New mommy confessions

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My sister-in-law just had her first baby.  A beautiful (and I mean BEAUTIFUL!) baby boy named Hunter.  I’ve only been able to see him via cyberspace, but I am already in love.  Big dark eyes, chubby cheeks, full fluffy brown hair.  Perfect.  And being the older sister, I am already relishing my role as an Aunt.  He will be loved and spoiled and cared for to pieces by me.  And not only that, but my heart also bursts when I think of all the joy and fun and craziness that is in store for my brother and sister-in-law.  I love them both so much, and knowing they are experiencing and will continue to experience the unfathomable love of a parent/child relationship……it just brings me so much happiness.

But with all those mushy, lovey-dovey, cuddly feeling going on, there are also the feelings of being new parents.

I’ve talked to my sister-in-law a few times since little Hunter has been born.  And while much of the conversation consists of describing his perfect features and his sweet sounds and her desire to just sit and stare and soak him all in for the rest of eternity, there have also been a few moments of, “Wow!  This. Is. Hard.”

And yes.  Yes, it is.

When she described all her completely normal “I’m-taking-care-of-a-brand-new-8-day-old-human-being-and-I-have-NO-idea-what-I’m-doing”experiences, I just comforted her as best as could saying, “Oh yes! I have been there!” (and still am sometimes!).

She responded saying something to the effect of “Oh but you make it look so easy!”

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! (in case you don’t know, that’s the resounding manical laugh that went on in my head when she said that. and  in some small corner of my brain that little laughter is still cackling.)

Now for me, I try not to use this blog as a space for complaining or being negative or anything like that.  Not because I am perfect or because life is always so grand and wonderful and nothing bad ever goes on, but just because for me, I would rather focus on the positives here in cyberworld.  But that doesn’t mean I want to be fake or ignore the sad/difficult/stressful times.  It’s just that when I have those thoughts and moments and situations, I usually call up friends or family to vent and talk it out.  If your name is Amy, Mandy, Mom, Tomi, and a few others, you can probably attest to the fact that I’m not always so “sunshiney”. ha!  But I want to be real.

And according to most Mommyblogs and Facebook albums, parenthood can look like a perfect breeze.  Kids are always smiling, their outfits are always so cute and polished, and everything they do is perfect and adorable.  Heck, looking through my own blog/FB pictures, if I were a stranger, I might think that about my own life! (blogs and FB are so weird i think…..but that’s another post for another time!) But while the good stuff may be true some of the time, that is definitely NOT reality!  In reality there are many tears.  Many emotional breakdowns.  Many messes.  And some yelling.  And I’m just talking about the moms here. 🙂

Seriously though- being a parent is SO difficult.  I mean it’s good and wonderful and very much worth it.  But it is hard too!  And in the very beginning, it is extra, extra hard!  At least for me it was.  Both of my girls were extremely fussy babies the first few months.  They cried A LOT.  And slept very little.  Bailey had awful colic and there were some moments when all I could do was place her in her crib, shut the door, and go to my bed and lie down for a few minutes and cry.  Just to get away from the nonstop screaming.

And as much as we love our little ones the second they arrive, there is still a huge “getting to know you” period.  How they like to be held.  What kind of diaper cream works for them.  The best way to lull them sleep.  What types of food you can/can’t eat so your breastmilk doesn’t make them gassy.  Which way to swaddle them so they sleep longer at night.  The list goes on and on. And just like any relationship, that getting to know you period is an adjustment.  And it can be a steep learning curve fill with lots of mistakes and questions and doubts.

And in the midst of all this learning and trial and error and figuring your new little baby out, you are also immensely exhausted.  Not just tired, like I need to go take a little 30 minute snoozer.  But rather “I could sleep into the next decade and still not be refreshed” kind of tired.  Never underestimate the power of sleep deprivation! It makes the baby’s cries seem louder, your body feel more sore, and any little comment from anyone sound more harsh and critical than it was ever intended to be.

Finally, on top of all the crying and fun little getting-t0-know-you games and exhaustion, is also the hormones.  Oh yes, the hormones.  They truly can make you feel like you’ve got the emotional stability of a house of cards.  One little breeze can make your sanity all fall down. 🙂

Of course the good news is that it does usually get better.  It just takes lots of time and lots of help from family and friends.  And knowing that you are not alone in your new mom experiences helps.  Knowing that you aren’t a bad mom because you can’t stop your baby from crying.  Or just because the crying can snap that last exhausted nerve you’ve got left at 2:15 a.m, doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby.  It all just means you are normal and human and worn out and that you’re a new mom!

