It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was watching moms push strollers with their cute little babies and I would think “someday.” Now with a four-year-old and two-year-old my stroller days are almost behind me. But I still remember what is was like to be a new mother. Well, to be honest, I don’t remember that much. As with any catastrophic event, your brain doesn’t let you remember all the gory details.
Legend has it that sometime after giving birth to my first little miracle I called a fellow mother friend and shouted, “You didn’t tell me it was going to be like this!” as soon as she picked up the phone. I say it is a legend because as I mentioned before…I have no memory of this but it has been told to me. That statement pretty much sums up what I felt about the first few months of motherhood. Yeah, I knew what moms do- feeding, changing diapers, and cuddling. But I didn’t know that feeding really meant latching issues, sore breasts, and lots of crying in frustration (from both of us). Changing diapers meant poop blow ups that soaked through the onesie, your clothes, and maybe the couch. My daughter probably went through five outfits a day. And there was lots of cuddling because she decided the next best thing to being inside her mama was being on top of her mama ALL DAY AND NIGHT. I learned to sleep, cook, eat, and yes, even shower with a newborn in my arms. All of this is to say: those first few months were not the blissful maternity leave I was expecting. Nobody told me what it was really going to be like.
My daughter nursed 12 times a day…and that was when she was over two months old. When she wasn’t nursing or being held by me she was crying. I slept in 2-3 hour increments at the most. My brain felt like those “this is your brain on drugs” commercials with the fried egg. Remember those? I had fights with my husband because he just couldn’t understand how nothing got done during the day. I began to doubt if things would ever get better. Would there be a time in the future when she slept through the night? Could we ever eat in a restaurant again? Will she ever stop CRYING?! It didn’t seem very likely.
After a particularly difficult night, I took my crying daughter to her well-check at the pediatrician. With dark circles under my eyes, I watched another mother play with her older baby while she giggled and cooed. She must have seen my desperation because she said, “It will get better.” And she told me how the first 3 months are the worst, then it starts to get better. Then at 6 months it gets easier again, then at 9, then by one year you will hardly believe it is the same baby. It gave me hope. Although when you are in the thick of it, a month seems like an eternity. Even a day seems unbearable.
Am I overplaying this? Okay. I don’t want to scare anyone into not having children. I like to think that I’m doing a public service and telling other women what it is like to be in the motherhood trenches. I would have liked someone to tell me (although of course I could have never believed such horrors). Isn’t it better to be fully prepared with the worst case scenario?
So if you are a new mom, hang in there. Even if you have to dig out poop under your fingernails (I’ll plead the 5th), or walk around like the living dead with 2 hours of sleep, or (gasp) bottle feed because breastfeeding just isn’t working. Motherhood might not be what you thought it would be, but it will get better and then it will get amazing. Yes, you did give up your former care-free life to be a slave to an angry little person who can’t even say thank you. But it is totally worth it. You’ll see. Just wait a few months. And while you are waiting, call your mom and tell her thank you.