Oh the beauty (and humor) of being a PRE BABY, naive, first time mom. Your hopes and ambitions are high, you feel like everything you have read and the classes you’ve taken are all going to work in your favor & prepare you for your baby. I always knew I wanted to be a mom- I had a younger brother who was 11 years younger than me who I practically helped to raise. I was the “built in babysitter” as my parents liked to call it and for some reason I felt like helping to take care of my younger brother plus years of babysitting would help prepare me for having a baby of my own. Boy, was I wrong!
When I was pregnant I was so hopeful. I heard the stories of the baby’s not sleeping and the moms being sleep deprived- I thought- “Oh, that won’t be me or my baby”. It’s almost laughable now thinking back on how I thought I was SO PREPARED to be a mother. The reality of it didn’t hit me until until I had my baby…and it hit hard!
If I could go back in time and give my pre mommy, pregnant self some REAL advice this is what it would be…
- You will cry more than you have ever cried before. I mean this on all levels- happy cries, sad cries, emotional cries, lost cries and everything in between. Between the raging hormones, feeling like you have no clue what you are doing as a mom AND being so in love with your new baby…you cry- A LOT, and OFTEN! Trust me when I say the “baby blues” are no joke. After my body regulated a few months postpartum I finally felt like myself again. However, G-d bless my husband for being the compassionate, loving man that he is because I’m sure I drove him absolutely crazy! I would cry at commercials, comments made about my son getting older (no new mom wants to think about her baby being old enough to drive or leave her already for college) and pretty much anything on the nightly news was off limits for me to hear, talk about or discuss. Be prepared to cry over it all- you changing body, spilt milk (yes, spilt breastmilk IS something to cry over), your need for sleep, your lack of sleep, your baby’s feeding/ sleeping schedule, chores to be done around the house, your old life, your new life, the immense love you have for your baby and so on. Just warn your partner ahead of time and let them know that they need to be extra understanding during this time. Yes moms, you get a pass for pretty much everything in your fourth trimester. You’re moody, tired, irrational and just need to be cut some slack. Extra bonus points for your hubby or partner for helping to pick up some of the pieces and letting you sleep in when possible, helping out with feedings, etc.
- You will need your mom now more than ever. You know all those times you were mean to your mom growing up and how you two totally couldn’t relate on any level? Well now, all of a sudden you totally understand everything she ever said and did. You get why she was so overly protective and checking in on you when you wern’t home when you told her you would be, you get why the house was always a mess and why she was never ready to leave on time (spoiler alert: she was getting everyone else ready and she always put herself last.) YOU. GET. IT NOW and you two will bond on a level that you never even know was possible. She will help you in ways that you couldn’t even imagine and you will be so grateful for her help and wisdom. Just apologize for being a bratty teen and for all those years of brattiness and she’ll get it. In a way, she will be so thankful but she also knows that karma is a B*TCH!(Don’t let this face fool you! I tried every lactation tea, cookie, bar, brownie, etc to BF as long as I possibly could! Pumping is just not the same as BF.)
- Breastfeeding is HARD, like, REALLY HARD!! So after the exhausting 9 months of being pregnant AND hours in labor & delivery- now you somehow have to magically figure out breastfeeding. For me, my son was amazing as BF and actually picked it up no problem. The only problem FOR ME was that he was a SUPER aggressive eater which meant feedings were painful. I knew I wanted to BF for at least 6 months but by the time I got to 4 months I was hooked up to my pump every two hours. It was daunting. I continued to exclusively pump for another month and a half. There is no emotional connection to a machine but I had my mind set on some number that I just made up in my head. Like they say- “fed is best” and as much as I was proud of myself for BF as long as I did- I was SO MUCH happier connecting with my baby in other ways other than just BF. I no longer felt the pressure to constantly be “on call” when he was hungry and the only one who could feed him. I accepted help and once the pressure was off I felt like a totally new person.
- Accept Help When It’s Offered. Like I just mentioned above, life got so much easier when I started accepting help from others and I didn’t feel like I was carrying the whole burden of responsibilities on my shoulders. My husband was amazing and he enjoyed helping with feedings (when I would pump) and even helped put the baby back down to bed at night so I could pump and Jakey could eat. But also know that it’s ok to seek outside help. My husband and I decided to get help in a couple different areas. Because we both like a clean and organized home, we did enlist in the help of getting a cleaning lady to help keep the place organized (as much as it could be). We also enlisted in the help of a night nurse yo allow hubby and I get some sleep after those night feedings. Did I mention our baby hardly slept for the first few months? Well after awhile it wears you down! Our night nurse was also our doula and she was literally a G-d send! When Jakey would wake up in the middle of the night for feedings she would bring him to me, I would nurse him and then she would take him and put him down again until his next feeding- allowing my husband and I to get some much needed rest. Take the help where it is offered and where you can get it and don’t feel guilty about it!
- You’re Baby Doesn’t Know That You Don’t Know What You’re Doing! That’s right- with your first it’s all new territory. Everything you do you’re doing for the first time. You’re thrown in the trenches and (like Nike) told to JUST DO IT! You’ll be nervous about everything- dressing your baby, bathing your baby, car rides with your baby- you’ll be nervous about it all. But the good news is that your baby doesn’t know that you don’t know what the heck you’re doing yet. As long as you are doing everything with love and learning as you go you are doing awesome, mama!
- Having A Few Other Mom Friends Is A Must. Make friends with moms in your pregnancy groups. Moms-to-be, “veteran” moms, all the moms! The new moms will be there to share in all the worries and angst you both are going through and the “veteran” moms can fill you in on all the little tips and tricks you would have never thought of before. Case in point- you can never have enough support and 411 from the pros!
- Figure Out Your New Normal. Before baby you had your “normal life”. Now after baby you need to figure out what your NEW NORMAL means to you. Where can you find time to fit in things you still enjoy like date nights, working out, time with your girlfriends, etc. It’s all about getting into a groove and then finding out what that new normal means to you. Make sure that you still keep your relationship/ marriage your top priority. You need date nights to reconnect and feel sexy again (sans spit up on your shirt and mommy mode). If you enjoy working out find the time to fit that in and get that hot mom bod back! Forget what life used to be like and look forward to whatever the “new normal” means for you. Yes, baby comes first in most cases right now but keeping the marriage/ relationship and your own goals a priority is just as important.
- You Will Somehow Learn To Function On Little To No Sleep. Yup, get your sleep in now because life with a newborn is no cake walk. You will be yearning for those nights that you could get a full nights rest and reminiscing about the days you would stay out all night and come home late/ early in the AM. Yup, those days are gone now and you will be surprised at actually how little sleep your body can function on. The days of 8 hours of sleep are long gone and nowadays you’re just taking a few hours here and there. Try and work out a deal with your partner that on certain days of the week one of you get the late night hours and the other ones gets the early morning hours. Either way, working as a team is best and you will both reap the rewards (sleep) if you work together!
- Believe In Yourself- You Got This! You will have moments where you feel like a complete failure and then you will have moments where you think you are killing the mom game! More the former than the later but nonetheless, you need to believe in yourself. As long as you are doing what is best for your baby, have fun and enjoy this crazy, wild and amazing ride! You will sleep again, your hormones will regulate and you will get back to your NEW NORMAL. Believe in yourself, your ability to rock this new mom gig and you will not only survive but thrive and absolutely LOVE this life you are living!