My New Mom Story

People ask a lot of irritating questions while you’re pregnant.  “How are you feeling?” is pretty bad, but the one that really rattled me was, “Are you ready?”  Yes, our house was stuffed full of baby gear, we had completed our childbirth classes, and I had read every “10 Things Nobody Tells You About Parenthood” article I could get my hands on.  When I was little, the Girl Scouts had advised me to “Be Prepared,” but while I was cognizant of the fact that my life was about to change drastically, I also knew that there was no way for me to really be ready for how difficult it would be.

Labor was my true introduction to the wild and unpredictable world of parenting.  For months, I was told that I should expect to go late, have a long labor, and to definitely take The Drugs.  But then, 15 days ahead of schedule, I endured an intense, chaotic, and unintentionally unmedicated 2.5 hour labor.  I literally went from relaxing and watching TV at home at 3:30 to holding my newborn at 6:00!  As I lay awake in my hospital bed on that first nearly sleepless night, it was clear to me that I had been officially inducted into the Mom club.  Motto: “You Cannot Prepare!”

Thanks to the internet and my 23948237 closest friends and family, I was aware that my baby might have a cone shaped head, that she would eat constantly and only sleep a few hours at a time, and that I would need a lot of help and a lot of frozen food to get me through those first few weeks.  And wow, you guys, having a baby turned out to be really freaking hard.  Like I said, I wasn’t expecting rainbows and unicorns, but it’s a real shock to the system to actually be in the thick of it.

What I was completely unprepared for was the fact that it would be so exhausting, so disorienting, so overwhelming and painful and scary at first that I would actually HATE it.  I was expecting it to be hard – something like, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” but it was more like, “Maybe I’m not cut out for this.”  Instead of rising to the occasion, I felt myself buckling under the pressure.  I cried every day for the first few weeks, and most days I questioned (a bit too late, obviously) whether having a baby had been the right decision.

Apparently, while it’s normal to feel like you’re teetering on the edge of postpartum depression in the beginning (a phenomenon with the absurdly cutesy name “baby blues”), it is not normal to ever admit that things aren’t perfect when people – and we’re talking friends and family here, not strangers – are constantly asking you how it’s going.  Since I’m a really terrible liar and am apparently not very good at thinking on my feet, my response to these questions usually starts with, “Uhhhh…” and then I either have to backtrack or explain myself.  I understand that “How’s it going?” isn’t intended as an open invitation to air all my deepest motherhood confessions (much like “How are you feeling” when you’re pregnant is not an appropriate opportunity to talk about your hemorrhoids), but I literally had someone who has children say to me, “Are you loving it?” and then act surprised when I offered a very diplomatic, “Parts of it.”

I can only admit this all now because, although I still have some really tough days, at 10 weeks postpartum, the worst of these feelings have passed.  Baby girl and I have had time to get to know each other, I feel more at ease with my new lifestyle, and I’m starting to get a little more sleep.  But really, don’t ask a new mom how things are going unless you really want to know the answer. There is nothing more frustrating than being exhausted and overwhelmed and full of self-doubt and then having to lie about it.  So for those who ask how it’s going and whether I love it: Honestly, it’s going sometimes crappy, sometimes better, and no, I can’t say that I love it.  But I’m hanging in there and doing my best.  And most importantly, I do love HER, and that bond is growing every day.

11 thoughts on “My New Mom Story

  1. Hi Emily! Amanda Graham here, Mallory Coleman’s sister. She sent me your link in an email for me to read! Being a new mom myself I could not agree with you more in everything that you said! Very well written and actually brought tears to my eyes! Hope everything is going well!

  2. Emily–This is a great post. It’s good to be honest about how freakin’ hard it is to have a new baby. The more people are able to do that, the less people will feel like monsters for not loving every second of it right off the bat. I remember when we got home with my newborn daughter and there was nobody there to meet us. It was off-putting to say the least. I remember thinking, “wow, they just let us take this new kid home without any instructions or anything. What the hell do we do now?” We struggled through those first tough weeks and slowly worked out a way to share the work and love our daughter. If you want to do it well, it is hard.

  3. All so true. One of the things I learned about myself is that I’m not a huge fan of the newborn/infant stage…. I have friends who thrive during this time – it’s their absolute most favorite time. I honestly felt my most out-of-control then. I had no idea what to do with this little being and, in fact, felt panic-stricken most of the time. Thankfully for me it’s a short period and my anxiety greatly eased once my little man started to become a little more mobile.

  4. Welcome Emily! Oh my, thank you. I often say, “I am a better mother as my kids age.” They are now 5 and 6, thankfully! I really struggled those first many weeks. When they can walk and talk, I’m good!

  5. I really love the blazing honesty in this post. I struggled with my first baby, who screamed for 3 months. Visited a fellow Lamaze classmate, who cooed, “Did you ever think your baby would end up being your BEST FRIEND?” as she cuddled her slumbering infant. I wanted to say, “No! How about my WORST ENEMY!” but I didn’t. We need more honest moms like you! Welcome to CTWMs!

  6. Congrats to you. This post is absolutely how I felt/feel. I took it one step farther and felt like it was my job to educate everyone considering having children that it was in fact SO HARD and SO NUTS and maybe they should reconsider 🙂 I’m glad you’re starting to feel like it’s a little more manageable and trust me it gets even more manageable and it just gets more and more fun.

  7. Oh yes. There are STILL days where I think (after five years!) “what have I done?!” But I will say, once you can sleep again, it’s all much better. And I’m sure your little girl is thriving 🙂 Yay for not lying about parenthood!

  8. I love this post. I completely relate. Becoming a new mom was much harder that I could have ever imagined and for me, it took time to bond with my baby. I had a friend who told me before I gave birth that if the feelings of intense love didn’t come right away that it was OK. I’m so glad she said that to me because it really helped. And now you’ve put the same notion on there in a public way and I know it will helps others too. Welcome, so happy to have you here!

  9. Aw, what a sweet little baby. Welcome to CTWM and welcome to Mommyhood (I’m a Fairfield County person, too).

    Hanging in there and doing your best is all that any little baby can ask for. You will get through this!

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