No one tells you everything you need to know before you become a mom. (How could they anyway?)
Sure, other mamas offer great advice and your own mom may have prepared you as much as she could have too (thanks Mom!!), but truly, NOTHING—and I mean nothing— will prepare you for what life will be like once you take your newborn home.
Here’s what I wish I would have known (sorry, not going to sugarcoat it guys!):
Life literally changes OVER.NIGHT.
The night before Henry was born, Sam and I had a lovely, kick-back date night. The next day, we were in the hospital holding our son and that next date night, well, it was not in clear sight, haha.
You’re going to need your family and close friends.
Support is everything (even if you’re like me and think, “Oh, I’ve got this all set and am good to go.”) We had family fly out to help us in those early weeks and friends stop by with dinners/snacks/hugs, and… it made all the difference. In fact, I wish I had asked for even more support.
Kiss your former life goodbye… at least for the first couple months.
You have a new routine now and it goes: Eat, play, sleep, repeat. No more nights out, trips, parties…. it really is just you, your partner, and your baby for the time being. Get comfy in your house clothes and get ready to not shower everyday.
That first month… you’re in a total mind fog.
What day is it? What’s the time? Did I brush my teeth? Did I shower? When’s the last time I ate?
Sleep deprivation f*$^s you up!
Really. I’m still dealing with it and, boy, I am TIRED. I think I should just accept it and get used to operating on slim sleep.
Nap when the baby naps.
HAHAHA. Everyone, and I mean everyone, says this. But if you can, do it. Really. If you’re like me and clean, do laundry, cook, and watch TV… you’re going to be extra tired. Catch those zzz’s where & when you can.
Feeding is a full-time job.
The time between feedings seems to go by so fast. Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, be prepared to be doing it—A LOT. Like every 2-3 hours, sometimes more often if they’re cluster feeding.
Your baby might not go #2 for a few days and it’s completely normal (yet still scary!).
This happened with Henry and we brought him in to see the doc like the newbie parents we are, haha.
Lean on your partner.
If you need help, ask. Communicate how you’re feeling and when/how they can help you. Caring for a baby takes a village and that all starts with your relationship. Get on the same page about what your needs are during this hectic and overwhelming time.
Coffee is your best friend now.
Sip up! You’re gonna need that energy.
Mommy groups really are great.
Roll your eyes all you want (I did too), but local mom groups can be a real lifeline for you during your maternity leave. Lean on other new mamas who are going through the same experiences as you. Their understanding will get you through some tough and tiring weeks and make you realize how much of a community there is in motherhood.
Moms (especially new moms) will refer to you as “mama”.
Get used to it. 😉 “Hey mama!” “How’s the baby doin’, mama?” 😀 I don’t hate it. 😉
You can never have too many burp cloths.
If your baby is like mine, you’ll be cleaning up spit super often. You’ll grow to not be bothered by it one bit. Just have burp cloths all around your place, at the ready.
A good swaddle and bounce goes a long way.
Keep em cozy and snug, and the fussiness will subside. Plus, a bouncy ball and/or swing does wonders.
Babies cry, a lot, and it’s okay.
Sometimes it’s not because of a wet diaper, hunger, or temperature. Sometimes babies just have “off” days like us and they cry a little more than the day before. Shower them with soothing words and hugs. Every day is a different than the last with a baby.
Fresh air does you and the baby good.
Get out, even for 10 minutes. Those first couple weeks are exhausting, so a little fresh air and sunlight will feel so refreshing for you both. I like to loop the block before it gets too hot and night walks are especially nice to end the day.
Accept help, meals, and people who will let you nap.
I should have done this more. People will want to help you. Let them. Don’t say “I’m fine” or “Maybe soon!” Take them up on it and say “Thank you.”
Laundry is life now.
You thought you had piles and piles of dirty laundry before? HAH. Roll up those sleeves.
However you feed your baby, you’re a good mom.
Breastmilk, formula, exclusive pumping… it’s all fine because your baby is fed and happy. You’re not less of a mom if you can’t breastfeed or offer breastmilk. A happy mom = a happy baby.
You may feel bluesy.
I have and it’s not easy. You only have 2 hands to get everything done, you’re waking up around the clock to care for a fragile human, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever sleep again or see your friends for social time. It all adds up and can be very consuming at times. It WILL be ok. You will find time to do the things you love to do and those that care about you, will reach out and offer a hand/shoulder/ear. Be honest with how you feel. Pregnancy, labor, delivery, and your postpartum journey differ for us all. Be kind to yourself.
But behind all the stress, exhaustion, piles of laundry, concern, confusion and postpartum feelings that arise are moments like these below. You know, the ones people tell you about. The late night cuddles. First smiles. Dorky expressions only you, a mother could love.
It’s all good.
Even when it’s “bad”, I gotta say…
It’s good—it’s all O.K.—and the days move on and things get brighter and better, as you and yours grow together.