Newborn moms often feel alone or wonder if they’re the only ones who’ve experienced what they feel. Here’s what I wish people told me about being a new mom.
I thought I was prepared. Realistic, even. I read every baby book I could get my hands on, but overnight, new parenthood hit me hard.
I must be the only one, I thought.
My family and extended relatives with kids all seemed so… normal. I couldn’t imagine how they could lead regular lives when mine felt turned upside down.
“How did you get through it??” I asked them during one family gathering. I wanted to gauge how difficult they must’ve had it when their kids were newborns.
But truthfully I didn’t think they had it as bad as I did—otherwise they wouldn’t seem so unchanged by parenthood.
And that’s what’s tough when you’re a mom in the thick of the newborn stage. Down the line, we chuckle and reminisce about the struggles of being a new mom, long after the fact. When we can safely laugh about it, knowing we’ve crossed over and don’t have to experience it any longer.
Unfortunately, that can leave many new moms feeling alone, even guilty. I spoke with a friend of mine who felt terrible for thinking negative thoughts about parenthood. She assumed she was alone in feeling this way, especially when everything you hear about babies seems all happy and positive.
What I wish people told me about being a new mom
I don’t deny that parenthood is filled with joyous moments, one many of us look forward to and relish. But being a new mom, especially in those early months, isn’t always so peachy. In fact, it can feel more draining than positive.
But that’s okay. To all the moms going through those difficult first few weeks and months, this is what I wish for you to know:
#1: You’ll have more hard days than easy ones
Those baby photos your friends and family post on Facebook are misleading. You’ll usually see mom and dad, all smiles and holding their new bundle. We all smile for the camera, after all.
But that’s just one second of their new lives as parents. The camera doesn’t capture all the other moments of frustration, hardship, worry or anxiety. We don’t take photos when our babies won’t sleep or when we’re scrambling to put dinner on the table.
But they exist, these hard days, and often more so than the easy ones. At some point, you’ll tip the scales so that soon, the easy days will begin to outnumber the hard ones. We just need to be patient with ourselves and understand that it’s all normal.
#2: Your sleep deprivation is normal (yes, even when you’re delirious)
You’re not an anomaly because you got a total of three hours broken up in 20 minute chunks last night. It’s also normal that you were delirious and yelled at your husband for who knows what when the baby jolted you awake.
Other moms have rocked their weeks-old baby to sleep for over an hour, only to lose their temper when the baby refused to fall asleep (then felt guilty right after for yelling).
You’re fighting a tough battle against sleep deprivation. And according to one study, feeling sleep deprived is the same as being drunk. Go figure.
#3: Reach out to other moms in the same boat
I’m all about surrounding yourself with moms who can understand what you’re going through. These are also the moms who can offer amazing support and advice and let you know that yes, it does get better.
But even better is to find moms who are still going through the same thing.
As much as every mom understands the difficulties of the newborn stage, it’s not the same when they’re already “in the clear.” It can almost feel like you still can’t relate to any mom who gets to sleep eight hours at night.
Instead, find support from fellow moms in the thick of things right there with you. The one who understands when you talk about gas drops and rocking on a yoga ball because she’s in that same place, too.
#4: You don’t have to do everything you used to do
You know all those things you used to do meticulously like flossing, showering, even eating well?
It’s okay if you don’t get to do those things for a while. Do you best, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t vacuum for several weeks. Your baby and your rest are more important than fuzz on a carpet.
I wish I had given myself permission to “be lazy.” That I didn’t have to wash every pump part the minute I finished using it, or that it’s okay if I haven’t gotten the mail in four days straight.
It’s a balance of maintaining your old lifestyle and completely neglecting it (that mail will eventually pile up), but you don’t have to hold yourself accountable to the same responsibilities you used to have.
This is all temporary. At some point, you will resume most if not all those habits once again, but right now, it’s okay to let a few things go while you ride this wave.
#5: Be warned: you don’t just “fall back asleep”
When I was pregnant, I made this silly comparison about waking up many times a night to pee as being the same as waking up with a baby. After all, I’d wake up five times a night to pee—isn’t that the same thing as waking up with a baby?
Sadly, no. Sure, you wake up five times with a baby, but unlike using the bathroom, you can’t just fall back asleep. Instead, you’re awake for who knows how long, trying to get your baby to fall asleep.
And that was when the reality of sleep deprivation hit me. It wasn’t just about waking up many times—it was having to be awake until the baby falls back asleep first.
That puts a lot of pressure on both you and your baby, when your sleep depends on how quickly you can get him to sleep.
Instead, accept this as the new norm, at least for a little bit longer. Find your sleep in other parts of the day, such as when the baby naps.
I don’t think there’s anything that can prepare you completely for being a new mom. Just look at me—I did my research, I was optimistic, and I prepared.
But I do think every little bit helps. I imagine how different it would’ve been for me without that preparation.
That includes hearing what I’d like you to know about being a new mom. That you’ll feel tired beyond believe, including the inability to focus on your own sleep. That you should reach out to fellow moms, especially those who are in the same boat as you.
And that it’s okay to not do the things you used to do, because you’ll go back to them in due time.
Motherhood is hard, and you’ll likely have more hard days than easy ones. But you’re not alone. Every mom you see smiling with her toddler has gone through what you’re going through right now.
We just don’t always have the pictures to show it.
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Get more tips:
- 5 Lessons I Learned as a New Mom
- Newborn Tips and Tricks for New Moms You’ll Be Glad You Read
- Surviving the First Trimester when You Have No Idea Where to Start
- 9 Things to Do Before the Baby Is Born
- How to Avoid Baby Clutter
Your turn: What is one thing you wish other people had told you about being a new mom?
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