BiP is almost a year old so the posts over the next few weeks may have a nostalgic hint to them. My mummy-to-be friend PigletinFrance is expecting her first baby in just a week or 2 (or 3 or maybe even 4!) and talking to her its taken me back to the same time last year when I was in exactly the same position of anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first baby, BiP.
Here are 8 things I wish someone had told me about becoming a new mother (some people did tell me, but I guess I didn’t listen):
1 . It’s normal to be scared about the birth – I was so scared. I was desperate to be pregnant and elated when I was but then the “OMG this baby has gotta come out somehow” sets in. That is normal. If it’s your first baby you have no idea what to expect. However, try not to let this fear consume you. Women have given birth since the beginning of time – we are lucky we have better healthcare, better information and for some, better support than those before us.
2. The birth is not the destination: It’s the beginning – I planned my perfect birth; I’d go into labour naturally, I’d let my body do what it was designed to do and I’d skip out of the delivery room with my nether regions intact! Hmmm … well, the reality was that I was induced due to chronic sciatica, I gave birth lying on my back, I had an episiotomy and I was wheeled out of the delivery room to my room on the maternity ward. But WAIT! I don’t regret any of it! Many of us spend our entire pregnancies focussing on the birth – it’s just the start of something amazing but it really is where it all begins!
3. Breastfeeding is NOT easy – well, for some it really isn’t! I found breastfeeding to be excruciatingly difficult yet I persevered. Even today, when BiP is fast approaching her first birthday, it is still hard at times. For me, the reward outweighed the struggle(s). Get as much support as you can through La Leche League, a lactation consultant, friends, family, online – wherever! Just make sure you get it!
4. It’s OK to cry. A lot. – 3 days after I had BiP I cried, oh I cried. I felt I must have lost my pregnancy weight in tears I cried so much. It’s ok and it’s normal (so I am told). Becoming a mother, with all the hormal changes on top of the physical ones are huge so having a good old cry is OK, really it is. Obviously signs of Post-Partum Depression (PPD) are important to look out for but try not to worry unnecessarily about it beforehand.
5. Don’t try to be SuperMom – I put incredible pressure on myself, and I still do at times, to be the perfect mother – but what is the perfect mother? I find myself chasing the undefined and unattainable! STOP! Your house doesn’t have to be spotless, you don’t have to do a million educational activities a day with your 6 week old and you don’t have to be perfectly turned out everyday. Take each day as it comes, do what you can manage and what makes you and your baby happy. The dishes can wait!
6. It’s OK to miss your old life – As a new mother your life takes on a whole new meaning and direction. It is OK to miss your old life, one where you are not permenantly attached to your baby who seeks to devour every last drop of your energy. I suffered with overwhelming guilt at wanting just a sniff of my pre-pregnancy life; where I could do what I wanted, when I wanted. Until recently I felt so guilty until I discovered that I was not alone in feeling like I had lost my identity.
7. You will still be fat. For a while. And for some, like me, a LONG time … Those nutella crepes and all that ice cream that my baby needed during my pregnancy won’t, sadly, just melt off in the delivery room. No. 9 months on often equals 9 months off, kinda. A lot of women drop the weight almost instantaneously but for a lot of us it really doesn’t work that way. Get some nice clothes and you will one day get back to some kind of normal (or so I am told)!
8. Your relationship with your spouse will hit a rough patch – ok, here it is, a true confession. When BiP was born I never felt closer to my husband, he was supportive, loving and an all-round super dad. As I recovered from my delivery and got the hang of breastfeeding and the general being a mummy thing I became this over-possessive creature who had fallen madly in love with a sweeter smelling, cuter being; my baby! Then the fights started, this crazy adjustment – how I envied my husband being able to go out without thinking about feeds, naps and packing half the nursery into a bag BUT I wouldn’t change it for the world BUT I resented him for it … it became a vicious circle. Then the fights start. I thought at times that our marriage was falling apart until I discovered that this “adjustment” is not only normal, it is pretty common. The key to success and surviving it is to keep the channels of communication open, wide open and try to accept that at times you are being unreasonable, yes YOU. This will pass! Make time for each other and try, if you can to have “date nights” even if the best you can manage is a movie and some popcorn on the sofa! Every minute counts!
