Getting pregnant is thrilling. You read the little stick, lose your mind, take a picture of said stick, and then implode trying to keep the whole thing a secret. And then it begins.
You spend the next three months trying to negotiate a truce with a banana and a granola bar while peeing at all hours of the night. And when your morning sickness finally fades, you get about two months of baby bump bliss ( this is where people can actually tell that you’re pregnant and haven’t just been going hard on the ice cream and burritos) before your belly reaches astronomical proportions and your body starts rearranging itself.
This is about the time that everyone decides that it’s totally fine to participate in the running commentary about your body. Or if you’re lucky, maybe you’re simply a pregnancy unicorn that doesn’t go through any of this. For you, life is beautiful and we all want to punch you in the face every time you tell us about it.
So why are we, as new moms, so hard on ourselves? Isn’t it about time that we just sit back and relax just a teeny bit (as much as that is physically possible)? Here are some reasons why growing a human inside you makes it perfectly acceptable to let the little things slide for awhile (before your newborn starts eating solid foods and punching you in the back of the head while you try to sleep in for an extra half hour):
9 -You Feel Unprepared
Your baby cries, and despite all of your research, you find yourself calling your sister or whoever every time the baby reaches for his/her ear, or misses a bowel movement. I can’t tell you how many times a day I have whispered “What is going on?” to myself in a day, the most asked question by new mothers everywhere: “Is that normal?”
Let’s not even get into how looking up things on Google leads us to thinking that every fever is life-threatening. And please don’t visit those chat forums when you have a question about your little one. Those people are absolutely batty. Seriously.
They’ll make you think that constipation means that your baby is about to implode and needs a tetanus shot or some other god awful thing that makes no sense at all—anyone in the world with an email address can comment on those sites. Ask your mom, and your sister (if they are reliable sources—we all have our family things), and if you’re really not sure, call your doctor.
But don’t panic, and don’t feel silly because you’re not sure what you’re doing—most of us don’t the first time around. Chances are that your instincts are stronger than you think--and at the very least, they are definitely stronger than Google.
8 - Baby Comes First
So everyone can leave his or her opinions and unwanted advice at the door (unless you want the advice, and then, by all means have at it).That little human you made? his/her needs now come before anyone else’s, including your own.
Is your mother-in-law pitching advice in your direction? Is your husband sleeping through the night while you try to soothe the new baby? (And when he does help, is he helplessly handing the baby back to you claiming that he/she is hungry? Grrr.) Everyone and their sister are going to tell you what’s best for baby. But you know what? You already know what’s best for the child that you grew in your body.
Nobody was in there with the wee babe, and chances are that these people with their advice weren’t rubbing your back at six in the morning when you were making BFFs with the toilet. You made this little person (with the help of your significant other, of course) and spent ten months (yes, ten) nourishing him/her, tossing and turning as they beat the crap out of you from the inside of your body.
For the most part, you know what you’re doing. Unless someone is going to take the wee one for a stroll so that you can nap, you don’t want to hear it. And it’s totally fine if you want to be left alone while you adjust to this new life. NB: I’m not saying don’t take advice—just take the advice that you feel applies to you.
And don't feel guilty for needing some "you" time. For first time parents, having a baby can feel overwhelming. Learning to adjust your schedule and rearrange your life doesn't come without consequences. So give yourself the time you need to adjust and get into a routine that feels normal. And don't be afraid to tell people when their advice is not helpful.
7 -You’re Eating for Two
If you’ve chosen to breastfeed that’s wonderful. It is no doubt the best option for your baby, but be warned. It is exhausting, and not because you haven’t slept more than four hours in the past week, although that is certainly part of it.
Your sweet little baby has first dibs on all the nutrients you’re ingesting, and that’s the way that it should be. (Even when they get their teeth, and you cringe because it’s pretty much like placing a baby shark to your bosom and hoping for the best.) SO eat, girl.
Don’t slam your face full of Little Debbie cakes and Slim Jims, but if you want that chocolate bar at the end of the day, cut yourself some slack and dig in. You will lose that pregnancy weight at your own pace, and when your body is ready.
If anyone has anything to say about it, ask them how they feel about regurgitating their meal in order to feed your baby. Just make sure that Alicia Silverstone isn’t in the vicinity. Bonus: Breastfeeding burns 500 calories a day, so whatever. Have your cake and eat it too.
As with all nutrition and health advice, it's obviously better to eat healthy foods. And if you eat healthy while you're breastfeeding, your baby will get used to the flavour of nutritional food and be easier to feed when they start to eat solids.
You can discuss any concerns you have with a lactation consultant or your doctor. But if you don't eat the amount you need to breastfeed, then you're actually hurting yourself in the long run. Don't make losing the baby weight your main goal, make eating right and living healthy your main goal. This is will benefit you and the baby.
