I feel like I have learned so much about myself as a new Mom. But there are a few things that “they” never told me I would experience as a new Mom. The “they” in this case is our culture, the idea that many new Moms have this beautiful experience and it’s easy is absurd. Because it’s not always beautiful, or easy. My house is a mess, I smell like sour breast milk, and sleep really is a thing of the past. My body is not my own, nor is my heart as a beautiful little girl has stolen it and all of my time.
Don’t get me wrong…I love my child and I love being a Mom. But adjusting to this new life in my home has had its challenges. Aside from the fact that I was in deep regret from not having the birth experience that I wanted, the first few days home were a bit stressful. I tried very hard to make them fun, and wonderful by having a houseful of people, and doing what I do to cope with stress: cook. I way over exerted myself the first few days and almost caused my incision to get infected.
I am very much an independent person, with an “I’d rather do it myself” attitude. And that was the first thing I learned. You cannot do it all alone. I waited too long to ask for help from my hubby. I was on the brink of a total breakdown before I communicated to him that I needed his help. It took me almost shutting down to make me realize that feeling resentful because he was sleeping and I was up doing the dishes and nursing a newborn, and trying to make something to eat and and and…was not the way to start out this new journey. I was a sobbing, exhausted mess. I even told him to leave the house because I was so mad.
So here is my list of things I have learned so far, I learn something new everyday but these are the gems.
1. Ask for help before you wig out and kick your partner out of the house. You have just done the most amazing thing that you’ll ever do, so as much as you want to be a SuperMom on Day 1…it ain’t gonna happen. Ask for refills on your water, or for a snack while you are nursing or feeding your new baby. Enjoy this time with your baby, and don’t worry about the dishes or the laundry.
2. Dressing your postpartum body sucks. So don’t pack up those maternity clothes just yet. You’ll need the extra belly room, and quite honestly…they are just far more comfortable. But yoga pants are the way to go…or any loungy pants for that matter because you won’t be leaving the house much those first few weeks other than for Dr. appointments and they don’t care what you look like. Invest is good, comfortable nursing bras…And you won’t know what those are until after your milk comes in. So get a few nursing camis…they are so much easier than bras anyway.
3. On the subject of postpartum bellies…get you some
bigger Granny panties…yeah. You’ll need em. If you have a C-Section you’ll need to keep anything tight off your incision. And those cute little panties of pre-baby days won’t be gracing your rear anytime soon.
4. Nipples stick to breast pads. Yeah…no one told me that one. And it hurts like a mutha. Invest in some of these
They are pretty amazing, and rather than a breast pad absorbing the precious milk you will leak, at the most inopportune times, they will collect it. Also great for other breastfeeding funness like inverted, or flat nipples.
5. Your boobs will be out…24/7 for the first few weeks. You will leak. Your boobs have a mind of their own, and come with this little alarm clock that won’t let you get much more than 2 hours of sleep so don’t worry about not waking up to your screaming baby at 2 am…those gargantuan breasts will wake you. They will make you sweat like a hog in August all night long. A let down can be painful…as in feeling like your nipples are being ripped off your body painful. So just be aware. It can still take my breath away at times it’s so painful.
6. You might not make enough milk. It will be really frustrating, and cause lots of feelings of inadequacy, and I gotta tell ya…it’s not your fault. Don’t quit, and don’t give into formula if you really want to EB (Exclusively Breast Feed). You’ll doubt yourself, but you can do this! (See #9 for re-enforcement!) There are things that you can do to help with your supply. Get some Mother’s Milk Tea, get some lactation cookies, or make your own. I made some, get the recipe here. Get comfortable with Cluster Feedings…those first few weeks, and also during growth spurts your new little joy will want to eat for hours on end. If you are nursing be prepared to not sleep much, or find a comfy nursing position where you can sleep.
7. You won’t always be able to “sleep when the baby sleeps” because you need to eat, and shower, and pee…and read the mail, and brush your hair. Make some “self-care time” a priority everyday. Because only getting to shower once a week is just nasty…and you’ll forget to brush your teeth for a few days before you realize that you can’t remember the last time you did. I’ve never been a very good sleeper, and having a newborn only made it worse. But daytime naps with your new snuggly bundle are really awesome.
8. You now run on “Baby Standard Time”…which is about 2 hours behind normal time. Only because the routine of getting baby ready to depart takes about 2 hours…from nursing/feeding to diaper changes…oh wait she spit up, so we need to change her clothes…to Oh man she just shat all over me! It’s a fun process.
9. Find your Mommy Tribe. Find a group of mommies, some new like you and some that are veterans. They will be an invaluable resource to you in those moments of doubt, those moments where you question everything you do…and be your sisters in support.
10. Finally…make time for your partner. The Hubby and I have made a tradition of a candle lit dinner every Sunday night. Sometimes The Bump is in her swing next to the table and we get only a few minutes to eat, and sometimes she is actually asleep in her bed and we get an hour. But we make time to spend just us, a little wine and some conversation. Yes, our conversation often revolves around some aspect of parenting, but it’s time nonetheless. I look forward to this so much during the week, because we don’t get much time together on weeknights.
Everyday brings new lessons, as I am sure they will until my child is an adult. Some of them fun, some of them hard…but I have found that if you can find the humor in all of those lessons the ride is so much more awesome. But I think the most important thing I’ve learned is to enjoy every single moment…these days go by way too fast.