I’m so excited to start this new series on the blog – “things I wish I knew”. My goal for this series is to be open and honest about my experiences in parenting, marriage, and just life in general so that we can all feel like there is someone else out there in the world going through the same hardships and triumphs as us.
First up in the series – new mama hood! I didn’t have a ton of mom friends before becoming a mom myself. Even with the excessive amount of reading and research I did and classes I took while pregnant; there were still so many things that took me by surprise when I became a mom for the first time. This is the most personal topic I’ve shared about so far, but I’m a firm believer in sharing the hard stuff so other new moms can be prepared for the wild ride they are about to embark on. Because that’s the best way to describe it – it’s an amazing, fulfilling, extremely hard, WILD RIDE.
The First Few Days Postpartum
Having kids on the younger side of the spectrum, I definitely misjudged how quickly I would “bounce back” from labor. I figured since I would be a young mom, my body would magically go right back to the 21 year old version of itself. 🤦🏻♀️ I wish I would have lowered my expectations so that I could give myself much more grace in those first few days postpartum (and months, really). My belly was extremely swollen, my body felt unstable, and my ability to do normal things, like use the bathroom, was all changed. I wish I would have allowed myself to just sit on the couch and stare at my incredible newborn instead of feeling the need to run around, taking care of everything and everyone. I had an amazing support system and I should have used them more – something I’m still learning how to do.
I was SO unprepared for the emotional and physical changes breastfeeding would bring about in me. I knew it would be hard, and painful, and exhausting. I had no idea that it might take an extreme amount of hard work to make breastfeeding work for my newborn. That my body might tear, and I may not always be able to pump as much milk as my baby needed. The emotional connection I formed with my baby while breastfeeding was intense and so special because no one else could feel that connection besides me. I am forever grateful for the lactation consultants, friends, and especially my husband, that got me through the tough times and on to the amazing times. I was good at reaching out for help in this area and I am incredibly proud of myself for nourishing two children.
Ohhhhhh sleep. Everyone tells you that you won’t be getting much sleep with a newborn and you think you understand that going into it. But you just plain don’t. There is no way to fully understand how crazy sleep deprivation makes you. It tests your marriage, your ability to function normally, and definitely your emotions. This is another area where I cannot suggest enough to get onboard with giving yourself an extreme amount of grace. I’m four years into this motherhood journey and still often do not get a full night’s sleep due to my precious children. I give myself grace on those days. Grace that the workout may not happen, we may be eating a drive through meal for dinner instead of having a home cooked meal, and a cuddle with my husband may be as far as it goes that night. Taking care of yourself and asking for help after getting no sleep is essential.
Connecting With Your Baby
This may be the biggest area I did not know about. I always pictured myself having a baby and it being the most amazing experience filled with overwhelming love from the first moment I saw them. While that did happen in some ways, it also took me much longer than I ever expected to form that deep bond with my baby… and that is SO scary to admit! After talking with other moms, I’ve discovered that this is in fact super normal and common. With all of the sleep deprivation, pressure to breastfeed and do everything perfectly, and the drastic life changes you are going through, it’s easy to get lost in the stress. Because of this, forming that deep connection with your baby may take a little longer. AND THAT’S OK!!
The Sense of Fulfillment
Lastly, I had no idea how fulfilled motherhood would make me. I’ve been on top at work and received all the praise. I’ve done well in school and won in sporting events. The fulfillment I discovered after becoming a mom was nothing like this. Feeding my child, teaching them something new, or just making it out of the house with my newborn made me feel an empowerment like I’ve never felt before. Motherhood has been the most trying and difficult role I’ve ever taken on in life, but it’s also been the absolute most rewarding role. Through all of the ups and downs, I can truthfully say that I would not change it for anything.
Please reach out to me for any other questions or to share your own story! I’m always happy to tell it like it is. I won’t try to scare you, but I also want you to be prepared and excited for your own mamahood journey! It’s the journey of a lifetime. 💗