Everyone I know either has had a baby or is having one the next 6 months, so I thought I would put this all out there. I have gone through it twice, and I think I am experienced enough to give some helpful words of wisdom and to be real about it all.
This is not meant to scare you ladies….more so, to prepare you. You are going to be responsible for this little human being for the rest of your life, or at least until they move out. Even then, they are yours. You will ALWAYS worry about them, even when they are married and have kids of their own.
I will start at birth…it will hurt. Not going to lie, sugar coat it and put a cherry on top. It will HURT. If you think you have a high tolerance for pain, think again. This will make you rethink everything you knew about pain. My advice, if you are going to try and soldier through your contractions, Breathe! Sit in a tub of warm water for as long as humanly possible and inhale through your nose and exhale out your mouth. Don’t be ashamed or feel like you failed if you ask for pain relief. You are risking everything, including your own life, pushing out a 6-9 lb baby out of you; so that alone makes you a brave and strong mommy.
After birth, you are still going to be in pain. Your entire body will ache. Like you just wrestled with Hulk Hogan for 30 rounds. When you walk, it will feel like your uterus is going to fall out of you. Your back will be sore for months. Your breasts will hurt too..sorry ladies, but the soreness you feel now during your pregnancy, is just the tip of the iceberg.
If you are going to breastfeed, good for you. I wish you all the luck in the world. It’s not easy. You would think that something as natural as breastfeeding, which is an animal-instinct, would be super easy…well, I am here to tell you, it’s hard. It’s painful, and not pretty. However, it’s cheap and so good for your baby. Some people either choose not to, or can’t. Again, don’t feel like you failed. As long as your baby is being fed and is growing, it shouldn’t matter if it’s breast or formula. Don’t let anyone tell you how to feed your baby and make you feel any less of a mother because of how you choose to give your child life.
Next is a touchy subject. Visitors: family, friends, you name it. You will have them. Lots of them. It’s unavoidable, unless you have no one that lives within the same province/state as you. Don’t be afraid to tell them you need space. The “new baby” high takes over logical thinking and all they want to do is hold your baby and kiss them and pass them around like a hot potato. I get it, the urge to hold something so small and perfect and precious is strong. But your baby, just like you, just went through this HUGE life-altering event. They were nice and cosy inside of you. Now they are a tiny spec in this huge, crazy world. It’s just as scary for them as it is for you. Having 10 people passing them around like a gravy boat, is super stressful on their little bodies and will make them cranky. So, be honest, and let them know you would appreciate it if they helped around the house if they are coming to visit. You need rest, and so does the baby. If you are catering to guests, you will never feel rested or sane!
This part is for those family and friends that just can’t wait to hold a baby or want to come over twice a week: Pleeeeeease respect the new mommy and daddy. We get you are so excited and in love with this new baby. But, they need time to adjust to life with a baby. Baby needs to be put on a routine and most importantly, they are so fragile. The visits will happen, but keep them to a minimum, and when you do visit, wash your hands! No kisses around the face! I’ve read too many horror stories of babies catching life-threatening illnesses and passing away due to something that could have been avoided. Also, don’t expect to be waited on, hand and foot. You know where the fridge is, get up and get yourself a drink. Bring food because lets face it, the new mommy is way too tired to cook you a 5 course meal. Clean up after yourself. And one more thing, keep your 2 cents to yourself. Unless they are straight out asking you for advice, don’t feel the need to give it.
Ok, onto the best part. Yes, you won’t sleep. You probably won’t eat much, won’t shower for days, forget to brush your teeth, wear the same clothes all week because they are comfortable and you are too tired to do your own laundry; but, trust me when I say, it’s all worth it. Your baby is going to change every day, literally, their faces change every day, almost make you think it’s Arya from Game of Thrones, and not your actual baby. Take pictures EVERY day. Sing to them. Read to them. The new things they learn, the funny faces they make, will melt your heart, and will make you forget that you didn’t have breakfast this morning. Or you forgot to put last night’s dinner in the fridge. The baby doesn’t care about that. They want to feel loved, and safe. A clean house won’t matter to them. So don’t feel like you have to clean when people come over. You are enjoying your time with this precious little angel. If it bothers your guests that much, they can clean for you.
Children are easily influenced; their minds are sponges. They will grow up so fast, you will regret not taking a picture of them a week ago or a month ago when they smiled and laughed for the first time. I look back, and thank you Facebook for the “memories” that pop up every day on my news feed, and I wish I had taken more pictures of me with my kids. Mothers are always whipping out their phones taking pictures of their kids with other people, and then they have a total of 2 from when they were tiny. Ask people to take pictures of you enjoying being a mommy. Don’t feel vain taking selfies with your kids. Sure, you may have not slept in 2 months, who the hell cares! I’m not saying to post 100 pictures a day on your social media, I mean, that’s all on you if you want to.
But, having a record of those special moments with them, something to look back on when you feel like going back in time for just a moment out of your day, will remind you of why you decided to have kids in the first place. They fill your life with joy, so much joy it will make you go insane. Sometimes I feel like Jekyll and Hyde, one moment I am laughing with them and the next, I am screaming at them to clean up their mess, and not eat the rock they just picked up from the ground. Kids always know when to say the sweetest thing that will make your heart melt. They know when you are feeling down, and will give you a great big hug to make you feel better; because when they aren’t feeling well, you give them hugs and care for them so they think they should do the same for you.
Don’t forget, speak to someone. Anyone. If you are feeling overwhelmed and emotional, it’s ok. It’s normal. But don’t let it eat you up inside. Pour yourself a glass of wine, and call up your sister, mom, friend, the neighbour…whoever you feel comfortable speaking to. And just let it all out. Your sanity and mental health is so important. If you aren’t happy, and you feel like you are drowning, you can’t take care of a baby. A happy and healthy mommy, means a happy baby and a healthy family. You suffer, so does everyone in your household. Yeah you will let yourself go, but watch out for the serious signs of PPD. Husbands, baby daddy’s – you need to watch out for this too. Sometimes she will be so consumed in her own misery that she won’t even notice until it’s too late. Encourage her to open up, go get a manicure and a Starbucks. Read a book or 10. Whatever she needs to feel better about herself and to feel like the Wonder Woman she really is, you help her! You helped make that baby, so it’s only fair you help her feel better.
Alright, I think I have written enough.
Back to being a mommy now.
The Empathetic Mommy