Advice for New Moms
There is no shortage of advice for moms out there. We are bombarded with it whether we ask for it or not, especially when we are bringing a new baby into the world. I’ve been given advice on all three of my pregnancies but the one thing I don’t remember being advised on was how different we, as moms, are. Sure, plenty of people remarked that all ‘babies are different’ but I don’t think that statement alone is enough to prepare you for just how different they all can be, and how all of us moms handle each experience.
Recently one of my Mom friends, who is expecting her second child, asked on Facebook for any advice we moms of 2+ would have for her. There were a lot of great suggestions and advice, but I kept seeing people tell her that it would be easy and they will have no problem adjusting. While it was all well-intentioned, all I could think about was my adjustment after having Colvin.
I’ve been a new mom 3 times!
Willa is our firstborn. The one who made me “Mom,” and I learned a lot about being a mom. She turned all of my expectations on their heads and made me realize every baby is already their own unique person from the moment they are conceived. When Coralie, my second child, was born, it was a fairly easy transition. I was still working full time so Willa still went to daycare 2-3 days a week on my maternity leave, and my mom would watch her one day a week also. I still had a lot of quiet, snuggle, nap time with Coralie on those days. My girls were only 15 months apart so Willa still needed a lot of attention and help too. It wasn’t as easy as having one, but really, it was not as hard as I had expected it to be.
Welcome baby #3
With Colvin, my third child, I expected it to be the same, easy transition (for the most part), but it wasn’t. The girls were home all the time. Mark, my husband, hardly took them with him (because two is a lot more work for him in the tractor than one). My only reprieve was when my mom would watch the girls, and a close friend would watch them on occasion, also. Most of that time when it was just Colvin and myself I would just sit on the couch, nursing and watching TV because that is what I needed most. Quiet time. I needed my responsibilities to be minimal (keeping my baby happy), so I could recharge. I usually had expectations of what I would be able to get done. I would expect to get the whole house cleaned, all the laundry done, a great and healthy supper made, and a couple of naps. But my brain and my body wouldn’t listen to the to-do list in my head. I had people ask if I needed anything. I really should have taken them up on their offer, but I was too stubborn and proud to admit I needed help. My house was a wreck and the kids probably didn’t get bathed as often as they should have, but we all survived, thankfully!
I did not have postpartum depression with either of the girls so when I started feeling symptoms (a couple of weeks after Colvin was born) it was a new thing for me. I did not recognize it as postpartum depression right away and chalked it up to hormones. Unfortunately, it only got worse. I finally realized it wasn’t “just hormones” after having a tear-filled meltdown with my husband the night before my 6-week appointment. I don’t even remember exactly what set that episode off, but I remember feeling like I was the worst mom in the whole wide world. Feeling that my kids and husband deserved better than me and better than what I was doing and, more so, not doing. Thankfully, my appointment was the next day or I just may have tried to see if I could handle it on my own. My husband came with me to that appointment, and thank goodness he did because even after all of that, I forgot to tell my doctor about it. He is the one that reminded me to talk to her about it. He needed me to get help almost as much as I did. After I got help from my doctor and the antidepressants kicked in, things started getting better. I was able to take care of more things around the house, handle more of my duties as Mom, and just plain be okay. If you are feeling in any way shape or form that you might have postpartum depression, call your doctor right away. Don’t be ashamed. SO many moms suffer in silence when they really don’t need to. Sometimes just talking about it helps. If you are worried about taking meds and breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about it. She is there to help you and your baby thrive.
The long of the short of my advice for new moms is this:
If you are adding a family member, through your own birth, surrogacy, adoption, or foster care, and whether it is your first, second, third, or tenth, I certainly hope for an easy transition for all of you and that everyone will adjust quickly and easily. BUT, if for whatever reason, things don’t go as planned or as hoped, it is OKAY! It is okay if you are overwhelmed, weepy, tired as all get out, and just need a break. It is OKAY! Don’t believe you are failing if your journey is not the same as others. Yes, every child is different, and every experience is different. Please, do not base your experience on others. And most of all, if someone offers help, accept it. I had the hardest time with this and I definitely should have done it more. I always felt like I was burdening others, especially because I chose to be a SAHM, and this is what I wanted, so I should be the one to “do it all.” Do your best to ask for help when you need it. Need your significant other to pick something up from the store? Tell them to do it (nicely 😉 ). Need to order food or throw in a frozen pizza? Do it. Need someone to watch one or all of your kids for a while, ask someone. Better yet, if someone offers to watch one or all of your kids, let them! It is hard initially because we are so used to doing it all ourselves, but when you do accept the help you will not regret it. You will appreciate the time to do whatever it is YOU need most, even if it is sitting on the couch and watching TV.
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