So there you have it … what did you wish someone had told you before you had your baby?
It made me so happy to read this…and thank you so much for mentioning my post! You are definitely not alone! So many women miss their old lives, but they don’t talk about it because they feel guilty. It is so natural to miss who you were before you had a child…there’s nothing wrong with it!! Never feel guilty about needing your identity. You’ll be a better mother for having it!
Thank YOU! Your blog really has helped me as a first time mother! 🙂 It’s funny how little we share with other mothers because we feel guilty for being anything less than perfect! That has to change! We need to be there for each other and tell it like it is which is why I love your blog! Thank you so much for stopping by!
**jumping around excited that The Mommyologist stopped by!**
Amen. Amen. AMEN!
Awesome post. you hit everything! I am a mum of two boys, eighteen months apart aged 2 and 3 ‘n a half. I did everything but breastfeed because it was just too much for me all by myself… atleast my husband and my mum could help me feed, especially in the first couple weeks after birth (I had 2 c-sections) and I could nap! I am sharing this post with others… it’s really insightful, thanks
Thanks Alexandra! Hat’s off to you for having 2 boys so close in age. It’s wonderful that you had help from your husband and your mum. Glad you enjoyed the post! I hope expectant mothers will find it helpful too !
Great List! I agree with all of it 😉 Some of it even happens again with the second baby!!!…like the weight and the marriage adjustment…but we come out stronger women.
What? It happens again? OMG. They don’t joke about the formatting of the mummy brain a few months after childbirth … you mean after baby number 2 I won’t walk out the hospital skinnier than ever and my husband and I won’t be skipping through fields of wild flowers with our children … where are the unicorns and the rainbows??! LOL!
Gaah … thanks for the reality check mama 🙂
I saw that Unicorn…it went running by me throwing rainbows of poop and pee and breastmilk at me at all hours of the night…and don’t even get me started on that darn horn…lol!!!!!!!
Hilarious! Oh wow!
I agree with all of these. I also wish someone had told me it doesn’t get any easier. I kept hearing how hard the newborn time was, soni kept expecting it to get easier. But I found that each stage brought a new set of challenges, like rolling, sitting, and crawling. And each stage brought a whole new set of rewards, too, evening it out. To me, it gets better and better while at the same time more challenging. Now that walking and talking are the next milestones, I’ve given up on it getting easier and I’m just enjoying the ride.
Good point allykat – everyone talks about the newborn stage as being tough – wow – that was the easiest (once you take in to consideration all the recovery, nipple pains and sleepless nights) but their needs are simple. The more they move, the more they need over and above feeding and changing. I remember month 7 to be the hardest – BiP was so desperate to move but she wasn’t quite there yet – she seemed so frustrated and would yell, A LOT. I can’t see it getting any easier but it’s so rewarding and oh so much fun!
You have the right attitude! Just go with it! I think you set yourself up for disappointment if you have these big expectations that things will get easier. They won’t. they’ll just be different.
Great post! Especially Number 8. Really brought it home to me that what Hubby and I are going through right now at 12 weeks in is normal. Your Hubby should write the list from the male perspective and I can show it to mine!
Thanks Hels Bels! Yes, you are not alone. And it will keep happening for a while – it really sucks but the adjustment is HUGE for all of you.
I will see what Daddy in Provence things … I wonder if his post would help or actually send me into a murderous rage … LOL!
Watch this space!
