Motherhood is truly amazing and the most important role you will have in your life. With that being said, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies –it’s really, really, HARD.
Like most first-time moms I did all the research. I made sure I had a healthy pregnancy, bought the best stroller, bassinet, car seat, swing, bottles, clothes, crib, decorated her room, and bought more clothes. But what I did not think about was the tools I would need to successfully breastfeed, how overwhelming and exhausting the first few weeks could be, how to prep for delivery/recovery, and how lonely the first few months would really feel. I wish I knew I was about to meet someone entirely new and I’m not talking about my baby. I’m talking about me.
This is not to scare anyone but to give an honest perspective as to what it was really like as a first-time mom. You are not alone.
There is so much more to breastfeeding.
Once I delivered our first daughter via C-Section at 38 weeks, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. It was important to me, but I had no clue how much really went into it. I thought babies just know how to suck. The word “latch” or “let down” was not something I was knowledgeable about, nor did I know it could take 3-7 days for my milk to come in. It was extremely discouraging and overwhelming! The nurses at the hospital made me feel guilty about supplementing; they wanted me to keep trying. Without going into too much detail about breastfeeding, their suggestions were right. You do need to nurse as much as possible to encourage your milk to come in. (We will save the rest for a later post.)
I wish I knew that it was OKAY to supplement with formula those first few days. I wish I knew that it would NOT affect my breastfeeding journey. I wish I knew that my baby wouldn’t have screamed the first 5 days of life. I wish I knew FED IS BEST!
It’s okay to ask for help!
This was a hard concept for me to accept. I am an independent, strong-willed person. I don’t like to rely on anyone for really anything. When we brought Emi home, I thought- I can do this! I only have one baby; maternity leave is like a vacation. Well boy was I wrong! My days were spent managing the newness of caring for a tiny human, breastfeeding, identity and body struggles, hormonal crashes, and maintaining this “new” relationship with my husband. The pressure and expectations I put on myself eventually broke me. I was completely overwhelmed. I needed help, I needed to go for a walk alone, I needed to shower without jumping out every 3 minutes because you think you hear the baby crying. I wanted to get my nails done, go to the gym, I just wanted to feel like ME.
Once I tucked my tail in-between my legs and expressed what I needed, and how I felt to my husband, friends, and family, it was life changing. ASK FOR THE HELP! You’re not a supermom because you “can do it all” You are a supermom because you are strong enough to know when to ask for support.
It can be lonely.
You might think that having a newborn that’s basically attached to your body 90% of the day you could never feel lonely. But it’s the complete opposite. I had expected some of this, but it was more isolating than what I could have prepared myself for. While millions of other moms have gone through this, I felt like no one understood what it was like for ME. I felt extremely disconnected from everyone. Once the new baby visits are over, and your husband goes back to work, you’re home alone with no human interaction, trying to keep a little crying baby alive. For me, the loneliness was heightened. I lived about 4 hours away from my family and friends. My mom and sister, thankfully, were able to visit often. But during that time, I remember feeling like my mom was the only “mom friend” I had. She was the only other person I was close to who had a baby. She was the only one who had suggestions and answers to little questions such as; What does yellow poop mean? Does this sound like colic? Is 3 months too early to be teething? What swaddle should I use? Etc. I wish I knew the importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded moms whether in person or through social media. I wish I knew that this isolating feeling was normal. I wish I knew that SO many other moms understood.
Hair loss and hormonal sweats.
This was a huge wakeup call! I had no idea the amount of hair you lose. I’m talking about the handfuls of hair coming out in the shower. You’ll find hair in your baby’s diaper, all over your rugs, in the dog’s paws, everywhere! I was shocked I still had hair on my head. Fast forwarded a few months, you will see all of that hair growing back. And if you are anything like me, you will basically look like you are growing horns.
Nighttime sweats- this happened to me with my first daughter. Night after night I would wake up soaked in sweat (and possible breast milk). I would have to change the sheets every day! Thank you, hormones. Don’t worry, it goes away within a few weeks.
Your instincts are always the best choice.
No one knows your baby like you. You know each cry, grunt, and noise. You are the only one who innately knows if there is something wrong with your baby. I wish I knew to trust my instincts more. Overall, Emilia was a good baby and still is, besides her “threenager” sass. But when she was an infant, I wish I knew not to second guess my instincts. I wish I knew that mothers’ intuition IS right the majority of the time. Listen to advice from friends who have gone through the same situation. Take in their suggestions, learn from them, then execute your way!
You DON’T need all the “stuff”.
At some point after spending who knows how much money on all the stuff you “need” for a baby, you realize you haven’t used half of it. All of these “must have things” are now just clutter. With that being said, every baby is different and likes different swaddles, bottles, swings, seats, and toys. But when I tell you I had EVERYTHING; I mean it. It was a waste of money!
I wish I knew that you don’t need a Momaroo and a swing. I wish I knew that you would NEVER use the extra pack n play downstairs. I wish I knew that all expensive newborn clothes I bought would NEVER fit my 8+lb newborn. I wish I knew that LESS IS MORE! I can honestly say this because with my second daughter I unpacked only 4 things for her: a bassinet, Doc a tot, swaddles, and a swing. Guess what, she’s just as happy as her older sister who could have changed clothes every hour for the first 3 months of life and not repeated an outfit.
I wish I knew not to buy unnecessary items!
So, for those soon to be moms, I hope you take something from this. For the moms who are in the newborn stage, you are doing a great job! It will get easier. For the moms who are in a similar season as me, welp you live and learn right?