I realize that there are women who immediately bond with their newborn. The second he/she is delivered, they feel like their world is finally complete.
Then there’s the rest of us. Who need a little time to adjust to this new person in our life. Who wonder why positive, loving emotions don’t immediately spring forth when we see our newborn. And quietly wonder whether we’re missing something vital to being a mom.
This post is for those latter women.
I purposefully got pregnant. I spent years dreaming about hearing the pitter-patter of little footsteps in my home. I spoke to my unborn child as he grew in my womb and loved feeling every wiggle within me. I even occasionally enjoyed being pregnant.
So why, when he was finally ready to enter this world, did I not feel happiness?
Why, when they told me I needed to be induced and that I’d be having a baby today, did I begin to cry in fear?
Why did I not want to be left alone with my baby those first days?
The reasons for my initial fear, distress, and sorrow may stem from:
- My maternal age – I spent seven blissful years married without kids. I had a career that I loved. I was enjoying life and doing what I wanted when I wanted to do it. Having a baby changed all of that.
- I wanted to be excellent at being a mom without any job experience – I thought something magical would happen after I had a baby. That being a mom would be as natural as making a baby. In my opinion, nothing can prepare you for those first days of mothering. Nothing came easily to me. From breast feeding to extreme fatigue to constant crying (both from the baby and from me).
Before I depress you further, let me comfort you by saying that now that I’ve adjusted to this new life I am finding my rhythm with my baby.
I have found happiness in this new life.
I do not regret having a child.
And shockingly, I would do it again.
Here’s what I think helped me the most to transition into my new life:
- Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. I knew several people who had babies around the same time that I did. Their babies always seemed happier, healthier, and easier some how. I don’t think this was reality, but as a new mom, anything looked better than my home. Tip: minimize your exposure to Facebook/social media.
- Take the time to mourn your old life. I think this is why God has babies start out life not remembering anything from those first couple of years. It gives you the time to adjust and cry. Cry, cry, cry. Just let it out. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your child. It just means that life has changed drastically and you need to mourn the old and adjust to the new. Tip: have Kleenex available at all hours. Trust me, the water works can turn on at any time.
- Get out of the house, with baby, and spend time together. I had to get out of my house after Dragon Egg (DE) arrived. It felt as though the walls were closing in on me. I didn’t know where to go. A coffee shop? The mall? I was panicked that DE would cry in public or need to be breast fed. I didn’t feel confident about breast feeding discreetly in public (this improved over time), so I couldn’t really relax when I went out. Not to mention, I didn’t want to start spending money that we didn’t have. So my solution was to start hiking. I would pick easy trails, strap Dragon Egg to my chest, bring a bottle of water, and listen to music. And something magical happened. I relaxed. He slept (something he refused to do at home during the day). And I was able to clear my head. The sun felt wonderful, the breeze renewed me, and I was able to take a small respite from my life. Not to mention I was down to my pre-baby weight quicker than I anticipated.
- Find a good friend who’s been through this before. This was particularly important, because my closest relative lives 22 hours away. My good friend, Betsy, kept checking on us those first months. Also my sister-in-law would call regularly. These two women helped me so much in those first few months. I would contact one or both and sob about how hard everything was and tell them exactly what was on my heart. Just knowing that someone had survived this experience and kept reminding me that “this will get better” helped.
- Talk to God. My first night alone with DE, he had a massive meltdown. I felt helpless and actually ended up screaming to God at the top of my lungs. It’s my firm belief that God doesn’t want beautiful, well thought out prayers from us. Instead, he wants to hear what’s in our hearts. He is with me during my struggles as much as He is with me during my celebrations. Constantly and truthfully talking to God helped me adjust and center during this massive life change.
How about you? What helped you adjust once baby came home? Anything you’d add to the list?