Newborn life…you think you are prepared until you are actually living it. I had read all the books, taken all the classes, scoured through the mom blogs and truly believed I knew ‘what to expect’. Oh my, how I was mistaken. Nothing really prepared me for those next few weeks, and the thing is nothing really can. If you are an expecting mom or plan on becoming a mother someday do not let that scare you. Everyone’s experience is unique and each person handles it differently. However, I thought it would be helpful and also therapeutic for me to share my experience from the moment Stella came into this world to present day. Buckle up!
It was not love at first sight.
My first reaction when my doctor handed me Stella was complete shock. One moment I am pushing and then boom, my Dr. is presenting me this baby, “here she is!”. Yes, I knew exactly what would happen. Yes, I knew I was pushing out a baby bla blah. But wow, there is nothing like that moment…it is absolutely surreal. And I couldn’t cry. I held her close, did skin to skin but no tears. Meanwhile my husband is gushing, and here I was just staring at this tiny stranger who is my daughter wondering what was wrong with me. The truth is it takes a while for that shock factor to wear off, but I promise it does. Even to this day though I am still in awe Stella is all ours. I was afraid to share my initial feelings with others, but once I did I realized a lot of other moms actually experience the same emotions. I wish I knew this was “normal” because I for a while I thought something was wrong with me.
For a while my baby seemed like a stranger to me.
There are no words to describe the love I felt for Stella. It is this immense connection, an unconditional love I never knew was even possible. So how could I feel all this yet still feel likemy daughter was a stranger? Newborns sleep and eat. And when she ate she didn’t want to eat from me which could have been a factor. Other than eating there really is not much interaction from baby to parent at this point. The day she smiled at me it all changed. Just when I thought my heart couldn’t get any bigger, it actually exploded into a thousand tiny pieces. And 6 months in I find my heart is still expanding with every day, every smile and each new skill learned.
The first night in the hospital was brutal.
I think this was mainly because I had so many issues with breastfeeding. I had nurses/lactation consultants in and out of my room all night. One minute they were there to take my temperature or blood and the other time they are manhandling my boobs. Stella is screaming and I am already feeling like a failure at motherhood. Jeff slept through ALL of this. He was snoring away in his sweet slumber. For a split second, I actually wanted to kill him.
My body hurt.
Everything from the mesh panty diaper to my deflated tummy…I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Childbirth is no joke. Women are incredible.
I second guessed EVERYTHING.
Am I putting on this diaper, right? Should she be sleeping in that? Is this the right swaddle? How do we give a bath again? Those first weeks I questioned every little detail. The worst is that there are SO MANY different opinions/methods of how to do things that it can actually drive youinsane if you let it. My mom wisely advised me to just trust my instincts. She was so right.
My hormones were more whacky postpartum.
I cried a lot. And it did not take much to cue the tears. I was super sensitive, moody, and full of anxiety. The lack of sleep didn’t help. Jeff thought something was wrong with me. Afterspeaking with my dr. I learned that this was all totally normal. Supposedly it takes some time for your hormones to adjust to your body not being pregnant anymore. This sucked. I felt like I was on an emotional rollercoaster with 0 ounce of control.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION IS REAL.
I think this was the worst part because sleep deprivation exacerbates everything else. Sleepless nights are part of becoming a new parent and everyone from your neighbor to your close family members warn you. But it is really freaking awful. I felt like I was in a permanent fog, sleepwalking through my days. Forget having an actual conversation. The thought alone left me exhausted. It is so hard to simply function as a grown adult. As a result, I ended up doing stupid things like locking myself out of my car grocery shopping with a 4-week-old. Jeff had to travel a few times on business in those first weeks and it was really hard without him. I remember sitting on the stairs at 2am with my head in my hands hysterically crying because Stella was inconsolable. As I mentioned above I cried a lot.
The sound of crying gave me severe anxiety.
