A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to take a trip to the beach with a group of good friends. Amidst many laughs, the topic of motherhood came up and one mom said, “Those first two weeks after you have a baby? People forget just how hard they are.” I started thinking back to my first few weeks at home after I had Jack. As the conversation continued, and I listened to other moms’ experiences, I began to wish that I had been privy to discussions like this one when I was a brand-new mommy. Not for advice or tips on how to do things, but just to know that I wasn’t the only one that found herself asking her very confused husband to remind her why they had decided it was a good idea to have a baby.
Our little bundle of joy arrived on an early fall morning and, a few days later, we ventured home to the house we had spent so long preparing for our new addition. I imagined this scenario in my head for months. I had visions that mirrored a commercial showing the perfect mommy, doting daddy and baby emerging from the hospital with huge smiles.
Reality sunk in pretty quickly after we got home. My hormones and emotions were all over the place. I would feel this intense, overwhelming happiness looking at him in his little bouncer, only to follow-up in a heap of tears minutes later because he was crying and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t rest much the first night home, which likely had to do how I insisted on sleeping. I couldn’t get the bassinet close enough to me because of the nightstand, so I thought it was necessary for me to sleep with my head at the foot of the bed so I could hear him if he cried. This seemed completely rational in my postpartum and first time mommy mind.
The next few days were tough. Breastfeeding hurt terribly and to say I hated doing it is an understatement. I sobbed in the pediatrician’s office for no particular reason. I was still physically hurting from the trauma my body had been through during labor. The baby had his days and nights confused so I was up most of the night and couldn’t fall asleep during the day. People would drop off food and I found myself wishing that I could go home with them. At one point, I was jealous of some friends that don’t have kids and wanted to have a rewind button so I could go back to my old life, pre-baby. Through all of this I kept feeling guilty and wondering what was wrong with me. Why am I not like those happy, glowing new moms that can’t stop gushing about their babies? More importantly, why was I being so dramatic and couldn’t pull myself together? I thought I was going crazy.
My mother assured me that it was okay to cry and that the transition to motherhood isn’t all rainbows and fairy tales. Sleep deprivation messes with you and newborns are demanding. My husband was beyond helpful and willing to do anything I needed him to do. I am blessed to have an extremely supportive family that kept me talking and from shutting down. My dad asked me what the one thing was that most overwhelming to me. My answer? How permanent everything felt and that nothing would ever be the same now that I am a mom. He laughed and agreed, but told me that it would get easier and that I would adjust to my new normal. Turns out my dad was (as usual) correct.
Those first two weeks passed and things got easier. Don’t get me wrong, there were still tears, difficult days and hard nights, and there still are. Motherhood is a marathon not a race. Just when I think I have something figured out, the little guy throws me through a loop. There’s all the good stuff that happens, too, but that’s for another time.
So if you are a new mama reading this, hang in there and know many others have been in your shoes. It’s okay to cry and question why you aren’t bursting with joy like the moms in all the magazines. You aren’t the only one that has felt this way and it will get better, I promise. Just get through the first two weeks.