Of course I’m sure there are those moms out there who had perfect little babies from day one who never made a sound and who slept though the night the second they left the hospital.  And for those moms, I’m extremely jealous happy.  hee hee! Every kid is different and doing the “let’s compare myself to this mom” routine is never a good idea! 🙂

Anyways- if you’ve managed to read through this super long post, and if you’re a mom, would you answer this question for me: What was your beginning, new-mom experiences like?  I mean the very, very beginning- first month of baby’s life.  If you don’t mind, share it with me- the good, the bad, the ugly!  I think the more honest we are about it all- the struggles and the triumphs – the easier it is to relate and not feel so alone in the world of parenting.  And is there anything you wish you knew ahead of time that might have made those beginning weeks a little easier? On the baby and on yourself? Anything you share would be great……i love hearing others’ stories- they are such an encouragement!

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12 responses »

  1. I was just talking about the “perfect cyber life” with the gal that cuts my hair last week. She was feeling down because she feels like every facebook/blog post is about how SAHM’s (which is technically is, but does hair out of her home on the side) are growing all their own produce and fruits, sifting their own flour and making home made cookies with their kids. She said that she feeling defeated in the parenting department. I couldn’t agree more with her. There are days that I’m lucky if I can get a quick shower in, brush my teeth, and maybe, just maybe blow dry my hair. My house is a wreck of toys, clothes are often left unfolded, and dinner, well, dinner is made, but the dishes are all over the kitchen! But, what gets me through these days are my kids and Scott. A day with minimal meltdowns from both child and parent are a success in my book. And when we all settle down at the end of the day, and Mack grabs mine or Scott’s face and says, “I wove you”. I know I’ve done my job.

    Now onto the questions that you asked of us…
    We were so fortunate and lucky that we had magical experiences with both M and N. I think one of the main reasons that our kids were so easy going from the get go, was because we are so easy going. There wasn’t much that stressed me out with Mackenzie other than the unknown of childbirth. And with Nolan I didn’t have time to stress. 🙂 However, I demanded that no one be at our house when we arrived home with our children for the first time. I wanted this to be one of the few times it was just us, our family. I didn’t want the added stress of having to entertain, feed, or socialize if I didn’t have to, and just like you said, I wanted this time to be about us learning about our new child. I don’t accept help very easily and will often turn away/down help, not because I think I can do it all, but because I hate making people feel like they have to help. Scott was home with me after Mack was born, for the weekend (we came home on a Saturday morning) and he went back to work on the following Tuesday. My mom said over and over again to just call her and she would be over in a dash if I needed her, I kindly declined every offer. Then Tuesday came. And I panicked. It was just me and this 5 day old child that needed me. My mom was over in less than an hour and we sat and watched Mack sleep. What I needed was the company, someone to talk to, navigate me through diaper explosions, and watch Mack while I tried to clean up. So I guess what I’m getting at is, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    Because Mack was such a fantastic sleeper, we had to wake her for me to feed her. I would strip her down and hold her while she nursed. I will say, I was jealous that Scott was able to sleep like a rock while I sat and nursed while I was engorged, cracked and sometimes bleeding.

    With Nolan, I wanted everything to be back to “normal” as quickly as possible hence why we left the hospital after only staying one night. Others may not agree with us on that, but again, it’s what worked for our family. If I’ve learned anything from parenting, it’s that things may or may not go as you have planned them out, and that’s ok. It’s ok for my kids to have home made cookies, or a free cookie from Publix. It’s fine by me that Mack and Nolan may miss getting a bath because we were too busy building a tower out of blocks to keep the dragon away.

  2. Thanks so much for your input KellyAnn! You always offer such good insight I think!

    And I agree w/you about the “perfect cyberworld” thing. It’s such a tough balance- wanting to be real and honest, but not wanting to be negative or complaining all the time. I think each person just has to do what works for them. There are some blogs I visit that are brutally honest and lay it all out there for everyone to see, and while I appreciate their candor, it’s not for me. And then there are some that are a little too shiny and sparkly and just have a “fake” vibe to them. If that makes sense. I usually don’t go back to those after a few visits – ha! For me, I just don’t grab my camera when the little ones are melting down and having a temper tantrum, so there aren’t pics to show. And for heavier emotional things, I would just rather go to friends/family in person instead of typing it out for all the internet to see. And also, b/c I do think being a parent can be rough at times, I like to focus on the positives. It’s a fine line b/w being “real” and just complaining all the time. And i think there is SOOOOO much more good than bad, so why not look at those aspects more? Overall I think I am an easy going, optimistic person and no matter how tough things are going, I just feel so happy and grateful to have these girls in my life, to have Steve, to have God- that when I think about those things, i just feel content and joyful and happy. But when my sister-in-law said something about me making things look so easy, I was like “oh no! please don’t think i’ve got it all figured out or it’s perfect!’ So i guess that’s what brought up this post. But also, i didn’t really go to her when i was having newborn baby stresses, just b/c i went to people like my mom or friends who were going through the same things- just easier to relate and get advice. At the time she was a just dating my brother and no need to bog her down w/all my sleep deprived grumpiness. ha ha! Now however, I’m sure we will chat more about mommy stuff!

