If you came here for a laundry list of the top five best strollers for your newborn according to popularity, price, and safety ratings, I hate to disappoint you but stop reading now. This post is not about the material needs of newborns (although I will say don’t bust open all your pacifiers until you’re absolutely sure your baby will take them. That being said, if anyone needs 17 brand spanking new pacifiers I can never return, hit your girl up.) When it came to “what I should expect before expecting”, I cannot tell you just how much I prepared. I took the breastfeeding classes, I studied proper nap schedules, and even read the reassuring articles that briefed me on the not-so-glamorous side of creating a bundle of joy… I was going to be the mom that gave mom’s of three advice. The sleepless nights, the blow-outs, everything entailing motherhood- I was ready. In fact, I was more than ready. Emotionally, physically, mentally- I knew what I was in for, now just give me my baby already.
SPOILER ALERT– I wasn’t ready. They say hindsight is 20/20, but looking back on those first three months with my daughter, I can say it’s more like x-ray vision. Whenever I think back and try to dissect what I was going through and why, sometimes I just want to shake myself for making things so much harder than they needed to be.
But here’s the silver lining: You aren’t alone.
Everything on this list may not apply to you, and honestly, I hope it doesn’t. I hope there are people out there that think I’m crazy and that loved the newborn season of life, but if you ever do find yourself struggling (or struggled and now feeling guilty), you have this to remind yourself that we’ve all been there and we’re all good moms who lie awake at night telling ourselves we aren’t.
Such a classic, right? Look, I’m not going to sit here and pretend I ever did this. I said yes to everyone and everything when my daughter arrived. I went out to lunch in a public place when she was four days old, I mean commmeee onnnn. The “no” that I’m talking about, however, is so much more than turning down visitors and events. When I urge you to “say no”, I mean say no to all the things that cause you stress, or better yet the things you hate. Laundry will piling higher and faster than you ever imagined, scales will become satan’s welcome mat, and breastfeeding has been known to cause you more tears than the baby you’re trying to feed. SAY NO. All of it can wait. Let go of the mom guilt that you are doing less for your family and yourself than you did before. You aren’t. Are you doing less laundry? Probably. Are you keeping another human alive? Yes. Okay, even score. Still a great mom. Breastfeeding caused me so much anxiety that I sat up one night crying for hours and seriously considered sleeping in the bathtub, because I physically could not sleep in another wet spot. No really, I’m not kidding. So I said no, started pumping, and saw the light from there. Do what is best for you and if that means saying no, so be it.
YOU HAVE TO LEARN EACH OTHER
My most embarrassing hormonal story comes about 17 hours after my daughter was born. Yes, more embarrassing than sleeping in a bathtub. When my daughter was first born, I was over the moon filled with love, however, when my rocketship of hormones came hurtling back down to earth, I realized something. The baby on the diaper box looked exactly like mine. In fact, every baby on earth looked exactly like mine. Dead serious here when I tell you that in the middle of the night with my 17-hour old daughter beside me, I started crying (hysterically) that I was a terrible mom. This beautiful creation beside me that only I knew intimately for nine months was now out in the world, and if you switched her with a Pampers baby model, I wouldn’t even know. Hormones are wonderful.
I’m fairly certain this particular story is confined to just me, but it does come with some warranted advice. You have to learn your baby, and your baby has to learn you. I know mother’s intuition has a pretty good hype, but I hate to tell you that it doesn’t completely cover it. Babies don’t come out as your built in best friend; after birth, you both come out completely inexperienced to your new role in the world. What they want when they cry, how they like to be held, fed, if they like baths, if they don’t, swaddles, no swaddles, all these things take time to learn and no offense to mother’s intuition, but time (and google) were a much greater help.
IT WILL END
The newborn phase is tricky. One day you’re willing to sell your soul for four hours of sleep and the next, they’re blissfully sleeping in your arms and you stay awake to watch them. I can say without a doubt that the newborn phase was my least favorite phase. It hurts to say, but I heard the truth hurts. Don’t worry folks, it’s not like this for everyone; for some, it’s their favorite, but for someone like me who constantly just kept waiting for the next phase to come, I made myself miserable. I thought that once she slept a couple solid hours, I would enjoy it. Then once she didn’t scream everytime I left, it would be okay. Then once she could hold her own bottle, smile when she saw me, yada yada, you see the pattern. I never learned to enjoy any part of the newborn phase, and now I’m hypocritically sitting here telling you not to be like me. So my last piece of advice on the subject is that whether you’re struggling in the thick of it or getting ready to join in the newborn club, just know it will end. You will eventually sleep, they will eventually stop crying when you leave, they will smile when you do something silly, but they also will lose all those cute little rolls, they’ll stop giving you gummy grins, and they’ll stop fitting perfectly into your folded arms. So take it or leave it, butttt I highly suggest you take it. Take it all in.
ASK FOR HELP
I hate this advice, and I hate sitting here eating my words telling you to do it. Does anyone actually ask for help when they need it? I sure didn’t when I had my daughter, the entire toilet paper unrolled on the floor tells me my kid sure didn’t ask for help when they needed it, and if we were to have another kid, I’m not entirely sure I would be completely open to asking when I needed it either. Motherhood is prideful. But can you blame it? You just created another HUMAN (almost) entirely on your own (shout out to the dad’s reading my motherhood blog..) and now one week in, you need someone to watch them so you can shower, or God forbid, sleep? You need someone to help you so you can do the most mundane of things. If I could go back to newborn-mom-me, I would shake myself off my high horse. I would tell myself motherhood is not equivalent to martyrdom, and no one (including my child) cares if I did it with or without help. It hurt me, and it hurt my marriage. I remember being so resentful towards my husband because when he’d offer help, I would say it was easier if I did it since she would cry for me anyway, then feel more resentful because she would always cry for me because he never helped since I always told him I would do it. So completely asinine. Ask for help, folks. ASK. FOR. HELP. If your mother-in-law is anything like mine, they’ll probably be dying to anyway.
MOTHERHOOD IS HARD
But hard doesn’t mean bad. Take a breath- this is the silver lining. You knew there’d be one, right? I’ve been sitting here telling you all the hard challenges of motherhood, but there are so, so many hard things that bring you joy. So many actually that they outweigh all other challenges or else why would we be here? Yes, it’s hard to be a sleepless zombie, but it’s also hard to put your baby down when they’re warm and toasty next to your body with drool dripping down your forearm. It’s hard to watch them scream during tummy time, but it’s much harder not to laugh when they giggle as they pass gas. It’s hard to watch your baby grow and hit milestones you thought seemed so far away, and it’s hard to get them in trouble when they look at you with big, doey eyes (even if that decor was like, super expensive).
I love it. I love every single dang second of every hard part that comes my way. If you’re in the newborn phase right now, go ahead and give me a hard eye roll. You deserve it. If anything, that means you’re walking down the same exact path I did and look where I ended up. Not too shabby, I hope.