Hooray, motherhood! Right?
Let’s get one thing out in the open: there’s a good chance that I’m not saying anything you haven’t heard before. With that in mind, here is a smorgasbord of tips / experiences / lessons / tricks / hacks / musings all related to new-motherhood.
1. Don’t have a birth plan.
Okay, before you get all WELL I’M HAVING A WATER BIRTH IN MY LIVING ROOM SURROUNDED BY LAVENDER DIFFUSERS AND A CIRCLE OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY, let me explain. I’m not saying you shouldn’t at least have a general idea of how / where you’d like to give birth. Do you plan on having a home birth? Great. Cesarean? Awesome. No pain medications? Perfect. However, if this is your first baby, you are likely completely mystified when it comes to labor and delivery. AND THAT IS OKAY. I wanted an unmedicated hospital birth and had a drugged-out-of-my-mind emergency C-section. And you know what, I’m fine with that. When I say “don’t have a birth plan”, what I mean is that I want you to feel okay about whatever happens, because guess what – the most important thing is that you and that little baby are safe and healthy.
2. Utilize the hospital nursery.
For goodness’ sake, DO NOT listen to anyone who says, “Don’t send your baby to the nursery when you’re in the hospital because that is when he needs to bond with you.” Trust me, when you are so physically and emotionally wrecked and exhausted, you need AND FULLY DESERVE the nursery. Those nurses are there to help YOU and BABY. You are not a bad parent for asking a nurse to take your baby for an hour or two so that you can sleep. You are of absolutely no help to your baby if you are not well-rested and alert. In the days after Colin was born, there was a point during which Richard and I were so deliriously tired that we couldn’t keep our eyes open — the nursery service saved us.
3. There will be days where all you want to do is cry.
We all have them. They suck. Do you want to know why we all have them? It’s because when it comes to parenting, no one knows what the fuck they are doing. Everyone pretends. We all make it look like we have our shit together, because that mom over there definitely seems to have her shit together. Ask for help. Friends, neighbors, family members — anyone that you trust. Just know that you will have days where you feel like a failure. You’re not.
*If you are experiencing extreme mood swings, crying spells, insomnia, or feelings of depression or anxiety, ASK FOR HELP. Postpartum Depression is real, but there is a world of help out there.
4. The bathroom will become your sanctuary.
Seriously. Even if you’re just peeing. You are in there, sitting, sans-baby. It’s wonderful. Brushing your teeth? That’s a luxurious self-care experience at this point, mama. If your partner is home with the baby, you’re golden. Just sit in there as long as you want. Bring your phone. Reply to texts, delete junk emails, watch Instagram stories, you name it! Oh, you know how sometimes you put toothpaste on your toothbrush, but the toothbrush flips over and the toothpaste falls onto the edge of the sink? You wipe the glob of toothpaste up with a tissue and throw it away and start over, right? WRONG. New MOM YOU will just use your toothbrush to scoop the toothpaste up and proceed to brushing your teeth. Why? For one, time. You literally don’t have time to start over, because your baby is crying up a storm because you WALKED OUT OF VIEW. Another reason is that you just don’t care anymore. Most days, I only have time to brush my teeth once. Yep, go ahead. Call me disgusting. Just you wait.
5. Your body will never be the same.
When I was pregnant, people told me this. I pretended to understand, but I really didn’t. I planned on working my ass off to get back to my pre-pregnancy self. But now I get it. Thanks to hormones on the fritz, my skin changed (acne, ugh) and my hair is thinner. My breasts (even though I only breastfed for a couple of months) will never be the same, ha. The muscles that I worked sooo hard to have are weak. Getting back in shape is not a walk in the park, my friends. Oh, and did I mention that you’ll likely be too tired to do much working out anyways? While I’m not there yet, I’m making strides. I am just now getting back into running (thank you, cool weather!) and I’m wiped out and in bed by 9pm almost every night.
6. Make mom friends.
And do your very best to stay close with your non-mom friends. You will need them all. You might think you are too good for “mom friends”. Trust me on this one, you need them. And you most certainly need your non-mom friends to keep you sane. There will be days where literally ALL YOU WANT is to have a conversation with another adult about ANYTHING but babies. Let your friends know how much you still need them around.
7. Get used to what your face looks like without makeup.
Because you won’t have the time. Nor will you really care (that’s a plus, I guess). I’m not at all ashamed to say that I started using Proactiv a couple of months ago because my post-baby skin was terrible. I was embarrassed to leave the house without concealer or makeup, but I didn’t have time, so I decided to give Proactiv a whirl and it has been my lifesaver. Really, I’m not getting paid to write about this. It’s worked wonders for me. Also, because I don’t wear makeup every day now, it’s really fun to play around with it when I actually have the time to enjoy it!
8. Don’t let anyone tell you that you take too many photos of your baby.
When I look through photos of Colin that we’ve taken over the last four and a half months, he looks like 5 different babies. That’s how much babies change. You will want to look back at every single little stage that your baby went through. You know why? Because you won’t remember. You will be so tired and drained that you won’t actually truly remember those early weeks. You will want to look at those 1,496 photos to prove to yourself that you did it. You raised and loved and kept alive that sweet and squishy little newborn baby.
So cheers to you, mama.