Wednesday, October 19, 2011

when it's hard

My sister-in-law, Shannon, gave birth to a beautiful girl yesterday. In looking at her newborn pictures and then back at my smiley, 12-pound baby I realized how far we've come.

People told me it'd be hard at first. I didn't truly believe them. I'm a confident, multi-tasking woman. I could do this. Which, I did. But not because I was so confident or that my multi-tasking skills matched the situation.

Shannon, here's what I realized in my 20/20 hindsight based on my experience (plus the best advice I received from people smarter than me), which could be totally opposite from yours. So take it for what it's worth, as if you have time to read blogs right now anyway.

When I was home from the hospital, I suddenly desperately wanted to go back. There were nurses there who took care of my baby so I could sleep. I had food (albeit, gross food) delivered to my bed with one ring of the phone. The bed moved up and down for nursing. I didn't have to decide what was normal when Henry turned red, felt hot, unlatched quickly, etc. People visited with pretty flowers and balloons. And then I went home, and it was a much more challenging place. Especially when Shea went back to work and my mom went home. 

You will cry. A lot. For lots of reasons and for absolutely no reason. It's totally normal but really not fun. If it continues, don't be afraid to tell your doctor. I did.

There will be a time when a Target run does not seem like an insurmountable task.

You'll experience pain that only women who just gave birth can. Your lady parts hurt (yay, Tucks). Your uterus is contracting back to its normal size in an ever so painful way. Your nipples are raw and nursing can bring on toe-curling pain. Things got better but I didn't feel totally healed for a month. And then there are some things that have just become my new normal.

You'll forget the pain of labor. Really, really quickly.

Your husband is great. Your mother is better.

Visitors should bring food. And not the number one combo from McDonalds. Real food from a private kitchen. Then they should drop it off, hold your baby a little, tell you she is the cutest baby ever made and leave.

When people offer to bring you said food, go to the pharmacy for you, vacuum your floors or hold baby so you can sleep, say YES.

You love your baby but don't feel guilty if you aren't in love. She is perfect and wonderful but a foreigner you don't know yet. The all-consuming love comes with time (and toothless grins).

Everyone tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps, which you should if you can. I couldn't. I wanted to do things like do laundry or scan through Facebook because it made me feel normal. You should not follow my example. Sleep.

I had all these rules for my mothering. I didn't want to use pacifiers. I absolutely would not co-sleep. I would use cloth diapers from day one. I would not let emails go unanswered for weeks. I should have listened to my wise mom friends and realized that no matter how strong my intentions were, they changed. Because I just had to survive. Ten weeks later, I am still just surviving - but in a better, more sane way.

When you've reached your limit and she's been crying for hours, it's OK to put her in her crib and walk away for a bit. Take a shower, cry, stick your head out the window to suck in fresh air. 

Lower your standards for a successful day. If you take a shower and eat, that's success for awhile.

Listen to all the advice people (like me) will give you. Then remember whatever you do is best because you're the mom and therefore the boss.

And when you're Googling "does this get better" at 3 a.m., know that it does. I promise.


  1. Love this post. More moms need to be exposed to posts like this right before having a baby so they know what they are feeling is normal. It continues to get better and better and you fall more and more in love with your child. But...I don't think it ever gets easy peasy being a mom. :)

  2. Can I just say how much I love this post?

  3. I loved this. We're expecting our first in a few months, and I vacillate between being confident and excited to completely terrified. This makes me feel so much better. :) Thanks.