This is such a good post, all so true, I just wish someone had told me how totally tiring it can be! My two are now age 8 and 12 and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel but being kids they still get bad dreams, colds, over excited etc. all the things that sometimes makes them call me through at 3 in the morning! Yes it’s fab being a mum but boy is it tiring x
Thanks Belinda – it get’s more tiring? I am assuming that once they start talking and forcing us to think that it starts getting harder and more exhausting. Also they don’t take naps at 8 years old do they? I am still missing the 3rd nap that vanished and dreading BiP’s 2 naps going to 1!!!
GREAT POST! There must be something in the water because I just read a similar post and was planning on writing my own.
I was not scared about birth. At all. I think that is what fucked me over. I went from no contractions to intense contractions barely 3 minutes apart when my water broke. I was panicked to say the least.
NUMBER NINE is SO TRUE. I would tell anyone that. The first week or two with a new baby was marital bliss and wonderment. After that it got so bad I was CONVINCED I was getting divorced. We are now a lot better at communicating but you really hit it on the head with that paradox of “I wouldn’t trade it but I was resentful”. I *still* turn down my husbands offers to take the baby only to lament about my lack of time to myself.
Thank you Janine.
Amazing isn’t it that you think that you must be the only couple who is having relationship issues? You read blogs and tweets about these new parents who appear to be in bliss with their new babies – Life isn’t like that!!! I wonder what the deal is with us mama’s keeping stuff to ourselves – I hope that by telling it like it is some mama’s will feel better that they aren’t the only ones who think that they are losing their minds or on the road to divorce. Try to hand your baby to your husband – try it, you might like it … of course the first few times you will freak that he isn’t doing this or that properly but they will be fine. Start out slow – but you need to give you yourself time to yourself (I’m not saying you have to disappear for a whole day – I couldn’t do that yet and BiP is almost 1!)
I know that I personally was really embarrassed to be fighting so much. I felt torn between SO MUCH LOVE for my baby and feeling like I had made a huge mistake by getting married. I think that with a first baby there is also an element of feeling stuck with your spouse – We were totally committed to each other before the baby but until you have a child there is always that possibility that you could both just walk away if things fall apart. That and the fact that post-partum you are totally insane. At the end of my pregnancy and with a newborn, I obsessed over tiny things that I now realize meant NOTHING.
I really hope lots of new moms and moms-to-be read all of this!
One of my favorite things is “working” 😉 on my laptop in bed while my husband entertains the baby downstairs. I can hear them and know they are fine and he brings me the baby to feed every couple of hours but I get to watch TV alone, paint my nails, send emails, WHATEVER, uninterrupted. I enjoy it more than the few times I’ve gone out just because there is no pressure.
Wow Janine – I seriously couldn’t written the same thing! I questioned why got married and then I felt guilty bringing this precious, perfect baby into the world with parents who fought all the time. BUT it passed! Post-partum hormones seriously drove me crazy!!! I just hope the weaning hormones, when the time comes, don’t set me off!!
SO good to hear someone else describe my exact same sentiments! Yay for crazy post partum mama’s!! LOL!
Wow, I have to jump in here for a sec to say I agree 110% with what you both are writing about marriage after a baby. For me, I felt jealous of all the other couples with kids who seem totally normal, not fighting, not on the brink of divorce, etc. But the closer I look and the more blogs I read, I understand now that it’s more common to feel the way the 3 of us are describing. A friend recommended the book “Babyproofing Your Marriage” to me last week, and I have to say, 50 pages into it, I already feel so much better. Like fighting with your spouse is totally the norm and it gets better and all that.
Janine, what you wrote about resentment is totally on target. And about feeling stuck. There have been a few times in the past 20 months I said to myself, “This is how it’s gonna be the rest of my life?!”
Thanks Jaime, I’ll have to check out that book!
It’s amazing how no one talks about issues you have as a couple when a baby arrives yet since this post I’ve had SO many people come forward and say yes, we experienced the same thing.
I love how we can all support each other by sharing our experiences as it is so normal!
I am SO glad that you wrote this MiP, believe me, I didn’t realise half of the above and to think I’m going to give birth in a matter of days/weeks scares the hell out of me.
