Every new parent is unaware of just how much a child changes everything. Everyday things like sleeping, showering, cooking, and watching TV are going to be different. Relationships are going to be different as well. Everyone seems to give you advice, like enjoy every moment of this and sleep when the baby sleeps. I am not ashamed to say that I did not enjoy every moment of being pregnant and of being a new mother. I am sure that I am not alone in looking back at how I handled being a new mother and wishing I could go back in time to handle some things differently. So, if I had the opportunity to go back seven years and give my new-mother-self advice, I would!
- Not all the answers are in books. There is some good advice, but a lot of it is just nonsense.
- Do not compare yourself or your child to anyone else. What works for one family will most likely not work for you. Try to stay off social media as much as possible; this will only lead you to compare yourself to how other families look. Seeking advice online is okay, but do not compare. Plus, it just leads to online shopping for things I did not need.
- Take some deep breaths. Your child will react and feed off your mood, whether you are conscious of it or not. So, calm down. Put your child down if you need to and go wash your face with some cool water. Take a second to look yourself in the mirror and remind yourself that you got this!
- Let him help. There’s a reason that there are usually two parents. He probably wants to help but doesn’t know how to make you happy. So just let him do the dishes, or fold the laundry, or cook dinner, or take the baby for a few hours. And so what if he doesn’t do it your way; it’s getting done.
- Babies are going to cry, and it’s okay. If you are feeling stressed out each time your little one screams and cries, they are just trying to tell you something. If they are not hungry, or need a change, or are overtired, then they could just be uncomfortable, overstimulated, too warm, or teething. Just keep your cool, put your child down in their swing or bouncy chair, and start problem solving. Is their onesie making them uncomfortable? Is their diaper pinching them? Do they have a string wrapped around a toe? Are they teething? Is there a fever? If you just cannot figure it out, then run the vacuum. That always worked for me. At least the floors will be clean.
- Talk to your spouse and your doctor right away if your mood is not leveling off. No matter what your family says, it is okay to get help if you are suffering from postpartum. The sooner, the better. Many mothers go through it. They call it the fourth trimester for a reason.
- Many of the “friends” you had before kids are going to disappear. The women who said that they were going to visit often after you had the baby are not going to show up. They are going to forget you. But don’t worry, you will move on past them. They have their own messed up and unhappy lives to deal with; you are heading down a path that seems bumpy now, but it takes you to a sweet place. You are going to meet a whole new set of friends that compliment your family very well.
- Don’t fool yourself, his world changed too. Just because you are the one that is staying home from work to be home with the baby, it doesn’t mean that your husband’s world is back to normal. In fact, it has become much more complicated. He is getting up to go to work each day, despite the crying baby at night, and then coming home to a new baby and a stressed out wife (and whatever you just bought online). Your anger at him is rooted in your insecurity and postpartum.
- Remember to take care of yourself. Take a shower, eat some food, hydrate, rest when the baby sleeps, and quit your going-nowhere secretarial job sooner.
- Finally, you are doing fine. Your son is built to withstand new parenting mistakes. He is a happy baby, and will be a happy child. Trust your instincts and just be his mom.
In summary, to all of the new mothers out there who are feeling overwhelmed, self-conscious, doubtful, and/or alone, let me tell you that this phase is temporary, even though it doesn’t seem like it. Ask for help when you need it, talk to your husband about how you are feeling, cry when you need to, and most importantly, enjoy what you can with your new child.