6 -You're Temporarily Immobilized
Let everyone else do the running around. That’s right. I don’t care whether you were blessed with a natural birth or you had a caesarean—you’re in pain after that little one makes his/her way into the world, whichever way he/she decided to make his/her entrance. This alone is reason enough to take it easy.
I don’t care how independent you are, your body has been ripped apart and needs to recover –and that takes time. (This is coming from someone who was yakking in a bedpan while breastfeeding in the middle of the night because I wasn’t able to sit up in my hospital bed.) Since you will only be immobile for such a short period of time, try to enjoy the time you have doing nothing at all.
Don’t feel guilty about the casseroles and cookies that people are leaving around your kitchen, and don’t feel bad about your aunt lurking in the bathroom, going to town on the toilet. Forget about thank you cards, errands and appearances.You just had a baby. no one expects you to be strolling down the street with your new babe. And if they do, they have never been pregnant nor know anybody who was.
Missing your niece’s 7th birthday party is okay—just let your body heal. Your sister will probably bring you a party bag anyway, and everyone will totally understand, not to mention there’s always Facebook if you really need a social fix. Don't sweat the small stuff, you just had a baby for goodness sakes.
Unless you're one of those people who hates being stuck inside and has to get out of the house at all costs, chances are you will be under self inflicted house arrest for at least the first 3 days after you bring the baby home from the hospital. During this time you should just relax and get to know your baby and their rhythm, because it will most definitely disrupt whatever pattern you're used to.
And if you need to ask people not to come over, it's okay to do that too. Entertaining when you can barely walk right isn't fun, and if there's the slightest chance you can catch a couple of z's, you should do it. There will be plenty of time to bring your baby around and meet your friends and family. And they should respect your wishes.
On the other side of the coin, it's okay to need to have your mother or sister around to help you out. Whether you've had a caesarian or are a first time mom, sometimes having an experienced person next to you is a comfort. Just make sure to ask someone for what you think you need, unless your family members can read your thoughts, then that's pretty cool.
5 -The Day Seems to Vanish
You know exactly what I mean. You wake up feeling sort of refreshed, and make yourself a steaming cup of coffee. You feel as if there is so much you can accomplish today—you’ll get to the laundry, get the house tidied up and maybe you’ll even remember to call your aunt. You’ll write those thank you letters that are so long overdue. (You got a year, right? You’re seriously hoping so.)
Heck, maybe you can even get some work done that will bring in some actual money. And then, out of nowhere, it’s three o’clock in the afternoon, you’re covered in spit up and you still haven’t managed to wash your face. Seriously, how does Beyoncé do it all in a day?
You’ve managed to feed the baby every time he/she was hungry, soothed the little babe every time he/she burst into tears. You think that you may have even gotten two solid naptimes in. So what did you do all day, besides try to make beet juice (juicer still on the counter—it’s not going to wash itself, you know)?
It’s like babies are little time thieves, swallowing you into their little twilight zones of hour/minute suction. By the time bedtime rolls around, you just want to curl up and recharge—never mind trying to get the paperwork done (because, let’s face it, by six o’clock in the evening, your brain has turned into a pile of mush).
And you know what? It’s okay, because you got your little one through the day, and for now, that is enough. Contrary to what anyone may say to you, keeping that wee babe happy is the most important job in the world. So don’t be so hard on yourself if you haven’t washed your hair in three days. Apparently the natural oils are good for your hair, anyway.
4 -You've Been Through Hell
It’s not such a big deal if your pants don’t fit. Besides the actual giving birth part, your breasts basically balloon and borderline explode. That’s just one thing you have to look forward to. You may or may not also suffer from varicose veins (and therefore have to wear funny pants until the baby arrives) and if you’re really lucky, you’ll get hemorrhoids.
Isn’t pregnancy beautiful? Not to mention those monster maxi-pads you get to wear for the next week that everyone somehow forgets to tell you about. And yet there you are, two months later trying to squeeze into your skinny jeans, sweating your ass off in frustration because the whole thing isn’t going as smoothly as you hoped while your baby stares at you in utter amusement.
Whether you were able to slip your pants on or just sat red-faced and cried about it, understand that you will get your body back if it means that much to you. It might be different, and it may have stretched and squeezed in a few places, but that sweet baby was worth every war wound. And sooner or later, those skinny jeans will probably go out of style anyway.
Give yourself a break, mentally and physically. If you thought you were going to walk out of the hospital in pre-baby shape and you walked or were rolled out with a belly, don't be upset. There are very few women who give birth and walk out of the hospital with all their nooks and crannies back in order. Those women are genetically blessed.
For the rest of us normal schlubbs, for the next few weeks after a baby we're going to look pregnant even after giving birth. You had a human being inside of you for 9 months, stretching you in every direction, so yeah, you're still going to look pregnant two days after delivering your baby. That's life.
