Congrats! You just had a new bundle of joy – or maybe you’re going to be having one any day now. This is truly an exciting time of your life! But there are some things you should know. It doesn’t matter whether you give birth, adopt, or become a mom in some other way – it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
Don’t get me wrong – being a mom is, by far, the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life. Yet there are some things far too many people don’t talk about. So I’m about to get very real with you!
Let’s just get this out of the way immediately… Becoming a mom – no matter what way you do that – is hard. There is no guidebook. Everyone has different opinions. And it’s just flat out hard at times.
Feeling All the Feels is Fine
I’ve heard too many people say you’re not supposed to feel a certain way after having a baby. I say that’s all BS. Only YOU can truly experience the thoughts and emotions going through your body. Only YOU know what’s going on inside of that head of yours. Only YOU have lived your life, so only YOU know the feelings you are going through. And that is all 100% ok!
I struggled with various emotions after the birth of both my children. My body was a hormonal wreck, and not everyone around me was as supportive as I would have liked. I’ve been told, “So you had blood clots, some women have died during childbirth!” And – my personal favorite – “Quit complaining about how hard this is! At least you were able to have a baby!”
Um…. Just because my experience was different from someone else’s does not mean it isn’t worthwhile. We all live different lives. And after having a baby – particularly if it was a child you carried inside your body – there are a lot of emotions that may take place. (Those emotions can be pretty crazy!) Experience them. Heck, you can even embrace them. But know it’s perfectly ok to get help with those emotions if they get out of control.
Every feeling you have is fine. Bringing a child into the world – through childbirth, adoption, or any other means – is a HUGE life event. Allow yourself to feel all the feels. You are human, and you are allowed to feel this experience differently than others have. And by feeling things, you are not diminishing others’ feelings. You are simply feeling your own.
You May Not Connect with Baby
While I personally did not go through this, I’ve heard far too many people say they didn’t immediately feel a connection with their child. This does not make you a bad mom. I repeat, this does NOT make you a bad mom!
Know that the minute you hold your child, you may not feel an instant connection. You may be exhausted from laboring and delivery. And there are hundreds of other reasons you may not instantly connect. Again – know this is perfectly ok. You will eventually bond and connect with this baby. You are a good mom!
Postpartum Depression is Real
I know I mentioned feeling all the emotions above, but know that postpartum depression and anxiety are REAL. Both can be flat out scary.
I had PPD with my son, but no one told me about it for weeks. I finally “passed” the screening test at his six-week checkup. THAT was the day I realized what those questions were for. No one told me, my partner at the time, or even my mom who had been to appointments with me. Why?! I could have gotten more support or help. But since I “wasn’t that bad”, no one thought to tell me. #FacePalm
After the birth of my second child, I could tell I didn’t have PPD. But it took me months to realize I had PPA. No one seemed to notice – not even my partner at the time. Of, if they did, they didn’t tell me. It took me until I thought I saw a man dressed in all black following me into my vehicle for me to realize I needed help. (There was no man. It was allllll in my head.) Mind you my daughter was nearly 18 months old when this happened. I should have reached out for medication, therapy, or something before it got that bad or went on that long!
There is nothing wrong with getting help. Talk to your spouse, a friend, even your doctor. Get the support you need – even if that means medication. I wish I had known more about this before my children were born. But I was clueless.
Your Body is Different
This one seems a bit obvious, but you’re body is going to be different after carrying a child. While you may get back into your pre-pregnancy jeans within a week, it could also be a year. There is no “right” timeline for “bouncing back”. Heck – I’m not even sure how many women truly “bounce” when they are taking care of a new child. Let’s get totally real – I HATE the phrase “bouncing back”. No. We are changed. Forever. The fact that our bodies show it is NOT a bad thing!
Do not compare yourself to those around you! Even if you do fit back into those pre-pregnancy jeans, there’s a good chance that you’re going to feel different. But still love and appreciate your body! It just carried a baby. Your body is wonderful. Love it.
Ignore the Naysayers
I hate this point, but it’s so true. I have never felt so judged in my life, until I became a mother.
“Oh, you’re using formula?”
“Why aren’t you…?”
“By this point, I was…”
Seriously. People need to just mind their own business. But since some of them won’t, just know that you are doing just fine. God gave you this baby for a reason! He knows you can handle it! And THAT is enough. You are enough! Ignore the naysayers.
(And although I’ve said it here on the blog before, I’m SO sorry to all the moms I judged before I had children! I was clearly clueless and had NO right talking about something I knew nothing about!! My most sincere apologies!)
Fed is Best!
I hate that I even have to write this point, but it seems to be an unending battle. Feed your baby. Period. If you are breastfeeding, good for you! If you opted for formula, go momma go! If you’re doing some type of mixture – yay! However you choose to feed your baby – GO YOU! A fed baby is a happy baby!! 🙂 Don’t let others ruin that for you.
Not only that, but you might not have a choice. Our son had to get formula starting about week four because he was on the verge of failure to thrive. I had tried everything the doctors, nurses, and lactation consultants recommended – yet I wasn’t producing enough milk. And – you know what? My son is perfectly fine! He’s a healthy, happy eight year old who has no idea that he was breastfed with a lot of formula supplementing.
Get the Help You Want – Or Don’t
I heard so many times when my children were little that I should let someone else watch them to have some time off. But – here’s the deal – I didn’t want a break. I love being around my kids all the time (well, 99% of the time).
You do you!
If you want to be with your child all the time, go for it! If you want someone to come over and help take care of the baby (or the older children because the same concept applies), then ask for help. You are not wrong for wanting one way or the other! It may be different than what others want, but that’s all it is – different. Again, you do you.
Don’t Stress How You Work
While we’re on the topic of you doing you – know the same applies to working. If you are a working mama who can’t wait to get back to work to hustle and grind every day – good for you! If you’re giving up your career (for now or forever) to cuddle and soak in every moment of this baby, good for you too! Working mom, stay at home mom, work at home mom, or whatever you may call it – my guess is that if you’re reading this post, you love your child. That is what matters.
You ARE Doing Enough
It’s so hard in today’s digital world to compare. We see all these “perfect” moms who have it all together – baby in cute clothes, make-up on, no extra weight, perfect toys for the kids, a clean home, a great meal on the table every night, and more.
I said it before, but it’s worth repeating.
You are enough. God gave this child to YOU because he knew YOU could handle it. No one promised that every day would be perfect or easy, but I can promise you this – if you are thinking about what you could be doing better (which every mom I personally know does!), then you are doing enough!