Although I didn’t have that “love at first sight” new mom moment everyone talks about (more on that in this viral Instagram post) I did feel like becoming a mother came very naturally for me. Maybe it was because I had dreamed of finally becoming a mom for so long after we lost our first pregnancy with a missed miscarriage and so I had a unique gratitude for finally having our baby. Maybe giving birth just unlocked a part of me that was always there but my honest opinion of why I transitioned into motherhood easily was because I didn’t have any grand expectations or hold myself up to any crazy standards when it came to birth and motherhood. All I wanted was for me to be healthy and for my baby to be healthy.
The Fourth Trimester is REAL and it is TOUGH. There is just so much newness, so much learning on the go – it’s the most overwhelming thing I’ve ever done. I wish I found an article like this while I was going through it, so I wrote it in hopes that other mamas can relate and we can change some narratives about having a baby. Especially the sleep one – it’s so old and boring, AMIRITE?!
Here are a few things I wish someone had told me as I entered motherhood:
- You will sleep again. If I had a dollar every time someone yelled “Sleep while you can!” at me while pregnant, I’d be rolling in it. I know every baby (and parent) is different but there are a lot of great techniques and we know a lot more about babies and their sleep than we did 10, 20 years ago. We followed The Happiest Baby on the Block and took Taking Cara Babies newborn course. Margaux sleeps 10-13 hours a night and has for the most part since she was 3 months old. Do we still have the occasional wake up? YUP. Did we have two months of teething terror where NO ONE slept? Yup, that happened too. But it also didn’t last forever. You will sleep again.
- Your life will not be “over”. It will be different, that’s true. I believe you can even find your true self in motherhood. I also believe that may find you’re a totally different person as a mother. One guarantee is that being a mother will be hard – no one escapes that one BUT that doesn’t mean your life has to be “over”. It’s not all about losing or giving things up when you become a mom and I really want to change that narrative. Motherhood expanded who I was already, it didn’t take away from who I was. Motherhood has made me feel a sense of purpose I’ve never had before. It’s made me so much more efficient with the little time I have, it’s made me more patient. It has made me more intimate with my emotions. It’s made me more creative. And my favorite, it’s made me slow down and be more in the moment.
- Breastfeeding is a huge sacrifice. Like huge and so, so much more work than I anticipated. You live your life in 2-3 hour increments. My body held on to my pregnancy weight until I stopped nursing. I was so thirsty all the time. Pumping sucks (at least it did for me) and is such a pain. It takes so much energy. Your eyes dry out and you can’t SEE as good as you did when you’re not nursing – confirmed by my eye doctor. I leaked all day every day until I dried up. Now that that’s off my chest (lol) it was also awesome and I was truly heartbroken when Margaux weaned herself.
- You will love your postpartum body more than your pre-baby body. This took me some time but I really, really mean it. I don’t know if I will ever feel more badass and strong than after birthing my 9 pound baby. Everything hurt but MAN WAS I FREAKING PROUD. Still am honestly. There is no one stronger than a mother. Also, can we make the postpartum scoop a thing? I pat my flabby lower belly area all the time in appreciation of the fact that it grew and housed our baby. I freaking love it and I wear my mom pooch proud for all to see and I highly recommend that you do too mama. It’s a badge of HONOR.
- You can’t be a perfect mom but there are a million ways to be a great one. I read this recently and LOVED it. I have never strived to be the perfect anything and being a mom has been no different. I feel lucky that I have never felt pressure to be the perfect mom. What I really want is to be the best mom for Margaux. There are (many) days when I screw up and there will be more FOR SURE, but I don’t sweat it. I want my daughter to know that bad days, bad moods and mistakes are acceptable and necessary for growth and progress. I think a lot of moms put crazy pressure on themselves – if your kid feels loved, is fed and has a roof over their head consider yourself a GREAT freaking mom.
And here’s my biggest piece of advice for new moms:
In tough days, weeks or months find the courage to ask for help. One of the hardest and best things I did for myself this year was speak up when I felt like I was drowning. Remember NO ONE CAN READ YOUR MIND MAMA. I remember being really nervous to tell my husband that we needed childcare and I no longer felt staying home full time was an option. It wasn’t the plan we had and we couldn’t afford full time daycare. But as soon as I spoke up and voiced my truth, he was on board to find what would be best for our family. Finding a great childcare arrangement has made me a better mom and it’s been SO amazing for Margaux. It is so important to speak up for yourself, especially in your first year of motherhood. There is just SO MUCH DAMN PRESSURE on mothers these days. My personal mama mantra is this: “Happy mamas are the best mamas.” Every mama is different, and I truly encourage you to find what makes you the happiest mama and do that. And, keep re-evaluating it because as mothers we are allowed to change and evolve just like everyone else.
My first year of motherhood was the best year of my entire life and although we had some seriously tough weeks and months, it doesn’t tarnish how much I will cherish the memories we made this year with our Margaux.