3 -Your Boobs Hurt
I know that I mentioned something earlier about your boobs feeling like they were going to explode, right? Maybe some women welcome the enlargement of their breasts—and good for you if you have. But if someone had told me that they’d not only become huge, but also veiny and heavy, I probably would have opted to stick with my original cup size.
I know, I know. I’ll probably miss these things when they’re gone, but for now, they just make me tired. So if you’re less impressed with your new set than you feel you should be, that’s ok. Nobody but you knows how heavy those things can get, never mind the fact that they somehow work like a really painful alarm clock.
Let’s not forget the really awesome way, following childbirth, that you move your hands up to your breasts in public to check where you’re at. Even if you’re okay with all of this, there’s still those lovely mornings when you wake up with a blocked duct, and have to make a beeline for your child so that he/she can relieve you. So feeling frustrated with your new set doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful—you’re really just a human, after all.
And if you're breastfeeding, you'll have to adjust to the feeling of using your nipples like a bottle. It might be painful the first few times, but you'll be surprised how fast your body adjusts. As long as you're looking after yourself and rubbing the vitamin E capsule contents over your nipples, you'll come through like a trooper.
And if your partner wants to touch you there, be sure to let them know what your body is going through. Obviously you're not going to be in pain every second of the day, but they won't know what you're feeling physically or mentally unless you say something. Keeping your partner in the loop eases tension and helps them to be more understanding of your needs and feelings.
2 -You’ll Never Sleep Again
That’s the truth. Almost from the moment you hear the lovely news (Yay! We’re PREGNANT!), you will never sleep soundly again. Or at least not for more than two hours. Seriously. The first time that I slept for a solid three hours was after my mother-in-law forced me to leave my son with her for the first time.
I woke up with no idea where I was, in the house that we have lived in for over two years. (The emotions that followed were severe separation anxiety and guilt, but that’s maybe just my thing.)
And you know those irritating people who tell you that you should sleep when the baby sleeps? You won’t. It’s impossible. Because when the baby is sleeping you’re too busy wondering if the baby is breathing. So you check if the baby is breathing, which sometimes results in waking him/her up.
And when you do fall asleep, it’s liken to the way a German Shepherd does, with one eye/ear open in case the baby monitor sounds off. So the next time you manage to get some shut-eye, don’t feel guilty because the laundry is piling up or because there’s a ring in the bathtub.
Save for possibly having to wear dirty underwear, nobody really cares that much about it. (And if they do, point them in the direction of the laundry room with a smile.)
If you're having a hard time relaxing with the new baby in the house, you might want to sit in a rocking chair with your eyes closed while the baby sleeps in the crib. Or if you have room in your bedroom, lay the baby in a playpen to sleep while you lay down in your bed.
If you need to have your baby close in order to relax, that's just your mother instincts--and probably your hormones--making you hyper vigilant. It's good practice to have the baby around noise when they sleep so they learn to sleep through anything. Otherwise you'll wind up with an infant who wakes up to a fart in the wind. And if you think you're getting no sleep now, this tip toe situation will make your life even more difficult.
1 -Everything Frustrates You
You become snappy for what seems like no reason at all to those around you. Bringing life into this world is a miracle, and you’re definitely up there with the luckiest people in the world if you’re able to give birth to a happy, healthy baby. So why are you so frustrated? What is wrong with you?
Taking any post-partum depression feelings off the table (because I really can’t help with that, and mothers experiencing these feelings should definitely talk to someone), feeling a little overwhelmed is perfectly normal.
Being responsible for another human is a huge responsibility, and sometimes it can be difficult for the people around you to understand how you’re feeling, especially if you don’t have the support that you need (it’s hard to baby-raise alone, and I have a deep respect for all those moms that do).
Just embrace those feelings, and then move on. Every moment with your baby is a privilege, and trust me, he/she loves you more than anything in the world, even if you make a mistake here and there. We are all just humans, after all. Just people trying our best—so getting down on yourself, and feeling guilty about being overwhelmed isn’t going to help you, or your child.
Allow yourself to be overwhelmed, and take a deep breath. Then press the restart button and try again. You won't be doing yourself or your family any good if you don't learn to let little things go. No one is a perfect parent, and if you're tired of parenting advice, then say so. In a nice way of course, you still want to have friends at the end of the day.
Just know that everyone has done something that they think was incredibly stupid or irresponsible at one time or another when raising their kids. And unless you are forgetting to feed the baby entirely, or shaking your baby, then you are already doing a fantastic job, so give yourself a pat on the back.
If however your feelings of frustration make you want to shake your baby, then you need help immediately. Ask your partner or mother to come and watch the baby while you go and unwind. You might feel horrible for having this level of frustration at a helpless infant, but this is a real feeling and ignoring it isn't going to make it go away. You need distance to cool down.