I’m not sure what I thought my first weeks as a new mom would look like. I guess, subconsciously, I had some fantasy picture in my mind that it would be perfect and things would go just the way I had imagined them. We all know that is not how it happened because it never does!
My husband and I were lucky enough to be discharged from the hospital the day after I delivered and my mom stayed with us for the first week and a half after I gave birth. I know some people would give anything for their mom to just be there for them or to help them after delivery or to even just be able to speak to them one more time. It was so nice having her to just take the baby in the morning for a few hours while I closed my eyes for a bit after a long night of feeding and changing diapers. It was nice to have her help clean the kitchen, do the dishes, and hang up the laundry. I was dreading the day she had to leave, and like I knew I would, I bawled when I had to hug her goodbye.
During the week she was here I thought it was going to be easy. I mean, we had 6 hands to help whenever the baby needed something or the dogs needed fed or dinner needed cooked. But it still wasn’t easy and I don’t think that all the hands in the world could help you or prepare you for the first few weeks of being a new mom.
So here are the top 10 things I learned the first few weeks as a new mom (along with a sweet picture of my little who has taught me everything):
1. It’s OK To Cry
There will come a time in those first few weeks were tears will start flowing down your face and your spouse will ask you why you are crying and through the flood you will mutter “I don’t know”! The hormones are still flowing from pregnancy and you are trying to adjust to life with a newborn. It’s OK! It’s OK to cry for no reason. It’s OK to cry because you look at the miracle you have created. It’s OK to cry because the days and weeks are flying by and you don’t want your little one ‘growing’ up. It’s OK! Soon the hormones will straighten out, your body will adjust to no sleep, and you will somehow look forward to seeing your little one grow up. Even if it’s for just a few weeks or even for months, it’s OK to cry!
2. It’s OK To Think You’re Failing
I can’t tell you how many times I felt like I was failing. My poor baby didn’t eat for two days when we got home from the hospital because of latch issues. She depended on me and I was failing her. The same week we found out she had blocked tear ducts, the next week she got a bad diaper rash, and the week after that she started having bad gas pains. In the first 3 weeks of her little life I had to give my poor baby girl, who I had hoped would only need my milk to survive, Erythromycin for her eyes, Probiotics and Gripe Water for her stomach, Simethicone drops for the gas, Vitamin D drops because she is breastfed, generic diaper rash cream, then a compound prescription diaper rash cream, and baking soda baths! I seriously felt like I was failing as her mom because I couldn’t take all these issues away from her. I would sit there and cry with her when she was in pain from so much gas. I honestly don’t think this feeling will ever go away, but know that you are not the only mom who feels like a failure. We are doing the best we can for the most important person in our lives and that is what matters! It’s OK to think you’re failing, it just means you deeply care!
3. It’s OK For Plan’s to Fail
I had this idea of what I thought postpartum life would be like and how I envisioned life with a newborn. I wanted everything to go just right. I wanted to be able to anticipate her every need. I wanted her to sleep in her pack ‘n play. I wanted breastfeeding to come easy. I didn’t want to give her a pacifier till at least 4 weeks. I wanted to have my house in decent shape when my husband came home every day. I still wanted my dogs to feel loved. But as you can guess, these things didn’t happen. Even weeks later I still don’t have a clue what she wants half the time. She sleeps in the rock ‘n play because she has to be swaddled at night and can roll to her side when swaddled in the pack ‘n play. Breastfeeding has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done (besides deliver her with no epidural/pain medication). I caved and gave her a pacifier at 2 days old because she was flat-out screaming for an hour and I didn’t know what else to do (of course she loved it). After my mom left, my house was no longer spotless. The dishes and laundry started piling up and my poor dogs had been neglected in the love department because my sole focus was her. I am learning that God is in control and he had a different plan. I am learning to let go of the guilt I feel for not having it all together. I’m learning it’s OK for my plan’s to fail because I am not in control!
4. It’s OK To Take Them Out
Contrary to popular belief, it is ok to take your little one out in public. Even though I never thought I would, I took her grocery shopping when she was just a few days old. I took precautions and kept her in the car seat with her Milk Snob cover on and I didn’t let anyone look in or touch her, but still we went out! When you’re already out for a doctor’s appointment or you just need to get out of the house for your own sanity, don’t be afraid to go to the store. Obviously, use your own judgement and use caution but don’t let others opinions influence you and your decisions on when they think its safe for you to take your little one out into public. It’s OK to take them out, they will survive….I promise!
5. It’s OK To Take Other’s Opinions With A Grain of Salt
The last sentence in number 4 brings me to our number 5. Everyone is going to have their own opinion. Whether it’s your Facebook friends, your best friend, your parents or your in-laws, everyone is going to have an opinion on how they would care for a baby. Even in my pregnancy I started to learn to take what others said with a grain of salt. If you don’t, number 2 will be more prevalent than ever. You are your child’s mother and you CAN make your own decisions about what is best for YOUR child. The other thing I learned about people’s opinions is that 99% of them only give advice because they care. Maybe I am naive, but I honestly don’t believe people wish ill will upon others and especially not on their little ones. Even though people do care, it’s still OK to take other’s opinions with a grain of salt because, after all, it is YOUR child!
