I’ll never forget the day I found out I was pregnant with my sweet Piper Rose. I think my husband was in shock and asked if I could take the pregnancy test that actually spelled out the words “PREGNANT” versus the standard one or two lines.
We had been trying for a little less than year and I was starting to get a little discouraged and scared that maybe it wouldn’t happen for us. I didn’t realize how difficult it can be to actually get pregnant after years of trying not to. Ironic, isn’t it? We were so excited that I found it extremely difficult to keep it a secret from the world until after the first trimester. I think we ended up telling our family and close friends when I was only 6 weeks along, I just couldn’t contain myself!
I loved the reactions I received when I told everyone that I was pregnant, it was wonderful. My family was so excited, my friends were so excited, heck even strangers were excited for me. My patients would give me daily advice and I tried to just take it all in. Becoming a mother is hands down the best thing I have ever done in my life. It is also the most challenging, life changing and selfless thing I have ever done. My husband and I talk all the time about how we have no idea what we did with our time before we had a baby. She is our world. Looking back, I honestly don’t understand how we used to think we were so busy. I know that on social media, everything looks perfect. You see these perfect pictures of this sweet little baby and sometimes ( when I have showered) a picture of me smiling and cuddling her. Yes there were many moments where all I did was cuddle my baby on the couch and I cherish that time. What you don’t see however is that I’m cuddling my baby on the couch after struggling to breastfeed for hours with a screaming fussy baby.What you don’t see are the hours spent trying everything to calm my baby down in those first early weeks, without an ounce of sleep or a shower, trying to recover from childbirth. What you don’t see is the precious time I finally had to myself filled with anxiety because I couldn’t decide if I should try to stuff my face with food, sleep or clean. I’m not trying to scare any new moms, because I wouldn’t trade anything for the world. I just wish someone would have been more straightforward with me about what it was really like to be a new mom for the first time. That’s why I decided to share some things that I wish I had known ahead of time. Granted I am by no means an expert nor is there any way to truly prepare for this crazy world of motherhood; this is just my personal experience that I am sharing with all of you!
- You will worry about everything now, especially if it’s your first. I remember calling my mom at all hours during those first 3 months just to make sure what I was experiencing was normal. I had never felt so anxious in my entire life! This has gotten better for me now that my babe is 8 months old, however the constant worry I don’t think will ever go away. Welcome to motherhood!
- Breastfeeding is so hard, but worth it. Breastfeeding did not come naturally for me. It was so unbelievable hard that I almost gave up. My baby was what they call a “lazy eater.” She would fall asleep and lose interest only to end up hungry and unsatisfied an hour later. I was exhausted and stressed that she wasn’t getting enough milk. There were some nights where I would sit on the couch from 5-9 pm during the lovely “witching hour” and she would nurse for hours. There were times where I would panic thinking that maybe I wasn’t making enough milk. I finally met with a lactation consultant ( wish I had done so sooner) and with some determination and support from my husband I am still nursing my little girl at 8 months. So if you are struggling to breastfeed, don’t be afraid to seek some help! This brings me to my next point.
- It is okay if you are not able to breastfeed or if your baby prefers a bottle. I had to return to work after 3 months so I knew that I would have to transition her to a bottle. I began pumping steadily about a month before I returned to work just to try to get the hang of it. Guess what? This is also not easy. For me, I wish I had switched to pumping sooner. I love the bonding with my baby and I still nurse her in the morning and at night before bed. However, when I switched to mostly pumping ( bottle feeding) she became a whole new baby. Don’t get me wrong, she is very good baby, but it was as if a switch flipped and we had this happy, non stop smiling baby. My belief is that she was getting exactly what she needed from the bottle because we could control what she was getting. This required much less effort than nursing for baby and soon she just ended up preferring the bottle; so we just decided to switch to it.
- A full baby is a happy baby. Period. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you’re baby is fed and healthy whether that be nursing, pumping, formula or all of the above.
- Babies cry a lot in the beginning, it’s just what they do! It’s the only way they can communicate and you are not a bad mom.
- You will not sleep for a good 3 months, but you will eventually get sleep again. It may not be a lot of sleep, but it will be enough for you to function in society for the most part. It’s amazing how I went from sleeping 8 hours a night prior to having a baby to present day where a good solid 4-5 hours is a dream come true.
- Do whatever you have to do to survive the “fourth trimester.” You can check out my post on fourth trimester must haves here!
