I am officially six weeks into this whole motherhood thing and slowly but surely learning the ropes. This motherhood thing y’all, it is hard. It is equal parts fulfillment and feeling like you don’t know what the hell you are doing. That is motherhood and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. HA! I am kidding about that last part, but seriously. It is no joke.
I remember when I was pregnant, I immersed myself in baby books. Reading as much as I could about babies and what is normal and how to get through the first weeks of this new journey. Of course, let’s be real here, reality isn’t taught in a book. And even though I felt like I had prepared myself well, there were LOTS of things I was not prepared for experiencing as a new mom. So I wanted to share a couple of the things that took me by surprise. Things I was not at all prepared to experience upon bringing a baby into this world.
Breastfeeding is Hard
When you read the books, you think that breastfeeding is this magical time between mother and child where nature runs its’ course. But the reality is that for many, breastfeeding takes a huge amount of practice for both you and your baby. It may seem like breastfeeding for your baby is instinctual, but in my experience, it took a lot of hard work to get him to consistently feed. From the beginning, the diligence and assertiveness is required in order to ensure your baby latches properly and receives full feeds. Once you get that down, you enter into growth spurts where you literally feel like a dairy cow feeding around the clock every hour or sometimes more. And of course, there are the nights where it is up to you to wake up and feed throughout the night before you introduce any bottles.
And yes, certainly, there are times when feeding Levi is SO rewarding. It isn’t all bad. Feeding him is our time together that nobody else in this world gets with him but his momma. But there are also times where it is INSANELY hard. There are times when it is utterly exhausting and seemingly never ending, especially those first few weeks. I truly did not anticipate how much time and dedication is needed to sustain a baby completely from you and you only. If you plan to breastfeed, take note. There will be times where you’ll question yourself, your sanity, and want to give up. Power through it and if needed, seek help from a lactation consultant (sooner rather than later). Eventually you’ll find a rhythm and feedings won’t be so frequent or time consuming.
Sometimes It is Lonely
The first few weeks you’ll spend entertaining visitors as everyone comes to visit the new baby, but then you hit a point where it is no longer new and the visitors stop. Dad returns back to work and there you are. Sleep deprived, feeding machine, and sole baby provider Mom, all by yourself. I like to think of myself as a hyper-homebody. I could spend an entire weekend at home without ever leaving the house and be happy as a clam. But there have been times when I am here at home taking care of Levi where I haven’t left or haven’t had physical human interaction (besides my hubby) for days on end. There have been times where it has been lonely and where it has felt like you have nobody in the world in your corner.
Of course, the reality of that is that it is crazy to even begin to think that. I am blessed to have a tribe of people who are one phone call or text away when I am feeling isolated. With time, I finally got confident to venture out and let me tell you, even a trip to the grocery store can completely change your day when you are feeling lonely. The important part about this one is recognizing it and doing something about it! Whether that be taking a walk, calling someone to take your baby so you can have a date with your husband, or even having a few friends “on call” to reach out to when you are feeling lonely. It is a normal feeling and it happens to more women than you think.
There is No Normal
This one is probably the one I struggled with the MOST. What is normal for one baby may not be normal for another and nobody tells you what is normal and what isn’t. Being a new parent, you are FULL of concerns and questions all the time. Seriously, y’all would die laughing at my Google Search history. I guarantee it contains endless questions regarding anything and everything baby. We are lucky to have found a wonderful pediatrician who we have had a great relationship with as we work through Levi’s reflux. But she is the first to admit, there is no normal. Babies can go through a wide array of behaviors, symptoms, and other concerns that can all be considered “normal” for your baby, but may not be normal for someone else’s baby.
And on the other end of the spectrum, a lot of “mom concerns” get chalked up as “normal newborn behavior”. The reality is that there may not be a whole bunch of conclusive or definitive answers to the questions swirling around in your mind, Momma. And much of what we end up questioning goes on just fine. But at the end of the day, you are the one who decides what is normal and what isn’t normal for your little one. You are the one who spends 24/7 with them and know their behaviors. If you recognize or notice a behavior that isn’t “normal” for your baby that is consistently recurring or seems to be bothersome for your little one, it is best to give the doctor a call.
You Don’t Need as Much as You Think You Do
When I was pregnant, especially towards the end, my nesting got REAL. I felt so unprepared for bringing a baby into the world and I compensated that by purchasing everything I thought I would need for a baby. Turns out, a lot of what I bought we haven’t used. I shared our essentials on the blog and honestly much beyond that (add in the no brainers), we haven’t used all that much. Certainly as he grows and changes, what we use will change and morph. But the first few weeks, you don’t need much to sustain the life of your new baby. Not much at all.
And my biggest piece of advice before you invest a whole bunch of money into all these motorized contraptions, wait to see what your baby likes and if possible, borrow and try some out before purchasing. Otherwise you will end up with a contraption that takes up space, costs a fortune, and collects dust because your baby never uses it.
You’ll Do Anything to Soothe Your Kid
Remember before you had kids and you said things like “when we have kids we will never (insert something here)”? Do you remember that? Yeahhhh…. that’ll change. You’ll do things you said you’d never do. And you’ll do them without thinking twice. Caring for your baby’s well being is something that just comes innate. It is amazing actually, suddenly, overnight you just become this person who is willing to make all kinds of sacrifices and give up so much in order to ensure that your baby starts off on the right path.
For the hubs and I, that was a pacifier. We both said we would never give our kid a pacifier. Low and behold, it didn’t take long before we were buying up every brand to find one that works for Levi. As humor would have it, he now is barely interested in ever taking a pacifier but that may also change, once again.
You’ll Have to Work Hard Not to Feel Guilty
Everyone always tells you about mom guilt and how it is a thing. And let me tell you, it is a thing. Mom guilt is real. And most of the time, when you think about it, it is INSANE. But it is still real. For example, you are a new mom of a newborn (hardest job you’ll ever do), you are sleep deprived and exhausted. Someone offers to watch your baby so you can get a moment to yourself. I guarantee you the first couple times you walk away from that baby, you’ll feel guilty. You’ll feel bad for leaving your baby. BUT, Momma, you deserve a break and you don’t need to feel guilty about it AT ALL. Taking a break and sometimes walking away makes us all better moms. It helps us compose ourselves and gives us a moment to breathe so that we can tackle the hard days with grace. Don’t let yourself walk down the path of continual Mom guilt. You are doing the best job you can as a Mom. TELL YOURSELF THAT EVERY DAY!!
You’ll Love Like You Never Did Before
I know, I know. This one is cliche, but it is also so true. Everyone always says they find a new type of love when they bring a child into this world. And it is without a doubt, truth. Once that baby enters this world, it’s like a new part of your heart forms. God designed this part of life so beautifully because even though you may be at your wits end and ready to burst into tears, one look or smile from that little life you created and suddenly it all fades away. The smiles, the cuddles, the giggles, and eventually the “I love you’s” make parenting all worth every bit of struggle. Soak up those moments and truly, truly enjoy them while you can!