Before giving birth, my expectations of myself, my new baby, being a stay-at-home mum after working for almost 9 years, and all that went along with my visions of motherhood, were very high.
The birthing experience had been a whirlwind. While it was just myself and my husband for the birth, I think every one of my family members had been to the hospital to see me and my brand new, perfect, angel-faced daughter. As awesome as it was to have everyone see me in my post-emergency C-section glory, I was ready to get home.
Coming home – I was so excited to get started. Then I got home, sat down, looked around, and cried…and then cried some more. The hectic hubbub of the hospital was gone. I was home and looking at this little person who needed me for everything, and the enormity of it all suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks (not to mention my postpartum hormones were in full force!).Now I feel like I should have known better than to expect rainbows and butterflies, but yet, somehow I thought that’s exactly what I should have been feeling!
Change of Pace – My life was busy before my daughter was born. I was working full time. I was balancing longish hours at work with socialising, with managing the household, with charity work. There wasn’t a lot of down time and I was constantly meeting and speaking to people.
I went from that to staying at home with a newborn who slept, cried and pooed. Rinse and repeat. The change of pace was something that was not easy to deal with. It took some getting used to, and I had to drastically change my priorities as cleaning, washing up and organising the house wasn’t important anymore. It felt unusual to not have any deadlines to meet, to just loiter around the house. I didn’t have too many friends who had babies so most days I was just home alone. I had always been used to knowing whether what I was doing was correct or not – all that went out of the window when dealing with my newborn daughter.
What helped me
- Staying “me” – it was often hard to feel like anything other than a slobby mum – some days (especially post C-section) it was an achievement just to have a shower and get out of PJs. I found all of my clothes having ‘spit-up’ on the shoulder! My husband helped me by encouraging me to do things that were just for me – taking time out to go for a walk, go out with a friend for a coffee or a drink, even starting exercising with a personal trainer while the baby napped – all these things reminded me that I was also a person!
- Remembering I’m not alone – I often felt like such a failure at the beginning. Baby finding it hard to breastfeed – there must be something wrong with me. Baby losing weight – what am I doing wrong. Baby crying – I must be a bad mum. Talking to other mums helped – realising that other parents were going through the same thing helped so much. When I couldn’t find other mums to talk to, joining up to Facebook groups like “Babies babiesbabies” was a lifesaver. It reminded me that others were going through the same thing.
- Realising my baby is unique – it is so easy to compare your little one to another baby. “How are they sleeping through already?” “Their baby is already eating with her hands, and our little one is barely spoon feeding!” Here’s the secret – we ALL have those feelings. That mum you are comparing yourself to, with the “best” baby – she is comparing herself to another mum who has a “better” baby. And so on. It is a chain. Accept that your baby will develop and do things at a different pace to anyone else. Stop comparing yourself to what you see of other mums, you will go nuts! It is one of the hardest things to do, but once you do, you will find it a lot easier to cope!
What has been your biggest adjustment to becoming a new mum? What tips have you got for other mums going through it? Leave your responses in the comments below.