- Leaving the house takes a tremendous amount of effort and planning with a baby but you should do it. Honestly, it’s just easier to stay home with a newborn, and it wasn’t because the baby needed so much “stuff.” It seemed as though every time I had something planned there would either be a poop explosion, a refusal to nurse or just an all out crying fit preventing me from going anywhere or being on time. Now, for those of you that do know me well, being on time is not exactly my forte. However, at least I now had a very good excuse for running late. I would get so anxious about having to be somewhere at a certain time, that it would ruin the whole experience for me. Fast forward 8 months and I now laugh at myself as I realize babies cry sometimes, it’s just what they do! Getting out of the house for a walk, to meet friends for lunch or even to run errands is good for your sanity and just takes a little bit of planning.
- It is okay to ask for help and you should! I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to get things done after having a baby, especially those early day. My mom came to stay with us for about 3 weeks when my baby was born and my husband and I begged her to stay longer. She cooked for us, cleaned and helped us get a little bit of sleep. I can never thank her enough for everything she did.
- Squeeze in a little me time whenever you can, even if it’s 20 minutes, it will keep you sane. I didn’t do this at first. I literally think my baby is so attached to me because she was by my side every second of every day for the first 3 months ( and of course she loves her momma). I never put her down and she slept with me as well. I felt guilty if I was away from her ever, unless she was napping. I don’t think this was necessarily healthy. I slowly began to leave her with my husband for 30 minutes to and hour so I could work out. This did wonders for my sanity and it made me a better mom!
- You will never feel quite the same again, and that’s alright. I am slowly starting to feel more like my old self again at 8 months post partum, however I know that I am no longer that person anymore. I have accepted this. I love my new life and I miss my old life at the same time. I’m not that carefree spontaneous 25 year old that packed up her little Mazda and moved to South Carolina by herself. Nine years later, I am now a mother with a beautiful little family; a life that I would not trade for anything.
- You will be very emotional ( at least I am). I blame the hormones, but everything seems to make me emotional these days. Sometimes it comes out of no where: on my drive home, in the shower, or mostly with sappy TV commercials. Don’t even get me started on the TV show THIS IS US! I have come to accept this as normal for me now.
- Sometimes you will catch yourself giving your husband or partner the death stare. Let me elaborate on this a little more. As a breastfeeding, sleep deprived new mom I would sometimes just be so envious of my husband who ended up sleeping on the couch or the guest bedroom. Granted he went back to work way before I did and was always helpful, it just seemed as though all the stress was on me. I was the one that had to get up every 2-3 hours to feed the baby and soothe her back to sleep. So yes sometimes when I was sitting on the couch, with dirty hair and milk stains on the same yoga pants I’d been wearing for days (afraid to move even an ounce for fear of waking the baby); I would glare at my peacefully sleeping husband plotting the best way to wake him up!
- You will probably feel some sort of mom guilt no matter what you do. I returned to work when my little one was 3 months old which was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. However, at the same time, I love my work and my job also gives me a sense of purpose. I felt guilty for leaving my baby and then when I was at work it was so hard to focus because all I could think about was her. I felt guilty if I took 30 minutes before or after work to exercise because I didn’t want to miss out on my time with her. Heck, I felt guilty if I wasn’t giving my baby 100% of my undivided attention whenever I could. I have mom friends that stay home and they tell me they experience forms of mom guilt as well just in a different way. All I know is I have learned to give myself a little break. I work so hard in all aspects of my life and no matter what my family will always come first. I also know that you have to take care of yourself, otherwise you won’t be able to care for your family. My best advice to new moms would be to cut yourself a little slack. Whether you stay home or work, you are doing the best you can and that is what your baby needs!
- You will have some romance back in your life again. Let’s face it, initially you feel as though you will never have it back. I think we finally had a date night when our babe was 8 months old. I don’t personally recommend waiting that long, I was just a paranoid new mom. The funny thing is that we found ourselves talking about our baby almost the whole time! Looking back, I would have made more of an effort to have some quality alone time with my husband sooner. Our baby was perfectly fine with our family watching her and it’s good for our marriage!
- The love that you have for your baby is unlike anything you have ever experienced in your life. I love my husband with all my heart and watching him become a father has deepened our bond only that much more ( even though sometimes I still give him the death stare). However, the unconditional love I have for my sweet little baby is truly the best feeling in the world. Blame the hormones, but I literally get teary eyed just thinking about how much I love my baby girl. She has changed my entire world and perspective on life. Little things that I used to worry about seem so insignificant now. The fact that we made this tiny human still amazes me. As tired as I may be, I cherish every second I have with her because I know she will only be little for such a short time.
I would love to hear your thoughts on things you have learned since becoming a mom or perhaps things you wish you would have known ahead of time. Feel free to leave your comments!
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