“Your first breath took ours away”
My Husband found that quote on a wall decal art piece which he purchased shortly before our Son Ivan was born. We put it up on the wall overlooking his crib and would lovingly peer at it often, holding one another and smiling in anticipation. We did not know what to expect. I think it’s safe to say that we both had our own fears and doubts about becoming parents for the first time.
What would labor feel like? Would I be a good Mom? Would my baby love me? Would I ever have “Me” time again? These were just a few of the many thoughts that circled through my head as I gazed over the empty crib those final weeks of my pregnancy. Knowing that our lives were about to soon change, we spent those last few weeks doing the things we knew we wouldn’t be able to do again for a long time-staying up late to watch our favorite shows, going out with friends, spending alone time having dinner, and simply sleeping in.
“So, are you guys ready?” If I had a dollar for each time I was asked this question, I would have been very rich by now. Each time, my answer remained the same, “Yes! can’t wait!” I remarked, smiling nervously, hoping they wouldn’t notice the fear in my eyes. The truth is although I was extremely happy and excited, I was also scared straight.
“Honey, I wouldn’t worry about labor & delivery…that’s the easy part.”
Those were the words my Midwife uttered to me as I expressed my fears about going through the pain and intensity of labor. I still remember looking at her and thinking she must be crazy…nothing could possibly be harder than childbirth! Looking back in hindsight, I can see she was on to something. You see, turns out, labor and delivery WAS the easy part, and although I had a long drawn out Prodormal labor lasting over 4 days (more on that in a future post), I fully understand now that raising children is not easy. It takes a lot of commitment, sleepless nights, and a whole lotta hard work to maintain the sanity of being a parent.
Those first few weeks were brutal.
Having not slept a full nights sleep in weeks, combined with all the dreaded horrors of breastfeeding for the first time, I was spent. My life now consisted of breastfeeding, pumping, washing bottles, eating, changing diapers, and trying to console my screaming, infant who was probably thinking something along the lines of “where the heck am I and how did I get stuck with these schmuks?”. Sound familiar? I believe all Moms go through the struggle of getting used to all the new changes that come along with Motherhood before finally figuring it all out…and then realize we really never do.
“Just sleep when the baby sleeps”
This was often the phrase used by some very well meaning people who clearly didn’t understand how important a new Mother’s free time can be. I did try to sleep when the baby slept…but realized that if I was ever going to get anything done around the house, it would have to be while my Son slept.
Of course, this got easier to do once he began sleeping through the night as I was able to get most of my work done during the day not needing to take very many naps since I was now sleeping at night, well sorta.
Here are the top 5 things I personally learned as a new Mom in my first year.
- It’s o.k. to feel overwhelmed from time-to-time. With a new baby, It’s normal to feel like you’re losing your mind every now-and-then, and that’s ok. Been there, done that. After all, your life has completely changed and although it’s for the better, it can take some time to get fully adjusted to everything. I found that for me, I had to stop getting down on myself whenever something wasn’t done perfectly. So what if your baby is still wearing the same onsie they were wearing yesterday and the day before? STOP beating yourself up over the little things and accept life as it comes. In the end, you’ll be happier and more productive…believe me.
- Breast feeding is an art that takes time to master. Before I actually had a baby, I heard many women tell me that breastfeeding was an overwhelming even traumatic experience for them. I naively thought that would never happen to me. After all, what can be so hard about putting a baby to the breast? the answer is, EVERYTHING. From figuring out what position to hold your baby in during nursing, to latching problems, to lack of adequate milk supply, to pumping and engorged breasts…quite honestly, it can take up to 6 weeks before a nursing Mother can really feel comfortable with the breastfeeding process. At least for me it did.
- Leaving the house can now take double the time. I had heard this one a lot too but never really gave it a second thought. I realize now that it is absolutely no longer possible to just pick up and leave the house whenever we want. Between making sure the diaper bag is packed and the baby is changed, fully rested, and fed, you can expect to add an extra 30-60 minutes to your prepping routine. This one is especially true when you’re baby is an infant as they require a bit of extra maintenance. That’s not to say that life with a toddler is any easier, only differences in priorities.
- You learn to function with little to no sleep. This one is beyond true. Before having my Son, I absolutely needed 8-9 hours of sleep a night or else I simply couldn’t function the next day. After learning to pull a nearly all-nighter several times when my baby just wouldn’t sleep, I slowly learned that I could in fact function without much sleep and it become the least of my worries. Adrenaline and coffee were my best friends the first few months. Don’t worry, it does get better.
- Date night is a must. As much as me and my Husband love our Son, we cherish the nights where we can just go out together alone, simply enjoying each others company. I think it’s important to remember that in the process of learning to be a Mom, you cannot let your personal relationships/marriage fall by the wayside. You have to work on them as well in order to maintain balance and quite frankly, your sanity. Sure, we miss Ivan when we’re out but we get to catch up on each other and reminisce on the past and look forward to our future. It helps us both “reset” and makes us happy.
Here we are, a year later, we made it! Looking forward to all the wonderful things this life has to offer.