It sounds cliché, but it’s genuine – you can never be truly prepared for motherhood. However, there are some things I wish more experienced moms had shared with me beforehand, and these are a few of them.
If you’re expecting, have no fear; you will rock as a mom! But be prepared… it’s serious business. And if you’re a new mom just learning the ropes, like me, hopefully some of this will resonate.
Nursing Is Just Plain Hard
Nursing can be hard – like really hard. But if it’s a choice that’s important to you, then sticking with it is the way to go. I was shocked by how much my daughter and I had to learn and work at it to make it happen. But in the end, it was an amazing experience to nourish my own child.
For me, it involved lots of sweaty nursing tank tops during summer and sore knees from sitting cross-legged to get the nursing pillow high enough. It involved struggles with low weight for my daughter even though no one could figure out what the problem was. And it involved being creative, resilient and committed on every front.
In retrospect, I can say without a doubt that it was essential to my relationship with my daughter, and I believe it has played a significant role in her health and well-being (she just had her first case of the sniffles at 15 months).
But that doesn’t mean nursing is the best route for everyone. I come from a huge Irish family, and my cousins are having babies left and right. We all birth, parent and live in extremely different ways, but there’s one common denominator: Our kids our healthy, happy and loved beyond compare.
I’d say those are the only things that actually matter.
Don’t Judge Your Marriage Right Now
Though we wanted a baby badly and even had to overcome some hurdles to conceive, life with a newborn completely blew my husband and me out of the water. We are seriously in love, the kind of mushy, hand-holding, text-messaging, ridiculous love that you count yourself lucky to find. But when our baby girl first arrived, we both had to learn a lot about each other and our new family fast, and it was pretty rocky.
We never got a chance to sleep in the same bed or at the same time. I was breastfeeding, which was often the only thing that would soothe our daughter for the first couple months. So, my husband struggled with feeling frustrated and helpless when he was trying to care for her, too.
And we were never alone. All those swim dates after work at the lake abruptly halted. Gone were the days of late-night movie binges and Sunday brunches.
At first, it was a ton of change to swallow. But now, we have a lot of our “us time” back, and better yet, we enjoy doing most things even more with our daughter because, let’s face it, she’s so darn cute and sweet.
So, here’s the key (it’s something I wish I had done more of at the start): Be KIND to each other. Be gentle and know that you’re both floundering. Most importantly, know that you’ll come out on the other side together, in a very short while.
It’s Not a Competition
Put the phone down. I repeat – put the phone down. Social media has this deceiving ability to keep us all connected, a powerful draw when you’re feeling lonely or isolated after having a new baby. But beware. Social media land is also one of the easiest places to start comparing yourself to other moms who are doing it “better” or who seem to have it “easier.”
Trust me, those impressions are a lie. “Mom-ing” is challenging for women the world round. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing, or worse yet shaming, yourself because of what you see on social media. We all like to share our most exciting and happiest memories online, but keep in mind that there’s plenty of reality in between.
It’s the Most Worthwhile Thing You Will EVER Do
I’m a work-from-home mom. That means I’m trying to make it to playgroup every other week, stay involved with my community, keep my family afloat and run a business at the same time. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, and I miss the mornings when I used to just pour a cup of tea, sit down at my desk and write. Better yet, I REALLY miss just calling in sick!
But when my daughter reaches her beautiful, happy hands up to me from her crib in the morning or when I listen to her chittering away with the birds while we hike together, there is no doubt in my mind I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.
So, know this… When you beg to be the one to go pick up the pizza just so you can get out of the house, it’s normal. When you cry all the way to the pizza place while blasting terrible pop songs on the radio, it’s normal.
When you take a deep breath and thank the universe your unbelievably long day is coming to a close, it’s normal. And when you get home, look at the video monitor for the nursery and wish you could wake your kiddo up for one more smooch, it’s normal.
Motherhood truly is the good, the bad and the ugly. But it is perhaps the only thing in my entire life I have ever felt completely and without hesitation that I was meant to do.