It’s often said, but the transition into motherhood was both the best and one of the most challenging times in my life. After the arrival of my son, I could not imagine my life without him. The blessings and overwhelming love I felt for him were so real.
So were the baby blues. The transition, for me, encompassed many emotions I never realized I would feel as a new mom. I didn’t expect joy and happiness to parallel feelings like anxiety or guilt. I quickly learned the paradox of new life and recovery—and how it occurs during one of the most fragile and precious moments of life.
Yet, now that I have been through a small piece of the parenting puzzle, I can reflect back on what helped me through the transition. So often, it seems advice is given for how to care for a baby, but the mom (and dad!) are left out of the equation. For me, it helped most to know that others had been through the same thing. My hope is that my story can help encourage new moms like me.
Here are my reflections after 10 weeks:
- It’s OK to cry. We were not made to feel 13 emotions at one time. It is overwhelming, but it will pass. It might take time.
- Get out of the house once each day. The sunlight and change of scenery is so nice, and babies tend to like this also. If the weather isn’t favorable, go to Target (some of my son’s best naps happened there!).
- Find other moms to connect with and share ideas.
- Always have snacks on hand.
- Be honest with your doctor about your questions, emotions and physical healing.
- No overnight visitors until at least one month.
- Let the guilt go. (This one is tough.)
- Turn off the phone.
- Try to document or record important events. It’s fun to look back on the memories! Write out a birth story (but, OK, sugarcoat the TMI stuff a little) even if you want to be the only person to read it.
- Work out a schedule (if you’re a scheduled type of person) for the day and work in quiet time or break time for yourself and your husband.
- Don’t feel bad if you want alone time.
- Don’t feel bad if you don’t want alone time.
- It’s not anyone’s business how you feed your baby.
- Let go of your expectations. Life does not always go as planned.
- Be proud of the successes (even if it’s a trip to the grocery store for the first time or figuring out how to put on a Moby wrap).
- Call for help from professionals…even at midnight. Bonus points if your call is transferred to the on-call physician.
- Remember to thank those who supported you through meals, gifts and words of encouragement, and pay it forward to another new mom.
- Don’t run out of Diet Coke.
- All other things can wait. It might feel selfish, but work, family trips and housework can happen another day. Holding your baby cannot.
Most of all, take advice given (such as this!) for what it is. Luckily, you will forget most of the advice you’re solicited. Only you know what to do; and your baby loves you for this.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23