Motherhood Chronicles

Things I wish I knew: 14 reflections on early motherhood

Mere days before my delivery date, when I was feeling anxious about my birth plan, my mother offered something profound I’d like to share with you. She said,

“A lot of people when they’re getting married focus so much on the wedding day, they forget to prepare for their marriage. Parenthood is like that, too. A lot of moms spend so much time worrying about having a specific birth plan, they forget it’s just one day in a long journey.”

At the time, I was in the middle of a last-minute scramble, on the verge of changing healthcare providers and birthing centers, less than a week before little one’s expected arrival. I was doing everything I could do to advocate for Noah’s health and well-being, yet felt like many of the decisions were out of my hands.

My mom’s advice helped me refocus and surrender. (We also got second and third opinions from other OB’s, which confirmed we were on the right path for us). Here are a few more things I wish I knew that I’ve learned from the early days of motherhood. I hope sharing them with you offers some comfort and maybe a laugh or two.

Things I wish I knew: 14 Reflections on early motherhood

1. Everybody and their second cousin will tell you that it gets easier.

They’re right. But when you’re in the thick of things, you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. The more people tell you about it, the more you’re convinced the whole world is full of liars.

2. When it starts to get easier, you might wish you had a little more faith in the beginning.

Believe it or not, it will go by fast. Give yourself permission to stay in and cocoon, if that feels right for you. Lean into rest. Rely on your community. Ask for help. Let someone come and stay with you for as long as they’re able.

3. Talk about expectations with your partner.

You might not know what they are or why they’re causing conflict until you’re in the middle of it. Just voicing them out loud can provide some perspective and mutual understanding, even if you don’t agree.

4. Think of postpartum as a lifestyle, not a timeline.

There are certain things your body will go through at different stages (like hair loss around month three, yuck) but I really believe the ‘bounce back’ culture is detrimental and is unrealistic. There is no going back. You will forever be postpartum. And that’s okay. You’ll find your way, day by day. 

5. Trust your baby.

They spent nine months forming fingers and toes and entire organs. You may have provided the environment but they did all the heavy lifting. The same is true when they’re on the outside, too. You’ll provide the love and care but their bodies and brains will keep growing, following the intelligence of life without you controlling any of it.

6. The internet is NOT a nice place for new moms.

Unfortunately, the age of information might also be called the age of confusion. And moms are OPINIONATED. While they might offer advice or information from a self-proclaimed, “do what works for your baby” standpoint, there is an underlying BUT…OBVIOUSLY, THIS IS THE ONLY WAY tone I found super shame-y and unhelpful.

7. You are the expert on YOUR baby.

There are a lot of experts out there but none of them can match the power of your intuition or the strength of your connection to your little one.

8. Get early and frequent help with breastfeeding.

We had a lactation nurse visit us the first week we were home who was able to quickly alert us to some oral restrictions Noah had that were affecting his ability to nurse well. Had we not received early intervention, we might have struggled longer than necessary. Attending a weekly breastfeeding class at the hospital where we delivered also provided a way to keep an eye on Noah’s weight gain as well as make friends with other new moms!

9. You’ll adapt to sleep deprivation, eventually.

And your baby will sleep, eventually. Sleep (or lack thereof) was our #1 stressor for the first 3-4 months. We were desperate to find some sort of routine that worked for us and mold Noah’s habits early on. That wasn’t so successful but patience was. Gentle consistency and a lot of flexibility made the road smoother for all of us. 

10. You might get your period sooner than you expected.

Mine returned in all its glory five weeks after delivery, even though I was breastfeeding full-time. I was so freaked out I thought I was experiencing postpartum hemorrhage. I wasn’t, but it felt like a lot of blood and I called the on-call doctor twice, just to check in. This just goes to prove for every “norm” there’s an exception and that exception might be you. (ALWAYS check in with your healthcare provider if you have ANY concerns).

11. It takes time to build trust.

Between you and your baby, your baby and their brand new world, and you and your partner as parents. Everyone is adapting. No one has it figured out yet. Be patient. Trust takes time. 

12. Your baby isn’t fully cooked yet, no matter if they were born at 40 weeks or 33.

Understanding the 4th trimester ahead of time really helped me adjust my expectations and know how to offer extra comfort and soothing to myself as well as little one. 

13. Let people feed you.

Ask them to bring hot meals, send groceries, buy DoorDash gift cards, or whatever floats their boat. Feeding your new tiny human will be about all you can handle for at least the first three months.

14. Your baby is your #1 fan.

You will never know love and adoration like this ever again. Soak it up. Your baby doesn’t care what your hair looks like, if you’ve showered this week or if you have breast milk stains all over your shirt. They just want to be held and loved by you. 

Do you know an expecting or new mama? Share this post! What advice/wisdom would you add to the list? Leave a comment below!

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