    Finally, i think i’ve learned to just focus on the couple of things i feel passionate about and like doing and do fairly well and let the rest go. like you, i will never be sifting my own flour or sewing the girls’ clothes. My house will not be immaculate, we don’t eat organic/super-healthy all the time, and homeschooling is definitely out of the question. Just not my thing. But i will bake w/them (mainly b/c i love eating the batter and the final product- ha!), and i love taking their pictures, and anything outdoors is good w/me. And books, books, books- lots of reading! We do have a garden that Steve does 100% of the work on and i like the fresh food and the fact that it saves us money. But the rest- oh well! Just do what you care about and let the comparisons w/anyone else go! After asking you about the homemade baby jar food, i was amazed at how you did it all. Kudos to you! I tried a few times, but it’s not for me. So instead i’ll coupon and buy it cheap off the shelf. 🙂 And this is something i love- the differences b/w moms/women and learning from each other and celebrating each others’ strengths and supporting one another in our differences. NOT comparing ourselves or knocking others down or judging one another. that stuff drives me crazy!

    so thank-you for sharing and being so honest! and i think it’s great how you know your boundaries (wanting your own time in the beginning as a family), but also know your weaknesses (asking for help sometimes). it’s all a learning thing, huh?? and i love having friends and blog buddies to go through it with 🙂 love you girl!

    p.s.- you are an awesome mom!!!

  3. The first month of motherhood…. wow that was 9 years ago for me! The first six weeks were wonderful, and also terrible. It’s as if there was this tremendous battle going on between sheer love and sheer exhaustion. A few things I wish I had known / was glad I did know / would like others to know:

    1. Let others help you. I felt very loved by all of the food that folks from our church brought, and the encouragement and conversation that came with it.

    2. Don’t be afraid to leave your baby in someone else’s capable hands for a short while.

    • “sheer love and exhaustion”……love it! sounds like a good title for a new mommy book or something. ha! and your story about driving to the store……so relatable! i remember feeling that way about running to Target for the first time by myself. felt like i was sneaking off on some adventure. of course the whole time there i just missed bailey, especially when seeing other little babies, but it was still good to get out!

  4. Sorry, weird issues with computer screen. Anyways, I found it very refreshing to go by myself to the grocery store 1 week post-partum. I tanked my baby full of milk and headed out the door, knowing that I had an hour all to myself and her daddy could certainly keep her alive until I got back. I rolled down all of the windows, blasted the music and drove the 2 miles to the store. Went in, bought about 4 items, and blasted the music all the way home as well. It sounds dumb, but I totally needed the time away from my baby. As much as I loved her, I needed an hour to remember…. me.

    3. Most babies start sleeping longer stretches around the 6 week mark. So, for those of you currently in the trenches of the first month of motherhood… hang in there, better sleep is likely just around the corner. Not perfect sleep, but better sleep (for my babies, this meant at least one 3-4 hour stretch per day… funny how before you have kids 4 hours of sleep sounds like an atrocity but after you have a new baby it sounds like a gift straight from heaven).

  5. The day we brough Owen home from the hospital he cried from the moment we put him in his carseat until the wee hours of the morning. Seriously. He did. not. stop. At one point I handed him over to Tony, went into our bonus room, sprawled myself on the floor & bawled my flippin’ eyes out. I absolutely sobbed. When I was done I picked myself off the floor, returned to my 3 day old little guy and rocked him (and I) to sleep. What I learned:

    1) A daily cry is almost a necessity in the first few weeks postpartum. Seriously, it helps SOOO much.

    2) Ask for help as soon as you need it & don’t think twice about it. You are not a bad mother for needing a break from your child. It’s normal, it’s healthy.

    3) Postpartum hormones are for real. At times you will feel completely out of whack. It’s normal. At times you will cry for no reason at all. It’s normal (and refer back to #1) And this too shall pass, you will feel better. However, if a few weeks pass & you don’t feel like you’re getting better, talk to your doctor. That’s normal too, millions of women need a little extra help and there’s not a thing wrong with that (or you!).

    4) Talk to other mamas for support, tips, encouragment, to vent, whatever. It’s amazing what girlfriends can do for each other.