I’m already crying loads, missing my old life (bottle of rose and late meal out with friends?), arguing with my husband like there’s no tomorrow (hormones?) and trying to be supermom (family pressure to do this, not to do that) and don’t even get me started on feeling fat…
But I’m glad say that the birth is the beginning and that all of the above is normal, no-one tells you that, certainly not in France!
Thank you xxx
I will be writing a post of my own tips but because you are soon to deliver, let me tell you – Go shopping. Go right now. Get a bunch of cute clothes in a couple sizes too big. Not maternity clothes, just large tops and leggings in a couple sizes. And get all of your breastfeeding tanks and bras now as well. Size up a bit from your pregnancy boobs but assume everything else will be the same size. I promise this one thing will make you a million times more confident. I came home after delivery and people wanted to visit me and I was literally running around hysterically (hormones!) looking for flattering clothing from my PRE-PREG wardrobe. Not good. Shop NOW. 🙂
This is great advice Janine. I wish I’d done this! Shopping with a newborn was so hard. Luckily the fashion is lots of flowing stuff so it’s quite easy to find stuff that will be flattering post pregnancy! Just don’t forget the easy access clothes if you plan to breastfeed!
Janine, thanks so much for the tip! I’ve been shopping online for a few weeks but haven’t dared buy too much for after as I have no idea how big my boobs are going to get… I actually feel as if they are shrinking right now which is scary!
My boobs didn’t get bigger – I guess everyone is different! I was in maternity stuff for a good few weeks. Just make sure you have a couple of nice things for the summer so that you don’t get too hot and you are happy wearing!
The thing I wish someone had told me? That maybe, just maybe, the minute you hold your baby, the heavens won’t open, harps won’t play, sparrows won’t light on your window sill and all may not be right with the world. You may instead be exhausted, drained, scared, and in pain. In love – totally in love – but that doesn’t completely eclipse everything for some. You are not a bad person or a bad MOM if you don’t feel whole and like Mama Earth the minute you hold your new child. For many, many of us, becoming a mom isn’t a singular event (the birth), its an entire process that takes months. And that’s ok. 🙂
That is so true Milly’s Mom. You don’t instantly fall in love with someone you first meet and that’s ok – it’s hard to describe. I loved BiP the minute I met her and the love grew and grew but there was a part of me that was like WHO is this! As a mother you, sometimes, feel guilty for feeling sorry for yourself because you feel like crap after delivery – everyone assumes that you will be on cloud 9 because you just had a baby and nothing compares. It’s true, nothing does, but you are still a person who has done the hardest physical task of their lives; give birth.
Thank you for sharing – this is a very important point that totally skipped my mind (formatting of the brain; natures way of coaxing us to make more babies) !!!
Well Said MiP! Great summary.
Yes, I missed my former life as well and felt guilty as hell about his one… for a long time. And the marital discord just thankful we got through that and couldn’t imagine my life with anyone else. He to is a superdad, takes the kids out saturday so I can write 🙂
I wish someone would have told me how hard it would be to adjust and had told me all of your points! Particularly on the breastfeeding. Stood on my head to BF my first but the second came easily.
And thanks for the mention on the Supermom post!
Looking forward to the next post!
Thanks Rajka, good to hear that breastfeeding the 2nd baby is easier than the first (I have no idea how it could be any harder!)
I love it… you inspired me to think and blog of things I would do different too… don’t you love parenting?
Love this! And, I agree with EVERY word! As a first time mom, I had no idea what to expect with breastfeeding, the marital challenges, the body image issues, everything. There’s a huge learning curve to becoming a mom but once you get it, things get easier, not easy, just easier. With my second child, I’ve found that all (or most of) the hardships I faced with my first aren’t there, not just because she’s a different baby, but because, with 21 months of mom training under my belt, I’m a different mom.
glad you liked it Jessica! The learning curve IS incredibly steep that’s for sure!!!!