6. It’s OK To Sleep Instead of Shower
Obviously personal hygiene is important. But sometimes when you have been up every hour of the night and you’ve rocked and walked the halls till your eyes are crossed, you just need to sleep. People say to get yourself dressed in the mornings and do your make up, even if you are just staying home. They say it will make you feel accomplished (these people have obviously never had a newborn). While this may be true, I know I can’t feel any type of accomplishment on zero sleep. Sleeping when my little one slept is the only way I managed to survive for the first few weeks. There were times where I didn’t shower for several days and there were times where I didn’t wash my hair for a week. You might not look the prettiest or smell the greatest, but as long as you are able to get some shut-eye it is all worth it. Our brains need to be able to function to care for another human being and that can’t be accomplished if we are constantly choosing other things over sleep. It’s OK to sleep instead of shower…your brain will thank you!
7. It’s OK To Fear Falling Asleep
Speaking of sleep, I remember our first night at home. I was so exhausted, but for some reason I couldn’t sleep. My little one was peacefully sleeping in her rock n’ play and there I was wide awake just staring at her. Even in the hospital after being up for 43 hours straight I still couldn’t just shut my eyes for a few minutes in fear something would happen to her. That first night I was so tired and the nurse kept coming into check on us and every time she would tell me to close my eyes for a bit. Instead, the next time she would find me standing or walking the baby around. Eventually she offered to take her to the nursery for a few hours while I slept. I never in a million years thought I would want someone else to watch my baby the very first night, but in my sleep deprived state, I agreed. And let me tell you, those three hours of sleep where exactly what I needed. When we got home I didn’t have a nurse to help me or a nursery to send her to. I had to learn that just because I closed my eyes didn’t mean something would happen to her. We did end up breaking down and buying the Owlet which is a device that monitors the babies heart rate and oxygen stats and alerts you when they’re abnormal. While it doesn’t replace your own eyes and ears, it did help me sleep at night knowing that if, for some reason, she did stop breathing I had something to help alert me when she couldn’t. But just know that it’s OK to fear falling asleep, it once again just means you care.
8. It’s OK To Get Frustrated
Before giving birth I never thought that I would get frustrated. I am a pretty patient person but this season of life is something I had never experienced before. Going along with number 2, I found myself getting frustrated. I didn’t always know what she wanted. Breastfeeding was just hard. I had to give her so much medication her first few weeks of life. The house was a mess. I couldn’t give my dogs the attention they needed. It’s down right frustrating. But I’ve learned that it’s OK. It’s OK because it means I care. I care about her and her well-being. I care about my home and how it is kept. I care about my dogs and their emotions. Therefore, it’s OK to get frustrated.
9. It’s OK To Forget
When I was pregnant I definitely had pregnancy brain. I lost my keys for 2 weeks before I delivered. I knew I had put them in a bag, but what bag and where that bag was had left my mind the moment I put them wherever I did! A few days after she was born I thought we were just gonna have to break down and call a lock smith, which isn’t cheap. I decided to give one last-ditch effort to find them and started tearing the house apart. I had my husband dig through the trash, look through Christmas boxes, and check every crack and crevice. I finally found them in my hall closet in a bag (I had remembered at least something) full of Scentsy stuff, a gift from my sister-in-law. I thought for sure once I gave birth the pregnancy brain would dissipate. I was wrong. Instead, it just got renamed ‘mom brain’. I found myself questioning what side I finished breastfeeding her on or what time I last fed or changed her. This is why number 6 is so important! I forgot all these things partially because I was sleep deprived, but also because my brain was now filled with a million things I had to do to keep another human alive. Give yourself grace, it’s OK to forget, eventually you will remember.
10. It’s OK To Hold Them
I always thought that I didn’t want to hold my baby too much in fear they wouldn’t be independent or that they wouldn’t want anyone else but me. The moment I saw my little ones face, that feeling changed. All I wanted to do was hold her. I even had this jealous feeling deep inside when others would want to cuddle her. I am sure some of it was hormonal, but the motherly instinct you get when you have a baby is so strong and all you want to do is love on them. I remember my first week just looking at her and crying because I couldn’t believe how much I loved her already. It was like my heart was exploding every time I looked at her. I would sit there and rock her and stare at her in amazement. I quickly learned how fast they grow and that I needed to soak in every moment with her because she wouldn’t be little for long, and pretty soon she wouldn’t want me to hold her. So go ahead momma, it’s OK to hold them!
While those first few weeks are hard and will challenge you in every way possible, just know momma you are not alone. The weeks will fly by and your little one will not be so little for long. Just know those feeling you are feeling are normal. It’s OK!