In my mind, I was so ready. I didn’t care how hard it would be, or how much life would change. I actually swore that my life wouldn’t change that much. To be fair, I did have a pretty easy transition into motherhood, but there are still things I wish I would have known. Not that it would have changed my mind (nothing could), but it would have better prepared me for all of the possibilities that could have occurred.
I sit here in the (very) early morning while all four of my little ones are still asleep and hoping my morning sickness for baby #5 is mild today. I look at all of these incredible humans that I have birthed and think back to my life before they existed. I think about how naturally selfish (that’s not a bad thing) you are before a child arrives. I think about all of the experiences that friends have had throughout early motherhood, and my own unexpected lessons learned over the years. I realize that these are the things that should be shared. They may not always be pretty, but they are possible. Some are even more likely than not, and it’s my hope that by sharing these experiences, women planning a pregnancy (or currently pregnant) may be better prepared to handle whatever may come their way.
32 Things You Need To Know About Early Motherhood (from actual mothers who have experiences them)
#1 There is no break. The baby does not disappear for a few hours a day so you can be alone. It sounds absurd, but going from caring solely for yourself to keeping a helpless human being alive every second of the day is beyond exhausting.
#2 Nothing else is important except bonding with your baby. The dishes, laundry, and other chores can wait.
#4 Sometimes it doesn’t go as you imagined. Your baby isn’t the ‘easy baby’ you thought you would have. Instead, he is high needs and screams at a decibel you didn’t know existed.
#5 Breastfeeding can be easy, or it can be a huge sacrifice. A sacrifice that is worth it, but a sacrifice nonetheless. Your baby may have food intolerances or other issues that cause you to learn more about the gut and food relationship than you ever cared to know before.
#6 Your child becomes your first priority within seconds of being born. That may not always be the case with the father, but you are capable of raising this baby on your own.
#7 Forget schedules. Schedules are not for the early days. Your baby has needs, and those needs should be met on demand. Save the routine for a few months down the road.
#8 Every time you leave the house, remember: “Clean diaper, Full belly.” It will make your errands so much easier.
#9 Baby wearing can save your sanity.
#10 You do you. There are so many mothers (and women in general) who ‘know best.’ But the truth is that their advice is neither helpful nor productive. Follow your instincts, and your parenthood beliefs.
#11 TRUST YOUR GUT. Let all the advice act as references, but not as your reality. Your gut is never wrong.
#12 You may have to fight for your baby. This may include standing your ground on keeping a son intact, or keeping formula away from baby. It may mean fighting for answers when no one believes there is a problem. You may fight long and hard to be heard, but you will be heard. Mama Bear never backs down.
#13 The early months can be lonely. A spouse that works a lot will not understand how exhausting your days are, or how little interaction you experience. Going 12 hours or more without another adult conversation every day can make you feel isolated and depressed.
#14 Becoming a mother does not mean that you are no longer a wife to your partner. Yes, baby comes first, but that doesn’t mean that your marriage comes last. Staying connected is important.
#15 Identity crisis is real. You may miss your old life. This does not mean that you don’t love motherhood, it just means that life is different and you need time to adapt to the new normal.
#16 You will need to find you again. Getting lost in the day-to-day newborn stage means no work, no working out, having people help you do everything. It is easy to lose who you are in it all, and it takes time to find you again.
#17 There are no perfect families, no perfect mothers, and no perfect babies. The grass is not greener on the other side.
#18 Becoming a stay-at-home-mom is not as easy as it sounds. There is a huge lifestyle change that comes, including a new budget, which may cause stress in the relationship.
#19 Your hair starts falling out around 3 months postpartum and doesn’t stop until at least 7-8 months postpartum.
#20 Accepting help is not accepting defeat. It is the opposite actually.
#21 Separation from baby can be physically painful.
#22 Standing in the shower, watching the water roll down the place a large belly just was can be very emotional. You may suddenly miss pregnancy.
#23 The days are slow, but the time goes fast. You will miss it all, even the overwhelming moments.
#24 Other mothers will be very defensive about their parenting style, especially when it is different than yours. An old friend may not agree with you and it can alter the friendship.
#25 You are never an expert, not even when baby #2, 3, 4, or 5 is on the way.
#26 No one tells you that your breasts go through a rollercoaster of sizes.
#27 Seeing the dentist is extremely important, as pregnancy can cause gum problems.
#28 Bringing your baby home may not be immediate. No one plans for that, but knowing it is a possibility can help you realize your priorities.
#29 Freezer meals are the best idea ever.
#30 You will experience “Jelly Belly” for at least 3 months after giving birth. This is the time in which your abdomen feels like a foreign object on your body.
#31 Newborns sleep A LOT. It takes about 4-6 weeks before they ‘wake up’ and you experience the sleeplessness!
#32 There will be weird things - like the umbilical cord falling off, hard lumpy breast tissue, odd colored poop, spit up, rashes, and other baby oddities; not to mention issues for mama like mastitis, lochia, thrush, exhaustion, and so many other possibilities!
The thing to remember is that it is all worth it. In the moment, it will seem hard... but your heart will have never felt so much love.