Man, oh man. Those first few weeks and months of motherhood? Let’s be honest, they’re pretty dang hard. I was really discouraged by everyone who told me about the difficulties of new motherhood, but guess what? They were right.
When I think about how my baby is getting older and bigger by the day? I think I’m supposed to be super sad about the whole thing. Sometimes when I look at those tiny little clothes I’m packing away I do get a little (okay, a lot) sad. But more often than not, I’m just thrilled with this older, more interactive, adorable little baby that’s joined our family and I’m pretty happy those first few weeks are in the book.
So, if you’re a new mom or a mom-to-be, let’s get a few things straight:
1. You WILL sleep again, even though it might notfeel like it now.
The funny thing is, once you do start sleeping longer stretches again, it won’t feel like such a big deal because your body will have adjusted to the new normal of a few fragmented hours here and there. Those first eight weeks? I would have done anything for just a few more hours of sleep. My need to sleep surpassed any craving I had ever experienced. I didn’t believe those people who said I would get used to a little bit of sleep, but it’s true.
2. Do not believe the sleep books.
I’m a big fan of BabyWise, and I also loosely followed Moms on Call, but I started to get really discouraged when they told me that if I did x, y and z that my baby would sleep through the night at 8 weeks. Well, I worked my butt off trying to follow the book and guess what? Eight weeks came and went, and then 10 weeks and 12 and still my peanut was waking multiple times a night. I got discouraged and frustrated. The books served as a helpful guide for feeding and scheduling, but don’t get too wrapped up in weeks and ages when your baby “should” be able to do something.
3. Your baby may go through weeks of crying, and it probably means nothing.
Around week 5 little Miss Ainsley went through an extremely difficult week of crying, fussing and being generally inconsolable during the evening and night hours. I was convinced that she had colic, reflux, an ear infection. Guess what? The next week she returned to her normal disposition. I’m not trying to dismiss real problems, but babies go through fussy weeks and then return to normal before you know it.
4. You WILL love your body again.
Be patient, don’t push yourself and give your body grace. You had a baby, for goodness sake! Focus on letting your body heal; there are no awards given out for doing all the things just weeks after delivery. Over time, your body will start to slowly return back to normal. And on those days that you’re feeling crummy about your body? Look at that sweet little baby and remind yourself what an amazing thing your body just did!
5. Cuddle, cuddle, cuddle.
That little baby that wants to sleep on your chest for hours at a time won’t do that forever. Before you know it your little one will be moving and looking around and not content to sleep on your chest. So put your dang phone down and set aside the to-do list and just soak in those baby cuddles.
6. Some days you might not like your baby.
Gasp! I said it. Sometimes, when you’ve been awake for four hours in the middle of the night and your baby has been particularly fussy and you’re dying to shower or use the bathroom by yourself, you may not like your baby. But even when you don’t like your baby, you’ll love your baby anyway and that makes you a good mom.
7. Take plenty of hot baths with epsom salts.
My sister-in-law swore by it, and I do, too! One of my nurses told me that it helps tremendously with recovery post-delivery. Plus, it gives you an excuse to hand that baby off for a little while and soak in the tub completely uninterrupted. Because, you know, it’s just a necessary part of recovery and who can argue with that?
8. Fuel and care for your body.
You’re an exhausted, worn-down, hormonal mess. Is there a time when nutrition is more important? I thought about the postpartum period as a time when nutrition was more important than ever before and tried to focus on stuffing my face with veggies and protein and whole grains rather than sugar and empty carbs.
9. Your emotions my be haywire for more than just a few weeks.
I think most of the standard postpartum depression pamphlets say that you should be concerned if you’re experiencing emotional ups and downs after more than two or three weeks, but I found that it was more like four or five weeks before I really started to feel like my self emotionally again.
10. YOU are doing a great job.
Yes, even when you feel like a total failure as a mom or when you can’t figure out how to soothe your fussy baby or you put the diaper on backwards. Even on those days, you’re still the best mom for your baby and you’re doing a wonderful job. You’re learning how to be a mom and your baby is learning how to navigate this new world; you’re both bound to experience some bumps along the way. Hang in there, because it keeps getting better!