I swear I always heard crying in my head. It got to the point where any baby in general that was crying triggered a severe case of anxiety in me. I have never dealt with anxiety like this before and it was awful. I had trouble falling asleep because I was constantly anticipating the next wakeup. I spoke to my doctor and she said this, like the hormone situation was normal. She prescribed me Xanax. I could have kissed her feet. It still triggers a little something in me when Stella cries, but I think that comes with being a mom.
Those first two weeks I did not want to leave my house, or cook, or clean or be a real human.
How do new moms have the time OR the energy to put effort into their appearance? It baffles me. I tried once to blow dry my hair and put makeup on and then all I wanted to do was take a nap. It took me a while before I had the energy or the urge to “get dressed”. Most days I lived in my pjs until 2pm, un-showered. This was not by choice. Having a newborn is draining and time consuming.
It was hard on my marriage for a bit.
The first two weeks when Jeff was on paternity leave were awesome. He was there for my every need. We were in this together! And I felt our marriage become even stronger. Then he went back to work and back to living his old life; going to the gym showering and you know being a normal adult. Here I was still in my pajamas at 2pm, not sleeping, not showering, and still wearing a damn maxi pad wondering what the hell happened to my body. I resented him and how quickly he got to be “normal” again. It was really hard and we fought a lot. I am not sure exactly what changed but eventually we turned a corner. I think it took me some time to learn our new normal and also feel semi- human again as well.
I felt like everyone needed me and I couldn’t deliver…
This was especially true for my dog. I felt so bad for him. Think about it, one minute it is just thethree of us and then boom- here is a little baby who we constantly doted on all day and night. I swear he even looked exhausted some mornings. I also felt like I sucked as wife too because I just couldn’t get a grip some days!
Breastfeeding is hard.
This did not come easy for me. It was so difficult I even dedicated a whole blog post to it here. Oh, and it hurts…
A Schedule changed our life.
Not everyone is a fan of putting their child on a schedule or sleep training. And that is totally fine, but I am all for it! After two weeks I started a schedule with Stella. I read the Moms On Call book and followed their method which worked like a charm. It wasn’t easy at first and took some time. Eventually though as promised by the book’s authors it clicked. Stella was sleeping through the night consistently at 8 weeks. We put her to sleep at 6:30/7pm and she gets up around 7am (I even have to wake her most days). The women who wrote this book are an absolute godsend and a blessing. A few people knocked on the fact I had my newborn on a “schedule” but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Stella is such a happy well rested baby and I accredit it all to the Moms on Call way. Even my husband raves about it. #lifechanging & totally worth a small sacrifice in the beginning. Promise.
It gets better…
As a new mom the beginning is so tough. I felt like I had no idea what the hell I was doing but with each week it became easier and way more fun. This stage brought along many challenges but nothing beats newborn snuggles. I am already nostalgic. The past few months have been some of the most challenging yet rewarding moments in my life. Some days I look at Stella in complete awe. We have never been more in love. Other than meeting my husband, becoming a mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Advice (if you want it) for new first-time moms ….
- Extend tons of grace. In those first couple weeks you and your baby are just getting to know each other. And as you can tell by reading this post, it is a huge transition period for everyone especially you.
- You will sleep again. I promise.
- Snuggle that baby. The newborn phase went by SO fast. It all goes too fast.
- Do not wish this time away. Even if you feel shitty and like a hot mess most days. I did and I wished for the day Stella would interact with me and to simply feel better. Well, now I am already missing the newborn stage. I was so worried about everything from trying to breastfeed to sleeping that I felt like it took away from some of my time with Stella. If I am blessed to be able to have another baby I will be way more relaxed and less stressed.
- Trust your gut. God chose you to be their mother and for that reason alone you know what is best for your baby. Relax, it will come to you.
- Try to not feel guilty. You are doing your best and for that reason alone you are doing a great job.
- It is ok to be miserable. There is no shame and it is totally normal. You can still love your baby and feel like a mess.
- Enjoy being a mom. I feel everything on such a deeper level and see the world in a softer light. Having a child is the best gift and I count my blessings every day. <3