Making a baby is hard work, yo. But the hardest part comes after that sweet little bundle comes home. The day we were discharged I kept thinking…”This is really happening? They are actually going to let me take this itty bitty thing home? Shit just got real.”
I really thought I had prepared myself for what life was going to be like with a new baby. Afterall, I had babysat pretty much my entire life, nannied all through college, even lived in for a while, I majored in Early Childhood Ed! But in all honesty I had no effing clue what we were in for. A while back I shared some things that I had learned as a new mommy, but that was only the beginning.
As the Hubs and I continue discussions about going through this all again, I am quite confident that adjusting to life with a newborn will not be as challenging the second time around because I know so much more than I did before she got here. And I have adjusted my expectations to a more realistic level.
There is so much that I wish I had known before my disgustingly adorable daughter came into the world, that no one bothered to tell me. I really wish that close Mommy friends, or family would have shared how it really is. Instead everyone tells you the Hollywood version of Motherhood. And that it is beautiful and blissful. It’s not like that 100% of the time. I have learned so much about this new role in my life, so much that I could write a book…but I will share my biggies…
Biggie number 1: No matter how many books you read, or classes you go to. You don’t know what the hell you are doing. No clue. It’s fly by the seat of your pants time now that you are home with a baby. A real for real baby that cries all the time and poops all over you (YES it happens). You won’t know why she is crying, and you will try everything that your hormonal, exhausted brain can think of. And it still won’t fix it. Just know that you don’t know what to do. Until you do. Also know that you are a great Mommy, and you are doing an amazing job. It will also be impossible to ask for help. So just take it when it’s offered. Take people up on their offer to help. No one cares that you have not showered for days…they are there to hold the baby…so that you can shower, and eat. And sleep.
Biggie number 2: You might want to leave. Some days you will want to leave, and never come back. Somedays you will want to just take the baby and go. Sometimes you will want to not be married and not be a mom. You will imagine yourself in a cabin in the woods, where no crying babies live. Or in a tiny town by the sea, with no husbands and no babies. You would never actually leave, but the daydream keeps you sane. Or you will tell your husband to leave…like I did the first weekend home. Thank god he came back! Side note: I told him to go to the gym, and that I needed to be alone. Not to leave forever.
Biggie number 3: You will probably get depressed. Big time. As in don’t leave the house, why bother showering, don’t even think about touching me, depressed. And because you have thoughts of leaving, and you are exhausted you have zero filter, and spew a verbal vomit of hateful things to your partner; things you don’t actually mean…because they are mean. You get through it, but you can’t get through it alone. PPD is serious, and if you are feeling down…please, please, please talk to your partner, a friend and fellow mommy, your OB/GYN, someone…you don’t have to deal with it alone. I was silent way too long. Until I wasn’t and I could have done some serious damage to my marriage with the above verbal vomit. I am thankful I have an amazing Hubs. I shared my PPD struggles here but in truth, I struggled more in silence than I anyone knows.
Biggie number 4: Motherhood isn’t all encompassing. Nor should it be. Don’t lose yourself in the mounds of laundry and diapers. Having a standing coffee date with a friend, and talk about non-mommy things. In fact institute a “No baby talk policy”…that way you are free to dish on the latest celeb gossip, new book you are reading…oh yeah…read books. Do something for yourself, by yourself. When I finally opened up to The Hubs about how I was feeling, I told him I felt like the person I was before my daughter was born was dead, like she no longer existed. She was lost and I couldn’t find her. (Good news…I found her in Florida and she came home with me. :))
Biggie number 5: You will feel guilty. All. The. Time. For no damn reason, and for the stupidest things. I spent months agonizing over my milk supply. My daughter had SUA, and IUGR and “it was my fault” was the lie I kept telling myself. Clearly I had done something wrong. Not only that but she has Polydactyly on her right hand…meaning she has an extra finger. Yep…that is the first time I have mentioned it here because…I feel immense guilt about it and I still do every damn time I look at it. So let go of the Mommy Guilt, it will all be ok. And don’t worry about screwing up your kid…WE ARE ALL SCREWED UP.
Biggie number 6: You might not fall in love with your baby right away. You might have a shitty birth experience, like me, and be a bit traumatized and drugged for a while. You might feel like you are no longer connected to your baby because she is not physically a part of you. Just remember that she is now a spiritual part of you and that it will come. You might be sitting up with her at 2am one night and the love will reach out and smack you in the face. And then you will love the shit out of her. She will be the most amazing, and awesome creature you’ve ever met.
Biggie number 7: You might miss being pregnant. You will miss the connection, and the comfort. It’s hard to explain, but a lot of women experience it. It’s totally normal. For me, I felt disconnected from her…and even though she was there for me to hold, I had a hard time adjusting to her being in the world.
Biggie number 8: Find a mommy tribe. And don’t just stay with the first one that you check out (I happen to still be with my same group, but did check out one other and it just wasn’t for me). Make it new people that you don’t know. Find your tribe, and get real with them. Seriously. My mommy tribe mommies are the most amazing, supportive, beautiful, non-judgemental women and our babies are all besties…or BF/GF. Our group is changing, 2 of our mommies and babies are moving away and change is hard. I will miss them so very much. Oh, and stay away from Mommy groups online…for real. They are nothing but drama, and you don’t need that.
Biggie number 9: Get active as soon as possible…be a mall walker, join a gym, get outside if you can. Don’t sit inside and be alone. It’s no good for either of you. I seriously cannot stress this one enough. Remember: endorphins make you happy.
Biggie number 10: You might not like being a mom sometimes. You might have regret for the decision to procreate, and you might resent your child, especially when it’s at 2 am and you are beyond exhausted. But that is only .01% of the time…the rest of the time is filled with bliss and sunshine and rainbows…oh wait…no it’s not…that’s the cartoons that you will watch! Motherhood is hard for real…but it can be a blissful time if you let it. It does get a bit easier. I am sure that there are Moms out there that have been in the trenches a lot longer than I that will say it does not get easier…but I think it has gotten tremendously easier. Or perhaps I am finally getting the hang of this.
Much of this post was written in jest, but there is a lot of truth to it. This journey is a challenging one, but one that I love more than anything in the world. My daughter is everything to me and I love the crap out of her.