Let’s start this off with a few intros or disclaimers, what ever you want to call the fact that I’m not a doctor, a professional, or anything that has any kind of degree in being perfect. Just a mom.
So you’re expecting your first baby? Time to plan a shower, decorate the baby’s room, pick out a name, and schedule maternity photos. Basically do everything to distract you from staring at the calendar. Pregnancy can be an amazing experience full of fun and learning. Pregnancy can also be vomiting non-stop, sleeping or never sleeping, and feeling a little bit on the “fluffy” side or so swollen that you can only wear flip-flops in January. No matter what, it’s all about that much-anticipated bun growing in the oven. The bun and the oven are a package deal, until the bun is done. The day you waited months for finally arrives. After months of waiting, hours or hopefully for some lucky ladies a few minuets of pushing, you get to hold your baby and finally experience true and unconditional love for someone you just met. Yes you love you spouse, but it’s different. Believe me, you’ll feel it. Everyone is excited about baby, and many forget about MOMMY.
The congrats start pouring in. “Can’t wait to meet her,” “She’s SO CUTE,” and “If you ever need a sitter….” Truth is, more than half of those people will never meet your baby, at least not while they are still wearing a onsie. Sounds harsh right? Well it’s true. Everyone wants to genuinely share in your excitement but when it comes down to making plans and spending time, it’s few and far between. It’s not their fault or your own. It’s just how things are now. Everyone is busy living their own lives and getting by day-to-day. Work, School, kids, whatever it is, the time just isn’t there. Don’t expect a never-ending line of people waiting at your door to hold the baby so you can shower for the first time in 3 days, bake you a casserole so your family can have a hot meal instead of Ramen and popcorn, or to keep you company on the long, lonely days once you are home alone with your new bundle. Family is a different story, for many. I’m talking more about the friends that you once spent every day in high school with, or the college buddy you won every beer pong game with aka all your friends who don’t have kids yet or the ones who already have five kids and no time to spare. Don’t be upset. It happens to all of us. If you think back, I’m sure you can think of 1 or 2 babies you said you were DYING TO MEET, and you never got around to it or finally made it to see them smash their first cake a year later. Better late then never! People are busy, people have good intentions, but people will put their lives first like they should most of the time. Expect to feel a little lonely. The world doesn’t revolve around you and your baby. Your baby is your world now.
Let’s back track to delivery day. You’re holding baby in your arms. Labor is already fading and all you can think about is the beautiful baby YOU created. The months YOU spent growing this precious life. All the things you want to do with YOUR baby. Then along comes dad, you lovingly pass baby to daddy, it’s really an amazing moment to see your big strong manly man melt looking at his baby girl or boy. You quickly take baby back so you can try the first latch or bottle. Then the real test comes: visitors. Your family starts pouring in. Now I’m going to be perfectly honest, I know I’m not alone, although some of you won’t admit you felt this way, I have zero shame admitting it. I HATED seeing other people hold my baby. Let me clarify. Dad is fine, siblings fine, my mother and father fine, my in-laws fine but starting to feel a little different. Then BAM. The cousin, aunt or uncle, who you’ve never met but they are related to your spouse walks in. They want to hold your baby (WASH YOUR HANDS AND DON’T YOU DARE TRY TO KISS THAT BABY) that you spent MONTHS holding inside you. “Awe look how cute she is,” she looks just like daddy. “EXCUSE ME?” We all feel it. The instinctual feeling to guard your territory, the mama bear feeling. That baby was part of you for 9 months. She should look like you, smell like you, smile like you, and be all about YOU. Of course you just grin and ‘bear’ it, but deep down you’re counting down the seconds until they give baby back. If you’re me you’re impatiently waiting to say its feeding time so every leaves and you can claim your baby again. Sounds insane, but it’s completely normal. You may not feel it as intensely as I did, but it’s there. Expect to feel very territorial. Try to relax, and remember you will have plenty of time with baby and after the initial newness wears off, baby will be all yours. At the same time do not be afraid to cut visits short and turn away visitors. Bonding time with mom, dad, and siblings is the most important thing. Visitors can wait. Just because that other ‘perfect’ mother had 20 flower arrangements, 10 balloons, 5 gifts, and every person they’ve met since high school visit doesn’t mean you need to. It’s you and your family’s day, spend it the way that makes you comfortable.
Now you’re home. You’re overwhelmed, that’s a given. You’re tired, obviously. And you’re lonely, not quite so obvious. You shouldn’t be lonely, you have this perfect little mini you with you all the time. You’re not at work (hopefully you have enough time off, that’s a whole other conversation). You have a list of super fun things to do involving baby: photos, visits, every little outfit you spent days searching for, and many more. The truth is, no matter what, you’re lonely. Days are long and sometimes fun but mostly long. You will feel like nothing you do is right, you have no idea what you are doing, and no one is there to help you. Even when dad or a family member is there, it’s still lonely. You can feel somewhat trapped by this little beautiful blessing. Don’t feel guilty, it’s a normal feeling. You spent your first 20-30 years of life doing what you wanted, when you wanted, and now your world revolves around someone else. Again, it’s completely normal. Don’t beat yourself up for it either. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask a friend or family member to come help you. Needing help doesn’t mean you’re any less of a mom, it means you’re smart enough to admit you need help and strong enough to ask for it. No mother is perfect, don’t let those Instagram moms fool you with all their perfectly edited photos, and make-up for days. They are tired, they are overwhelmed, and they are getting help because believe me. Expect to be lonely, it’s normal. Just remember the time with your baby is short and sweet. It’s literally one year of your life dedicated to this little life that depends on you. It’s a small sacrifice for something totally worth it. And yes I know, it’s more than a year, but that first year is one of the most challenging. The good and bad thing about time is, as it passes, so do our memories. All the bad times will fade, and you’ll look back on that year and remember the first little smile, the first tiny kick in the bath tub that splashed you, and the first night they slept for more than 2 hours at a time. You’ll be able to go out again, have fun, and experience fun in a new way with your family. Time tends to erase the not so fun memories and leaves behind the good ones (hopefully) otherwise why would anyone ever have a 2nd child? Kidding….maybe.
Now that I’ve completely made you feel like you’re going to be a bitter, mama bear, with no friends let’s talk about the great things to expect. Again, all normal.
Being a first time mother is hands-down the biggest and most rewarding accomplishment. I know some women won’t agree, that’s their right, but sacrificing your body for 9 months, dedicating your energy and time for the rest of your life, and bringing a healthy, happy baby into this world is truly amazing. It’s completely worth it. Every mother’s experience is different, don’t waste your time comparing yourself to anyone. Your baby isn’t comparing you to anyone, because for your baby, no one compares to his or her mommy.