    As for the cyber comparisons….comparison is a such an entrapment, particularly for women, & the internet only fuels that. It is seriously Satan’s playground & he has lit it on fire. My sweet cousin, Mary Beth, recently wrote a blogpost about this very subject. In short, she writes, “don’t let comparison steal your joy. Look to others to be inspired, but not to define who you are. Find freedom in the portion that God has assigned to you” and she references Psalm 16:5-6 which says:

    “LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
    The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

    I encourage you to read her entire post if you have a few moments, it’s quite a goodie. Entitled “Joy’s Thief,” it can be found at: http://thebrokenbohemian.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/joys-thief/

    …and thank you for your post Renee. Beautifully written encouragement & thoughtfulness we’d all do well to remember. Love ya bunches sweet friend!!!

    • Hannah- i love your story about going into the room and crying. mainly b/c i think it’s so encouraging to hear that every mama goes through it. and knowing you as a mom, and seeing you with your little ones, it’s hard to imagine you having a meltdown. so it’s also good to know that that beginning stressful/crying phase doesn’t last forever! there’s hope at the end of the newborn tunnel!! ha ha! and you are right- a daily cry can do wonders! laughing is good for the soul, so why not crying at times?

      oh and thank-you for you words about comparison. you are right- it can truly steal your joy! i like what your cousin said about looking for inspiration……that’s an excellent way to look at it! and for the record- you are one i look to for inspiration! 🙂 you have such a patience w/your boys and such a clear sense of what kind of mom you strive to be……i love that! and it encourages me so much! love you girl! and miss you!!!

      ok, going to check out your cousin’s blog now!

      • Thank you for encouraging me sweet friend. It means the world to me–you have always been such an encouraging friend by the way. I do hope I’ve told you that before. Thank you for that. I am pretty sure I still have the little book of encouragement & Bible verses you made me senior yr. of HS when we tried out for Dance Team. You remember that?! God has gifted you as an encourager, Renee. As a friend and a mother–I know your girls get that daily from you. They are blessed to be your daughters.

        I am blessed to be your friend. Love you!

  6. I love reading everone’s experiences and it gives me GREAT joy to know of the encouragement you all are giving one another. New motherhood is like PMS on steriods, everything is magnified & sensitive. My advice, stay away from the news, it is mostly all BAD and can cause you to be fearful of anything & everything and it will make you want to stay in a bubble as well as put your little one in one too. (I speak from experience). Do anything you can to help yourself relax; take a bath, listen to soothing music, sing the beautiful old hyms (you can find them online), repeat the 23rd psalm and of course pray to our comforting Heavenly Father and let Him rock you while you rock your little one…I believe He longs to do this for each of us!

    Much love to my sweet daughter in-law and thank you to my encouraging daughter…..I am still in awe that God blessed me with the two of you!!!

    Love,
    Mom

    • mom- i didn’t know you repeated psalms 23 when things got stressful- that’s my go-to verse too usually! cool!

      and i love what you say about letting God rock us too while we rock our little ones. what a beautiful image. i do seem to do a lot of my praying in the rocking chair…….coincidence?? i think not 🙂 i love you! and thank-you for being the best example of a mom- i learn so much from you!

  7. Bad part:
    So, I was tired, like beyond imaginable tired, and I wondered if I would every go to Target or anywhere on my own again, as in ever, but it got better, until. . . .dum, dum, dum, about 4 weeks when my firstborn would do a FOUR HOUR stretch of crying every, single night…can you hear the desparation in my voice even now? My husband worked evenings and on more than one occassion I had to call friends because I thought I was losing my mind.

    Good part:
    Putting that tiny, little cutie in bed with me and listening to her breathe.

    Bad part:
    I never wanted to have sex again…never!

    Good part:
    The doctor thought we should refrain longer than the normal…nice. Now I had an excuse. Dr.’s orders.

    Bad part:
    I thought I aged two years in the first two months. Would those circles go away?

    Good part?
    Yep, they went away.

    The big thing that got me through the tough times was just remembering the bad stuff was temporary. That’s the thing with a baby, just when you think you have it down, it changes.

    • leave it to you to bring in the “after-baby sex talk”! ha! j/k! yeah, that’s a whole other post that’s problem a little to R-rated for the sunshinelime crowd-hee hee! 🙂

      4 hours! wow! i don’t know how you did it- especially being home alone w/shane gone! but you are right- it’s all temporary…….now you’ve got the sweetest, calmest, kindest 8 year old i know. maybe she was getting all her screaming out in the beginning of her life, so the rest would be chill 🙂 thank-you for sharing sweet friend. i miss you!

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