a half — at eight feedings a day, I felt like a dairy cow.
For many moms, breastfeeding simply isn’t an option. And that’s OK! There’s nothing wrong with formula, so don’t give yourself a hard time if you need to go that route. The most important thing is that your baby is getting fed!
2. Baby blues are a real thing
My midwife had warned me about how I would likely experience hormonal changes during the weeks after delivering our baby, resulting in moodiness and sadness. But for some reason, I didn’t really believe it would happen to me. However, soon after our bundle of joy arrived, my emotions took a nosedive. Thankfully, it didn’t last terribly long, and while it was happening, I had people in my life I could talk to about how I was feeling. I also had an incredibly supportive and patient husband who tried to understand what I was going through. If you’re feeling blue, know that you don’t have to go it alone. Reach out and talk with someone about how you’re feeling; it really does help. If you’ve been down for more than a few weeks, you may be experiencing postpartum depression. If this is the case, please talk with your doctor about finding help that’s right for you.
We have free and confidential mentors ready to support you.
3. You’re no longer just you
Suddenly, as a new mom, your every thought revolves around keeping this helpless little creature alive. Sure, your partner is in charge, too, but for many moms, we’re still the ones taking the lead. We stay home with the baby while our partners go to work so we’re more in tune with our baby’s needs. Plus, logistically, if you’re breastfeeding, you’re going to be stuck on the couch for a while, nursing endlessly. For me, I battled resentment every day, especially in those first few months. My husband had a whole world outside of the home, while I didn’t. I felt stuck, like I had totally lost my identity. My independence fell to the wayside. I was now only “Mom.”
I wish I could say I communicated my feelings openly and honestly to my husband, but in truth, I mostly bottled them up. I felt guilty for yearning for my old life and for being jealous of my husband. I didn’t want to admit I was feeling this way. Afterall, a baby is what we had been hoping and praying for. I should just suck it up, right? Eventually, I did talk to my husband about what I was feeling. It’s amazing what happens when you get things off your chest! I felt so much better. Even though my resentment didn’t magically disappear, at least I could be honest about it and work through it with him.
4. It does get easier
In those first few months, when sleep was a luxury, I felt like life as a parent would never cease to be exhausting. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still exhausting — but it’s not quite as intense. Eventually, my body got used to the rhythm. I accepted this new way of life.
And most of all, our baby is growing up. She doesn’t wake up at night anymore. She’s quirky and animated. She’s such a little go-getter. Seeing her grow and develop makes it all worth it. I fall more in love with her every day. So, for those of you in the trenches of new-motherhood, take heart. It only gets better from here!
Please know that you don't have to journey alone. You can connect with one of our free and confidential mentors for support and a listening ear. Just use the form in the "Connect" tab below.
This article was written by: Leanne JanzenPhoto Credit: Chiến Phạm