I got a text last night from a friend who had just had her first baby last week.
“Tell me it gets better! This is harder than I thought it would be.”
I got a phone call two weeks ago from a friend who just had her first baby.
“I just don’t know what to do! This is kicking my butt.”
I got a Voxer from a new mom friend.
“Will I ever have time to myself again? Am I selfish for asking that? Will my husband and I ever get time together again?”
So, mom friends near and far, here is what I want to say to you: Yes, it gets better. SO much better.
Chances are you’re feeling a little physically beat up and worn down. You’re squishier than ever before, and every time you feed your baby you get the pleasure of admiring that squishy stomach. You probably feel the urge to say things like, “I’m so thankful for this body that birthed a baby and is capable of so much!” Because that’s what you’re supposed to say and how you’re supposed to feel, but it’s OK to want your old body back and wonder if you’ll ever feel like yourself again. It will take some work, but your hips will eventually narrow again and you’ll be able to do more than walk around the block without having to sit down to rest.
You WILL sleep again. It may not feel like it right now, but that sweet little baby who loves to sleep during the day and wants to party all night will get their days and nights figured out. Your first 5-hour stretch of consecutive sleep postpartum will make you feel like a new woman and bring a whole new level of mental clarity to your parenting. Until then, there is coffee and water. When you’re tired, just drink more water. I promise it works wonders.
Your crazy, wacky emotions will level off. If you feel on top of the world one minute and in the lowest valley the next, that’s totally normal. Take care of yourself, talk out all the feelings with your friends and family, don’t be afraid to share how you are honestly doing. Keep a close eye on those emotions in case it’s something more serious, but realize that for the first six to eight weeks there are many versions of “normal” for a postpartum momma.
If there is a new momma group in your city it will be the best thing you can do for yourself. Being surrounded by others who are in the weeds as much as you are will be immensely comforting. You’ll take turns having horrible weeks, talking about how hard things are, what an adjustment it is, etc. If you don’t have a momma group that meets in person, find an online community of other postpartum moms. The internet is a wonderful thing in this case. (If you’re in the Minneapolis area, the Amma New Momma class was the best thing I did for my postpartum self!)
Memorize the phrase “fussiness peaks at 6 to 8 weeks” and repeat it over and over. Babies get progressively fussy up until 6 to 8 weeks and then the fussiness tends to slowly decrease after that. I’ll be the first to tell you that my mentality during the first two months is total survival mode. I have no shame admitting that I usually wish away the first six to eight weeks. Life gets immensely sunnier for everyone after the first two months.
Don’t spend those early weeks and months pretending to feel something you don’t feel. When friends ask how you are doing, it’s totally okay (and necessary) to admit that things are hard. When friends ask how they can be of help, be honest. If that’s just someone to hold a baby while you take a nap and shower or to come over and talk so you don’t feel so isolated. Let others love on you while you’re pouring yourself out to your new baby.
Remember that it’s okay not to love every stage. That you can love your baby and miss your old life at the same time. Motherhood is beautiful AND it’s an earth-shattering adjustment. It will rock your world, and in those early weeks “rock your world” won’t feel like a positive thing. Will it get better? Yes! I’m not sure if motherhood actually gets any easier, but you will grow, your capacity will increase, and things will feel easier.